Amnesty International was founded by British lawyer, Peter Benenson in 1961. In 1961 there was a news report of two students from Portugal that had been arrested and incarcerated for toasting to freedom. After hearing this report Benenson was heated about the injustice and instantly became active for the problem. "He published an appeal in The Observer newspaper urging readers to write letters on behalf of "prisoners of conscience" around the world. His appeal sparked an international grassroots campaign to protect human rights,' (amnestyusa.org) and out of all of this Amnesty International was created.
"With more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries, and complete independence from government, corporate or ideological interests, we work to protect human rights worldwide. Our global headquarters is based in London, and we have established organizations in 68 countries. Amnesty International USA is the largest country section of the organization with nearly 250,000 members, who work for human rights independently, through national online networks, or with high school, college or community groups" (amnestyusa.org).
An organization that is run completely off of generous donations from members and supporters around the world, they are considered a non-for-profit organization working to create a better world for those who are oppressed.
Amnesty International's mission is to see all people no matter the color of their skin, where they are from, what gender they identify to, or who they love see the beauty of human rights. Their main document that they draw their strength and mission from is the UDHR, also known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with many others. Amnesty International works off of three main ideas; Research, Action, and Advocacy. Their mission is not to only address the issues here in the United States but to address human rights and civil rights issues around the world.
Amnesty works makes sure they have all of the information before they start a campaign. Their research is alegedly un-biased from 'corporate and government influence" (amnestyusa.org).
After recognizing the groups or individuals that are being opressed, Amnesty Internation brings attention to the problems by proving to government officials, international institutions, policy makers, and corporations that the fight for equality and civil and human rights is extremely important. They not only grab the attention of these people but they also grab the every day person's attention by creating reports on their website and giving an individual the opportunity to take matters into their own hands by simply signing an online petition to support those being oppressed.
As Martin Luther King Jr. worked with a grassroots mentality, so does Amnesty International. They combine the media (internet, television, radio) and "high-level legislative work" to create "policies to advance human rights, protect individuals and free prisoners of conscience" (amnestyusa.org). Well known best-selling author J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series) used to work in the research department of Amnesty International, she describes Amnesty's mission as follows, "Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet' (amnestyusa.org).
Here's something to think about while you go about your day:
- Amnesty International has freed over 10,000 prisoners of consciencious.
- gained public support for adopting the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and advised other governments to "ratify the Convention and bring domestic laws into conformity with it" (amnestyusa.org).
- After intense campaigning and research Amnesty helped see to it that the enactment of the U.S. Tribal Law and Order Act was put into place. The mission of this act is to put an end to sexual assault of Native American and Alaska Native women.
- After decades of work and campaigning Amnesty International see the death penalty banned from two-thirds of the world's countries (compared to the 1970's where only 16 countries had moved to erradicate capital punishment).
- Worked towards making sure that those that were and still are a part of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity will face justice. (International Criminal Court--established by Amnesty International).
- Out Spoken