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The icing, on the candle, on the birthday cake

Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organisation, is celebrating 50 years of work tomorrow- the 28 May 2011

As if you didn’t know. Surely you must have clocked this wonderful, harrowing piece on the BBC about former prisoner of conscience Maria Gillespie, or seen this article in the Evening Standard tonight about Rabiha Al-Qassab and her imprissoned husband, to pick out two of my favourite bits of media coverage so far.

You should tune in to The World Tonight on BBC 4, where there will be a programme reflecting on Amnesty’s work and focus; past, present and future. And please don’t miss Bianca Jagger talking about her long-time involvement with Amnesty, and unwavering passion for human rights campaigning on BBC Breakfast tomorrow around 8.30 am.  

We are also expecting a big press turn out down at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square tomorrow. A celebration there, where Peter Benenson first came up with the idea of Amnesty in 1961, will feature readings and musical performances.

During the ceremony, guests will be invited to take part in a "text action"- texting in to a petition to ensure that women are not marginalised in Egypt's progress towards a democratic government an example of  the evolution of Amnesty’s campaigning on human rights over the last half a century. 

Exciting stuff, and just when we thought we couldn’t be happier, yesterday we saw Azerbaijani newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev, a long-term Amnesty case released under a presidential pardon.  Amnesty had led an international campaign for his release and named him a prisoner of conscience after his arrest and imprisonment in 2007 on trumped-up charges of terrorism and defamation.

 Earlier this week scores of people – including many journalists – at the Amnesty International UK annual media awards event in London, took part in a “mass tweet” to the President of Azerbaijan, urging President Aliyev to immediately and unconditionally release Fatullayev.  

Speaking at home after his release, Eynulla Fatullayev said: “I am very happy to be released. I am extremely grateful to Amnesty International, who have campaigned since the beginning. In my opinion you saved me. Thank you to all those who tweeted.”  

What a way to celebrate. We’ve certainly got the candle for the birthday cake, and now the icing too. If the bad news is we still need Amnesty, the good news is Amnesty is going strong.   

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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