The concept is simple: Take Action, Change a Life.
Urgent Actions ask our community of volunteers to flood the mailboxes, inboxes, phones and social media of authorities when someone is in imminent danger of human rights violations. Your letters, emails, phone calls, faxes and Tweets have helped to halt executions, support human rights defenders and free prisoners of conscience—people jailed solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs and identity.
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Urgent Action emails specify the case, local and international government officials to contact, their contact information and suggestions about what to write, say or Tweet. Learn more about writing effective letters and emails.
Are you an educator looking for ways to engage your students in human rights? Find out how your students can show their power through letter writing!
In many cases, your action on these cases leads to better conditions for prisoners and their eventual release. Those individuals at the center of these Urgent Actions often send their thanks to Amnesty International, citing that these messages serve as a source of hope.
“The reason we could resist the ban and move forward was the international support and solidarity by Amnesty International activists around the world. We could not have gone further without your support” – ODTÜ/Student Organized Pride March in Turkey (UA 83.18)
“My case once again showed how important solidarity and attention are in protecting the freedom of speech and human rights. I admire your noble work and boundless courage, dear activists” – Bobomurod Abdullayev, POC from Uzbekistan (UA 232.17)
“I am very grateful for all the support I received while I was in prison. Life in prison was very difficult and I was treated badly, but the support of those who believed in me made me strong.” – Munther Amira, Palestinian Human Rights Defender (UA 26.18)
Out of the 36 men who remain at the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 20 are cleared for release yet remain imprisoned today. The prison has been open for more than 20 years and over 700 Muslim men and boys have passed through its doors. Many were tortured, all of them detained arbitrarily, and none have faced a fair trial. One of these individuals is Toffiq al-Bihani, who was cleared for transfer out of the facility in 2010 but remains there today. The US government must transfer out Toffiq and the other cleared men and close the facility immediately.
On August 4, 2021, Ali Maziad, a Lebanese national residing in Saudi Arabia, was abducted from his house in the capital, Riyadh by a group of men in civilian clothes. The Lebanese Embassy informed his family three months after his disappearance that he is being detained by State Security. Since then, he has been forcibly disappeared and his family has no information about his fate and whereabouts. Amnesty International urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Ali Maziad, release him and ensure he has access to medical treatment and legal representation.
The health condition of Tawfiq al-Mansouri, one of the four Yemeni journalists detained since 2015 and sentenced to death in April 2020 before the Huthi-run Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a, Yemen, is severely deteriorating as he has been denied life-saving health care by the Huthi de facto authorities. Amnesty International calls on the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately grant him access to health care. Tawfiq al-Mansouri and the three other journalists- Akram al Walidi, Abdelkhaleq Amran, and Hareth Hamid - detained alongside him, must be released and their convictions and death sentences quashed without delay.
On July 15, 2022, a court in Krasnodar (southern Russia) sentenced Andrei Pivovarov to four years in prison for “carrying out activities of an undesirable organization”, under a law that contravenes Russia’s international human rights obligations. Andrei Pivovarov is a political activist, human rights defender and the former director of Open Russia, an organisation advocating for democracy and human rights. On May 31, 2021, he was taken off a flight in Saint Petersburg and arbitrarily detained since. Andrei Pivovarov has committed no internationally recognized crime and has been jailed for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. He is appealing his conviction.
On July 4, 2022, a Misdemeanours Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) convicted Egyptian researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy of spreading "false news" and sentenced him to three years imprisonment. His conviction is based solely on social media posts criticizing human rights violations in Egypt and the state’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Verdicts by ESSCs cannot be appealed. Ahmed Samir Santawy is a prisoner of conscience, who has been arbitrarily detained since February 2021, and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Journalist Younis Abdelsalam has been arbitrarily detained without charge by the Huthi de facto authorities for almost a year. He was falsely accused of communicating with foreign entities. Following his arrest, he was subjected to enforced disappearance for several weeks and then held incommunicado for at least three months. Amnesty International urges the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately release Younis Abdelsalam. Pending his release, they must ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that he has access to legal representation, his family, and adequate healthcare.
On July 5, 2022, Yuli Velásquez, President of the Federation of Santander Fishers for Tourism and Environment (FEDEPESAN), an environmental organization operating in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, was the victim of an armed attack. Two unknown assailants shot at her, harming her bodyguard. Members of FEDEPESAN have previously suffered other armed attacks and threats. We urge Colombia’s National Protection Unit (UNP) to grant protective measures to Yuli that adequately respond to the level of risk Yuli and FEDEPESAN members are facing.
More than 70,000 Indigenous Maasai people are at risk of being evicted from their ancestral grazing lands to make way for a tourism operation after a paramilitary group arrived on June 7, 2022, in the Maasai town of Loliondo, in Arusha Region of Northern Tanzania, to implement the authorities’ plans to seize the ancestral and registered land of the Maasai people. On June 9, 2022, community members began to protest the demarcation but were met with force by security officers, who used tear gas and firearms against the protestors. 25 community members were arrested and have since been charged with conspiracy to commit the murder of a police officer. The authorities must end the security operation in Loliondo, immediately release the arrested persons and suspend any ongoing land acquisition plans.
Mohamed Benhlima is an activist, former military official and whistleblower who exposed alleged corruption by high-ranking Algerian military officials online. He sought asylum in Spain but the Spanish authorities refouled him to Algeria in March 2022. The Algerian authorities subjected him to torture and ill-treatment and imprisoned him in El Harrash prison in Algiers before moving him to El-Blida military prison. He is undergoing trials on several cases before the military and civil courts. He was sentenced to death in absentia, while still an asylum seeker in Spain, on charges of espionage and desertion.
José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of the unofficial political opposition group “Patriotic Union of Cuba,” who was arrested last July 11, 2022, in the context of island-wide protests and has been imprisoned ever since is being held incommunicado, according to his family. He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.