As an organisation, we do not claim credit when a prisoner is released, when death sentences are commuted, or when a government changes its laws and practices. However, former prisoners, torture victims and others who have suffered human rights abuses often say that international pressure secured their freedom and saved their lives.
Every year, we receive messages of thanks and solidarity that inspire our members to keep working for human rights. Such messages show the positive effects of our work and that, together, we can make a difference. Find out what you can do
Hafez Ibrahim, Yemen
"I owe my life to Amnesty International... Now I am dedicating that life to campaigning against the death penalty and raising awareness about human rights." Hafez Ibrahim
Hafez Ibrahim was sentenced to death in Yemen in 2004 for a killing committed when he was a child aged 16. In mid-2007, he got hold of a mobile phone in Ta'izz Central Prison and sent a desperate text message to an Amnesty researcher, which read: "Brother Lamri, they are going to execute us. Please get in touch".
We immediately mobilised supporters to take urgent action and sent an appeal to the Yemeni President. On 30 October 2007, the victim's family agreed to pardon Hafez and he was released.
"Phoning the police, faxing a protest, signing a postcard - all these things make a difference because they send a clear message... I believe that the phone calls to the police in Zimbabwe during my arrest saved me from torture and rape..." Jenni Williams, WOZA
Since February 2003, members of the human rights organisation WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) have been repeatedly arrested by the Zimbabwean police while taking part in peaceful demonstrations.
Pressure from Amnesty activists has not yet ended the suppression of their rights, but it has improved the conditions under which activists are held in prison and given them courage to continue their struggle.
Please continue to take action for WOZA
Wolfgang Welsch, East Germany
"We are very pleased to let you know that our adopted prisoner in East Germany, Wolfgang Welsch, has been released... our group now wishes to adopt another prisoner." Amnesty Leeds group letter to head office, 1971
Wolfgang Welsch was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison for attempting to escape from the German Democratic Republic to West Germany. In 1970, he alerted Amnesty International to his plight via secret messages written on cigarette papers, in which he described his 1.2m by 3.5m 'stinking death cell' where he lived in solitary confinement 'in semi-darkness without sun and hardly any air'.
Leeds Amnesty International group in the UK began writing to the East German authorities about Wolfgang's case. Their letters initially went unanswered then they contacted a lawyer in West Germany who agreed to help pressure the authorities. Shortly afterwards, Wolfgang's mother was allowed to visit her son for the first time, and on 24 March 1971 he was released from prison.
Fela Kuti, Nigeria
"My father, Fela Kuti, was released from prison in 1986 after Amnesty International took him on as a prisoner of conscience. So I am one of the thousands of people whose life has been directly affected by Amnesty's work." Femi Kuti
In the 1970s and 1980s, Nigerian musician Fela Kuti was widely known as a critic of Nigeria's military government and a number of his songs included political elements. Threatened by the power of his music, the government repeatedly had Fela beaten and arrested.
In 1984 Fela was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. We began campaigning for his release, concerned that his trial had been unfair and that he had been imprisoned for his non-violent political behaviour rather than any criminal offence. Fans of his music from around the world contacted us to find out how they could help and in 1986, 18 months into his sentence, Fela Kuti walked free. That year he played at a series of benefit concerts for Amnesty International in the USA.