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Old 02-26-2005, 10:17 AM   #1
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Peter Benenson

RIP
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Old 02-26-2005, 10:24 AM   #2
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Benenson, who was educated in some of Britain's top schools, began his own human rights campaigns as a boy in support of Spanish civil war orphans and Jews fleeing Hitler's Germany. In 1961, at the age of 40, he set up Amnesty after reading an article about the arrest and imprisonment of two students in a cafe in Lisbon, Portugal, who had drunk a toast to liberty.
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Old 02-26-2005, 12:20 PM   #3
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Amnesty International founder Benenson dies
Sat Feb 26, 2005 03:04 PM ET

By Patrick Chalmers
LONDON (Reuters) - Peter Benenson, the British lawyer whose outrage at the jailing of two Portuguese students in 1960 spawned the Nobel Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, has died at the age of 83.

His organisation, with its symbol of a burning candle wrapped in barbed wire the bane of human rights abusers the world over, now numbers 1.8 million members and supporters.

Current campaigns include a warning of a human rights disaster looming in Nepal, a call for an end to child executions in Iran and demands for justice for those responsible for ethnic rape and killings in Sudan's Darfur.

The group has also called for the release of all detainees at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, which it has described as "an icon of lawlessness".

It was the students' toast to freedom in Antonio Salazar's dictatorship in Portugal, leading to their arrest and sentencing to seven years in jail, that first fired Benenson into action.

He wondered how to get them released, hitting on the idea of bombarding the authorities with letters demanding they be freed.

"Peter Benenson's life was a courageous testament to his visionary commitment to fight injustice around the world," Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan said in a statement.

"He brought light into the darkness of prisons, the horror of torture chambers and tragedy of death camps around the world," she added.

Amnesty drew its share of controversy, with critics including former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, ex Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet, the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran and Iraq's jailed former leader Saddam Hussein.

The group was criticised for its approach to the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany in the 1970s. While the group was killing prominent German figures, Amnesty was lobbying hard for better prison conditions for incarcerated gang members.

British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said that despite occasional differences with Amnesty International over policy, the government had no doubts about Benenson's legacy

Peter Benenson made a huge contribution to the furthering of human rights through founding Amnesty," he said in a statement read out to Reuters.
Benenson began Amnesty as a one-year campaign for the release of six prisoners of conscience before it grew into a worldwide movement for human rights.

The approach was simple -- local Amnesty groups adopted "prisoners of conscience" and pestered governments to release them while also writing letters of support to the prisoners themselves.

"This idea, characteristically British -- parochial, low-key, frugal, committed to working across ideological, religious and racial boundaries - was amazingly effective on the world scene," said author Jonathan Power.

His book, "Like Water on Stone", chronicles the development of Amnesty, which was once described as "one of the larger lunacies of our time", into an organisation with supporters in dozens of countries and territories.

Benenson died on Friday in Oxford, England, Amnesty said.
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Old 02-26-2005, 12:23 PM   #4
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Please, light a candle for Mr Benenson.
He was a great man. he had a great idea and this idea spread into the whole world.

There are a lot of activists of Amnesty around who will remember the message and the idea Benenson gave.

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Old 02-26-2005, 12:26 PM   #5
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Thank you Deep for starting this thread.
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Old 02-26-2005, 04:14 PM   #6
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May you be at peace Mr. Beneson.
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Old 02-27-2005, 09:14 AM   #7
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What a wonderful man.
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:52 AM   #8
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Old 02-28-2005, 11:58 AM   #9
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Old 02-28-2005, 12:08 PM   #10
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May God be with his family and the organization —*may it continue to do what he intended. It's a great organization.
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