On 28 May 1961 British lawyer Peter Benenson discovered two Portuguese students who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for making a toast to freedom of expression. Benenson wrote an article to highlight the injustice, which eventually led to their freedom, and the human rights organization Amnesty International was born. The 50th anniversary of the global, non-political organization, which strives for equality and highlights human rights issues, will be celebrated around the world.
Current issues for Amnesty International range from the abolition of the death penalty, equal rights for women in Afghanistan and an end to the crackdown on freedom of thought and speech in China following the so-called Jasmine Revolution. The world celebrations include: 1700 (5 pm) 28 May, Place Stalingrad, Paris - a family-friendly soirée where a toast will be made to universal freedom of speech and members will aim to raise awareness of current human rights issues as well as explaining methods used to create change and highlight inequality. Similar events will be held throughout major towns and cities in France. There will also be a series of events linked to their campaigns including an art competition via the Internet, publications of books and other projects so that people understand the organization better. 28 May, Thonon-les-Bains, Square Voltaire, France between 15.30 and 18.30 (3:30 pm-6:30 pm) in the French Alps close to the Swiss border, the Thonon Chablais Group invites visitors to share music and songs, exhibitions and poems which have a symbolic theme of liberation for individuals imprisoned for their beliefs. There will be discussions as well as various videos and material on display. At 17.00 (5 pm), a toast to freedom will be made. For more information call - tél. : 06 89 79 35 94 or http://www.amnesty.fr/Campagne-theme/50-ans-dAmnesty-International 29 Apr -; 3 May Geneva, Switzerland - Salon du Livre de Genève, Palexpo. An exhibition of historic posters entitled '50 years against injustice,'; will be displayed to the public as well as access to an information stand. A preview of the exhibition will be open to the public on 29 Apr at 18.00 (6 pm). http://www.amnesty.ch/fr/actuel/agenda/suisse-romande/salon-livre 6 -8 May Queen's University, Belfast, Annual General Meeting and Commemoration of 50th Anniversary. The UK arm are raising money by asking people to offer 50 hours of their time offering help to others in whatever way they would like, e.g. teaching a foreign language, babysitting, gardening. The recipient of the service makes a donation instead of pay for the help. All donations to be made by 28 May 2011. Prizes announced soon afterwards. More information: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=11763(WRITTEN Apr 2011) STORY SUPPLIED BY NEWSAHEAD CORRESPONDENT RACHEL RAE
Date written/update: 2011-05-28