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    July 15, 2021
    After Two Years of ICE Detention, Maura, a Transgender Woman from Nicaragua Regains Her Freedom

    After a campaign to free Maura, a 41-year-old transgender woman originally from Nicaragua, generated thousands of emails — including at least 3,000 Urgent Actions from Canada — to the ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) San Diego Field Office, the agency has finally released her. Maura was detained for over 800 days in a facility accused of medical neglect and failing to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks. 

    Following her release, Maura said:

    I am so, so happy. I still can’t believe it. I thought I wasn’t going to get out of that place, I thought I wasn’t going to get out of that hell. It was very difficult, very traumatic, very horrible. I thought I was alone in this world. I thought it wasn’t worth it to keep fighting. And then I realized that there were people around the world, who I didn’t even know, very good people who have been very supportive. They supported me by sending me letters, they gave me moral support. I am very happy for all that, very grateful.

    July 08, 2021
    Human rights defenders Nassima al-Sada and Germain Rukuki

    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:

    March 08, 2021
    International Women’s Day 2021

    International Women’s Day should be a time of celebration. It might feel like there’s not much to be positive about right now, especially when we consider the harm the pandemic has caused to women, girls and LGBTI people around the world.

    But this year it’s especially important to celebrate women’s achievements – not only because we're all in need of some good news, but because there is plenty of cause for hope. Here are ten things that happened last year that prove change is always possible - even during a pandemic.

    February 25, 2021

    On or around December 10th, International Human Rights Day, Amnesty International supporters around the world take part in our biggest global day of action, Write for Rights, in solidarity with individuals and communities whose human rights have been denied.

    Despite the challenges with COVID-19 restrictions, thousands of supporters across Canada made their voices loud this year. They organized an incredible 206 virtual and household events or took action on their own, and sent more than 75,000+ letters, emails, solidarity messages and tweets from Canada alone! 

    You're already changing lives - thank you! Here are some recent updates from Write for Rights 2020, as well as one from 2019: 

    December 07, 2020

    It’s been a difficult year, but there’s been a lot to celebrate in 2020. From writing letters and taking action to signing petitions and protesting in a safe way, people have come together – despite the most difficult circumstances – to show that change is possible. And if you’re in need of further proof, here are 41 inspiring stories that prove why humanity will win in the end.

    January

    Rohingya children enjoy playing and learning in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Photo: Arif Zaman.

    October 15, 2020

    Amnesty’s legal team after presenting at the Supreme Court . From left to right: Jennifer Klink, Paul Champ, Penelope Simons

     

    This October, Eritrean plaintiffs reached an out of court settlement in their major corporate accountability lawsuit against Canadian mining company Nevsun Resources. The confidential agreement was reached after years of legal wrangling that spanned three continents.

    The case, filed in British Columbia in November 2014 by former mine workers Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle, alleged that Nevsun was responsible for benefitting from gross human rights abuses such as slavery and forced labour, torture, and crimes against humanity during the construction of its copper, zinc and gold mine in Eritrea.

    October 12, 2020

    Narges was facing a 16-year sentence for her peaceful activism, most notably in support of women’s rights and gender equality, and against the death penalty. Her health had been declining since June, and she had demonstrated some COVID-19 symptoms, but was denied adequate health care. 

    Thanks to support from you and others around the world, including during Amnesty’s Write for Rights 2016 campaign, Narges has finally been released, reunited with her family, and can now access the medical treatment she needs. 

    September 04, 2020

    Although it didn’t come soon enough, Amnesty supporters can welcome the release of Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, Cuban lawyer, independent journalist and now former prisoner of conscience. He returned home on 4 September 2020, after serving his one-year sentence.

    To mark World Press Freedom Day in May, over 4000 Amnesty supporters from across Canada spoke out for Roberto’s freedom, highlighting to authorities that his underlying health conditions put him at particular risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. During his detention since September 2019, Roberto Quiñones Haces regularly reported the prison conditions in which he was held. On 31 March, he wrote in Cubanet that even though prison authorities implemented certain measures regarding COVID-19, “the quality of the food is still deplorable. Despite reports of the vulnerability of older adults (prisoners over 60) to COVID-19, many of them are kept in cubicles where they live in overcrowded conditions with almost two dozen people.” 

    September 02, 2020
    Nasu Abdulaziz and Moses Akatugba at an Amnesty Nigeria Write for Rights event, December 10, 2019

    Last December during Write for Rights, the world's biggest human rights event, Amnesty supporters took more than 6.6 million actions in solidarity with young people facing injustices head on — to support them, give them strength and make it possible for them to continue to dare where adults in authority are failing. 

    So how have your words changed lives since then? Read on for updates from last year's cases, and watch for news about Write for Rights 2020 in the coming weeks!

    Grassy Narrows Youth, Canada 

    August 31, 2020
    "Thank you so much. I have no words. You have no idea how my heart is filled with happiness." - Magai Matiop Ngong 

    We campaign. We write. We advocate. And news like this is what we work for: 18-year-old Magai Matiop Ngong has been removed from South Sudan’s death row! 

    Before his life changed forever, Magai was a 15-year-old high school student. He loved running and singing, and had ambitions to be the president of South Sudan so that he could help people when he grew up.  

    But his dreams came to a sudden end in 2017 when he was convicted of murder. Magai's cousin had argued with a neighbour. When the neighbour got a gun, Magai did too. Magai fired warning shots into the ground, but one of the shots ricocheted and injured Magai's cousin who later died. Magai faced trial without a lawyer and told the judge that he was only 15 and tried to explain that the killing was an accident. But the judge sentenced him to death by hanging. "The feeling is not good at all," said Magai. "To be informed that you are going to die, I am not happy for that..." 

    July 24, 2020

    Good News comes from New Zealand, after Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish journalist from Iran who fled persecution and attempted to seek safety in Australia, has finally been granted asylum after six agonizing years in Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea), beginning in 2013.

    His detention was the result of the Australian government’s cruel and unlawful asylum policies, which involved sending thousands of asylum seekers to Pacific Island nations of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru. Amnesty International’s research found that the conditions for people trapped in these centres amounts to torture under international law.

    Behrouz gained a reputation as a journalist and human rights defender by talking about violations in the press and social media throughout his ordeal. He published over 100 news articles from detention, including his autobiographical book, No Friend But The Mountains, published in July 2018 while he remained detained.

    July 16, 2020

    Kelly is a 24-year-old asylum seeker from Honduras. She fled the country when she was just 12 due to violence against her based on her transgender identity. After arriving in the U.S., immigration authorities detained her in August 2017 and locked her up while she waited for the results of her asylum claim. The campaign for humanitarian parole by Amnesty activists and her many local supporters stretched back many months. Calls for her release ramped up recently when Kelly feared becoming infected by COVID-19 because of the inadequate measures taken by authorities to protect detainees and staff from the virus. Her lawyer credits this campaign for her release; there was no judicial reason for freeing her.

     

    Here is Kelly right after her release from the detention centre in Colorado where supporters had set up a protest camp.  

     

    June 26, 2020

    Prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab is finally free!

    If that name is familiar to you, it’s because the prisoner of conscience and co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was repeatedly targeted for his human rights work and peaceful criticism over the past two decades. Before his release from this latest four-year detention, Nabeel Rajab was repeatedly imprisoned and released in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

    Some of the activism for which he was persecuted include giving television interviews and tweeting about the killing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and allegations of torture in Jaw prison. In addition to imprisonment, he endured nine months in solitary confinement.

    Responding to his release, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said: 

    June 18, 2020
    No-one could have predicted the disruptive start to 2020 brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. As our world experiences its most profound societal changes for a generation, and life is put on hold for many, fighting for human rights must continue if we are to ensure a stable, just and secure future. Here we take a look at the human rights successes, against all odds, won in late 2019 and the first months of 2020…   December 2019

    A group of girls who had been forced to leave school when they became pregnant, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2016

    June 12, 2020

    On 30 March, Public Security officials in Mexico replaced two police escorts protecting Clemencia Adelaida Salas Salazar with one officer who had limited functions. They cited pandemic restrictions as the reason but that made Adelaida considerably more vulnerable to further attacks for the work she was doing to defend women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

    Amnesty launched UA 58/20 on April 20. Urgent Action writers responded by sending messages to the Governor of Yucatán state and received replies from three different authorities. The threats and attacks stopped and in May, the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders restored full safety measures for Adelaida. There’s power in those pens and keyboards! 

    To learn how you can join the Urgent Action Network, check out our website here. 

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