Amnesty International campaigns for the release of prisoners of conscience – people who have been jailed because of their political, religious or other conscientiously-held beliefs, ethnic origin, sex, color, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status, provided that they have neither used nor advocated violence.
In 2015, YOU helped put the pressure on 18 cases to ensure the release of many journalists and activists. The list below is reflective of how we can work together to create positive change in the lives of others. Thank you for all your support – together, we are standing up for people risking everything to speak out. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik, chair of the Eurasia Coordination Group at Amnesty International USA
Leyla Yunus, one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights defenders and former prisoner of conscience was freed on December 9. The Baku Court of Appeals changed her sentence with a conditional release due to her deteriorated health. The court placed her on probation for the next five years and maintained her guilty verdict, widely denounced as political retaliation for her work. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
All my life I have used my art to fight for social justice. So when I see freedom of expression under serious attack, I must act.
That is why I stand with Amnesty International today in demanding justice for courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque, who is facing decades in prison for political Tweets he sent in February.
Join me. Urge the Malaysian government to immediately drop the charges against Zunar.
Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.
This letter was first published by Mada Masr here.
Amnesty International has collected nearly 90,000 signatures worldwide in a petition calling for Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid’s release ahead of his first court session, scheduled for December 12 at Cairo Criminal Court.
Mahmoud Abu Zeid, more popularly known as Shawkan, has written a letter of thanks (below) to all those calling for his freedom.
My name is Aigul, and I am writing to you about my father, imprisoned journalist Muhammad Bekzhanov.
My father is the world’s longest imprisoned journalist, together with his codefendant Yusuf Ruzimuradov from the same paper, jailed at the same time in 1999.
My father’s crime? He dared to speak the truth about human rights abuses by the Uzbekistani government. In 1999, security forces tortured him nearly to death, and forced him to confess to “anti-state” crimes. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
I first realized that something was wrong when I couldn’t get hold of Rania. I had been calling my sister’s house phone and mobile for several days with no answer.
I later discovered that a group of armed men from the Military Intelligence had come to my sister’s house on 9 March and arrested her husband, Abdulrahman, without giving any reason.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On August 22, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka issued an order “based on the principle of humanism” to release six political prisoners, including Mikalai Statkevich and Yury Rubtsov, recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
Mikalai Statkevich was one of six opposition presidential candidates who were imprisoned in connection with a largely peaceful demonstration that took place on December 19, 2010. Tens of thousands of Belarusians gathered in central Minsk to protest against unfair elections. The demonstration was mostly peaceful, but when a violent incident broke out at the doors of Government House, riot police moved in to disperse the crowds. Over 700 people were detained, the overwhelming majority of whom had been peaceful participants and bystanders. Most of the detained were charged with administrative offences and sentenced to 10 to 15 days in prison. Many who were sentenced for participating in the demonstrations were released after they agreed to sign a confession for organizing or taking part in “mass disorder.” Mikalai was sentenced to six years.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Late last week, the Moroccan King pardoned prisoner of conscience Chekib El-Khiari, who was serving a three year prison sentence for speaking out against government corruption.
Amnesty suspects that the charges against Check El-Khiari were politically motivated, as he had brought allegations against Moroccan officials in connection to a drug ring. Jailed since June 2009, Chekib El-Khiari was greeted by family and friends upon release.
The pardon came as part of a wider movement that commuted or shortened the sentences of 190 prisoners in Morocco, 96 of whom were reportedly released.