To mark its 50th anniversary, Amnesty International TV launches AmnestyTV on Friday July 15th: a dedicated YouTube channel offering a mix of human rights news and comedy (we kid you not), a hybrid approach designed to appeal to the up and coming generation of social activists.
The 15-minute, biweekly (it will run every other Friday) magazine-style show describes itself as '50% Newsnight, 50% Modern Toss' (a tagline non-Brits may not appreciate) with a mix of hard-hitting satire, campaign stunts, short documentaries, outspoken opinion and real news.
Amnesty's Andy Hackman tells The Observer, "Amnesty International's aim is to connect people and unite them behind a common belief that people coming together can effect real, tangible change. Amnesty TV's combination of entertaining content and inspiring stories will help us engage and mobilise a new generation of supporters."
The first episode, from the producers of The Inbetweeners, Starsuckers and Newswipe, features Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales discussing online freedom.
Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961, following an article by English labor lawyer Peter Benenson entitled, "The Forgotten Prisoners" published in The Observer.
Benenson’s article about two Portuguese students imprisoned for raising a toast to freedom provoked a flood of responses from readers worldwide and became a rallying point against human rights abuse.
Considered by many to have set the standard for the human rights movement, Amnesty received the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its "campaign against torture" and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978.
The non-profit's goals include lobbying to abolish the death penalty, end extra judicial executions and "disappearances," humane prison conditions meeting international human rights standards, prompt and fair trial for all political prisoners, decriminalise abortion, end the recruitment of child soldiers, promote religious tolerance, protect LGBT rights, stop torture and uphold the rights of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers.
Wales commented to The Observer that the growth of the internet has given human rights campaigners a new suite of tools: "Even in places which are being difficult about freedom of speech, the internet means it is coming to them more and more. It ebbs and flows, of course. The authorities crack down and then it loosens up again. And the great thing is that no country can ever do without the internet. You can't turn it off because it is quite necessary for modern life and, as long as it is there, people will use it to talk."
As the prime defender of global human dignity, Amnesty has obtained the release of thousands of “prisoners of conscience.” On Saturday, Amnesty reported on Malaysian authorities’ response to a peaceful rally for electoral reform in Kuala Lumpur with mass arrests and excessive use of force.
Amnesty's 50th and new online marketing push comes as another effort to elevate human rights — the global search for a human rights logo, which runs through July 30th — is taking place this summer.