For almost 42 years, Amnesty International has been working to preserve human rights around the globe.
At the end of 1960, British lawyer Peter Benenson embarked on a crusade of conscience after reading an article about two young Portuguese students who were arrested in a Lisbon bar and then jailed after they made a toast to freedom.
Benenson responded by publishing an article in the London Observer, titled “The Forgotten Prisoners.”
Soon after, Benenson and several of his close colleagues began hammering out what they called their “Appeal for Amnesty.”
The goals of the original appeal were designed to aid in the rights and eventual releases of political prisoners all over the world, and also to lay the groundwork for international freedom of expression and opinion.
The article and the “Appeal for Amnesty” proposal were popular with the public.
The sheer volume of volunteer responses and donations practically forced Benenson to move the appeal into the next stage of development — the establishment of Amnesty International.
The founding goal of Amnesty was to establish a permanent, non-governmental watchdog organization that would retain central values like global reach, democracy, universal respect and the indivisibility of basic human dignity.
Since its official inception in 1961, Amnesty has swelled to more than a million members, donors and subscribers that exist and operate in over 140 countries.
The organization maintains its headquarters and operational hub, the International Secretariat, in London.
Amnesty has worked to promote the ideals and guidelines set forth in the International Declaration of Human Rights (IDHR), which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948.
The IDHR was created as a guideline for the basic freedoms and rights of people everywhere: the rights to life, liberty and security of person and property.
Amnesty has sought to aid in the rights of political and other prisoners worldwide, as well as working to educate people worldwide about the problems of human rights abuses.
Amnesty works towards these ends by researching cases and patterns of human-rights abuses.
When they discover a case of abuse, the findings are published. The public response to the reports, coupled with the vigorous effort of Amnesty groups and members, has pressured governments to address the issue.
This pressure often results in the asylum or release of many prisoners.
Amnesty has also provided temporary relief and aid to the victims and families of the victims of human rights abuses.
Amnesty funds its various research projects and relief initiatives through donations from members and supporters.
More information about Amnesty International can be found at www.amnesty.org.
Eric Raible can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org