FreeThe20 campaign

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Samantha Power

FreeThe20 is a campaign to call attention to women who are political prisoners around the world. The campaign names twenty women who are imprisoned unjustly.[1] Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, started the campaign for the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration.[2]

The reason for the campaign was to tell governments to stop putting women in prison, and to tell the women and their families that they are not alone. There were twenty names of women in twenty days, one for every year since the Beijing Declaration. [3]

In September 2015, a bipartisan "#FreeThe20" bill was introduced to the U.S Senate. All twenty women senators of the two political parties supported the bill. They said,

"As 20 women serving in the United States Senate we stand unified in calling on governments to recognize the universal human rights of women and to release women who have been imprisoned unjustly for exercising those rights." [4]


Names of the women[change | change source]

For status of the women updated to the end of the Powers' term as Secretary of State, see #FreeThe20 Women Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Concern Campaign.

Still detained[change | change source]

The following women are still imprisoned (updated March 2017):

  • Aster Yohannes, Eritrea
  • Liu Xia, China, under house arrest as soon as Chinese literary critic Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize was announced in October 2010[5]
  • María Lourdes Afiuni Mora, Venezuela
  • Matlyuba Kamilova, Uzbekistan

Released[change | change source]

The following women have been released (alphabetical):

  • Bahareh Hedayat, Iran, release published 09/05/16 [6][7]
  • Blen Mesfin, Ethiopia, released December 2016[8]
  • Bui Thi Minh Hang (Vietnamese Bùi Thị Minh Hằng), Vietnam, released Feb. 11, 2017[9]
  • Gao Yu, China, released from prison in November of 2015.[10]
  • Nadiya Savchenko, Ukraine/Russia, released from prison on May 25, 2016.[10]
  • Naw Ohn Hla, Burma, released from prison on April 17, 2016.[10]
  • Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan, released from prison on May 25, 2016.[10]
  • Leyla Yunus, Azerbaijan, released from prison December 9, 2015[10]
  • Meron Alemayehu, Ethiopia, released November 2015[8]
  • Nadiya Savchenko, Ukraine/Russia, released from prison on May 25, 2016.[10]
  • Nigist Wondifraw, Ethiopia, released November 2015[8]
  • Phyoe Phyoe Aung, Burma, released from prison in April of 2016.[10]
  • Rasha Sharbaji, Syria, released February 8, 2017 [11]
  • Sanaa Seif, Egypt, released from prison on September 23, 2015 but reimprisoned May 2016. She was re-released November 16, 2016.[10]
  • Ta Phong Tan, Vietnam, released from prison on September 19, 2015.[10]
  • Wang Yu, China, released August (?) 2016[12]

Other websites[change | change source]

  • Free the 20 Campaign on Flickr [13]
  • #FreeThe20 hashtag on Twitter [14]
  • Text of #FreeThe20 bill in the U.S. Senate [15]

References[change | change source]

  1. "FreeThe20 Women Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Concern Campaign Launch". 14 January 2017.
  2. "US Campaigns to Free Women Political Prisoners".
  3. "#Freethe20 - HumanRights.gov is the official United States Government website for international human rights related information".
  4. http://www.ayotte.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=2201
  5. "Rare Phone Call From House Arrest Sparks Fears For Liu Xia's Well-Being".
  6. "Prominent Activist Bahareh Hedayat Freed In Iran".
  7. Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld - Prominent activist freed in Iran".
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 AfricaNews (10 March 2017). "Ethiopia's mass release of 'detainees' excites top US officials, call for more".
  9. "Prominent Vietnamese Rights Defender Released From Prison".
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 "#Freethe20 - HumanRights.gov is the official United States Government website for international human rights related information".
  11. "Imprisoned for 3 years for her husband's alleged crimes, mother of fi…". 9 March 2017.
  12. Hernández, Javier C. (1 August 2016). "China Frees Wang Yu, Human Rights Lawyer, After Videotaped Confession" – via NYTimes.com.
  13. "Flickr".
  14. "Twitter Search".
  15. Ayotte, Kelly (22 September 2015). "Text - S.Res.262 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): A resolution to support the empowerment of women and urge countries to #FreeThe20". www.congress.gov.