PURE PEOPLE POWER: 10 HUMAN RIGHTS SUCCESSES SO FAR IN 2015

1. More than a million of us stood up to #FreeRaif 

Raif Badawi was jailed in Saudi Arabia for 10 years and sentenced to 1,000 lashes last year after setting up a website for social and political debate. When he received the first 50 lashes in January, campaigners across the world united in outrage. His flogging has not been carried out since for unknown reasons, but he is still not free and at risk of being flogged again as long as his sentence stands. “To you, free people still standing up for Raif, your protests are making a difference,” said his wife Ensaf Haidar. “Please do not stop until Raif is released."  Sign now

2. We pushed Shell to pay out £55 million for oil spills in Nigeria

After years of campaigning, we helped bring about justice for 15,600 farmers and fishermen in Bodo, a community in the Niger Delta region. In January, Shell announced a £55m settlement to help rebuild the lives and livelihoods devastated by two large oil spills in 2008 and 2009. The fight for an environmental clean-up goes on.

Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez (right) hugs her lawyer, Angelica Rivas, after being released from prison in San Salvador, 19 February 2015. © REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

3. Guadalupe, jailed for a miscarriage, was freed 

Thanks to the hard work of dedicated activists in El Salvador, Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez was finally pardoned and walked free from prison in February. She was just 18 when she suffered a miscarriage. Suspected of having an abortion – banned in all cases in El Salvador – she was jailed for 30 years in 2007 on trumped-up murder charges. In April, we will hand over more than a quarter of a million signatures from Amnesty supporters demanding an end to the ban. Join our My Body My Rights campaign!

4. The last charges were dropped against torture survivor Claudia Medina

In Mexico, the last few charges were dropped against Claudia Medina, a survivor featured in our Stop Torture campaign. We will keep pushing to make sure she gets justice for the torture she suffered.

A letter for torture survivor Moses Akatugba in Nigeria from Anna-Lena, a school girl in Germany, sent during Write for Rights 2014. © Amnesty International

5. We took action over 3 million times during Write for Rights 

A final count following our annual letter-writing campaign last December revealed that we beat 2013’s record of 2.3 million actions hands down! Together, people worldwide sent more than 3 million letters, emails, text messages, faxes and tweets to support people whose rights have been abused. 

"To you, free people still standing up for Raif, your protests are making a difference. Please do not stop until Raif is released."
Ensaf Haidar, wife of jailed blogger Raif Badawi

6. Torture became a crime in Togo

The fantastic announcement came 26 years after the West African country first signed up to the UN Convention against Torture. The historic ruling was achieved thanks to members of Amnesty Togo and its partner organizations, who brought together people who had been tortured to demand justice. 

7. Dr Tun Aung was released in Myanmar

Campaigners worldwide celebrated the release of community leader Dr Tun Aung in January. He was jailed for 17 years after trying to calm a crowd during riots in Myanmar in 2012. This good news followed more than two years of pressure from Amnesty supporters, including during Write for Rights 2013. Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission said our letters prompted them to look further into Dr Tun Aung’s case.

8. Three protesters were freed in Equatorial Guinea

Three men in Equatorial Guinea were freed just a day after Amnesty called for their release. Celestino Okenve, Antonio Nguema and Miguel Mbomiohad were arrested for protesting peacefully against the country hosting the African Cup of Nations football tournament. They were held for two weeks without charge and with limited access to a lawyer.

Liu Ping, who was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in June 2014 for fighting corruption. © Raoul Shade

9. Liu Ping had a prison visit in China

People worldwide took action for Liu Ping, an activist jailed for fighting corruption in China, during Write for Rights 2014. After previously being refused permission, her daughter, Liao Minyue, was able to visit her in prison last December and again in February 2015. This is a positive development, and it’s possible that the international attention on Liu Ping’s case as part of Write for Rights contributed. "I'm very moved by all the action for my mother,” Liao Minyue said. “I want to send my thanks to everyone who has been campaigning on her case.” We will continue to press for Liu Ping’s immediate release.

10. Fiji became 99th country to abolish the death penalty

On 13 February, we woke up to the good news that Fiji had scrapped the death penalty. This brought the number of countries who have completely ended the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment to 99, exactly half of all states in the world. Our campaign continues for more countries to join them.

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