Select this search icon to access the search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

2016 In Pictures

    December 13, 2016

    2016: The year in human rights

    Thank you for supporting Amnesty International in 2016!

    It seems that wherever you look people have written 2016 off as a bad year. But thanks to you, there's a lot to be positive about, too.

    This year, your support helped free more than 650 people – that’s nearly two each day – from unfair and often abusive imprisonment. Together, Amnesty supporters helped change laws in 40 countries. And in a year of so many uncertainties there is one thing we can all be certain about: Outrage is not enough. Change happens when we take action together.

    On this page we focus on some of the ways you helped change lives in every region of the world in 2016. And with your continued support, we'll face the challenges of 2017. We'll be there to investigate and report on human rights violations, and campaign for justice here in Canada and around the world.



    You stood with Israa al-Taweel, a student who was freed from house arrest in Egypt on January 20. In 2014, al-Taweel was at a protest when security forces shot her in the back, leaving her unable to walk. In 2015, she was arrested, accused of belonging to a banned group and held in prison for several months. Amnesty supporters had called on the authorities to either free her, or give her a fair trial.

    PHOTO CREDIT: © Private


    You celebrated a victory for First Nations families in Canada. On January 26, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal declared that Canada must stop discriminating against First Nations children in the delivery of child welfare services to children on reserve. But the government has not yet acted on the ruling, and public pressure will still be very much needed on this critical issue in 2017!

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International



    For the first time in 44 years, Albert Woodfox was free to walk outside and look up at the sky after being released from four decades in solitary confinement in Angola Prison, Louisiana. Woodfox thanked Amnesty supporters for everything they did during the long campaign to win his freedom.

    PHOTO CREDIT: © Pierre-Yves Brunaud/Picturetank



    You helped win the release of Mahmoud Hussein in Egypt. The 20-year-old spent more than two years behind bars after being arrested when he was 18 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” T-shirt. “I am so grateful to you, the Amnesty activists, who launched campaigns to support me,” Mahmoud said. “That gave me such hope and I felt really supported, as even though I was locked away from people, in a graveyard for the living, I was still alive in other people’s minds.”

    PHOTO CREDIT: © Private



    Mahdi Abu Dheeb thanked you and other Amnesty supporters when he was freed from jail in Bahrain on April 4 and reunited with his family. The prisoner of conscience and former president of the Bahrain Teachers' Association spent five years in prison for his legitimate trade union activities.

    PHOTO CREDIT: © Private


    You helped reunite human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus with their daughter Dinara in the Netherlands. Former prisoners of conscience Leyla and Arif had been freed in Azerbaijan at the end of 2015 after a global campaign by Amnesty supporters.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Jorn van Eck/Amnesty International


    You helped win Phyoe Phyoe Aung’s freedom in Myanmar. Amnesty supporters had demanded her release after she was jailed for organizing protests against a new law that students said limited academic freedom. “I thank everyone very much for their support for me and our movement!” she said.




    You called for an end to torture. On May 3, Amnesty supporters rallied on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, as part of the global Stop Torture campaign. The rally was in part a celebration. Just the day before, the Canadian government had agreed to sign a key international treaty that should help prevent torture.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Thompson/Amnesty International


    You received thanks from Maria Teresa Rivera when an El Salvador court released her on May 20. She spent four years in jail after suffering a miscarriage. Unjustly accused of receiving an abortion, she was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Jorge Menjívar/Agrupación Ciudadana for Amnesty International


    Thanks to you and other Amnesty supporters, journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released in Azerbaijan after a year and a half behind bars. She had been serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence. Her crime? She fearlessly reported on corruption in government.




    You helped free Yecenia Armenta, who survived brutal torture by police and four years in prison in Mexico for a crime she did not commit. She shared this message with Amnesty supporters: “Don’t stop the beautiful work you are doing for the human rights of others. Sometimes justice is delayed, but it comes.”




    You helped win freedom for 17 Angolan youth activists. They were conditionally released at the end of July, following intense campaigning. Among them was Sedrick de Carvalho who had been arrested for participating in a reading group where young people discussed ideas about democracy and freedom. “I would like to thank Amnesty International,” he later said, “Because of your support, we are no longer in prison.”

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International/REDE Angola



    Dmytro Koroliov with his mother

    “Thank you for the work that you are doing!” Dmytro Koroliov said in a message to Amnesty supporters after his release from a secret detention facility in Kharkiv, Ukraine. “I thought I'll never be free and that one day they will just lead me out and shoot me. It is so great to see my family again.”

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International


    You stood up for Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, two jailed Congolese pro-democracy youth activists who walked free in August. They were arrested at a pro-democracy youth workshop in March 2015. Amnesty named them prisoners of conscience. Upon their release, Fred and Yves were held aloft by jubilant crowds.

    PHOTO CREDIT: © Private


    August 3 was a milestone day for human rights in Canada when the federal government launched a national, independent inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The decision followed more than a decade of campaigning by Indigenous women’s groups, Amnesty supporters, and others

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International



    You backed the launch of “I Welcome”, Amnesty’s global campaign calling on governments around the world to do much more to protect refugees. In recent years, record numbers of people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Florin Zamfirescu/Amnesty International


    You helped win the release of Dr Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian professor arrested in Iran after doing academic research and thrown in the notorious Evin prison. Her arrest reflects a disturbing trend in Iran to crack down on women’s rights activists and researchers. Dr Hoodfar is pictured here with her niece Amanda Ghahremani and Amnesty's Alex Neve.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International



    You stood with the families of people who have disappeared in Mexico. More than 27,000 people are now missing. Amnesty supporters across Canada sent butterflies with messages of solidarity to the families of those missing. This photograph was taken at a Day of the Dead event in Toronto in October.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International



    You helped win freedom for prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, Member of Parliament, human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, Rosmit Mantilla. Mantilla spent two years in prison as punishment for his human rights work.




    You wrote for rights! Tens of thousands of people across Canada celebrated International Human rights Day on December 10 by taking part in the annual Write for Rights event and writing letters in solidarity with those whose human rights are under threat.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Amnesty International