Sunday, May 28, 1961: Amnesty International

The human rights group has its beginnings in an article that appears May 28 in The Observer newspaper in London. Written by Peter Benenson, a British lawyer, it begins: "Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government." And later: "We have set up an office in London to collect information about the names, numbers and conditions of what we have decided to call 'Prisoners of Conscience.' "

Berenson outlined the goals of what, at the time, was called Appeal for Amnesty, 1961:

1. To work impartially for the release of those imprisoned for their opinions.
2. To seek for them a fair and public trial.
3. To enlarge the Right of Asylum and help political refugees to find work.
4. To urge effective machinery to guarantee freedom of opinion.

Within a year the effort would grow into a formal, international organization. (The now-familiar logo of a candle wrapped in barbed wire first appeared widely in 1963.)

* Official website: @
* Timeline (from amnesty.org): @
* Text of original article: @
* Image of original article: @
* History (video): @
* "Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty International" (book): @
* Selected posters through the years: @
* Peter Benenson obituary (The Economist, 2005): @

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