Here we go.....
Its pouring with rain, but not too cold, and my things-to-do list is as long as my arm. That means it must be July and the Edinburgh Festival is nearly upon us.
How to describe our annual cultural jamboree without drifting off into superlatives?– the biggest arts event in the world, the largest book festival, the greatest difficulty getting a seat in the pub….. Ah yes, all Edinburgh residents will know that familiar mix of excitement, trepidation and frustration at all the bloomin’ drama students blocking the pavement. Amnesty International is the good cause at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival – and this year we’re back bigger and better than ever. There’s our legendary comedy shows, exhibitions, lectures and readings, theatre, our Freedom of Expression Award. We’re involved in a timetable busting total of 34 events, so there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy.
There is more than just the scale of our involvement that sets Amnesty apart from the various charities and campaigns which engage with the Festival. The Edinburgh Festival is all about freedom of expression – and so are we. So when we take our Freedom of Expression For All placards out on to the streets we are supporting the very basis of the Festival itself, the creative and artistic freedom without which the show could not go on.
In highlighting one prisoner of conscience each year we give Festival goers the chance to exercise their freedom of expression on behalf of others. This year, with the Festival coinciding with the Beijing Olympics, we have chosen Chinese human rights campaign Hu Jia – a man sentenced to three and a half years in jail for doing pretty much what I’m doing now. We’ll be out and about with stalls promoting the campaign throughout August, but you can take action for Hu Jia right now.
You can find out more about our activities, book tickets and download our “At the Festival” programme here. Get in touch to order more copies of the programme, or find out how you can help during August.
During August our "At the Festival" blog will appear daily, reporting from the frontline of the world’s biggest arts event. I suggest you bookmark it now otherwise you might miss out.
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.