Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today in History -- Amnesty International founded in 1961

International organization headquartered in London that seeks to inform public opinion about violations of human rights, especially the abridgments of freedom of speech and of religion and the imprisonment and torture of political dissidents, and which actively seeks the release of political prisoners and the relief, when necessary, of their families. In 1977 Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International.[Credits : Simon Dack—Keystone/Getty Images]The organization was founded in London on May 28, 1961, through the principal efforts of Peter Benenson, who had been a defense lawyer for political prisoners in Hungary, South Africa, and Spain and who sought to establish a collective agency for the advancement of human rights. From 1961 to 1975 the chairman of AI’s International Executive Committee was Se├ín MacBride (recipient of the 1974 Nobel Prize for Peace). By the early 1980s AI consisted of an international secretariat of 150 persons, national “sections,” or offices, in more than 40 countries, and about 200,000 individual members in some 100 countries.


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