First human rights group (founded 1961) systematically to catalog human rights abuses around the world. Based in London, Amnesty became a household name in the ’80s through major concert tours, such as the 1986 Conspiracy of Hope (including U2, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, Bryan Adams, and the Police) and the 1988 Human Rights Now tour (including Bruce Springsteen, Gabriel, Sting, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N’Dour).
Such celebrity-endorsed events (and massive direct-mail campaigns) multiplied the organization’s membership in the U.S. tenfold from some 40,000 members at the start of the ’80s.
In addition to being well respected in the rights field for its annual Report on Torture and Political Persecution Around the World (which typically includes harsh criticism of the U.S. prison system), Amnesty can point to dozens of political prisoners freed through letter-writing drives carried out by its grassroots membership.
Amnesty’s own definition of human rights has evolved… Continue reading