Prisoner of conscience (POC) is a term coined by Peter Benenson in a 28 May 1961 article ("The Forgotten Prisoners") for the London Observer newspaper. Most often associated with the human rights organisation Amnesty International, the term can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, or political views. It also refers to those who have been imprisoned and/or persecuted for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs.
Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence. We also exclude those people who have conspired with a foreign government to overthrow their own.
The concept of "Prisoners of conscience" became a controversy around Nelson Mandela's imprisonment in South Africa 1964. He had initially been adopted as a Prisoners of conscience in 1962, when he was sentenced to five years in jail for inciting a strike of African workers. This was reversed after the Rivonia Trial showed that Mandela now had turned to violently opposing the South African regime. The reversal evolved in 1964 into a worldwide debate and a poll among the members of Amnesty International. The overwhelming majority decided to maintain the basic rule, that prisoners of conscience are those who have not used or advocated violence.
The phrase is now widely used in political discussions to describe a political prisoner, whether or not Amnesty International has specifically adopted the case, although the phrase has a different scope and definition than that of political prisoner.
Below is an incomplete list of individuals that Amnesty International considers to be prisoners of conscience, organized by country.
Ilgar Mammadov, Republican Alternative Movement, Anar Bayramli, Ramin Bayramov, Arif Yunus, Leyla Yunus, Vidadi Isgandarov, Taleh Khasmammadov , Bakhtiyar Guliyev, Mahammad Azizov, Shahin Novruzlu, Rashad Hasanov, Rashadat Akhundov, Zaur Gurbanli, Uzeyir Mammadli , Ilkin Rustamzade
Mahdi Abu Deeb, Mohammad Sanad al-Makina , Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Hassan Mushaima, Abdelwahab Hussain, Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Nabeel Rajab, Ebrahim Sharif, Salah Abdullah Hubail al-Khawaja
Iryna Khalip, Eduard Lobau, Uladzimir Niaklajeu, Pavel Sevyarynets, Mikola Statkevich Anton Suryapin
Aster Fissehatsion, Dawit Isaak, Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo, Petros Solomon, Haile Woldetensae
Eskinder Nega, Bekele Gerba
Alex Chow, Nathan Law, Joshua Wong
Binayak Sen, Soni Sori, Irom Sharmila Chanu
Bahman Ahmadi Amou, Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, Arzhang Davoodi, Ghoncheh Ghavami, Kouhyar Goudarzi Zeynab Jalaliyan, Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand, Zhila Karamzadeh-Makvandi, Habibollah Latifi, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Narges Mohammadi, Parvin Mokhtareh, Abdollah Momeni, Sayed Ziaoddin (Zia) Nabavi, Mansour Osanlou, Jafar Panahi, Isa Saharkhiz, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Reza Shahabi, Saeed Shirzad, Abdolfattah Soltani, Heshmat Tabarzadi, Majid Tavakoli, Mohammad Ali Taheri
Ali Abd Jalil, Anwar Ibrahim
Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir
Phyo Phyo Aung
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Chen Wei, Dhondup Wangchen, Ershidin Israil, Gao Zhisheng, Guo Feixiong, Guo Xiaojun, Mao Hengfeng, Shi Tao, Wang Junling, Wang Xiaodong
Mikhail Kosenko, Nikolay Kavkazsky, Ruslan Sokolovsky, Yaroslav Belousov, Alexei Navalny
Raif Badawi, Mohammad bin Saleh al-Bajadi, Saud al-Hashimi, Khaled al-Johani, Hamza KashgariAshraf Fayadh, Issa al-Hamid, Alaa Brinji, Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, Zuhair Kutbi, Mikhlif al-Shammari, Waleed Abu al-Khair, Abdulaziz al-Shubaili, Saleh al-Ashwan, Omar al-SaidAbdulrahman al-Hamid, Abdulkareem al-Khoder, Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammed Fahad al-QahtaniFowzan al-Harbi, Fadhel al-Manasif
Ussamah Mohammed, Faisal Saleh
Ali al-Abdullah, Mazen Darwish, Shibal Ibrahim Riad Seif
Ramzi Abcha, Ghazi Beji
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Nasser bin Ghaith
Azam Farmonov, Alisher Karamatov, Solijon Abdrahmanov
Leopoldo Lòpez, Gregory Hinds, Geraldine Chacòn
Cù Huy Hà V?, Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Dan Que, Nguyen Van HaiNguyen Van Ly, Phan Thanh Hai, Ta Phong TanVi Duc Hoi, Tr?n Hu?nh Duy Th?c