Our toast to freedom

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Amnesty International was founded by Peter Benenson, a British lawyer, who read about two Portuguese students who were jailed for seven years for raising their glasses in a ‘toast to freedom’.

He wrote a newspaper appeal, The Forgotten Prisoners, published on May 28, 1961, calling for the release of people jailed for their religious or political beliefs.

Today, the sense of outrage at injustice continues to move Amnesty’s millions of members to take action, write letters and speak out.

Amnesty’s famous logo, a candle surrounded by barbed wire, was inspired by the Chinese proverb ‘It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’.

In its 50 years Amnesty International has grown to be the world’s largest human rights organisation. It provides a unique blend of local, national and international campaigning. Local groups, like ours, have contributed to making it an effective and successful movement.

The Sheffield group, one of the UK’s longest standing groups, will mark the movement’s 50th anniversary with an anniversary social at the Courtyard Cafe, Banners Building, 620 Attercliffe Road, Sheffield, S9 3QS on May 28, starting at 8pm. There will be a bar and live music. Lord Mayor, Sylvia Dunkley will kindly open the proceeedings.

Our celebrations commemorate not only our international movement’s successes but also our local day to day consistent work on a diverse range of themes including arms control and refugees and with our local specialists working on a range of countries.

We have public monthly meetings but are also involved in a variety of events throughout the year. We are looking forward to making more links with other local organisations including religious bodies, trades unions, organisations promoting sexual and gender rights and others concerned with various aspects of human rights.

Over the past 50 years Amnesty has striven to curse the darkness of human rights violations and we’ve seen the great impact that the organisation has had in that time.

Graham Jones, Sheffield Amnesty International