This last weekend, people up and down the country having been raising a glass to the world’s oldest human rights organisations, Amnesty International.
Amnesty is a very important organisation to me. I have been heavily involved ever since I got involved with my local University group in Bath. At the time, we were campaigning for a global arms trade treaty. I remember all too clearly students (and lecturers) saying to me that this was a pointless aspiration, and it would never happen. Well, looks what a little optimism can do!
Throughout its entire history, Amnesty International has strived, and succeeded, in gaining victories people wrote off as impossible.
In 1965 Amnesty sponsored a resolution at the UN to suspend and abolish capital punishment for peacetime political offences. A request which seemed outlandish at the time; last year, Gabon became the 139th country to either abolish the penalty outright or to cease to use it in practice.
For years, Amnesty campaigned against the use of torture. In 1975 UN unanimously adopted a declaration against torture following the Amnesty campaign.
In 1983, Amnesty was mocked for saying that it was not only Governments, but also individuals who can commit human rights violations. Today, this is a central pillar of human rights law. One that was central to seeing the recent arrest of Ratko Mladic.
In 1989, Amnesty International members sent 25,000 letters to Chinese authorities condemning the events that took place in Tiananmen Square. Today Amnesty International continues to take on this issue, defending those who wish to speak out against the atrocities that took place that day.
In 1996 Amnesty launched a campaign for a permanent International Criminal Court. In 1998 this was adopted by the UN.
There is so so much more I could talk about. Amnesty’s history tells us that when you shout alone, often nothing happens. But when over 3 million people stand together, their voice holds significant weight.
Today, Amnesty is working on tackling the death penalty, highlighting the abuses in the war on terror, calling governments to account and much more. They can only do this vital work if they have your support.
If you do not believe me, believe Bu Dongwei.
Please join today. Give either money or your time – both are precious to Amnesty.
Remember, All it takes for Evil to prevail in this world is for enough good men to do nothing.