Amnesty supporters across the world wrote an astonishing 3.7 million letters, messages, emails, tweets and so much more as part of Write for Rights 2015, the global letter-writing marathon.
From Afghanistan to Zambia, dedicated campaigners, students, school kids and loads of others demanded change on behalf of people and communities suffering appalling human rights abuses. We at Amnesty International USA generated 312,205 of those actions and we are deeply grateful to each and every one of you who took part. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On February 19, 2016, Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox walked free, 44 years after he was first put into solitary confinement.
He was the United States’ longest serving prisoner held in isolation. Nearly every day for more than half of his life, Albert Woodfox woke up in a cell the size of a parking space, surrounded by concrete and steel.
Today, for the first time in more than four decades, he will be able to walk outside and look up into the sky. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On December 12th, 2015, New Orleans was the site of a special, one-day exhibit, Art for Rights, bringing together more than a dozen artists from around the world to highlight 12 of the most troubling human rights cases we face today. In honor of International Human Rights Day, and in conjunction with Amnesty’s annual Write for Rights campaign, each canvas told a bold story about injustice, persecution, and also courage. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Kristin Hulaas Sunde, Global Content Producer at Amnesty International
Albert Woodfox has spent the last 40 years alone in a tiny US prison cell. His old friend Robert King – who was also imprisoned for decades in the notorious Angola prison – tells us how Albert’s political courage and global support are keeping him going, despite the pain and isolation.
“Angola was considered the bloodiest prison in America. There was slave-like labour – people worked 17 hours a day for two and a half cents an hour. There was a lot of raping going on – the prison guards sold the younger inmates [into sexual slavery].” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
A cell in the isolation unit in Angola prison in Louisiana. (Credit: Louisiana State Archives)
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has specifically condemned Woodfox’s treatment as torture and called on the United States to eliminate the use of prolonged isolation. Albert’s case has returned to the spotlight in the past month because he is no longer a convicted man – a federal judge ordered his unconditional release in early June, two years after his conviction had been overturned for a third time (a last-minute appeal kept him behind bars).
More than four decades ago, two young black men were convicted of the murder of a prison guard at Louisiana’s infamous Angola prison. The life sentence handed down to Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace would not only put the men behind bars – it would plunge them into a nightmare of cruel inhuman and degrading treatment for the next 41 years of their lives.
Despite the fact that no evidence tied Woodfox or Wallace to the crime, the two men were placed in solitary confinement after their 1972 conviction; 23 hours a day isolated in a small cell, four steps long, three steps across. Robert King, who was investigated for the crime, but charged and convicted instead of the murder of a prison inmate, was “lucky” to be released after 29 years of this dehumanizing treatment. The other two members of the so-called “Angola 3” have remained there, waiting for the arc of the universe to bend slowly toward justice.