My husband's place is not in prison

egypt-blog-300This post was written by Shaimaa, the wife of Write-a-thon case, Musaad Suliman Hassan Hussein (known by his pen name Musaad Abu Fagr), who has been in administrative detention in Egypt since February 2008.

Two years have passed since my husband Musaad Abu Fagr was arrested. For my daughter Ranad and I, every day that passes feels like 10 years.

Ranad was three years old when my husband was arrested. She used to sleep after he kissed her goodnight and wake up after a kiss from him. He used to drive her to school every day.

Ranad is now five years old. Even though I try to play this role as her mother, Ranad misses her father’s presence in her life. What hurts me is that her father used to do a lot of things for her; he used to play with her and take her to the playground or the sports club.

She always repeats his words, and when she goes to bed, Ranad sends kisses to her father and when she wakes up she asks: “Did Musaad get my kisses?”

Everything she does proves how much she misses her father. When we go to visit Musaad in prison, she does not leave his lap. She touches his face with her little hands, looks at him and asks: “When will you come back with us?”

This question hurts me and her father a lot because she is a child entitled to enjoy having both her parents with her. She wishes that her father is always with her, just like her friends. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Write-a-Thon Series: Shi Tao

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit

Four years ago, Chinese journalist Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His crime? Sending an e-mail.

©AI         Shi Tao

©AI Shi Tao

In April 2004, Shi Tao e-mailed a pro-democracy Web site in the United States about a government regulation ordering the country’s media outlets to down play the upcoming 15th anniversary of the military crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square.  Authorities arrested him seven months later, charging him with “providing state secrets to foreign entities.”

China has a history of cracking down on freedom of expression through restricting journalism. It has implemented broad censorship of the Internet. Authorities used information provided by the host of Shi Tao’s e-mail account, Yahoo!, to convict him in April 2005.


Write-a-Thon Series: Mansour Ossanlu

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit

Mansour Ossanlu

Mansour Ossanlu

Trade Unionist Mansour Ossanlu, age 49, is the leader of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Syndica Sherkat-e Vahed). He has been peacefully working to obtain better conditions for workers in Iran and to end discriminatory laws and practices that curtail workers’ rights in Iran. He is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for “acts against national security” and “propaganda against the system.” He had been previously arrested and detained several times for his peaceful labor activism and severely beaten in custody, causing damage to his retinas. He is currently serving his term in a prison for violent criminals and has been mistreated by staff and other inmates. He suffers from several severe health problems, but has not received necessary medical treatment.

Mansour Ossanlu is one of Amnesty International’s 10 priority cases who you can help free by participating in our Global Write-a-thon running from December 5-13. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience who is being detained on vaguely worded charges in order to halt his efforts to build strong trades unions capable of defending the human rights of workers.


Write-a-thon Series: The Women of Atenco

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit

© Private

© Private

You’ve read before on this blog about the women of Atenco, who were arrested without explanation during a police operation in response to protests by a local peasant organization in San Salvador Atenco, in Mexico State. Dozens of them were subjected to physical, psychological and sexual violence by the police officers who arrested them.

In the case of one of the women, Bárbara Italia Méndez, police officers pulled her hair, beat her, and forced her into a state police vehicle with her shirt pulled over her head. She was made to lie on top of other detainees, and during the journey to the prison, police officers sexually assaulted her repeatedly.


More than three years later, these brave survivors are still waiting for justice. None of the officials responsible for their abuse have been held accountable. One of the women was able to identify her attacker, and he was tried on the watered-down charge of “libidinous acts” and sentenced to time served plus a small fine. He appealed the ruling, and was acquitted, thus avoiding even that weak punishment.


Write-a-Thon Series: Aung San Suu Kyi

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit

Aung San Suu Kyi, © Chris Robinson

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has called for political change in Myanmar and has spent 14 of the last 20 years being punished for it. The military junta that has run the country since a 1962 coup has cracked down on political dissent, jailing thousands of reformists and activists. Aung San Suu Kyi, the primary face of the movement for democracy, has been kept under house arrest, unofficially detained, and subjected to other restrictions since the National League for Democracy (NLD), which she co-founded, won a 1990 general election. The NLD was immediately denied power by the ruling State Peace and Development Council.

Aung San Suu Kyi is one of Amnesty International’s 10 priority cases who you can help free by participating in our Global Write-a-thon running from December 5-13. She has most recently been placed under 18 months’ house arrest in August, a move that the international community has censured as a government pretext to prohibit her from participating in state elections scheduled for 2010.


Time to Start Writing, Stamping, and Sending!

Today is the first official day of Amnesty International’s 2008 Global Write-a-thon! Over the next week and a half, thousands of people around the world will be writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, and other individuals at risk. Because so many people around the world are participating, authorities will receive a tidal wave of letters appealing for the human rights of these individuals, and they will find it hard to ignore.

There has already been a huge amount of interest in the US. Over 6,800 people have registered on the AIUSA website, pledging to write over 185,000 letters, and there has been support from different blogs, as well as on Facebook. There are even resources available in Spanish.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not your participation can really make a difference, all you have to do is check out this letter from Sami al-Hajj, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who was featured in the 2007 Write-a-thon, or read about some of the other successful cases.

Just because the Write-a-thon starts today doesn’t mean it’s too late! All you need is a pen, paper, stamps, and the desire to change someone’s life.

The Dangerous Act of Raising a Flag

With all the patriotic spirit and flag-waving (and questions about lapel pins) that we’ve been seeing lately surrounding the Presidential election here in the United States, it can be easy to forget just how powerful a symbol a flag can be, and how heavy a price can be exacted for raising the wrong one. But as election season draws to a close and we in the Individuals at Risk Campaign prepare for the annual Global Write-a-thon, I’ve been thinking a lot about Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, whose case is featured in this year’s Write-a-thon.

Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage

Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage

On December 1, 2004, some 200 people participated in a nonviolent ceremony outside Abepura in Papua, Indonesia, during which the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence, was raised. Filep and Yusak were later charged with rebellion for allegedly leading the flag-raising event. In May 2005, a court sentenced Filep Karma to 15 years in prison and Yusak Pakage to 10 years on charges of treason for having “betrayed” Indonesia by flying the outlawed Papua flag. Amnesty International considers Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage to be prisoners of conscience who have been detained purely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

So whether you’re feeling good or bad about the results of the election in the United States, if you see a flag waving, think about Filep and Yusak, and do something to help them by signing up for the Write-a-thon. Write a letter, save a life!

Sign Up for the 2008 Global Write-a-thon

It’s that special time of year again when letters can move mountains. Be a part of Amnesty International’s Global Write-A-ThonDecember 5-14, 2008. Your letters can save a life!

Last year, the outpouring of support activists showed for individuals around the world at risk of severe human rights injustices led to the biggest Global Write-a-thon ever! We’re aiming high again this year – 75,000 letters on behalf of human rights – and we need your help.

Gather your friends, family and people of your community and pledge to make a difference for human rights. It all starts with just one letter.