As an active member of Amnesty International, I was pleased to see that the charity’s Facebook page has recently begun to look back over years of tireless campaigns to promote human rights and changes in the law, each accompanied by graphic art to inspire the public. Although some of these posters were not as successful as others (the challenge of turning Americans against the death penalty was always going to be a particularly difficult one, with such a large population), they are all equally fascinating.
If you’re unaware of the work that Amnesty does, I’d urge you to visit their official website, which explains about the aims and projects linked with this important group. I first joined as a student at sixth form college, where we conducted many cake sales and letter writing campaigns but often found ourselves up against the sceptical attitudes of our peers; they didn’t want their name to be on a ‘secret government list’ if they signed a petition aimed at the President of Pakistan, and they certainly didn’t want to accompany me on a peaceful protest to secure the release of a death row prisoner. We are supposed to be a generation of intelligent and caring people, living in a world of information where acts of brutality and breaches of human rights shouldn’t go unnoticed. However, the reality is that many of us just don’t care enough to stick our neck out for the cause of domestic violence victims or people imprisoned in China for the smallest of petty crimes.
If the artwork associated with these campaigns can even offer just one more voice of hope and solidarity then it really will make a difference. We have experienced people being released from jail purely on the amount of letters they received from wellwishers around the world – governments, even dictatorships, are wary about the amount of attention these people receive, knowing that so many thousands of people are watching over the case of an imprisoned person. You might not feel that your participation, or lack of, makes any impact, but it really does. Look at these images and see how important the work of Amnesty International can be.