Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A toast to freedom

45 years ago, a group of Portugese students toasted freedom in a cafe and were arrested. Newspaper reports of their detention inspired Englishman Peter Benenson to form a worldwide movement to oppose torture, arbitrary detention, unfair trials, extrajudicial execution, "disappearances" and the death penalty. That movement was Amnesty International.

In a couple of weeks, the New Zealand branch of Amnesty International will celebrate its 40th birthday with "freedom week" - and they'd like you to join them in toasting freedom on Monday, August 1st. They'd also like you to remember that while we enjoy the simple freedom to say what we like, others do not. If you'd like to do something about that, you can help them out, by writing a letter or signing an online petition protesting abuses in Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Nepal or Afghanistan. Or you can join or donate: call 0900 48626 to donate $20, text the word "free" to 883, or donate online.

Amnesty are good people, and they've made a real difference to tens of thousands of political prisoners around the world. If you approve of that, then now would be a good time to show your appreciation.


I can remember in the 1970s the long torturous road the organisation took to finally include gay rights in their charter. For a long time it was OK to be supported by AI when you were locked up for advocating gay rights but AI was quite reluctant to come to your aid if you actually slept with someone of your own sex and were gaoled for that. They eventually saw sense and it is now an organisation worthy of support.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 7/20/2005 09:53:00 AM

Is it?

They have taken scant interest in a certain case of sedition before the courts... (again tomorrow.) I have emailed and telephoned, but they couldn't give a rat's. Not so much as a "we'll keep a watching brief" or "we'll look into it." I know it is not very far up the list in terms of Iraq, Guantanamo, Russia, Belarus, Zimbabwe etc., but in terms of the local branch and what is happening in this complacent country it ought to be somewhere on their radar!?

Maybe you have to be locked up before they start caring? And a fat lot of good it will do at that stage! I fought hard to get my house arrest provisions removed without one single murmur or assistance from AI. I won't be celebrating their freedom day or toasting freedom, especially given that it is the day everyone except the Prime Minister goes on trial in the speeding motorcade case.

Posted by Bomber : 7/20/2005 10:13:00 PM