Today we applaud everyone who supports human rights and celebrate their efforts to maintain freedom, justice and peace in the world.

People such as you – our wonderful supporters who contributed to our Big Give Christmas Challenge, helping us raise a brilliant £35,249 towards our bursary scheme for persecuted human rights defenders.

Thanks to your generosity, prisoners of conscience will be able to convert their qualifications to UK standards and resume their interrupted careers after suffering persecution in their home countries due to their courageous stance to uphold human rights.

This year’s Human Rights Day has the theme of youth as a source of inspiration for a better future. Here at Prisoners of Conscience, we know just how hard young people work to protect human rights. Over the last two years alone, 26 of the people we have helped have been under the age of 25 – people such as Anya, a Prisoners of Conscience bursary recipient, who was just a teenager when she was forced into exile.

Anya was 14 years old when she joined a political party that promoted cultural and political rights of all Kurdish people in Turkey. Because of this, she was arrested, abused and given an eight-year jail sentence. Anya managed to evade the authorities and lived and worked in Istanbul for five years under an assumed identity. She was eventually smuggled out of Turkey to the UK in a lorry.

Anya is now a UK citizen. Determined to use her experience to help others, she saved up for a part-time law degree, which she completed around her job and caring for her two young children.  With the help of Prisoners of Conscience she was able to complete her LLM (Master of Laws) and is currently undertaking an LPC (Legal Practice Course), which will allow her to work as a solicitor.

“A huge thank you and everyone in Prisoners of Conscience…The course has a big impact on my future career…Now I am volunteering at the law centre and had a six-month placement at one of the big corporate commercial global law firms. Soon I will be fundraising for the law centre to provide legal help specifically for refugees. I wish you all the best and hope to see a world without war!”