Write For Rights 2020

Across the world, people’s lives and freedoms are under threat. Women are sexually assaulted. LGBTI activists are targeted for who they are. Young people are locked up just for expressing their opinions. Peaceful protestors are beaten and shot at. And people who defend the environment are harassed and intimidated.



PROSECUTED FOR CELEBRATING LGBTI RIGHTS120720982_2786690584933344_1854447045761073455_o.jpg

From day one, biology students Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür dedicated themselves to defending lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) rights at their university. As members of the LGBTI+ Solidarity Group, they have organized campus Pride marches successfully for years. But in May 2019, the university banned the planned march and called the police to disperse the peaceful sit-in. Despite simply exercising their right to peaceful protest, 18 students and an academic are now on trial.


Nassima al-Sada, SAUDI ARABIA

Locked up for demanding women’s rights

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For much of her life, Nassima al-Sada has campaigned for women’s freedom in Saudi Arabia. Now, she’s lost her own. She’s one of 13 prominent female activists prosecuted for demanding women’s right to drive and the right to carry out their daily business without the permission of a male ”guardian”. Since her arrest in July 2018, she has been locked up, enduring ill-treatement and solitary confinement – all for her peaceful efforts to defend women’s rights. 






Khaled Drareni believes in principled journalism. He’s made a point of covering the Hirak protest movement, which embraces freedom and respect for rights and liberties. Like many young Algerians, Khaled sees the Hirak movement as a chance to build a fairer, better Algeria. But this has placed him at odds with the authorities. They’ve arrested him many times, most recently in March 2020. Khaled is in prison, simply for doing his job.


1. Melike Balkan & Özgür Gür, Turkey

Dear Minister of Justice

Biology students Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür are among a group of 19 people facing up to three years in prison for exercising their right to peaceful assembly. On 10 May 2019, a Pride sit-in at Middle East Technical University was violently broken up by police. Melike, Özgür and 21 others were detained; they and 17 among the detained are now on trial. As Minister of Justice, you know that participating in a peaceful gathering is not a crime. I call on you to monitor the case to ensure they are acquitted of all charges.

Yours sincerely


2. Nassima al-Sada, Saudi Arabia

Your Majesty

Nassima al-Sada is a woman whom Saudi Arabia should take great pride in. Her lifelong journey has been one dedicated to the improvement of women’s freedoms and her vision of them being active members of an open, vibrant society. But instead of embracing Ms. al-Sada, the authorities arrested her in July 2018 and placed her in solitary confinement for one year. Today, she is still behind bars. I respectfully call on you to release Ms. al-Sada and all other detained women human rights defenders, immediately and without conditions.

Yours sincerely


3. Khaled Drareni, Algeria

Your excellency

I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release Khaled Drareni, an independent journalist, sentenced to prison simply for doing his job. He was reporting on a Hirak demonstration on 27 March when he was arrested. Ha has been detained ever since. Khaled just wants a fairer, better Algeria that cares for and benefits everyone. He is held on the sham charge of inciting an unarmed gathering and “harming the integrity of the national territory". Khaled should be back on the streets, reporting the news, not locked up for his principled journalism. Please, release him without delay.

Yours sincerely

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