Every year around December 10th, Amnesty supporters send letters on behalf of people they’ve never met. Our messages help convince government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion, stop the use of torture, and end other human rights abuses. Letter writing has always been at the heart of Amnesty International’s work, and 59 years of activism shows us that words have power. Last year we sent over 4.4 million messages from 170 countries and territories — and changed lives.

Below you will find some of the remarkable success stories from past Write for Rights campaigns. 

Click here to see updates from last year’s cases. 

Click here to see updates from 2019.

Phyoe Phyoe Aung, 2015 Write for Rights case

Phyoe Phyoe Aung is a young human rights defender and Secretary General of one of Myanmar’s largest student unions. On March 10, 2015, she and 50 other students were arrested by police for their peaceful demonstrations against an education law they believe limits freedom of education.Phyoe Phyoe Aung was charged with a range of offenses including taking part in an unlawful assembly and inciting the public to commit offenses against the State. She faced up to nine years’ imprisonment and was a prisoner of conscience. She was freed on April 8, 2016.

Yecenia Armenta, 2015 Write for Rights Case

Yecenia was imprisoned for 4 long years, after being tortured in order to force a confession that she killed her husband. As part of Write 4 Rights 2015 over 300,000 actions were taken on her case urging the Mexican Government to drop the charges and release her. This activism helped shift public opinion and media coverage, and pressured the government; she was acquitted and released in March 2016.

Dr Tun Aung, 2013 Write for Rights Casee

Dr Tun Aung is a Muslim community leader, medical doctor, and peaceful activist. He was first jailed in 2012 after trying to calm the crowd during a riot involving Buddhists and Rohingya in Rakhine State, western Myanmar, and was sentenced to up to 17 years’ imprisonment under various trumped-up charges. He was released January 2015.

“God bless all who work to relieve the suffering of the downtrodden and bless those who are fighting for justice in this world.”

– Dr Tun Aung

Albert Woodfox, 2015 Write for Rights case

On his 69th birthday, February 19, 2016, Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox walked free – 44 years after he was first put into solitary confinement.He was the USA’s longest serving prisoner held in isolation. Nearly every day for more than half of his life, Albert Woodfox woke up in a cell the size of a parking space, surrounded by concrete and steel.For the first time in more than four decades, Albert Woodfox is now able to walk outside and look up into the sky.

“I’d like to thank our friends at Amnesty International and Amnesty USA for their remarkable support these last years, culminating just recently in the Write for Rights Campaign”

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Yves Makwambala and Fred Bauma, 2015 Write for Rights Case

Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala are prisoners of conscience who were imprisoned in March 2015 for their role in pro-democracy activism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After 170,000 people stood up and asked for their release, they were freed in August 2016.

“Every letter, every visit, every word has strengthened us and reinforced our determination in this long but just struggle for freedom and democracy.”

-Yves Makwambala

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Birtukan Mideska, 2009 Write for Rights Case

A prisoner of conscience sentenced to life in prison, Birtukan Mideksa was held for nearly two years in Ethiopia solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and association. Her case was featured in Write for Rights 2009, during which thousands of people from around the world petitioned for her release by sending letters to the Government of Ethiopia. Birtukan was released in October 2010.

“Thank you for your hard work and your campaigns to secure my release from prison…Your letters, phone calls, and petitions were my protection during the months I spent in solitary confinement. You were my voice when I had none.”

– Birtukan Mideska

Eskinder Nega, 2013 Write for Rights Case

Renowned Ethiopian journalist, Eskinder Nega, has been imprisoned nine times simply for doing his job. He was released in early 2018 after spending his longest stint in prison.

“I received letters of support from Amnesty International through my family. It helped keep my morale up, and it lifted the spirits of my family. I am glad I inspired people to write. I am proud of that. Nothing beats the written word. ”

– Eskinder Nega

Read Eskinder’s letter to Amnesty International Supporters

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Erkin Musaev, 2014 Write for Rights Case

Erkin is a former Uzbekistani government official and UN employee who was tortured and wrongly imrisoned after being accussed of spying for an unnamed NATO member state in 2007. He was released in August 2017.

“I would like to note that after the letters of support from the activists, the attitude of the administration of the penal colony to me changed. The staff of the colony began to treat me with more caution, and I was transferred to easier work.”

– Erkin Musaev

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Moses Akatugba, 2014 Write for Rights Case

Moses Akatugba was sixteen years old when he was arrested under suspicion of armed robbery in 2005. Moses spent more than three months in police detention, where he says that police officers repeatedly beat him with machetes and batons. He told Amnesty that they tied and hung him up for several hours, and then used pliers to pull out his toe and fingernails. Finally, Moses was forced to sign two pre-written confessions, and was sentenced to death in 2013. During Write for Rights 2014, activists took more than 800,000 actions on Moses’ behalf, and now he walks free!

“I am overwhelmed. I thank Amnesty International and their activist for the great support that made me a conqueror in this situation. Amnesty International members and activist are my Heroes”

– Moses Akatugba