Contact: Gwen Fitzgerald, [email protected], 202-509-8194
(Washington, D.C.) — Following the sad news today of the passing of U.S. Congressman Donald Payne, Adotei Awkei, Amnesty International's managing director for government relations, issued the following statement:
"Amnesty International is deeply saddened by the passing today of U.S. Congressman Donald Payne. The U.S. Congress and millions of people from around the world have lost a human rights champion and an individual of inspiring commitment and integrity.
Throughout his 23 years in office, Congressman Payne never said no to the fight for justice and dignity for all. Whether it was drawing attention to conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone and Liberia, or ending the violence and humanitarian crises in Darfur, Donald Payne was there. When Nigeria was reeling under the brutal dictatorship of the late Sani Abach and Africa's 'Big Men' mercilessly silenced their citizens, Congressman Payne refused to stay quiet, chiding them in his unassuming voice. And when the opportunity presented itself to secure more than $50 billion to prevent, control and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB in Africa, Donald Payne led the fight.
While people familiar with the U.S. Congress may foremost associate Donald Payne with Africa, the Congressman was dedicated to ending injustice wherever it arose. From his steadfast opposition to the death penalty, to championing education as a right for all Americans, to advancing peace initiatives to end the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, Congressman Payne never lost sight of the need to retain compassion and dignity for all individuals.
Perhaps the best measure of Congressman Payne's impact was that no one could envision any Africa-related legislation moving forward without the congressman's blessing. Likewise, no activist traveling to Washington, D.C., would leave without first meeting with Congressman Payne and being reassured of his support.
Congressman Payne's absence will be difficult to miss. But his legacy remains vibrant and vital, and his work will continue to be a source of inspiration for all."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers 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 and dignity are denied.