This year, we've seen both victories and challenges in human rights.
Aung San Suu Kyi, an iconic human rights leader in Myanmar, was finally released after spending most of the last 21 years in detention. She sacrificed her own freedom and contact with her family to fight for human rights. Her emotional reunion with her son, who she had not seen in a decade, was a bright moment for all of us. Her inspiring courage and relentless spirit remind us that our actions have the power to change the world for the better.
Amnesty shines a light on prisoners of conscience worldwide - advocating for the release of those jailed for the peaceful expression of their beliefs or ideas. Allow me to share two recent stories with you:
Distinguished Iranian film director Jafar Panahi was invited to be a judge at Cannes Film Festival this year. Instead, he remained in detention in Iran. His absence was marked by an empty chair placed on the stage for the duration of the festival.
This month, Panahi was convicted of “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to both a 6-year prison term and a 20-year ban on his artistic activities. Amnesty International has joined with Academy Award winners Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby), Sean Penn (Milk, Mystic River), and others to condemn his harsh sentence.
Earlier this month, Liu Xiaobo was scheduled to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his courageous human rights work - instead, he was in a prison cell for calling for reform in China. Despite worldwide outrage, his sentence was not lifted, and at the ceremony his chair also sat empty. Amnesty International members continue to advocate for his release.
These prisoners should be freed immediately, and there should be no more empty chairs where human rights defenders should sit.
Amnesty International is the most successful human rights movement in history, and we'd be honored if you would stand with us and make a year-end gift.
Amnesty International USA
PS - Many supporters time their charitable contribution to Amnesty for the end of the year in order to gain a tax deduction. In order to make this year's tax deadline, all gifts must be made by December 31st.
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