World’s Top Rock Stars Join Amnesty International in Saluting Landmark Human Rights Anniversary

Press Release
December 3, 2013

World’s Top Rock Stars Join Amnesty International in Saluting Landmark Human Rights Anniversary

65th Anniversary of “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Commemorated with DVD Box-Set & Movie Premiere at MoMA in NYC

Contact: Carol Gregory, cgregory@aiusa.org, 202-675-8759, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Thirty-six of the world's leading musicians performing some of their biggest hits live in support of Amnesty International are the stars joining in worldwide commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Considered the "Magna Carta for all humanity," the UDHR has inspired Amnesty's global work for 52 years. The Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948. The day has since been commemorated worldwide as Human Rights Day.

The music stars are all featured in Amnesty's latest music project - released to raise funds and awareness for Amnesty's Nobel Peace Prize-winning work. The music is distilled from the 28 shows in Amnesty's legendary series of "Human Rights Concerts" held from 1986-1998. Over 85 percent of the content is being released for the first time.

Amnesty's musical salute to this important human rights anniversary will be experienced by the public in multiple ways:

  • The premiere of the movie will take place at New York's prestigious Museum of Modern Art, on Human Rights Day (Tuesday, December 10 – 7:00 p.m.)
  • A six-disc, seventeen-hour DVD box-set featuring 120 songs – plus five hours of bonus content including new interviews, documentaries and 15 extra performances
  • All 120 concert songs available for digital download via iTunes and Amazon
  • A two-disc CD of 30 highlights from the concerts
  • A 24-hour marathon on Sirius/XM satellite radio on Human Rights Day (December 10), saluting four decades of rock music in support of Amnesty’s work

The six-disc DVD box-set, the digital release and the companion two-disc CD set - all titled – RELEASED! - present the best of the historic "Human Rights Concerts" staged by Amnesty in the years 1986-1998.

In addition to marking the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the release also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the most high-profile of all the concerts in the series - the "Human Rights Now!" world tour. The six-week, five-continent, 20-concert tour in 1988 was headlined by Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N'Dour and was seen by over one million people in-person and experienced by millions more on television and radio. Its mission - to raise awareness of the cause - succeeded in tripling the Amnesty's worldwide membership.

Also featured on the DVD box-set are new interviews with Springsteen, Bono, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Pete Townshend, discussing their work in support of Amnesty.

The premiere at the Museum of Modern Art will showcase "Released!," a new 90-minute film of highlights from the concerts; "Light A Candle!," a new 40-minute documentary about Amnesty’s concert series; and "Witness To A Conspiracy," a new film distilled from Peter Gabriel's home movies of Amnesty’s 1986 tour.

Sirius/XM’s "Comes Alive!" channel is dedicating the entire 24 hours of Human Rights Day (Tuesday, December 10 – 12:01 a.m. EST to 11:59 p.m. EST) to the music performed for Amnesty International at the "Human Rights Concerts” (1986-1998) and at Amnesty’s "Secret Policeman’s Ball" shows (1976-1981), the Amnesty benefit series that preceded and inspired the “Human Rights Concerts."

The "Human Rights Concerts" series on DVD comprises four films: The first film presents over five hours drawn from the all-day final concert of "A Conspiracy of Hope" - Amnesty's 25th anniversary concert tour of the USA in June 1986. The second film is of the "Human Rights Now!" world tour in September and October 1988. The third film is "An Embrace of Hope" - the October 1990 concert in Chile celebrating that nation's transition to a democratically elected government after 17 years of dictatorship. The fourth and final film is "The Struggle Continues…" – the concert staged in Paris in 1998 on the 50th anniversary of the adoption in that city of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A key organizational figure in the first three events of the "Human Rights Concerts" series was Jack Healey, executive director of Amnesty International USA from 1981-1993. The 1986 U.S. tour and 1988 world tour were co-produced with seasoned rock promoter Bill Graham. The 1998 Paris concert was organized by Amnesty Planning Officer Blair Gibb and Peter Gabriel.

The "Human Rights Concerts" have been restored and produced for release by longtime (37 years) Amnesty activist and producer Martin Lewis – who was co-creator (with Monty Python's John Cleese) of Amnesty's "Secret Policeman's Ball" series and co-producer of all the 'Ball' shows, movies, TV specials and albums between 1976-1985. Lewis began Amnesty's outreach to rock musicians by recruiting and producing Pete Townshend, Sting, Bob Geldof, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and many other musicians. Lewis and former Amnesty USA leader Jack Healey together conceived Amnesty’s 1988 world tour.

Amnesty's RELEASED! DVD box-set, digital downloads and companion CD are distributed in North America by Shout! Factory and outside North America by Eagle-Rock Entertainment.

QUOTES ABOUT AMNESTY & THE HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERTS

ANN BURROUGHS - Chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA (and a former Prisoner of Conscience):

"Throughout our history, we at Amnesty have been the fortunate beneficiaries of the passion and generous commitments of major entertainers in helping us bring the world's attention to the human rights cause. These concerts were a gigantic step forward in the enduring struggle. We are enormously grateful to all the magnificent musicians who participated in these historic concerts that once again they are helping us raise funds and awareness for the ever-vital work of our movement."

MARTIN LEWIS – Producer of ¡RELEASED! and Co-Creator/Producer in the 1970s & 1980s of the "Secret Policeman's Ball" series that inspired the "Human Rights Concerts" series:

"Musicians innately understand key components of human rights such as freedom of expression. It’s at the heart of what they do. Ever since Pete Townshend's pioneering performance for Amnesty in 1979, the rock music community has been spectacular in its support for Amnesty. These concerts broke new ground in galvanizing audiences to become involved. They fused cause and content in an inspirational way. It's been an honor to work with Sting, Bruce, Bono, Peter and the other artists in restoring and producing these concerts for home release."

PETE TOWNSHEND (first performance for Amnesty 1979)

"Amnesty does things that I can't do in my work. It deals with the specifics of injustice… It makes them public. It was 1979 that I appeared at 'The Secret Policeman's Ball'… It was amazing subsequently to see what 'The Secret Policeman's Ball' triggered. Quite big names got involved in supporting Amnesty. And it became apparent that big names in music and Amnesty melded very well. It's good to see that what I did kicked that off…"

STING (first performance for Amnesty 1981)

"Amnesty, in my opinion, is probably the most civilized and civilizing of human organizations. It uses the writing of letters or the commerce of ideas and opinion to change the world rather than a gun or an army or an air force. And that seems to be very civilized to me. And that seems the only way that we will get positive change in the world. And so Amnesty's a fantastic flagship for that idea. I feel very proud of my association with it. And it's ongoing…"

BONO (first performance for Amnesty 1986)

"Amnesty International really appeals to me on so many different levels. What I really like about it is that simple action that can join you to somebody. Rather than just read about something in the news, you can be part of that news story. I love the efficiency of just writing a single postcard, and connecting yourself to an event that you previously had no involvement with; maybe not even any knowledge of. You connect yourself with another soul, another sentient being, and in that moment there begins a really powerful relationship."

PETER GABRIEL (first performance for Amnesty 1986)

"The world is a much better place for knowing that Amnesty's around it. There's still an amazing amount more work that needs to be done...that must be done. But Amnesty International has made an extraordinary start…"

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (first performance for Amnesty 1988)

"I was looking for something I could do...I would just devote some of my energies to something that felt worth putting our time in. And Amnesty was a great organization and it was just a perfect fit at that moment. You have your miles of road to cover. And you got your cross that you carry over those miles of road. And that's something that every person has to decide. How they cover those miles. And how they carry the things that connect them to the rest of the human race. Amnesty is a tremendous tool to do that…"

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.