Thousands of Activists Brought Human Rights Home and This is What Happened

One night. One movement. There’s nothing like a stadium full of activists, human rights defenders, former prisoners of conscience, and musicians coming together to Bring Human Rights Home.

Imagine Dragons rocked the house. An amazing performance and heartfelt and humbling call to keep our eyes and hearts open to human rights.

Imagine Dragons performs at the Bringing Human Rights Home Concert

Imagine Dragons performs at the Bringing Human Rights Home Concert

Ms. Lauryn Hill rallied the crowd, keeping us all focused on “Working Hard” for human rights.

Ms. Lauryn Hill on stage at the #AmnestyConcert

Ms. Lauryn Hill on stage at the #AmnestyConcert

Pussy Riot’s Nadya and Masha, with Madonna, read powerful letters from Russian prisoners – and led the crowd in a chant of “Russia will be free!”

Masha and Nadya of Pussy Riot on stage at the Bringing Human Rights Home Concert

Masha and Nadya of Pussy Riot on stage at the Bringing Human Rights Home Concert

Finally, when The Flaming Lips, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and dozens of Amnesty staffers and volunteers took the stage for the final song of the concert, it was more than just an amazing end to a memorable evening: it was the coming together of a powerful community — Amnesty’s network of human rights defenders.

Musicians and Amnesty staff and volunteers sing "I Shall Be Released" to close out the Bringing Human Rights Home Concert

Musicians and Amnesty staff and volunteers sing “I Shall Be Released” to close out the Bringing Human Rights Home Concert

Tonight thousands saw and heard the soundtrack of a human rights movement, led by a new generation of artists. Thousands more around the country and around the world engaged through their activism and through their social media channels. It is a human rights movement in high definition. And it is just the beginning.

Thank you to all the artists, celebrities, activists and volunteers who made this moment possible. Check back with us as this journey continues.

Go Backstage With Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill & More

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Got special plans for Feb. 5th?

I do – I’ll be at Amnesty’s Bringing Human Rights Home Concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn!

Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Fray, The Flaming Lips, Tegan and Sara, Cold War Kids, Colbie Caillat, Cake and other special guests will be there – and I hope you will be there, too!

Make a contribution of $25 or whatever you can to Amnesty International USA and be automatically entered to win concert tickets and backstage passes for you and a guest to the #AmnestyConcert.

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6 of President Vladimir Putin’s Most Oppressive Laws

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NOTE: This blog post has been updated in several places for clarity.

The Olympics are right around the corner. But while Shaun White practices his Double McTwist 1260 and Ashley Wagner works on nailing a pearl spin, President Vladimir Putin is perfecting the art of repression.

Since he was inaugurated as President of the Russian Federation, Putin has orchestrated a number of changes in Russian law effectively criminalizing any criticism of him and Russian security forces. The new Draconian laws are having a terrible impact.

With Sochi fast approaching, here are 6 of Putin’s most oppressive laws. But unlike White and Wagner’s routines, we’re not looking forward to seeing these at the Olympics:

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Music to Inspire Children to Play Fair and Show Empathy

By Suzanne Trimel, Media Relations Director

What better way to introduce young children to human rights – and the values of fairness, equity, empathy and non-violence — than through upbeat music from all over the world?

That’s the thinking behind Kids World Party!, the latest CD from Putumayo Kids, released in partnership with Amnesty International to celebrate our 50th anniversary. 7% of each CD sale will be donated to support Amnesty’s life-saving work.

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Amnesty Activists Detained at U2 Concert

Five Amnesty International activists were detained by police yesterday before U2′s first ever Russian show in Moscow.

The detained activists had been holding placards inside the concert venue and collecting signatures for the ‘Demand Dignity’ campaign, which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. They were trying to raise awareness about human rights and collecting signatures to a petition.  The Amnesty International official concert stall was also shut down.

Amnesty is present while U2 performs the European leg of their 360 tour.

And while Amnesty International’s activists were invited by U2 to join their European leg of their 360° tour, police officers ignored the activists’ protestations that they were there invited and forced them to close their stalls.

Although no-one resisted the police’s demands to close down the Amnesty International stall, Amnesty’s Moscow office staff member and four volunteers were taken to a local police station. They were ordered to provide a written explanation for their actions, issued with an official warning for organizing a public action for which no prior official permission had been obtained, and released over an hour later.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident; rather, it reflects the continuing difficult climate in Russia today for people seeking to express views that the authorities regard as difficult, dissenting or sensitive. Amnesty International is concerned that the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are restricted in Russia for members of the political opposition and human rights activists; we are also concerned that Russian authorities such disallow such activities unless they take place with their explicit sanction, and crack down hard on those whom they regard as violators.

Amnesty Rocks the Warped Tour

There is something remarkably similar about the passion that drives a human rights activist and the passion that inspires a musician. A person who is willing to stand beneath the summer sun at a rally to hold signs and wave petitions again and again, and one who performs at their very best beneath the summer sun day after day must surely be made of similar stuff. Amnesty International, of course, has known about this overlap for fifty years, and has used music to inspire human rights activists, and human rights work to inspire musicians for nearly that entire time.

This summer, for the second year in a row, we’re doing both of these things as a non-profit sponsor on the infamous Vans Warped Tour. The longest-running music tour in the world, Warped sees nearly one million fans every summer, and reaches countless more with its annual compilation album. This year, with practically 200 bands playing throughout the United States and Canada at 43 dates, Warped and its musicians are more socially aware than ever.

Enter Amnesty International. Warped is the latest place we’ve found this overlap of passions and we’re putting it to good use. Rights like freedom of conscience, opinion and expression are the very fundamentals of a musician’s career, and the punk, emo and rock musicians of the Warped Tour are acutely aware of this fact.  So it’s only natural for bands to feel compelled to take action, whether it’s shouting out about human rights from stage, starring in a video blog or signing petitions at our tent – it’s their passion that fuels concert-goers to follow suit.  So, come to Warped to see musicians and bands like Sum 41, All American Rejects, The Summer Set and Anti-Flag play, visit our tent, and be part of the overlap.

See a complete list of bands playing and remaining dates of the tour.