• Press Release

Amnesty International Issues Global Call to Action on 50th Anniversary, as Demands for Human Rights Transform Middle East and North Africa

May 25, 2011

World Premiere of Moving Video,Standing Up for Freedom, with Music by Composers Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, Released as Commemorations Held Across the Globe

Contact: AIUSA media office 202.509.8194, [email protected]

(Washington, DC) — Amnesty International will observe its 50th anniversary by issuing a global call to action on Saturday, May 28, the day in 1961 when its founder published an appeal for amnesty for six prisoners unjustly imprisoned; the enormous response led to the founding of Amnesty International, today the world’s largest human rights organization. The birthday comes as the group’s defining tactic of collective action is validated as a model of transformative change across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

"Since the Amnesty International candle first shone a light on the world’s hellholes, there has been a human rights revolution. The call for freedom, justice and dignity has moved from the margins and is now a truly global demand," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International secretary general.

Amnesty International members are commemorating this anniversary in many ways, but one of the crown jewels is the beautiful animated video Standing Up for Freedom produced by Prague-based Eallin Motion Art & DreamLife Studio, a world-renowned international motion art production company based in the Czech Republic.  This emotive video directed by Carlos Lascano takes viewers on a metaphorical journey showing mankind's struggle for freedom over the last 50 years.  Eallin has been an Amnesty International supporter and developed this art to illustrate that the struggle for freedom may be suppressed at times, but it always prevails.  

The accompanying music was contributed by composers Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, with contributions from renowned musicians around the world including from the United States, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Switzerland.  

"It was a tremendous honor to write a piece of music that embodies the courage and spirit of Amnesty members, who have saved lives, tackled injustices, and upheld the principles of human rights for an amazing 50 years," said Zimmer and Balfe. "We hope the music helps to highlight the profound impact this organization has had on the lives of millions around the world.  We are truly inspired by them."

The organization said that despite progress, human rights violations are at the heart of key challenges facing the world today and everyone has a role in addressing them.

"This video illustrates the struggles people endure to be free and live with dignity," said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director. "We are seeing that struggle continue as hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets in the Middle East and North Africa to make sure their human rights are respected and governments that continue to repress and subjugate are held accountable.

"It is a pivotal time in world history, and we cannot let this opportunity pass. The time to act is now– demand that human rights are not an afterthought but at the core of how people across the world live," said Cox.

Concerned individuals can view and download the video and take action at  www.amnestyusa.org,  AIUSA’s newly redesigned website.

For half a century Amnesty International –has borne witness to abuses and atrocities, has offered hope to the oppressed and forgotten, and has campaigned with innovation and determination for justice. It has played a leading role in making torturers international outlaws, in ending the untouchable status of leaders accused of human rights crimes and in achieving unstoppable momentum toward a death penalty-free world.

In 1977, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

More than 60 countries from Argentina to Ghana to Turkey to New Zealand to the United States will pay tribute to the tale of two Portuguese students imprisoned for raising their glasses to liberty – an injustice that so outraged British lawyer Peter Benenson that he launched Amnesty International on May 28, 1961.

To honor Benenson’s legacy, Amnesty International will hold a celebration at St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, in London on May 28. This is where Benenson forged the idea that ordinary people working together could prevent injustice and defend freedom and human rights for all. The program will include remarks by AI Secretary General Salil Shetty, readings by author Michael Morpurgo and actor Colin Salmon, and a performance by celebrated soprano Elianne Pretorian.  

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