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Amnesty International Day

Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization that focuses on the protection of human rights—working to prevent abuses to human rights, to fight for justice for those whose rights have been violated, and to expand and enforce human rights protections in international law, by lobbying governments and other powerful groups and publicizing their violations. Their early focus was on the release of political prisoners, but they now focus on many issues. Their main concerns are on the rights of freedom and speech and conscience, and on the right to not be tortured. Other concerns include abolishing the death penalty, reproductive rights, and defending refugees and migrants.

Amnesty International Day takes place on May 28, because it was on that day in 1961 when lawyer Peter Benenson published "The Forgotten Prisoners" in The Observer, which was then reprinted around the world. In it, he referenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular, articles 18 and 19, which deal with freedoms of thought and expression. He also announced an amnesty campaign called "Appeal for Amnesty." Amnesty International was founded in London that same year, largely by the efforts of Peter Benenson. That is where it is still headquartered, but today there are offices in over 50 countries. Three million people are now affiliated with the group, in more than 150 countries and territories.

How to Observe

Celebrate the day by getting involved with Amnesty International. Help out with one of the many issues they are currently focusing on, see if there are any volunteering opportunities at their global offices, become a member, or give them a donation. You could also read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or learn about human rights in general.

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