UK: Add one extra card to your list as Greetings Card Campaign is launched

Unique charity campaign asks people to give time not money during this festive season

Amnesty International today launches its annual Greetings Card Campaign encouraging people across the UK to send a message of hope and solidarity to those facing persecution, torture and other human rights abuses around the world.

This year’s Campaign is expected to generate tens of thousands of messages of hope for the 26 cases featured.

Amnesty International UK Director, Kate Allen said:

“During a season when so many of us send cards to friends and family, we’re asking people to add an extra card to their list and really make a difference for people under threat.”

Those featured in this year’s Campaign include Fatima Hussein al-Badi, a 43-year old housewife in Yemen who faces execution following an unfair trial, and Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, an Ethiopian retired geography professor who Amnesty believes is being tried for peacefully expressing his opinion.

Previous Greetings Card Campaigns over several years have been successful, providing hope and solidarity to those featured and even sometimes resulting in prisoners being released:

Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev, from Turkmenistan who was being held as a prisoner of conscience, forcibly confined in a psychiatric hospital since February 2004, solely to punish him for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, was released in April 2006. He featured in last year’s Campaign and thanked Amnesty supporters for the telegrams, postcards and letters sent to the hospital where he was detained.

Sumi Khan, a journalist from Bangladesh was physically attacked in April 2004 and has received a number of death threats believed to be linked to her work as an investigative journalist and human rights defender. Sumi featured in last year’s Campaign and thanked those who sent her a card last year saying:

“I’m really grateful to each and everybody… who kindly inspired me by sending their emotional and strong messages. I’ve received thousands of heartiest wishes. I’m really obliged to Amnesty International... and to all.”

This year Sumi Khan can receive expressions of support via an online message board.

Kate Allen said:

“Sending these cards is a simple yet effective way of offering a great sense of hope and solidarity to many people at risk around the world.”

This year the campaign is focusing on 26 cases, including:

HIV/AIDS counsellor in the Dominican Republic Adonis Polanco who has been receiving threatening phone calls since he began campaigning on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS and criticising the government’s failure to provide adequate treatment.

Artur Akhmatkhanov, a Chechen-national student who in April 2003 ‘disappeared’ after being detained, apparently by Russian federal forces, near his home.

Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, a retired geography professor from Ethiopia who has been detained and put on trial in connection with demonstrations against alleged fraud in Ethiopia’s May 2005 elections. Amnesty International considers Professor Mesfin Woldemariam to be a prisoner of conscience, held only for the peaceful expression of his opinion.

The family of Claudina Velásquez – a 19 year old law student from Guatemala who was murdered in August 2005 and whose killers have not yet been found. Claudina’s family are persistently pursuing justice in the face of flawed investigations.

Notes to the editor

  • The campaign runs until 31 January 2007. Amnesty will continue to campaign on behalf of the individuals featured beyond this date and encourage people in the UK to do so.
  • Photographs and interviews with some of the cases featured are available on request.
  • Further information on the campaign is available at www.amnesty.org.uk/gcc
  • To take action on other people at risk, visit www.amnesty.org.uk/cases

Cases, photos and interviews available

View latest press releases