This year our movement has had some incredible triumphs. From campaigning successfully for the release of death row prisoners Iwao Hakamada in Japan and Meriam Ebrahim in Sudan, to applying pressure to the UK government in the wake of the CIA torture report, and guaranteeing historic commitments from the UN and the EU that will fight injustice and protect the rights of thousands of people. None of this would have been possible without you – without you taking action, funding our research or giving up your time to spread the word in your local communities. Thank you. This year, we have seen the extraordinary results we can achieve when we come together.
Thanks to our work, this month the EU pledged stronger support and protection for human rights defenders in Afghanistan. These plans could provide a vital safety net by providing safe houses, emergency visas and other critical measures they have called for. We will be monitoring progress but this is a fantastic first step.
This year also saw the launch of our Stop Torture campaign and in October we celebrated the release of Ángel Colón. Ángel was tortured and spent nearly six years in jail in Mexico without ever being put on trial. But after 20,000 Amnesty supporters demanded justice for Ángel the Mexican authorities agreed to release him unconditionally.
In May, we asked for your help to free pregnant prisoner of conscience Meriam Ibrahim, who had been sentenced to hang in Sudan for refusing to renounce her faith. More than a million of you answered our call and your action made sure that the authorities couldn’t ignore her injustice. Then in June we were overjoyed to share with you the fantastic news that she has been freed and that you helped save her life.
In May, after years of campaigning, the UN Human Rights Council agreed to establish an inquiry into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka. The UK played a pivotal role in calling for an inquiry. Thank you for helping keep up the pressure by calling on your MPs to make sure potential war criminals will be held to account.
In March, we were moved by the incredible sight of the world’s longest-serving death row prisoner Iwao Hakamada being released from Japan’s death row, after he was granted a retrial based on new DNA evidence. We will continue to push for a fair retrial for Hakamada and support his long search for justice.
Back at the start of the year Elena Klimova was charged under Russia’s anti-‘gay propaganda’ law for running a website offering support to LGBTI teenagers. Thousands of you took action and in February an appeal court ruled in her favour and allowed her to carry on running Children 404.
You are part of a movement of over seven million people across the world and 2015 will bring us new challenges at home and abroad. As always, we will protect people at risk of injustice and abuse, wherever they are – but in the run-up to May’s general election, we will need your support more than ever to protect our human rights at home in the UK.
Thank you once again for helping make all this happen. Here’s to 2015!
Director, Amnesty International UK