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Scoop Image: NZers asked to Toast Freedom

For more information see... http://www.amnesty.org.nz


Monday 28 May - New Zealanders asked to Toast Freedom

New Zealanders are being asked to raise their glasses in a Toast to Freedom on Monday to celebrate the 40th birthday of the world's largest human rights organization, Amnesty International.

Amnesty was founded on 28 May 1961 after British lawyer, Peter Benenson, read in his morning newspaper about two Portuguese students jailed for seven years for raising their glasses in a toast "to freedom" in a Lisbon cafe.

Benenson turned his outrage into a campaign against the violation of such basic human rights, which became Amnesty International.

"We are calling on New Zealanders on Monday, wherever they are, to raise their glasses in celebration of the relative freedoms we enjoy in New Zealand, and Amnesty International's forty years of achievement in campaigning for everyone to enjoy the same rights," said Executive Director, Ced Simpson.

Launched with the help of The Observer newspaper, and subsequent coverage in media around the world, Amnesty International is now a worldwide movement of almost 1.5 million people in more than 150 countries.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning movement, which had its first New Zealand meeting in 1965, now includes 5,000 New Zealanders from all walks of life who contribute their time, money and expertise to campaigning against human rights abuses, such as killings, “disappearances”, torture, and imprisonment for beliefs or identity.

Members of the Tauranga-Moana Group are expected to be the first members to celebrate when they raise their glasses in a Toast to Freedom at 1201 am midnight. 40th birthday events are planned by Amnesty groups nationwide.


For further information: See below, visit the website at www.amnesty.org.nz, or contact Rebecca Lineham on 0-4-499 3595 or 021 422 562

Available for interview:

Ced Simpson, Executive Director of AI in New Zealand, has been a member of AI since 1980. He has worked for AI in Australia and in AI's International Secretariat in London, where he was head of AI's international development programme.

0-4-499 3348 or 021 371 205


Available below:
- Key Moments in the Amnesty International Timeline
- Peter Benenson – founder of Amnesty International
- 40th birthday activities planned by Amnesty teams nationwide

Also available:
- Biography of Peter Benenson
- Further quotes about Amnesty International by celebrities and prisoners of conscience
- Full timeline of Amnesty International achievements, major campaigns and ‘firsts’
- Photo of an 7 metre high ‘Toast to Freedom’ sculpture of the Amnesty candle made from toast, created by Wellington toast artist, Maurice Bennett

“Rock ‘n’ roll, to me, is a statement about energy and freedom. Therefore, it has a direct relationship to Amnesty –the most astonishing group I’ve ever been involved with”
Musician, Lou Reed

“Don’t stop writing… if you give us moral support, we will do the rest”
Former prisoner of conscience, Kim-Dae Jung

“Through its activity for the defence of human worth against degrading treatment, violence and torture, Amnesty International has contributed to securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world.”
Nobel Committee, on awarding AI the Nobel Peace Prize, 1977

Key Moments in the Amnesty International Timeline

1961 British lawyer, Peter Benenson, launches an Appeal for Amnesty ‘61 with the publication of an article, “The Forgotten Prisoners” in The Observer newspaper, London, United Kingdom (UK), on May 28th. The imprisonment of two Portuguese students who had raised their wine glasses in a toast to freedom moved Benenson to write this article which proved to be the genesis of AI. The appeal was reprinted in other papers across the world.
In July, the first international meeting with delegates from Belgium, UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the United States decides to establish “a permanent international movement in defence of freedom of opinion and religion.”
On Human Rights Day, 10 December, the first Amnesty candle is lit in the church of St-Martins-in-the-Fields, London.

1965 Amnesty International is founded in New Zealand.

1974 Sean McBride (Chair of the International Executive Committee) is awarded Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his lifelong work for human rights in October.

1977 AI is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October for having “contributed to securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world.”

1978 AI wins the UN Human Rights prize for “outstanding contributions in the field of human rights.”

2001 AI wins The Revolution Awards 2001, for “best use of email”, with its stoptorture-site (www.stoptorture.org).

Peter Benenson – founder of Amnesty International

"On 28 May 1961 I wrote an article in The Observer newspaper which gave birth to Amnesty International. It began with these words: 'Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government ... The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united into common action, something effective could be done.'

"Forty years on, Amnesty International has secured many victories. Its files are full of letters from former prisoners of conscience or torture victims thanking the organisation for making a difference. Torture is now banned by international agreement. Every year more countries reject the death penalty. The world will soon have an International Criminal Court that will be able to ensure that those accused of the worst crimes in the world will face justice. The Court’s very existence will deter some crimes.

"But the challenges are still great. Torture is banned but in two-thirds of the world's countries it is still being committed in secret. Too many governments still allow wrongful imprisonment, murder or "disappearance" to be carried out by their officials with impunity.

"Those who today still feel a sense of impotence can do something: they can support Amnesty International. They can help it to stand up for freedom and justice.

"In 1961 I wrote 'Pressure of opinion a hundred years ago brought about the emancipation of the slaves'. Pressure of opinion is now needed to help Amnesty International achieve its ultimate objective: to close for business. Only then, when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world's people, will our work be done."

40th birthday activities planned by Amnesty teams nationwide

Auckland Saturday, May 26, placing an anniversary advert in the NZ Herald, detailing Monday's event
Monday, May 28, 6.30-8.30am Eden Epsom Group Raise a slice of toast to freedom atop Mt Eden as the sun rises above the city.
Contact: Shireen Caldwell phone 09 630 1662 (hm), Allison King 09 630 9232 (hm), 021 630 924.

Monday, May 28, 7.30am-onwards, Auckland Central and North Shore Groups - providing a toast to freedom for commuter traffic in QE II Square. Life-sized candle-clad character handing out toast and 40th birthday leaflets to morning commuters.
Contacts: Stephen Connelly phone 09 378 4227, conob@clear.net.nz or Margaret Taylor phone 09 303 4519 (wk), email margaret.taylor@amnesty.org.nz

Monday, May 28, 10am onwards Auckland University Group - set up a stall in the University Quad with a photo display, Amnesty posters. Handing out cake and sparkling wine, accompanied by music.
Petitions and membership forms for sign up. Chalking around the University.
Contact: Vanushi Rajanayagam, phone 521 3234 (hm), vanushi@hotmail.com

Monday, May 28, 6-7.30pm West Auckland Group - floating Amnesty candles in paper boats made by student members at The Big Top Aquatic Centre, Alderman Drive, Henderson. Accompanied by cake cutting and appropriate Amnesty readings.
Contact: Peter Maddison, phone 09 817 5917 (hm) and 09 818 6803 (wk), email maddisonp@clear.net.nz

Saturday, May 26, noon, Remuera Group - Gathering at the tree planted to mark the organisation's 30th birthday near the road by the Mission Bay Fountain to cut and distribute a special birthday cake.
Contact: Joanne Wilkes, phone 521 5776 (hm) and 373 7599 extn 7059 (wk), email j.wilkes@auckland.ac.nz

Hamilton Saturday, May 26, noon - The Hamilton Group - A public toast to freedom on the steps of the City Council Building, with the Mayor, local MPs , refugees, students amongst the gathering, backdropped by quotes from freed prisoners of conscience and the Observer article which first featured Amnesty.
Contact: Sabine Pahl, phone 07 856 1210 (hm), 07 847 8102 (wk), spahl@wave.co.nz.

Tauranga Sunday May 27 midnight - Tauranga Moana group becomes the first Amnesty group in the world to toast freedom on Amnesty's birthday in front of the Memorial Park Fountain with floating candles. TV coverage promised.
Monday May 28, Happy Birthday notice to Amnesty International feature in local paper.
Monday May 28, 7.20am Group members breakfast with Brian and Louise on Radio BOP Newstalk.
Monday May 28, 10am 50 kites made from torture tape flying high at St Thomas More School, Tauranga, while three other Tauranga and four Katikati and Omokoroa schools also fly kites during the day.
5.45pm Group meeting at Harbourside Restaurant for soup and rolls and a toast to freedom.
7pm pub crawl through Tauranga pubs starting at The Crown and Badger, followed by TapaTapa Bar and then Flanagans, with an invitation to friends and local musicians to
join the celebrations.
Contacts: Gary Ware phone 021 121 4516/ gmware@enternet.co.nz, Dolores Edge phone
07 575 3686 / dolores1@freenet.co.nz

Rotorua: Saturday, 26 May, Rotorua Group will process through the business centre of Rotorua with a life-sized Amnesty candle costumed character departing the Warehouse precinct at 10.30am, walking along Tutanekai Street to City Focus. Slices of Amnesty birthday cake will be handed out around 11am. A toast to freedom is incorporated within the event.
Contact: Phil Andrews, phone 07 345 9443, p-j.andrews@xtra.co.nz.

Napier: Saturday 26 May, from 10am-12.30pm Napier Group - A stall in the main street with balloons, cake and candles.
Monday 28 May, 3.30pm, Planting a kauri with school groups at Park Island Reserve.
Monday, 28 May, Napier Girls' High School offering breakfast at school, setting up an Amnesty Café and offering coffee and toast of freedom.
Contact: Louisa Palairet, phone 06 844 9163, palairet@paradise.net.nz.
Monday, 28 May, Amnesty displays in Napier and Taradale public libraries.

Hastings: Saturday, 26 May, 7-10am, Hastings Group - Annual Amnesty International Garage Sale and Sausage Sizzle, at 171 Grove Rd, Hastings.
Contact: Laurie Cantwell phone (06) 876 6424 (hm)

North: Monday, May 28, 11,15am. A public toast to freedom in the Square.
May 28-June 5 - Display in Palmerston North Public Library and Square Edge Community Arts Centre.
Contact: John Ross phone 06 357 4614 (hm), 06 356 9099 x 7304 (wk).

Wellington 19 May-28 May Karori Group - Amnesty International display, Karori Library.
Saturday, May 26 - Karori Group - host a morning stall handing out slices of a special barbed-wire encircled birthday cake.
Contact: Juliet Elworthy phone 04-934-9276 (home); 025-823184; e-mail juliet.elworthy001@mosp.govt.nz

Sunday, May 27, 2.30pm, Wadestown Group - The Phoenix Choir give a recital at St Mary of the Angels, Boulcott Street, presenting Bach's "Four Seasons" and Handel's Largo. $10 charge/$5 unwaged.
Contact: Jean Chapman, phone 04 479 7946 (hm), 04 475 9982 (wk),

Monday , May 28, 7.30am, Wellington members Breakfast at ‘Toast Café’, The Terrace with an re-enactment of the ‘toast to freedom”
Contact: Wellington Office, phone 04 499 3349.

Monday, May 28, noon-2pm - Wadestown and Terrace Groups – Stall at Lambton Square, handing out sweets and leaflets.
Monday, May 28, nine Wellington cafes handing out Amnesty
leaflets with food/coffee orders.
Contact: Jean Chapman, phone 04 479 7946 (hm), 04 475 9982 (wk),
Monday, May 28, evg, AINZ Legal Network - A toast to freedom by
Staff members and guests at Bell Gully Lawyers.

Christchurch: Sunday, May 27, St Michaels and All Angels Group - Sunday service dedicated to Amnesty at St Michaels Church.
Monday, May 28, noon-1pm, Sumner and St Michaels and All Angels Groups – A symbolic candle lighting ceremony and public toast to freedom in the Square. MPs and local dignitaries invited.
Contact: Michele Craw phone 03 388 0192 (hm), carl_craw@hotmail.com, or Vince Morton phone 03 322 6345 (hm) , BVM-54@xtra.co.nz.

Dunedin: May 28, 9.30am Combined Dunedin Groups effort. Treeplanting in Woodhaugh Gardens with attendance by the mayor Sukhi Turner and AI Dunedin founding member, Bob Entwhistle. A toast to freedom at the tree planting. Placing a happy birthday advert in the ODT wishing Amnesty International a happy birthday.
Contacts: Sam Sneyd, phone 03 455 1506 (hm) jgts@paradise.net.nz; Maria Hance-Halloy, phone 03 466 7321 (hm), halloy@es.co.nz; Hiltrun Ratz phone 03 478 0249 (hm), 03 478 0286 (wk), penguins@xtra.co.nz

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