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Amnesty celebrates its 50th birthday with the Kings of Leon

Celebrations are taking place across Ireland and across the world to mark the foundation of the world’s largest human rights organisation.

Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International
Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International
Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE IRISH BRANCH of Amnesty International is celebrating its 50th anniversary today along with the global movement’s 62 other branches worldwide.

Events will take place in Dublin, Galway and at Slane Castle where the Kings of Leon are performing this afternoon to mark the 50th birthday of the world’s largest human rights organisation which has more than 3.2 million members in over 150 countries.

Amnesty says that to celebrate the landmark, members will raise their own ‘Toast to Freedom’ across the globe with events in Ireland in Galway’s Eyre Square and Dublin’s Temple Bar as well as at Slane where Kings of Leon will celebrate 50 years of Amnesty International as part of their performance.

The organisation was founded by the English solicitor Peter Benenson who was so outraged by hearing about of the arrest of students in Portugal for raising their own toast to freedom that he launched an ‘Appeal for Amnesty’ on their behalf.

Publishing an article in The Observer newspaper on the 28 May 1961 he urged ordinary people to come together to demand the freedom of the thousands of men and women who he said were “imprisoned” on both sides of the Iron Curtain for their political beliefs.

Commenting on the celebrations today, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman said:

In the five decades since [Benenson] our members have helped to free thousands of prisoners of conscience around the world and to abolish the death penalty in 123 countries.

They’ve helped to protect human rights activists who spend every day of their lives in danger and we’ve given a voice to the victims of the powerful.

Heading to Slane today? Here’s what you need to know >

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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