20 Facts about Amnesty International
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights.
Amnesty International is also commonly known as Amnesty or AI.
Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights movement, with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries.
Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961, following the publication of the article “The Forgotten Prisoners” in The Observer 28 May 1961, by the lawyer Peter Benenson.
The article “The Forgotten Prisoners” cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 18 and 19, announcing a campaign on “Appeal for Amnesty, 1961” and calling for “common action”.
Peter Benenson reputedly wrote “The Forgotten Prisoners” after he read about two Portuguese students from Coimbra that that had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in Portugal for allegedly “having drunk a toast to liberty”.
Amnesty International is a democratic movement shaped by elected representatives from around the world.
Amnesty International’s iconic logo of a candle wrapped in barbed wire was inspired by the ancient Chinese proverb: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”, reflecting Peter Benenson’s hope that its work would shine a light in the darkest of places where human rights abuses go unpunished.
Amnesty International was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its “campaign against torture”.
Amnesty International was awarded in 1978 the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.
By 1980 the USSR alleged that Amnesty International conducted espionage, the Moroccan government denounced it as a defender of lawbreakers, and the Argentine government banned Amnesty International’s 1983 annual report.
In 1995, newspapers and advertising companies refused to run AI’s ads that promote how Shell Oil Company was involved with the execution of an environmental and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria. The reason was because Shell Oil was a customer of theirs as well.
In the aftermath of 11 September attacks, the new Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan, reported that a senior government official had said to Amnesty International delegates: “Your role collapsed with the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York”.
In February 2011, Amnesty requested that Swiss authorities start a criminal investigation of former US President George W. Bush and arrest him.
Amnesty International’s annual report on the state of the world’s human rights has been published every year since 1961 and is produced in more than 25 languages.
Amnesty International has offices in 80 countries.
Amnesty International has campaigned for prisoners of conscience since its inception, and is currently working for their release in at least 48 countries around the world.
Amnesty International has issued more than 20,500 Urgent Actions highlighting specific human rights appeals and 10,500 Urgent Action follow-ups since the programme started in 1973.
In 1988, director Stephen R. Johnson and 41 international animators, musicians, and producers created a 20-minute video for Amnesty International to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration. The video was to bring to life the Declaration’s 30 articles.
In July 2011, Amnesty International celebrated its 50 years with an animated short film that shows that the fight for humanity is not yet over.