Stand As My Witness

It’s been a tough year for everyone. For human rights defenders, their already difficult work became even harder. In many restrictive states, the global pandemic became another excuse to attack fundamental freedoms. For 16 Days of Activism Against and International Human Rights Day, we’re renewing our call for the immediate release of rights defenders from jail; we urge states, authorities and multinational corporations to guarantee peaceful human rights activities - without fear of reprisals and intimidation.

The #StandAsMyWitness campaign kicked off in July 2020, celebrating the birth and legacy of Nelson Mandela. Like Nelson Mandela, activists are being imprisoned, persecuted and harassed for their stand for freedom, rights and democratic values. You can help do something about it. 

If you have a soul, 

Your eyes can see,

Your mouth can speak,

How advantageous to me,

You stand as my witness.”

Said Zahari, former editor-in-chief of Malay-language newspaper, Utusan Melayu. A prisoner of conscience, Said was held for 17 years without trial in Singapore. 

Why you should #StandAsMyWitness

Sudha Bharadwaj
Teresita Naul
Buzurgmehr Yorov
Loujain Al-Hathloul
Saudi Arabia
Guapinol Water Defenders
María Esperanza Sánchez García

Take Action!

Thousands are in jail following unfair trials and trumped-up charges. Many are currently in pre-trial detention, facing long prison sentences for their human rights activities. For defenders locked up in overcrowded prisons, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens their already precarious health and welfare.

We need you to take a stand and help spotlight the profiles of rights defenders in jail or being persecuted. Together we can call on states to release the people fighting for all of our rights.

Use your voice so they are not silenced. Make sure they are not forgotten and let them know they do not stand alone.

1. Engage on Social Media

Use this social media toolkit to share your messages of solidarity.

2. Send a Letter

We’re featuring 6 activists to shine a spotlight on their cases and demand their immediate release. They are from 6 countries, and you will find 6 template letters for each of them! Take a look. Choose 1, or if you have time 2. Write to their respective governments and demand their release:

  1. Teresita
  2. Sudha
  3. Buzurgmehr Yorov
  4. Maria Esperanza
  5. Loujain
  6. Guapinol Water Defenders

3. Share the details of HRDs not mentioned in our Interactive Map.

Do you know any human rights defenders in detention or facing judicial harassment that you would like us to profile? Tell us about them by following the link below.

HRDs Map

Interactive Map of Human Rights Defenders in Detention

For more information, contact: David Kode (