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2015 in Pictures

    2015: The year in human rights

    Thank you for supporting Amnesty International in 2015!

    2015 has been filled with some heartwarming human rights victories. These have been possible thanks to Amnesty International's dedicated supporters and members -- people determined to speak out and stand with those experiencing injustice and human rights violations.

    With your continued support, we will face the challenges of 2016. We'll be there to investigate and report on human rights violations, and campaign for justice here in Canada and around the world. 


     

    January

    After you spoke out against the Cuban government cracking down on activists, the authorities freed dozens of political prisoners. Among them were Angel Figueredo and Haydee Gallardo (pictured).

    CREDIT: YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images

     

    Pressure from Amnesty supporters led to El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly pardoning Guadalupe who was jailed at 18 years of age and then sentenced to 30 years after suffering a miscarriage in 2007. If you’re poor and have a miscarriage in El Salvador, you may be accused of having an abortion and be locked up.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    Your support helped win freedom for Dr Tun Aung in Myanmar. The Muslim community leader and medical doctor was imprisoned after he tried to calm a crowd during a riot in 2012. Amnesty launched a global campaign for his release.

    CREDIT: © Private

     

    Amnesty supporters had long campaigned for oil giant Shell to clean up pollution in the Niger Delta and compensate communities affected by oil spills. In January, Shell finally made an out-of-court settlement in the UK of £55 million to the people of the Bodo community whose livelihoods were destroyed by oil spills.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    February

    On Valentine’s Day, Amnesty supporters in Canada took part in Have a Heart Day, a campaign by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to raise awareness of discrimination in the funding and quality of basic government services needed by First Nations children.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    You stood with Claudia Medina Tamariz in her long struggle for justice after she survived terrible torture by Mexican security forces. In February came the good news that the Mexican authorities had dropped all criminal charges against her.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    You gave hope to Jerryme Corre in the Philippines when an Amnesty team visited him in jail on his birthday with thousands of letters of support. Jerryme was jailed for possessing drugs but he says that police tortured him into confessing.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    March

    Chen Zhenping was released early from prison in China after being in prison for more than six years for practising her religion, Falun Gong. Following her release she experienced harassment, but in October was reunited in Finland with her daughter who expressed her appreciation to Amnesty members: “We are lucky because we had your support!”

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    April

    With your support, Amnesty campaigners Jackie Hansen and Craig Benjamin went on several research missions to Fort St. John to prepare a report that will look at the experience of Indigenous women and girls in northern British Columbia. The report will look at why Indigenous women and girls are at increased risk of going missing and being murdered.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

    You helped free five women’s rights activists in China who were jailed for campaigning against sexual harassment on International Women’s Day.

    CREDIT: © Private

     

    In April, Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera travelled to Tikrit, Iraq, to investigate human rights abuses. This photograph shows Donatella at the site of an alleged 2014 massacre of 1,700 Iraqi army cadets by ISIS.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    May

    After your support helped free human rights defender and torture survivor Angel Colón from prison in Mexico, Angel was able to visit Canada and meet Amnesty supporters. “My freedom is your victory!” he said.

    CREDIT: Paul Thompson/Amnesty International

     

    In the months leading up to Canada’s federal election, you ensured candidates in ridings across the country paid attention to the importance of human rights issues. Pictured here is Amnesty member Amanda Schleede at an event in Regina, Saskatchewan, in May.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    Amnesty supporters had defended Omar Khadr’s human rights since his capture as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in 2002, then through his years in Guantanamo Bay, and throughout his time in prison in Canada. Finally, in May 2015, a court in Alberta ordered Khadr’s release on bail.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    “Amnesty International members and activists are my heroes,” Moses Akatgugba said after he was freed from jail in Nigeria. Accused of stealing cell phones, Moses was jailed and tortured in 2005 and later sentenced to death. He received more than 800,000 letters from Amnesty supporters.

    CREDIT: © Private

     

    Ireland: Ireland said YES! to full marriage equality. In May, Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce full civil marriage equality for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. “[This decision] sends a message to LGBTI people everywhere that they, their relationships and their families matter,” said Amnesty Ireland’s Executive Director, Colm O’Gorman.

    CREDIT: © EPA/AIDAN CRAWLEY/Corbis

     

    Your support made it possible for Amnesty Canada’s Alex Neve to cross into Sudan to report on the ongoing human rights crisis in South Kordofan state where for four years attacks by the Sudanese military have terrorized civilians.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    June

    “I felt like I was dreaming,” said Fikile Makhubu (pictured) upon hearing that her husband Bheki, a magazine editor and prisoner of conscience, had been released from jail in Swaziland on June 30. “I couldn't believe what I was hearing...It was a wonderful surprise!”

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    USA: Marriage equality is a right. In June, the US Supreme Court delivered a historic ruling affirming same-sex couples' legal right to marry. “This is a joyous day not just for loving and committed same-sex couples, but for everyone who believes in human rights and equality for all,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

     

    July

    You made it possible for Amnesty’s senior crisis advisor Donatella Rovera to investigate war crimes inside Yemen where conflict raged throughout 2015 between pro-government and rebel forces.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    August

    Members of Amnesty’s Iran Action Network took part in Toronto’s Pedestrian Sunday event and launched a petition blitz to raise awareness of human rights abuses in Iran.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    You stand in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities in Canada and around the world. Here Amnesty supporters march in Vancouver’s Pride parade.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    September

    You were part of the global human rights campaign that helped win freedom for Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Along with two Al-Jazeera colleagues, Fahmy had been jailed in Egypt for simply being a journalist and doing his job. “If you doubt these campaigns make a difference, I’m living proof they do,” he said.

    CREDIT: STR/AFP/Getty Images

     

    You stood in solidarity with the families and classmates of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, who “disappeared” in 2014 after police attacked their bus. Pictured here are Amnesty activists in Toronto taking part in a solidarity action on the one-year anniversary of the disappearances.

     

    You called on European leaders to save refugees and migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout 2015 Amnesty pressed governments to tackle the growing Syrian refugee crisis.

    CREDIT: Ali Alsheikh Khedr/Amnesty International

     

    November

    For 10 years, Amnesty members stood alongside him in his struggle for justice, and finally, in November 2015, Papuan pro-independence activist Filep Karma tasted freedom. He spent a decade in prison in Indonesia for simply raising an independence flag at a political ceremony in 2004.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International

     

    You continued to call for the release of jailed blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia. Raif was flogged in January and is still at risk of further flogging. Throughout 2015, Amnesty supporters called for justice in Raif’s case by demonstrating, writing letters and signing petitions.

    CREDIT: Paul Thompson/Amnesty International

     

    December

    Because of you, Adrián Vásquez Lagunes was released from a Mexican prison on December 2, three years after he was arrested and tortured by state police and accused of being a high-level drug trafficker. Amnesty supporters campaigned for his release as part of the global Stop Torture Campaign.

    CREDIT: Amnesty International