Loujain with black hair and a gray dress stands in front of a vine.

15 lives changed in 2021 thanks to compassionate activists and supporters around the world

Campaigning for people who have been wrongfully imprisoned is at the heart of what Amnesty International does.

We investigate reports of human rights abuses from all over the world, raise awareness of those abuses in the media, and talk to politicians and people with the power to make a difference.

Our compassionate activists and supporters around the world take action – signing petitions, sending emails, organising events and much more – calling for the authorities to release those unfairly detained, and reunite them with their loves ones.

Those actions can change lives. These are just a few of the lives that have been changed in 2020.

Tibetan activist Tashi is finally free

Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk was released from prison in China in January. Tashi spent five years in jail for “inciting separatism” — simply because he campaigned for the Tibetan language to be taught in Tibet’s schools.

People all around the world face human rights violations at the hands of their own government. Amnesty International keeps governments accountable for their actions. Find out more about our individuals at risk campaigns.

Women’s rights activists Nassima and Loujain released

Saudi Arabian activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released in February, after spending nearly three years in prison. In June, fellow women’s rights activist Nassima al-Sada was also released from prison.

Both were imprisoned for campaigned for women’s rights, including the right to drive, in 2018. Both are now subject to a travel ban meaning the cannot reunite with their families. The authorities must remove their travel ban, and release all peaceful activists from prison.

Learn more about our campaigning work to secure women’s rights.

Journalist Khaled freed in Algeria

Journalist Khaled Drareni, who was serving a three-year prison sentence for covering protests, was released from jail in February.

Yahaya no longer faces the death penalty

In August 2020 23-year-old singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was sentenced to death in Nigeria for sharing a song considered ‘blasphemous’. In February, a court declared he’s getting a retrial. Now we need to work together to make sure the retrial is fair, and he doesn’t face the death penalty a second time.

Poet Paing Phyo Min released from prison in Myanmar

Poet Paing Phyo Min released from prison in Myanmar in April. Paing was sentenced to 6 years in prison in 2019 for peaceful satirical performances.

“I just wanted to say as a parent thanks so much for helping my son.”


Solafa and Hossam released in Egypt

In April Egyptian journalists Solafa Magdy and Hossam Al-Sayyad were released from jail, and reunited with their son.

The married couple were imprisoned in November 2019 and accused of accused of “joining a terrorist group and misusing social media platforms”.

Raman and Sofia no longer at risk of torture

Belarussian blogger Raman and his girlfriend Sofia were detained by Belarusian authorities in May, after their Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk, Belarus’ capital.

On 25 June Raman and Sofia were moved to house arrest from prison, meaning they are no longer at risk of torture and ill-treatment. Amnesty International will continue to call for their immediate release.

Maura is free after two years in immigration detention

For two years, Maura was locked in an immigration detention facility in California, and at risk of deportation. Maura is a 41-year-old transgender woman originally from Nicaragua who fled to the United States seeking protection from relentless violence and abuse. Maura was finally freed in June.

“I am so, so happy. I still can’t believe it. 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”

Maura’s message to supporters following her release.

Shafqat and Shagufta taken off death row

In June, married couple Shafqat and Shagufta were acquitted by a court in Pakistan, meaning they no longer face the death penalty. Shafqat and Shagufta arrived safely in Europe in August.

They were sentenced to death for sending ‘blasphemous’ texts and spent seven agonising years in prison. Their
lawyer Saiful Malook must be provided with adequate security, as he faces significant security risks because of his work with Shafqat and Shagufta, and others accused of blasphemy.

Navalny recieves health care

Russian opposition activist and prisoner of conscience Aleksei Navalny finally received health care he urgently needed in April. Navalny’s health had seriously deteriorated in following his arrest in January, after returning
to Moscow from Germany, where he had spent time recovering from being poisoned with agent Novichok in August 2020.

“Thanks to the huge support of good people from all over the country and the whole world, we have achieved huge progress”.

Navalny’s message to his supporters.

Amnesty will continue to campaign for Navalny’s immediate and unconditional release.

Germain Rukuki finally free in Burundi

Burundian human rights defender Germain Rukuki was released on 1 July after serving more than four years in prison. Germain’s release came after an appeal court reduced his sentence from 32 years to just one in June. Germain was arrested, prosecuted and convicted simply for his human rights work, and should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

This progress only happens because compassionate and courageous people take action. Together, we can pressure the authorities to release those unfairly imprisoned, and reunite them with their families. Take action, and make a difference in someone’s life, today.

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