10 ways your words are changing lives

By Ben Beaumont London,

As we get ready for Write for Rights 2015, our global letter-writing marathon, we look at how your words and ongoing campaigning made change happen after the 2014 campaign.  

Moses Akatugba, Nigeria. © HURSDEF

1. Freedom in Nigeria

The Governor of Delta State responded to pressure from Amnesty supporters and granted a full pardon to Moses Akatugba, who had been sentenced to death aged 16 for stealing three phones.

 

Jerryme Corre looks through some of the letters sent to him as part of Write for Rights 2014. Credit: Amnesty International

2. Investigating torture in the Philippines

The Philippines police announced that letters sent by a “human rights organisation” – which we can confidently say is Amnesty International – have prompted them to investigate the shocking torture of Jerryme Corre, who was electrocuted, punched and threatened with death.  

 

John Jeanette Solstad Remø (right) and Norway’s Minister of Health, Bent Høie, at a press conference in Oslo, 10 April 2015. Credit: Amnesty International/Ina Strøm

3. Changing the law in Norway

The Norwegian government said it will change the law for people who want to change their legal gender. It follows our campaigning for John Jeanette Solstad Remø, a transgender woman who was unable to change her legal gender without compulsory medical treatment.

 

Liu Ping, pictured before her arrest, China. © Private

4. Allowing prison visits in China

The daughter of Liu Ping, the activist jailed for fighting corruption in China, has finally been allowed to visit her in prison. The international attention on the case may have played a role in this positive development.

 

Paraskevi Kokoni presents 82,000 signatures from 111 countries to the Greek Minister of Justice, March 2015. © Amnesty International / Photo: Eliza Goroya

5. Fighting racism in Greece

Paraskevi Kokoni, the Roma woman beaten up in a vicious racist attack in western Greece, met with the Greek Minister of Justice to hand over letters collected during Write for Rights. The Minister said the current anti-racist legislation is “insufficient" and proposed measures to change it.

 

Solidarity messages from Write for Rights 2014 are delivered to inhabitants of Mkhondo, South Africa. Credit: Amnesty International

6. Improving healthcare in South Africa

Women and girls in Mkhondo, South Africa, now have better access to pregnancy healthcare. One clinic has increased its antenatal service from two to seven days a week, dramatically reducing waiting times. Government officials have also visited the town to assess and monitor the situation, and health workers have taken up the cause, putting pressure on government to give them more resources.

 

Activists in the UK campaigning for Mohammed al-Roken during Write for Rights 2014. Credit: Amnesty International

7. Raising awareness in the United Arab Emirates. 

You fought for Mohammed al-Roken, who was jailed for 10 years after a huge crackdown on political and human rights activists in the UAE. “We are very hopeful that these kinds of campaigns might pressure the government into taking more positive steps in human rights,” a local activist told us.

 

Letters from school children to Erkin Musaev's family. Credit: Amnesty International Slovakia

8. Giving strength in Uzbekistan

The family of Erkin Musaev, who was falsely accused of spying and jailed for 20 years after unfair trials in Uzbekistan, have told us your letters are giving him “strength, optimism and faith. Erkin passes on a huge thank you to everyone who is not indifferent to his fate.”

 

An Amnesty supporter in the UK campaigns for Chelsea Manning, December 2014. Credit: Amnesty International

9. Supporting Chelsea Manning in the USA

Together, we took more than 240,000 actions for Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison after leaking classified US government material. “I'm so thankful for having all of your support to keep me optimistic,” she told us. “I'm staying strong because of you!” 

 

Protestors at a candle-lit march to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal factory disaster, India, December 2014. © Giles Clarke/Getty Images Reportage

10. Getting compensation in India

The Indian government said it will revise the number of deaths and injuries for which it is seeking compensation following the 1984 toxic gas leak in Bhopal. This could be a huge step towards ensuring the companies involved pay for the true scale of the disaster.