The concept is simple: Take Action, Change a Life.
Urgent Actions ask our community of volunteers to flood the mailboxes, inboxes, phones and social media of authorities when someone is in imminent danger of human rights violations. Your letters, emails, phone calls, faxes and Tweets have helped to halt executions, support human rights defenders and free prisoners of conscience—people jailed solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs and identity.
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Urgent Action emails specify the case, local and international government officials to contact, their contact information and suggestions about what to write, say or Tweet. Learn more about writing effective letters and emails.
Are you an educator looking for ways to engage your students in human rights? Find out how your students can show their power through letter writing!
In many cases, your action on these cases leads to better conditions for prisoners and their eventual release. Those individuals at the center of these Urgent Actions often send their thanks to Amnesty International, citing that these messages serve as a source of hope.
“The reason we could resist the ban and move forward was the international support and solidarity by Amnesty International activists around the world. We could not have gone further without your support” – ODTÜ/Student Organized Pride March in Turkey (UA 83.18)
“My case once again showed how important solidarity and attention are in protecting the freedom of speech and human rights. I admire your noble work and boundless courage, dear activists” – Bobomurod Abdullayev, POC from Uzbekistan (UA 232.17)
“I am very grateful for all the support I received while I was in prison. Life in prison was very difficult and I was treated badly, but the support of those who believed in me made me strong.” – Munther Amira, Palestinian Human Rights Defender (UA 26.18)
More than 60 people from predominantly Muslim ethnic groups have been allegedly interned in camps or sentenced without a fair trial and sent to prison in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang). These cases are representative of the perhaps 1 million or more men and women estimated to have been detained in the region since 2017. Based on evidence collected by Amnesty International in the recent report “Like We Were Enemies in a War”, the Chinese government has knowingly and purposefully targeted ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, including by unlawful restriction of their basic human rights, as well as by conducting an ethnically targeted campaign of mass detention and torture and other ill treatment.
Two executions by electric chair in South Carolina have been set over seven days, starting on June 18, 2021. The scheduling of these executions follows the enactment of a law on May 14, 2021 that changes South Carolina’s death penalty, allowing for execution by electric chair or firing squad. These executions, if carried out, will end a 10-year hiatus in executions in South Carolina, and set the state against the US and global trends away from the death penalty. We demand for the Governor to call off the scheduled executions.
Maura, a transgender woman, has spent half her life living in the United States of America. Years ago, she sought safety in the US after experiencing relentless transphobic violence in Mexico after she left Nicaragua at a young age. Authorities in the USA have been holding her for over two years at an immigration detention facility in California, where she has experienced abuse and a lack of adequate medical care. We demand authorities free Maura immediately.
Mustafa al-Darwish, a young Saudi Arabian man, is at high risk of being executed imminently after his case was referred to the Presidency of State Security and his death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court. Mustafa Al-Darwish was arrested in 2015 for allegedly participating in anti-government riots in the Shi’a majority Eastern Province. According to court documents, he was subjected to prolonged pre-trial detention, torture and grossly unfair trial. Amnesty International urges King Salman not to ratify the death sentence and order the relevant judicial bodies to quash his conviction and re-try him in line with international fair trial standards.
Milostène Castin is a defender of the rights of subsistence farmers who have suffered land seizures, displacement, corruption and violent attacks in north-eastern Haiti. Due to his activism, Mr. Castin has been attacked and intimidated numerous times. In late 2020, armed men repeatedly fired gunshots and smashed the windows of his home. An unidentified man also attempted to repeatedly pick up one of his children from school in what Mr. Castin believes was a kidnapping attempt. On May 12, 2021 Mr. Castin received a death threat. We demand the authorities protect him, according to his wishes.
Iranian brothers Vahid Afkari and Habib Afkari are being subjected to renewed torture and other ill-treatment in Adelabad prison in Shiraz. Since September 2020, they have been held in windowless solitary confinement cells and denied access to adequate healthcare, fresh air, telephone calls and face to face family visits. Authorities arbitrarily arrested them in 2018 after their participation in protests, forcibly disappeared them and repeatedly tortured them for months. They were sentenced to lengthy imprisonment after grossly unfair trials.
Shahnewaz Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi engineer and activist, could face up to 10 years in prison for sharing his personal opinion on Facebook. Expressing his belief that a coal-fired power plant in his hometown was environmentally destructive and criticising incidents that allegedly led to the killing of 12 people during protests in the plant, he called on the youth to ‘resist injustice and support development through fearless writing’. He has been detained under the Digital Security Act, a draconian law, that is increasingly being used in Bangladesh to silence dissent. The authorities must drop the case against Shahnewaz Chowdhury and immediately and unconditionally release him and all those accused solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Victor Yeimo, a pro-independence political activist from Papua and a spokesman for the West Papua National Committee, has been arbitrary arrested and charged with treason for peacefully protesting against racial discrimination in Indonesia. He’s been detained in a solitary confinement with severely restricted access to his family and lawyer. The Indonesian authorities must grant Victor Yeimo’s immediate release or prosecute him in a fair trial.
Sahrawi woman activist Sultana Khaya and her family have been held under de facto house arrest for over six months in their home in Boujdour, Western Sahara. The authorities have yet to present any charges against her. On May 12, 2021 dozens of masked members of the security forces raided Sultana Khaya's house, assaulted and attempted to rape her, and raped her sister. The authorities must immediately ensure that Sultana Khaya and her family are protected from further assaults, lift the house arrest, and open an urgent investigation into the incidents of rape and assault.
Exiled Belarusian journalist and government critic, Raman Pratasevich, was unlawfully arrested on May 23, 2021 by the Belarusian authorities along with his partner Sofia Sapega, a Russian national. Their Athens-Vilnius flight was diverted and forced to land in Minsk under false pretext. Raman Pratasevich was wanted by the Belarusian authorities on trumped-up “terrorism” charges solely for his journalistic work. If convicted, Raman Pratasevich is facing up to 20 years' imprisonment. A televised “confession” may indicate torture and other ill-treatment.