New Amnesty campaign uses social networks to unite new generation of human rights campaigners

Unsubscribe campaign to unite people online in opposition to terrorism and human rights abuse

Event brings together bloggers and social networkers to effect change

Amnesty International today launched a major new campaign which for the first time puts social media at the heart of human rights campaigning.

The “Unsubscribe” campaign aims to unite and activate public opinion online, from the grassroots up, against terrorism and against human rights abuses in the ‘war on terror’. Amnesty is locating the campaign at an online ‘hub’ which connects to social networking sites to mobilise a new generation of activists.

An event held at Amnesty’s London Human Rights Action Centre tonight (9 October), Changing The Way We Change The World, will bring together bloggers and social networkers to explore how new technologies can be used to effect positive change. Speakers include Joanna Shields, President of Bebo; Kevin Anderson, Head of blogging and interaction at the Guardian; Johnny Chatterton, whose Protect the Monks Facebook campaign on Burma has attracted hundreds of thousands of supporters; cyber trade unionist Eric Lee; and Paul Hilder of Avaaz.org, whose Burma e-petition has around 700,000 supporters.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Social media is a natural home for Amnesty – we have always been a community of people with shared values, amplifying the voices of thousands of individuals, mobilising them and taking action against injustice.

“We won’t ever stop protesting on the streets and outside embassies. But now social networks are where people are coming together to get fired up about issues and take action. The Unsubscribe campaign puts social media at the heart of human rights campaigning, bringing people together online and making our voice louder than ever.

“Online and on the streets, in social media and traditional media, Unsubscribe will engage with people who passionately believe in the right to a fair trial and the right not to be tortured.

“Ordinary people up and down the country, who feel appalled and angry at the violence, we are asking you to join our community of the ‘unsubscribed’ and let your feelings be known.”

Amnesty also launched a powerful, online short film today recreating interrogation techniques used in the ‘War on Terror’ and hard-hitting Billboard images which will be going up in cities all over the country to draw people to the www.unsubscribe-me.org website. Amnesty hopes to spark debate, raise awareness and enable people to take action online.

The Unsubscribe campaign has already attracted 10,000 supporters prior to today’s launch and has gained the support of leading social network Bebo, as well as the National Union of Students (NUS).

Joanna Shields, President of Bebo, said:

"The Unsubscribe campaign really speaks the language of Bebo. Bebo is all about people coming together to explore ideas and share their passions and to make a positive impact - key aspects of Amnesty's new campaign."

Gemma Tumulty, President of the National Union of Students, also commended the campaign:

“A large number of the seven million students in this country will instinctively feel that something has been going badly wrong in the ‘war on terror’ and this campaign is giving them the voice to say so. Unsubscribe has the full support of the NUS.”

Meanwhile, Unsubscribe also has the support of Moazzam Begg, the British man formerly held without charge for over two years at Guantánamo Bay. Mr Begg said:

“Removing freedoms gives rise to hostility and leads to terrorism; terrorism allows governments to justify the restriction of liberty. We must Unsubscribe to both.”

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