By Maya Delany, Amnesty USA Student Activist Coordinator for Western Massachusetts
Last December, I arrived at my student group’s annual Write for Rights AmnesTEA event and was greeted by dim lighting, steaming beverages, and our group members sitting in a circle writing letters. I poured myself some tea, read summaries of each case, and started writing a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia about Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for simply expressing his opinions.
Last year’s Write for Rights, with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide writing a record-breaking 3 million letters and email actions SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, one of 12 cases in Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign this fall, has been in prison since 2008 because she suffered a still-birth.
Teodora still has 23 more years to serve out of a 30-year prison sentence, which is supported by El Salvador’s draconian abortion law. El Salvador has a total ban on abortion, meaning that abortion is illegal even if a woman’s or girl’s life or health is at risk, if the fetus is not viable, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
In August 2014, Costas and his partner were badly beaten up by thugs in a violent homophobic and racist attack in central Athens.
We had met a couple of months previously at Athens Pride, and we had decided to move in together. We lived in a small studio in central Athens. One day in late August, we went to buy some things from the shop, and I suggested spending some time outside instead of going back home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Lin Htet Naing, husband of activist & prisoner of conscience Phyoe Phyoe Aung
In March, Phyoe Phyoe Aung was locked up for helping to organize a student protest in Myanmar. After eight months in hiding, husband Lin Htet Naing was also arrested in November. Before his arrest, he told us about his partner and their fight for justice.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Moses Akatugba
My name is Moses Akatugba. For 10 years I was on death row in Nigeria. I was arrested, tortured and imprisoned when I was just 16 years old. I was sentenced to death.
Police officers beat me with machetes and batons. The pain I went through was unimaginable.
This May, my execution was halted and I walked free. Your Write for Rights letters saved my life. Thank you. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
I don’t know about you, but I hate writing. My hand cramps, I get ink everywhere and my penmanship is illegible. However, despite all that, every December 10th on International Human Rights Day, I sit down and write letters as part of Amnesty’s annual global Write for Rights campaign. Why? Because in my 10 years with Amnesty International, I know that letters can literally save lives.
For example, one of last year’s Write for Rights cases was Moses Akatugba. He was tortured in Nigeria as a teenager into confessing to stealing three cell phones, and then sentenced to death. Earlier this year, he was pardoned and walked free. He said, SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
October 11th marked the fifth year that the global community recognized International Day of the Girl Child, which the United Nations established to acknowledge girls’ rights and highlight the unique challenges girls face around the world. The list of challenges for girls is not short. Girls around the world are more likely to experience exclusion, discrimination, and gender-based violence than their male counterparts. They are also more likely to have unequal access to education and economic opportunities in the future.
The good news is that the world is paying closer attention to the rights of adolescent girls and, as a result, there have been some improvements over the decades. We have seen progress in girls’ education, and many countries have enacted laws to promote gender equality. At the same time, there are challenges for girls where change is insignificant or where progress is uneven: chief among them is early and forced child marriage. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Moses Akatugba, Nigeria
When I called my mother from prison to tell her I’d been pardoned after 10 years in jail, she fainted. I was told they had to pour water on her to revive her. Later, when she saw me for the first time after all those years in jail, she grabbed me and held me so tight. She wouldn’t let go for almost 15 minutes. The whole time she had tears of joy streaming from her eyes. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Over the last year, activists like you have taken more than 800,000 actions in support of Moses Akatugba, who was imprisoned in Nigeria at 16 years old, tortured, and later sentenced to death on suspicion of armed robbery — a crime he says he didn’t commit.
For months, Amnesty International activists have been campaigning on Moses’s case, including writing letters, participating in demonstrations and sending online messages on Moses’s case as part of Amnesty International’s Stop Torture Campaign and 2014 Write for Rights action.
Yesterday, Amnesty activists put renewed pressure on Emmanuel Uduaghan, the governor of Delta State, to free Moses before the governor’s term ends today. We learned yesterday afternoon that Moses was granted a full pardon.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Raif Badawi, founder of a website for political and social debate, has been held in a Saudi Arabian prison since 17 June 2012. ©Private
An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been identified for security reasons.
“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today. They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew.
No one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST