April 15th 2011 - Amnesty International 50th anniversary
In 1960, British lawyer Peter Benenson read a newspaper article about two Portuguese students who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for proposing a toast to freedom.
Benenson wrote immediately to the Portuguese government protesting against the sentence. A year later The Observer newspaper printed his article, The Forgotten Prisoners, in which he appealed for the release of persons all over the world who had been sent to prison for their opinions or beliefs. He called them prisoners of conscience. The response was enormous, and by 1961 Amnesty International had been established with its headquarters in London. Soon afterwards, national offices were opened in seven countries. Initially, Amnesty concerned itself mainly with prisoners of conscience and torture. Gradually it included the death sentence, violence to women and poverty among its central tasks. Prisoners of conscience may be people who have criticized their country’s government, have connections with an opposing party, have refused to do national service or belong to a religious community that opposes the regime.
Amnesty International bases its work on the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which states for example that:
• Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
• Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
• Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression
• No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Amnesty International is one of the most influential organizations in the world today. The United Nations and governments in many countries listen with respect to Amnesty’s representatives, and its ability to expose cruelty and injustice is feared by those who are guilty of ignoring human rights. Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978.
Date of issue: 15 April 2011
Value and subject: A-Priority domestic:
Prisoner behind barbed wire. The portrait is engraved based on a photo of Martin Adler / Panos Pictures.
Design and engraving: Sverre Morken
Method of printing: Recess / offset
Printing house: Royal Joh. Enschedé, Netherlands.