Why Today's Human Rights Day Is So Special

Download PDF

Today is a special Human Rights Day. It marks the beginning of Amnesty International’s 50th year celebration.  That’s 50 years of working together to demand freedom and justice for all.

The shameful imprisonment of writer Liu Xiaobo and China’s refusal to allow him or his family to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo earlier today is a powerful reminder that we must sustain global pressure to achieve basic rights.

Like Liu Xiaobo, millions of people worldwide live in fear of persecution by repressive governments or armed factions and millions more suffer extreme deprivation.  But we are not powerless against this injustice.

Amnesty International has proved for 50 years that collective action is a powerful force for change. Just look at the last month where the world witnessed the joyful release of the world’s most famous political prisoner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, after 15 years of house arrest in Myanmar.

In 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson ignited a worldwide campaign when he published an article in The London Observer titled The Forgotten Prisoners.” Benenson wrote: “Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured, or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government.” Amnesty International was born that year with an appeal to free six prisoners of conscience.

Over the next 50 years, we’ve shown that collective action is a powerful force for change.  Today Amnesty International is the largest grassroots human rights organization in the world with nearly 3 million members worldwide.  We’ve helped win the freedom of tens of thousands of individuals jailed for expressing beliefs or defending basic rights, shut down torture chambers, halted executions, and established laws and treaties to protect the freedom and dignity of people around the world – and in the United States. And we won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.

We hope that on this human rights day you’ll join us and our global human rights movement.  Take actionDonate.  Invite your friends.  Help us give the gift of human rights to countless others around the world (watch our video below for a taste of what we can achieve when we work together).

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

6 thoughts on “Why Today's Human Rights Day Is So Special

  1. The rights of Julian Assange (the founder of the media organization, Wikileaks) are under threat, including that most basic right – the right to life. The greatest threats to his rights have been coming loudly from the Obama Government and the US Congress. Yet Amnesty has been strangely silent. As a longtime support of AI, I am somewhat dismayed. How can we preach about human rights to a variety governments and individuals in the Third World when, to citizens in the Third World, we come across as nothing but hypocrites.

    Come on Amnesty, start making some strong statements of support for Mr Assange. And why not a petition?

  2. The rights of Julian Assange (the founder of the media organization, Wikileaks) are under threat, including that most basic right – the right to life. The greatest threats to his rights have been coming loudly from the Obama Government and the US Congress. Yet Amnesty has been strangely silent. As a longtime support of AI, I am somewhat dismayed. How can we preach about human rights to a variety governments and individuals in the Third World when, to citizens in the Third World, we come across as nothing but hypocrites.

    Come on Amnesty, start making some strong statements of support for Mr Assange. And why not a petition?

  3. Dear Peter C,

    i wholeheartedly join my voice to your own ……

    It doesn't take courage to speak out today for Liu or Suu Kyi in the West.

    But Amnesty's … caution ? ….hesitation ?… timidity ? … in touching the case of Julian Assange ……… especially when it's happening right now under Amnesty's collective noses …. does not speak well for the organization's moral courage.

    Are you waiting till the machinery of state digs its claws more firmly into him, & draws blood ?

    If prevention is better than cure, you should, as Peter says, issue statements of support for Assange…. as well as a petition for him, which i think is a tremendously good idea !!

  4. Dear Peter C,

    i wholeheartedly join my voice to your own ……

    It doesn’t take courage to speak out today for Liu or Suu Kyi in the West.

    But Amnesty’s … caution ? ….hesitation ?… timidity ? … in touching the case of Julian Assange ……… especially when it’s happening right now under Amnesty’s collective noses …. does not speak well for the organization’s moral courage.

    Are you waiting till the machinery of state digs its claws more firmly into him, & draws blood ?

    If prevention is better than cure, you should, as Peter says, issue statements of support for Assange…. as well as a petition for him, which i think is a tremendously good idea !!