Amnesty International launches 'Butterfly effect' inspired ad campaign

Amnesty International has today launched a high-profile advertising campaign on the London Underground to encourage people to use their mobile phones to take action on behalf of people suffering human rights abuse around the world.

The ads are part of the launch of the “Pocket Protest” text action network, which calls on the public to stand up against human rights abuses by signing a petition or taking other urgent actions sent to them via text. One poster reads: “A woman texts from Tottenham Court Road and a torture cell in Bahrain closes forever.”  Other similar posters highlight human rights issues in Burma and Iran.

The campaign seeks to show how thousands of people sending a text, even when hundreds of miles away from an abuse, can make a real difference  to people at risk of  torture and unfair trials, who face losing their homes or who are being denied justice.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“Amnesty has always been about ordinary people – busy people with lives and jobs of their own – who make human rights abuse across the world their business. It’s about commuters in London refusing to be passive bystanders and instead taking action to demand change.

“It doesn’t seem possible that simply sending a text from a tube station can result in someone in another country being protected, or released, but when hundreds or thousands of people voice their outrage, governments sit up and pay attention. People who were vulnerable and expendable are protected by the notoriety of an Amnesty campaign.

“We can’t all protest in person, or fly out to countries where we oppose the abuse of power, but we can all send a text.”

Amnesty was started in London, in 1961, when British barrister Peter Benenson read an article on the Underground about two Portuguese students who had been arrested for raising a “toast to freedom”. The simple toast was deemed subversive and a challenge to the government and the two were sent to prison.

Benenson wrote an article entitled ‘The Forgotten Prisoners’, in which he highlighted the plight of similar prisoners who had been jailed around the world for peacefully expressing their views. In an impassioned plea, he coined the term ‘prisoner of conscience’ and called for like-minded people across the world to unite in an appeal for amnesty on their behalf. The response was immense.

Today, millions of people around the globe take all forms of action for Amnesty’s campaigns, from hand written letters, to online petitions and other methods of digital communication or public rallies and demonstrations. In Amnesty’s 50th year, the addition of a text action network is expected to be a popular option for ordinary people who want to take a quick, simple action which could have a huge impact.

The campaign was produced by Different Kettle. There will be an advert in every other carriage of the Underground, a total of 2,000 adverts across the entire network, running for a period of two weeks. The Underground campaign will be supported with ads on Spotify, Facebook, print adverts and a mass email campaign.

To sign up to Pocket Protest anyone with a phone should text the word PROTEST to 88080 or visit www.amnesty.org.uk/pocketprotest

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