Joan Baez, Amnesty and You

Following is a special message from longtime Amnesty supporter Joan Baez during our annual September Membership Drive:

Joan Baez

Dear Amnesty Supporter,

All my life I’ve felt humbled in the face of the suffering of others. It is only that I, by accident of birth, was born in the right place at the right time, and that someone else, not me, huddles in a prison cell, is tortured, and faces the unbearable consequences of having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, as the legendary Phil Ochs song says, there but for fortune, go you or I.

Happily for me, I discovered early on that, in the words of Swedish Ambassador Harald Edelstam, “I cannot tolerate injustice.” This inability to tolerate injustice has brought me to the roots of human misery, called me to engage in the fight for the rights, freedoms, and the dignity of others. And in so doing, has helped me to maintain my own dignity.

In 1972 I was inspired to devote a year of my life to helping Amnesty launch its first US office on the west coast, and years later, when the organization had grown to worldwide proportions, to perform in both its A Conspiracy of Hope and Human Rights Now! tours.

Today I stand with Amnesty and their Death Penalty Abolition Campaign to fight for the life of Troy Davis, who within weeks could be executed for a crime he may not have committed. There remain serious doubts of his guilt. His death sentence defies all logic and morality.

In matters of life and death, there is no room for doubt.

With their death penalty campaign work, Amnesty has long been a leader in the struggle to abolish the death penalty in every corner of the world.

In honor of Amnesty’s 50th birthday, please join me in this life-saving work. Become a member during Amnesty’s September membership drive and a generous donor will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

It used to be that human rights abuses weren’t on anyone’s agenda. Today, when human rights prevail, it happens thanks to organizations like Amnesty.

Amnesty has grown into the most powerful human rights movement in history, winning freedom for tens of thousands of individuals jailed for expressing their beliefs, shutting down torture chambers and halting executions.

At the heart of these human rights victories is the dedicated Amnesty member who stuffs envelopes, signs petitions, is visible at marches and rallies, recruits friends, tweets, and supports Amnesty with financial contributions.

I have a special place in my heart for Amnesty. I hope that you do, too. We need Amnesty, and Amnesty needs us. Please join me as a member today.

Very truly yours,

Joan Baez
Musician, Human Rights Activist

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.

39 thoughts on “Joan Baez, Amnesty and You

  1. Hello,

    Is it not injustice that unborn children are killed just because someone doesn´t want them?

    When AI includes unborn children on their list of people to protect, I will become a regular donator.

  2. Absolutely agree, we are all born with a sense of justice, we just forget sometimes.

  3. Let's not confuse these issues, James. We have enough difficulty saving the lives of those adults and children who are already here, never mind those forms of life, note my terminology here, who have not been born, who are dependent on another life for survival. I am for abortion rights. I believe in saving lives.

    Save Troy Davis!!!!

  4. Renee, it is not that easy to grey out. We are all forms of life that depend on other lives for survival – Troy Davis depends on your life, and others who feel the way that you do, for survival. By your logic, he should simply be "terminated" – note my terminology.

    I oppose the death penalty, I oppose people being able to enforce their views on others, including pro-life and anti-abortion views, and I encourage pregnant women to consider alternatives to abortion for their own welfare, and the welfare of their unborn children.

  5. Maybe they should not give big golden handshakes anymore to people like Irene Kahn (600.000) when they leave Amnesty international.

  6. Joan —

    Just the other night I watched the Woodstock movie again, and of course saw your moving performance during which you spoke of your husband, who was incarcerated at the time for draft resistance. It's so inspiring to see how you have continued your work for peace and justice over so many years. I have been a member/supporter of Amnesty for the last several years, and I agree that this is an exceptional organization.

    I was not aware until now of your role in helping to establish Amnesty in the US — thank you so much! The world is a better place because of the work of you and others like you who shine a light through the darkness with the good example of a life well lived.

  7. The real problem in the world is in the animal products use,
    human rights are not posisible without animal rights

    As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields. –Leo Tolstoy, author

    Flesh eating is unprovoked murder. — Benjamin Franklin

    Our task must be to free ourselves… widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. — Albert Einstein

    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. — Gandhi

  8. Joan,its good to see you again,involved,all time we shared the inability to watch or stand silent at injustice and hatred.will support this and always be supportive of those things dear to our hearts.hope your mom is well.as one of our teachers said love is the only answer.if we will be the change,than things change.thank you for all you have done.Patrick

  9. Sou brasileira, amo o seu trabalho desde " Gracias a la vida".
    O Brasil quer você aqui…
    Venha cantar para o Brasil…!

    zilma y pima
    Salvador-Bahia-Brasil

  10. Hello,

    Is it not injustice that unborn children are killed just because someone doesn´t want them?

    When AI includes unborn children on their list of people to protect, I will become a regular donator.

  11. About Those Abortion laws! and a comparison to Natures laws, it never fails to amaze me when I read or hear people of all ages and backgrounds quibble over their naive attitudes on this issue. Before the intervention of medical science the so-called Mis-Carriage was high among women, right up to the 1930's.. Nature aborts very regularly without warning without cause or providing a clear reason most of the time. But this we say is [ What ?
    Nature’s law - a god law ] so that's ok we must accept that without question. Double standard ? and now that the medical field has the ability to either save a foetus that would have been aborted by nature or to terminate one of choice is the moral question.? and a quandary.
    So please when in debate about this issue, and you demand the right to contest and deny others their right to choose, please think about how nature terminates it's unwanted young without discrimination. Maybe we humans are just following suit and who are we to not learn from nature. nm

  12. Absolutely agree, we are all born with a sense of justice, we just forget sometimes.

  13. Let’s not confuse these issues, James. We have enough difficulty saving the lives of those adults and children who are already here, never mind those forms of life, note my terminology here, who have not been born, who are dependent on another life for survival. I am for abortion rights. I believe in saving lives.

    Save Troy Davis!!!!

  14. Renee, it is not that easy to grey out. We are all forms of life that depend on other lives for survival – Troy Davis depends on your life, and others who feel the way that you do, for survival. By your logic, he should simply be “terminated” – note my terminology.

    I oppose the death penalty, I oppose people being able to enforce their views on others, including pro-life and anti-abortion views, and I encourage pregnant women to consider alternatives to abortion for their own welfare, and the welfare of their unborn children.

  15. Maybe they should not give big golden handshakes anymore to people like Irene Kahn (600.000) when they leave Amnesty international.

  16. Joan –

    Just the other night I watched the Woodstock movie again, and of course saw your moving performance during which you spoke of your husband, who was incarcerated at the time for draft resistance. It’s so inspiring to see how you have continued your work for peace and justice over so many years. I have been a member/supporter of Amnesty for the last several years, and I agree that this is an exceptional organization.

    I was not aware until now of your role in helping to establish Amnesty in the US — thank you so much! The world is a better place because of the work of you and others like you who shine a light through the darkness with the good example of a life well lived.

  17. The real problem in the world is in the animal products use,
    human rights are not posisible without animal rights

    As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields. –Leo Tolstoy, author

    Flesh eating is unprovoked murder. — Benjamin Franklin

    Our task must be to free ourselves… widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. — Albert Einstein

    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. — Gandhi

  18. Joan,its good to see you again,involved,all time we shared the inability to watch or stand silent at injustice and hatred.will support this and always be supportive of those things dear to our hearts.hope your mom is well.as one of our teachers said love is the only answer.if we will be the change,than things change.thank you for all you have done.Patrick

  19. Sou brasileira, amo o seu trabalho desde ” Gracias a la vida”.
    O Brasil quer você aqui…
    Venha cantar para o Brasil…!

    zilma y pima
    Salvador-Bahia-Brasil

  20. About Those Abortion laws! and a comparison to Natures laws, it never fails to amaze me when I read or hear people of all ages and backgrounds quibble over their naive attitudes on this issue. Before the intervention of medical science the so-called Mis-Carriage was high among women, right up to the 1930′s.. Nature aborts very regularly without warning without cause or providing a clear reason most of the time. But this we say is [ What ?
    Nature’s law - a god law ] so that’s ok we must accept that without question. Double standard ? and now that the medical field has the ability to either save a foetus that would have been aborted by nature or to terminate one of choice is the moral question.? and a quandary.
    So please when in debate about this issue, and you demand the right to contest and deny others their right to choose, please think about how nature terminates it’s unwanted young without discrimination. Maybe we humans are just following suit and who are we to not learn from nature. nm

  21. On the face of it, there does seem to be an inherent contradiction between being "pro-choice" when it comes to abortion, and also to insist that the death penalty is immoral and should be outlawed. But love me, I'm a liberal.

  22. On the face of it, there does seem to be an inherent contradiction between being “pro-choice” when it comes to abortion, and also to insist that the death penalty is immoral and should be outlawed. But love me, I’m a liberal.

  23. I've witnessed an injustice within my own family. I was warned that my life could be in danger if I "spoke out" or "challenged" the system. Therefore, this horrific experience has haunted me for years. I have been forced into silence when human rights are jeopardized, no matter the person. I strongly feel I would lose my life if one word was spoken. This is no way to live. There are people that need us (me).

  24. I’ve witnessed an injustice within my own family. I was warned that my life could be in danger if I “spoke out” or “challenged” the system. Therefore, this horrific experience has haunted me for years. I have been forced into silence when human rights are jeopardized, no matter the person. I strongly feel I would lose my life if one word was spoken. This is no way to live. There are people that need us (me).

  25. I do not want to air my views on the issues raised here as I do not think this is the right platform. I just wanted to say that my daughter has been a member for a couple of years and although I would like to join, I thought there was rather a lot of unecessary post sent. Can this waste of paper be avoided ?

  26. Gentlemen – Vasectomy prevents abortion.

    I don't know anything about Troy – but if there is any doubt then there should be a stay of execution. What about the Norwegian mass-murderer? Or whoever was responsible for the latest images from Libya (charred bodies in a warehouse).

    I believe that the death penalty is, under certain circumstances, the appropriate judgement, and should not be abolished.

  27. I do not want to air my views on the issues raised here as I do not think this is the right platform. I just wanted to say that my daughter has been a member for a couple of years and although I would like to join, I thought there was rather a lot of unecessary post sent. Can this waste of paper be avoided ?

  28. Gentlemen – Vasectomy prevents abortion.

    I don’t know anything about Troy – but if there is any doubt then there should be a stay of execution. What about the Norwegian mass-murderer? Or whoever was responsible for the latest images from Libya (charred bodies in a warehouse).

    I believe that the death penalty is, under certain circumstances, the appropriate judgement, and should not be abolished.

  29. Dear Joan Baez,
    You have the most beautiful singing voice I have ever heard, I listen to your music every day and have for the past thirty years. I cry every time I hear Billy Rose and A Stranger in my place. I love you.
    Ralph Schulze
    schulzeralph@yahoo.com

  30. Dear Joan Baez,
    You have the most beautiful singing voice I have ever heard, I listen to your music every day and have for the past thirty years. I cry every time I hear Billy Rose and A Stranger in my place. I love you.
    Ralph Schulze
    schulzeralph@yahoo.com

  31. Dear, dear Joan,
    Thank you that you are on the world! We need persons like you. Thanks for your wonderful voice, your beautifull songs, your work for freedom. Thanks for your visit in Poland when we faught for our freedom.

    Llego con tres herridas… -it,s truth…

    Gracias a la vida…it's truth too.

    I really love you, I respect you and always will. Gina

  32. Dear, dear Joan,
    Thank you that you are on the world! We need persons like you. Thanks for your wonderful voice, your beautifull songs, your work for freedom. Thanks for your visit in Poland when we faught for our freedom.

    Llego con tres herridas… -it,s truth…

    Gracias a la vida…it’s truth too.

    I really love you, I respect you and always will. Gina

  33. Joan, You will find true peace when you finally honor your truth, that is, that your pledge to not tolerate injustice is hollow knowing that you have exclude the most helpless among us. Only when you stand for truth will your festering disquiet leave your being at once.