Amnesty International marks 15 years at the Fringe campaigning for freedom of expression this year, with a packed programme across the Edinburgh festivals including comedy, theatre, street art and literature.
Shabnum Mustapha, Programme Director for Amnesty International Scotland, said:
“The Edinburgh festival is infamous for being full of outspoken people, so it is one of the most fitting places in the world to remember how precious freedom of speech is and to celebrate being able to say, write, sing or mime whatever we like.
“Every day around the world, people are locked up for speaking their minds.
“Fortunately they are often released as a result of our campaigning, and many of the people we have campaigned for at Edinburgh over the years are now free.
“Let’s hope that by this time next year, we can add this year’s case, U Myint Aye, a prisoner of conscience from Burma, to the list of Edinburgh’s successes.”
Amnesty’s annual flagship Stand Up For Freedom
gig is at Venue150 on Wednesday 15 August at 10pm. Hosted by Fred MacAulay and Susan Calman (winner of Chortle’s best compere 2011) with Sara Pascoe, Hannibal Buress (Foster Best Comedy Newcomer 2011), Josie Long, Pappy’s and David O'Doherty announced so far and more top comedy acts to be announced – brought to you by the producers of the acclaimed Secret Policeman’s Ball. Tickets are available now from www.venue150.com
New on Amnesty’s bill this year is hilarious topical panel show No Pressure to be Funny
presented by LBC radio host James O'Brien with a guest panel who discuss the week's news in front of a live audience alongside comedy songs, monologues and diatribes. The Panel is set to include; Ian Rankin, Mark Thomas, Dana Alexander, Nick Revell and Alistair Barrie, with music from Lorretta Maine (country singer character played by Pippa Evans) and Phil Nichol. No Pressure to be Funny is at Venue150, on Saturday 18 August 2012 at 3pm. Tickets available now from www.venue150.com
The ‘critics vs comics’ football match returns to Edinburgh this year courtesy of Amnesty International with the comedians, captained by Mark Watson, looking to avenge last year’s embarrassing 7-3 defeat at the hands (and feet) of the critics. It’s billed as “such a grudge match they had to get Amnesty International to referee” and may live up to the hype this year, on Sunday 19 August in the Meadows. Kick-off 2pm.
Amnesty’s Imprisoned Writers Series returns to the Book Festival as a brilliant free-of-charge event at 5.30 pm each day from 11-26 August, with top writers reading from the works of others who have been locked up, threatened or even killed for what they have written. Topics include; the Arab Spring; Aung San Suu Kyi; love is a human right; and journalism on the front line. Amnesty will be chairing two annual lectures this year, sure to sell out. On Sunday 12 August at 2.30pm Peter Popham will talk about his biography of Burma’s most iconic politician, in Behind the scenes with Aung San Suu Kyi, at the Peppers Theatre. Then on Saturday 18 August at midday, the audience can hear acclaimed Egyptian writer, Ahadf Soueif, on The Writer and the Egyptian Revolution at the ScottishPower Studio Theatre. Tickets from www.amnesty.org.uk/edfest
The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award recognises an outstanding Fringe production which builds understanding and engagement of human rights. Last year the award went to Sold, directed by Catherine Alexander at the Pleasance Courtyard and The Wheel, directed by Vicky Featherstone at the Traverse. Acts can enter for the awards at www.amnesty.org.uk/foeaward
Freedom of expression campaign
Burmese human rights defender and political activist, U Myint Aye was arrested for his peaceful activities in August 2008, and Amnesty considers him a prisoner of conscience. U Myint Aye was imprisoned for the first time for his involvement in protests in 1974 and has been imprisoned repetedly over the years for peaceful protest.
Most recently, he was involved in raising and distributing relief aid to survivors of cyclone Nargis, but was charged with providing funds for a bombing which took place in Yangon. He was tortured during interrogation and received an unfair trial. U Myint Aye was sentenced to life imprisonment plus eight years. Amnesty is calling for the release of U Myint Aye and all remaining prisoners of conscience in Burma.