Powerful Documentaries About the Persecution of Iran’s Baha’is Motivate Thousands to Activism

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Bahai event Washington

Plight of Baha'i Leaders Publicized in Washington

When creativity and artistic vision unite with passionate commitment to fight injustice, the result can take the world by storm!

The Education Under Fire project, which Amnesty International is proud to support, includes a documentary film Education Under Fire that that has been screened at dozens of venues around the U.S. since its Amnesty International-cosponsored debuts in New York and Los Angeles this past fall.


Free My Husband

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Picture of Lhamo Tso

Lhamo Tso - wife of Dhondup Wangchen © Amnesty International

My name is Lhamo Tso and I’m writing today to ask for your help securing the release of my husband, Dhondup Wangchen.

In 2008 Dhondup made a film called “Leaving Fear Behind,” capturing the voices of fellow Tibetans on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China was awarded the prestigious Games with the hope that human rights in Tibet and elsewhere in China would improve.

Instead, China’s repression in Tibet has only worsened.

Attempts by Tibetans to secure their human rights are routinely crushed. Dhondup has been punished severely. He was tortured and held without charge for nearly a year, then sentenced in a secret trial to six years imprisonment for “inciting separatism.”

My husband has committed no crime.


What We Can Learn From 'My Cousin Vinny' About The Death Penalty

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joe pesci my cousin vinny

In a recent, pre-Oscars blog post, I asked you all to name your favorite death penalty themed movies. We got lots of responses, from the obvious, to the more obscure, to the somewhat off-topic. One film that did not get mentioned at all is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year: My Cousin Vinny.

Lawyers love My Cousin Vinny. It recently ranked third on the American Bar Association Journal’s list of top 25 movies. For many folks it’s an entertaining fish-out-of-water comedy about New Yorkers in Alabama, with classic (and in one case Oscar-worthy) performances by Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei and Herman Munster.


Look Who's Coming to the Secret Policeman's Ball! And Watch it Live!

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Hint: They’re funny. Another hint: They’re talented. Last hint: They’re going to make this SUNDAY, March 4th at 7PM ET/4PM PT/6PM CT an hilariously amazing night.

Jon Stewart, Kristen Wiig and Coldplay are just around the corner warming up for this Sunday’s Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York City. For just one night at Radio City Music Hall, a star-studded lineup of musicians and comedy favorites will pay hilarious tribute to free speech and Amnesty International’s human rights work.

Who else will be around to ruffle some dictator feathers? Here’s the full star-studded line up:


Win Tickets to Amnesty's Star-Studded Secret Policeman's Ball!

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The Secret Policeman's Ball

It’s no joke.

Jon Stewart
, Stephen Colbert, Coldplay and more, all in one room on Sunday, March 4th performing at Amnesty’s Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York City.

It promises to be an irreverently hilarious salute to free speech and Amnesty International’s life-saving human rights work, sure to ruffle the feathers of dictators everywhere.

New York City is far away, you say? You don’t even need to leave your comfortable couch. Watch it live online, streaming at EpixHD.com on March 4th, 7PM ET/4PM PT.


5 Oscar Winning Films that Stood on the Side of Justice

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It’s Oscar season! In honor of the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary on the death penalty, Paradise Lost 3, we thought it was a good time to look back at past Oscar winners that have also helped broaden our understanding of a range of human rights issues.

Movies can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about an issue, or even inspiring people to take action. And in our everyday work at Amnesty International, we aspire to do the same.

With a rich 84 year history of great films, we started looking at Best Picture winners from 1980 and onwards. Here are 5 Best Picture Winning films that not only continue to influence generations of filmmakers but also address social injustices still relevant in our world today.  Read on then let us know what films have inspired you.


Amnesty International in a Dictator's Zoo?

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the dictator - sasha baron cohen

Sasha Baron Cohen as Supreme Leader Shabazz Aladeen

English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, better known for his character Borat, has a new satirical movie in the works – The Dictator, depicting the leader of the imaginary authoritarian Republic of Wadiya. The latter has just launched its website, and the tourism section mentions Amnesty International:

Many dozens of endangered species can be found caged at the Wadiyan National Zoo, including pandas, white tigers, and Amnesty International officials.

Of course The Dictator is a comedy (see the trailer), but it will presumably highlight – through humor and exaggeration – human rights violations and abuse of power. In that sense, it may be worth watching it, of course after the Wadiyan National Zoo sets Amnesty International officials free so that they can make it to the Annual General Meeting in Denver in late March and continue fighting for a world without abuse of power!

Now, visit our online action center to fight real-life abuses.

Female Vocalists Bring Strength and Soul to New “Chimes of Freedom” Album

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Guest Blog by Steven Lawrence

Chimes of FreedomWith the Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International  release today (January 24) reviews are rolling in, but so far the critics have overlooked the fact that the album represents the greatest collection ever of Dylan covers by female artists.

Of the 76 tracks, 19 are by women artists. Some are from singers you’d expect, like Joan Baez (Seven Curses) and Patti Smith (The Drifter’s Escape), who both have a history of covering Dylan.  And there’s a terrific live version by Adele of Make You Feel My Love (which for me tops the studio version). Here’s a quick guide:


Create Your Own Amnesty Anthem!

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ujam amnesty anthemTo celebrate our 50th anniversary, Academy-Award winning Composer Hans Zimmer and film-score collaborator Lorne Balfe composed a beautiful anthem for Amnesty Internatonal.

You can join the celebration by creating and spreading your own version of the anthem via a contest on U-Jam to see who can “re-jam” the best anthem.  For musicians and non-musicians alike, no music equipment needed, just your inspiration and creativity!  All you need to do is “rejam” the Anthem — re-arrange the music using tracks readily offered, and/or re-record the melody with your favorite instrument or sing with your own lyrics.

Following a public voting phase where you encourage your friends, family and fans to help you make the Top 10, the composers along with U.S. rapper and producer Pharrell Williams will judge the submissions. This is open to people in the US, UK, Canada and Germany, with prizes including $1,000. The deadline is 5th February – so get jamming!  Winners will be announced February 10th.

A Lens on Human Rights: Film Festival Marks Amnesty's 50th Anniversary

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Artists, musicians and filmmakers have always played a crucial role in the human rights movement, using their voices to protest injustices and inspire others to care. This Saturday, October 15th this vital relationship continues, as the Hamptons International Film Festival marks the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International with a special panel focusing on the 50-year legacy of the American Civil Rights Movement.

The panel looks at this movement through three feature films about Americans who worked tirelessly for human dignity and equality during the 1950s and 1960s: Sing Your Song about Harry Belafonte; The Loving Story; and All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert.  The panel will be an open discussion featuring each of the film directors, led by Amnesty International USA board member Joan Libby Hawk. If you’re in the New York area, join us at 2PM October 15th at the First Presbyterian Church Session House in East Hampton, New York. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST