20 human rights wins worth celebrating

As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s natural to have feelings of despair and fear. Against this backdrop of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we all stand together – and celebrate the good news when it breaks.

People may need to be physically distant right now, but we are always united in our humanity.

Here are 20 human rights wins worth remembering, and celebrating:

USA

Colorado abolishes the death penalty, becoming the 22nd US state to do so.

Dr. Scott Warren was also acquitted of charges of “harboring” migrants. Warren is both a geography professor, as well as an activist and volunteer for No More Deaths – an NGO that leaves emergency supplies for migrants crossing the border.

Ethiopia

Lecturer Firew Bekele was released without charges; as well as 3 of 5 journalists arrested under ‘terrorism proclamation’.

France

Pierre Mumber was acquitted after helping four West African asylum seekers. He was convicted of “facilitating irregular entry” after offering them hot tea and warm clothes.

Palestine

Photojournalist Mustafa al Kharouf was freed after 9 months in an Israeli prison.

© Ursula Meyer

Nicaragua

13 activists who were arrested for providing water to families arbitrarily detained, were released. They still however face charges, so the campaign for their freedom continues.

Nigeria

Prisoners of conscience Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare were freed.

Pakistan

Human rights defender and Professor, Muhammad Ismail, received bail after a month jailed for his efforts to support his daughter – women’s rights defender Gulalai Ismail. However, he still remains at risk of a lengthy prison sentence as charges against him have not been dropped. We continue to call for all charges against him to be dropped.

© Ursula Meyer

Uzbekistan

Blogger and human rights defender Nasofat Olloshkurova was freed from a psychiatric institution where she had been held forcibly after reporting on a peaceful protest.

Viet Nam

the death sentence of Hồ Duy Hải was suspended, and his mother Nguyễn Thị Loan sent a message of thanks to Amnesty activists:

Thank you for saving my son’s life, no words could describe my sincere gratitude to all of you

Nguyễn Thị Loan

Vietnamese activist Trần Thị Nga was also released from prison in January.

Trần Thị Nga was released in January, after having served three years of a nine year prison sentence. She has since safely arrived in the USA along with her partner and two sons.

Myanmar

Filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was released from prison. He was detained in 2019 because of Facebook posts criticising the role of the military in politics.

The International Court of Justice also ordered Myanmar to take ‘provisional measures’ to prevent genocidal acts against the Rohingya people. The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation into their forcible deportation.

Bangladesh

The government announced it will provide education to half a million Rohingya refugee children who have been deprived, since fleeing crimes against humanity in Myanmar in 2017.

© Ursula Meyer

Qatar

Qatar announced the abolition of exit permits for all workers including domestic workers on 16 January. Two exceptions remain, however, so the campaign is not yet over.

Sierra Leone

It was found in court that the government ban on pregnant girls attending mainstream schools and sitting exams violates their human rights. It was ordered that the policy be revoked with immediate effect.

Tanzania

President Magufuli’s government swore in new commissioners to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, two years after the previous office bearers had retired. This came one week after our report on repression under his leadership.

Senegal

Prominent activist Guy Marius Sagna was released on bail after three months in a high security prison, for taking part in a peaceful protest about rising electricity prices.

Equatorial Guinea

Activist Joaquin Elo Ayeto was freed without explanation, after being arbitrarily detained for almost a year.

I have been told of the work that you have done for me, and I want to thank the titanic effort by Amnesty International that has resulted in my release. I want to thank all the work that has been done to achieve my release

Joaquin Elo Ayeto

Iran

The Tehran Appeals Court reduced the prison sentence of Yasaman Aryani from 16 years to 5 years and 6 months. We continue to call on Iran to release Yasaman immediately and unconditionally.

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Amnesty International