US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power yesterday announced the launch of #FreeThe20, a campaign to promote the recognition and release of 20 women political prisoners around the world.
The campaign is organized in advance of a September 27, 2015 UN conference planned to revisit the Beijing Declaration, a manifesto on gender equality and women's rights that concluded a landmark conference in Beijing 20 years ago. It will profile the life and work of one woman political prisoner every day for each of the 20 working days before the conference convenes.
In remarks introducing the campaign, Power identified Khadija Ismayilova, an Azeri investigative reporter and RFE/RL contributor, as one of the 20 political prisoners the campaign will showcase. Ismayilova was sentenced yesterday to seven and a half years in prison on charges widely believed to be connected with her journalism.
In a powerful appeal, Power said, "To the media we urge: write about these cases. To members of these women’s communities and to our own communities, we urge: take up their cases as your own, and demand their release. And to the governments imprisoning these twenty individuals we urge: if you want to empower women, start by releasing these women. Don’t deprive your societies and the world of these women’s voices."