Reading the news can be really depressing. Sometimes there seems to be so much wrong in the world, the idea of changing it for the better feels impossible. But as Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign shows, you can make a big difference by doing something ‘little’.
Writing a letter, sending a Tweet, signing a petition. Surely you can’t change the world with something so simple? Yes, you can!
In 2020, millions of people, just like you, changed the lives of 10 people whose human rights had been stripped from them. Taking just a little bit of time to send a Tweet or write a letter has made the world of difference to the people we supported through the campaign in 2020. Here are some of their stories.
JAILED ACTIVIST FREED IN SAUDI ARABIA
Nassima al-Sada (AFP via Getty Images)
Nassima al-Sada, a campaigner for women’s freedom, walked free from jail in June 2021. Nassima had been arrested in 2018 for peacefully defending human rights. While imprisoned the guards beat her and banned anyone from visiting – even her lawyer. Supporters worldwide wrote a massive 777,611 letters, tweets and more. Nassima’s son, Mousa al-Sada, feels that international attention on his mother helped push her case to a verdict, after years of stagnation and aided in securing her release. Nassima is still subject to a travel ban, meaning she cannot leave Saudi Arabia for five years – Amnesty supporters will continue to fight for Nassima’s full freedom.
FATHER OF THREE TO BE REUNITED WITH FAMILY
On 30 June 2021 NGO worker and human rights defender Germain Rukuki was released from prison after being found guilty of a slew of sham charges and sentenced to 32 years in prison in Burundi. He was jailed before getting a chance to hold his youngest child, born just weeks after he was taken in July 2017. His family fled the country for fear of reprisals. Germain will soon be reunited with his family, after more than 400,000 actions calling for his release.
ONE STEP CLOSER TO JUSTICE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Popi’s mother and sister call for justice, as they deliver a petition of over 300,000 signatures from Amnesty supporters worldwide.
The families of murdered best friends Popi Qwabe and Bongeka Phungula finally have reason to believe that justice for their loved ones is on the horizon. Until recently, Popi and Bongeka’s friends and families had been distressed and angered by irregularities and delays in the police investigation into their 2017 murders. However, in March 2021, police revived the case after receiving 341,106 petition signatures from supporters worldwide. The police have now completed their investigation and handed over the case to the country’s National Prosecuting Authority. “I feel optimistic,” said Popi’s sister Thembelihle. “I feel like finally, something is about to change.”
JAILED ALGERIAN JOURNALIST RELEASED
Khaled Drareni spent 11 months in jail and became a symbol for much needed press freedom in Algeria. In March 2020, Khaled was arrested while covering a peaceful demonstration. He was charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and harming the integrity of the national territory and sentenced to three years in prison – all for simply doing his job as a journalist. Following continuous attention from the campaign, and mass mobilisation by activists, Khaled was released on 19 February 2021. Khaled is still facing charges. We will not stop until these charges are dropped.
PRIDE DEFENDERS ACQUITTED IN TURKEY
Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür, two of the nineteen defendants who have spent more than two-and-a-half years awaiting trial for organizing a Pride at the Middle Eastern Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, were finally acquitted on October 8, 2021. The defendants – 18 students and one member of the University’s academic staff – had been facing up to three years in prison for organizing a Pride against an order of the University’s rector.
445,000 people from around the world demanded their acquittal during Write for Rights, including more than 11,000 people in Canada who sent letters, emails and texts.
YOU TOO CAN CHANGE THE WORLD AND HERE’S HOW
Write for Rights 2021 is here! This year, we’re standing with people around the world whose human rights are being attacked. These people need you to stand with them.
Jani Silva (ANZORC)
If you have any doubts that your words can make a difference, Jani Silva, an environmental activist from Colombia can assure you they do. Jani’s fearless opposition to environment contamination and human rights violations has had frightening consequences. She’s been followed, intimidated, and threatened with death. Following the 2020 Write for Rights campaign, Jani said:
I am so very grateful for the letters. From the bottom of my heart, this campaign has kept me alive. It’s what has stopped them from killing me, because they know that you are there.“Jani Silva