Around the world, an estimated one million individuals find themselves behind bars as political prisoners.  Among them are individuals held unjustly for exercising human rights and fundamental freedoms, or detained because of their race, religion, ethnicity, or who they love.  Individuals like Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who has been unjustly incarcerated for more than 500 days and is currently serving a 26-year sentence in isolation; Russian pro-democracy opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, sentenced to 25 years for criticizing Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine; Iranian lawyer Narges Mohammadi, whom the Iranian regime attempted to retry on additional charges after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for  activism on behalf of human rights and women’s equality; Dr. Gulshan Abbas, a retired physician and ethnic Uyghur sentenced to 20 years in prison by PRC authorities for an unfounded charge despite preexisting medical conditions that require regular care;  and Tajik human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov, known for representing individuals prosecuted on political grounds, convicted on an unsubstantiated fraud charge in July that added 10 years to his previous 28-year sentence.  These individuals and so many others like them represent bright lights of hope for their countries that autocratic leaders seek to extinguish.  They serve as critical voices in holding their governments accountable and promoting democratic governance.

One year ago, the United States launched the #WithoutJustCause campaign to galvanize global attention to the outrage of political prisoners detained unjustly around the world, to help the world to learn their stories, and to increase pressure to secure their release.  The individuals highlighted in this initiative represent the diversity of prisoners held unfairly for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms; they include faith leaders, civic activists, businesspeople, and former government officials.  As the #WithoutJustCause initiative enters its second year, the United States again calls for the release of the brave women and men whose detention we have highlighted, and more broadly for the release of every single individual imprisoned unjustly around the world.

To learn more about the campaign, visit https://www.state.gov/withoutjustcause.

For media inquiries, please contact DRL-Press@state.gov.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future