Amnesty International, Canada Section
Organization profile published 1984
Year Published: 1984
Resource Type: Organization
Cx Number: CX2980
Abstract: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL (AI) was founded in 1961 following an appeal launched by Peter Benenson in an article entitled, "The Forgotten Prisoners," published in the Observer magazine (London, England). Within a month of the publication of his appeal he had reveived over a thousand offers of support. Within two months, people from five countries had established the beginnings of an international movement. AI now has more than 500,000 members and supporters in over 150 countries and territiories around the world.
The first Amnesty Candle was lit on Human Rights Day. December 10, 1961 on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in London. On May 28, 1961, AI's 20th anniversary, Peter Benenson re-lit the original candle at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In his speech, he said:"the candle burns not for us, but for all those whom we failed to rescue from prison, who were shot on the way to prison, who were tortured, who were kidnapped, who 'disappeared'. That's what the candle is for..."
The letter-writing network of AI is organized to respond to a bulletin describing the situation of people who have been arrested because of their religious or political beliefs, colour, sex, ethnic origin or language. None of these prisoners has used or advocated violence. The volunteers are asked to write courteous letters to the authorities in different countries asking that the prisoner be released.
The Letter-Writing Network News gives volunteers details and help to write appeals. The bulletin is published eight times a year with details about prisoners and updates on people mentioned in previous issues. The Candle is published twice a year. It gives more in depth information about people and prisoners involved with Amnesty International.
See also CX38 (1976), CX910 (1979) and CX2487 (1982).