We have more exciting news to share about some of the courageous people you supported during our global Write for Rights 2020 campaign. Thanks to your support and efforts, three more prisoners of conscience: Nassima al-Sada, Germain Rukuki and Paing Phyo Min are free! In February, another prisoner of conscience, Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni, was released.
Thank you for all of your efforts during Write for Rights 2020! Here are the latest updates:
Germain Rukuki, Burundi
Human rights activist Germain Rukuki was finally released from prison on July 1 after more than four years behind bars in Burundi. Last month, an appeals court reduced his sentence from 32 years to one year. Germain should never have been jailed in the first place – he was arrested, prosecuted and convicted simply for his human rights work.
Amnesty supporters around the world took more than 436,000 actions calling for Germain’s freedom, including nearly 10,000 actions from Canada. On behalf of herself and their three young children, Germain’s wife Emelyne Mupfasoni shared her thanks with you:
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you all to have mobilized and made it possible for Germain to reunite with us soon.
Nassima al-Sada, Saudi Arabia
On June 27, 2021, Nassima and another prominent women human rights defender, Samar Badawi, was released from prison in Saudi Arabia. They had both been detained since 2018 for their peaceful women’s rights activism.
More than 777,000 actions were taken for Nassima’s freedom during Write for Rights, including nearly 13,000 letters, emails and tweets from Canada. Thank you!
While Nassima and Samar have been released conditionally, they face a five-year travel ban and strict bail conditions that restrict their right to freedom of expression. These courageous human rights defenders should never have been jailed in the first place, and we will continue to campaign until they are truly free.
Paing Phyo Min, Myanmar
On April 17, 23-year-old Paing Phyo Min was released from prison in Myanmar! Two years ago, he was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison for peacefully making fun of the Myanmar military with his satirical poetry troupe, the Peacock Generation. He should have never been imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Paing Phyo Min’s father has shared his thanks:
“I just wanted to say as a parent thanks so much for helping my son.”
Jani Silva, Colombia
On Earth Day 2021, April 22, Amnesty International published a “Letter from the World” demanding protection for earth defender, Jani Silva. To create the letter, Amnesty used an algorithm to condense the hundreds of solidarity letters sent to Jani Silva into a single letter that symbolizes global solidarity and demands that Colombian authorities take strong and effective measures to protect her life and guarantee her safety.
In a video, 14 public figures, including artists, singers and comedians from seven countries, read aloud the letter to Jani Silva. Watch the video here:
Jani shared her thanks for your continuing solidarity:
“From the bottom of my heart I can say that this campaign is what has kept me alive, because I’ve been very close to death but it’s never happened. In spite of everything, today we are alive and that’s what counts. Because I defend my territory, people have held a gun to my head [and threatened] to kill me. But I’m staying in my territory, we can’t run away or let fear defeat us. We have to keep fighting as when there are threats against our territory, it’s not just us that’s under threat but the whole world, because we have to protect the earth that gives us life.”
Popi Qwabe and Bongeka Phungula, South Africa
Four years on from the murders of Popi Qwabe and Bongeka Phungula, their families finally received some positive news. On March 8, International Women’s Day, the South African Police Service committed to investigating Popi & Bongeka’s case.
The commitment followed a meeting with Popi’s sister, mother and Amnesty staff, who handed over 316,796 actions taken by supporters during Write for Rights.
The families have campaigned tirelessly for justice since 2017, maintaining that the police failed to properly investigate the women’s murders, and key suspects were released for lack of evidence.
You can find previous Write for Rights 2020 updates here. We will add more updates as they come. In the meantime, thank you again for your incredible efforts and we look forward to working with you for Write for Rights 2021 this fall!