New 'Unsubscribe' Campaign to combat human rights abuse in 'War on Terror' launched
* Unsubscribe campaign to unite people “online and on the streets” in opposition to terrorism and human rights abuse
* New www.unsubscribe-me.org website, billboard posters and online film launched [images available]
* Support from Bebo, the NUS, Gordon Roddick and others
Amnesty International has today launched a major new campaign to combat human rights abuses in the “war on terror”.
The campaign, known as “Unsubscribe”, will involve extensive human rights campaigning online ( www.unsubscribe-me.org , including among “social media”. The new initiative is encouraging people who are opposed to terrorism and human rights abuses in the “war on terror” to do what internet users do with unwanted emails - to Unsubscribe. Instead, the Amnesty campaign is calling for a mobilisation behind a defence of human rights values.
Speaking at a launch event for Unsubscribe in Birmingham this morning, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“Most campaigns ask you to subscribe - we are asking you to unsubscribe.
“Online and on the streets, in ‘social media’ and the traditional media, Unsubscribe will engage with the millions of people who passionately believe in the right to a fair trial and the right not to be tortured.
“It’s time to unite against terrorism and unite against human rights abuses in the ‘war on terror’. Unsubscribe is about rejecting the false choice between terrorism on the one hand and abuse of human rights on the other.”
As part of its launch, Amnesty International has produced a series of hard-hitting billboard posters reproducing two of the most infamous images of “war on terror” human rights abuse - a prisoner in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq being attacked by a dog, and another detainee at the controversial US military camp at Guantánamo Bay. A third poster shows the devastation after the Madrid train bombing in 2004. All the posters bear the message “Unsubscribe”.
The posters will be displayed during October on the streets of Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester.
Additionally, as part of its online campaigning, the human rights organisation has produced a powerful new “viral” film called “Waiting For The Guards”. Directed by Marc Hawker and Ishbel Whitaker, and featuring an acclaimed performance artist Jiva Parthipan, the two-minute film shows the intense suffering of a hooded prisoner during a horrifyingly realistic recreation of “stress and duress” torture.
The Unsubscribe campaign had won the support of the late Anita Roddick, the Body Shop founder and prominent campaigner. Her husband Gordon Roddick said:
“One of the last things Anita and I did was offer our support for Unsubscribe. In her words ‘it's a really important message and it's absolutely the right way to be delivering it.’ People standing up for human rights in these difficult times is so incredibly important: Unsubscribe represents much that was closest to Anita’s heart.”
Unsubscribe has also gained the support of leading “social media” website “Bebo”, as well as the National Union of Students. 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 has also been endorsed by Moazzam Begg, the British man formerly held without charge for 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.”