Scotland: Amnesty International announces Freedom of Expression Award shortlist

Amnesty International and the Big Issue in Scotland today (20 August) announced the shortlist for the Freedom of Expression Award, which rewards a company whose performance at the Edinburgh Festivals makes a significant contribution to public awareness and understanding of human rights issues.

The five shortlisted shows are The Container; As the Mother of a Brown Boy; Rash;Truth in Translation; and Superpatriots and Morons. [More detail about the shows below].

The Freedom of Expression Award was established by Amnesty International in 2001. This year the Award was relaunched as a partnership with the Big Issue in Scotland, helping secure the Award's position as a central feature of the Edinburgh Festival.

All Fringe productions which address human rights themes were eligible to nominate themselves for the Award, and judges chose from a "longlist" of 32 productions accepted as promoting human rights themes. The winner of the award will be announced at a special ceremony on Thursday 23rd August and in the edition of the Big Issue published that day.

Amnesty International’s Programme Director in Scotland John Watson said:

“The Festivals are all about freedom of expression – whether it’s in a play, a film, a book or a joke - and this is what makes Edinburgh such an apt place for Amnesty to tell people about our work to protect free speech around the world.

“We hope that this Award will help encourage companies to tackle human rights issues in their work.”

Clare Harris, Editor of the Big Issue in Scotland, said:

“The Big Issue has been reporting on the festivals for many years and it’s really exciting to be involved for the first time this year with Amnesty International.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response and by the sheer number of shows that we’ve seen over the last two weeks, shows which really bring home human rights and the importance of raising human rights issues.”

Amnesty is asking people to take action for human rights while they’re enjoying the Festival this year using the Internet and text messaging, including a campaign for Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist imprisoned for ten years just for sending an email. Amnesty is asking people to demand his freedom at www.amnesty.org.uk/scotland or text the word 'FREEDOM', plus their name and email address to 64118 to join the ever-growing petition.

Other Festival highlights from Amnesty include the Stand Up For Freedom comedy shows on 15 and 22 August; daily readings at the Book Festival from the work of imprisoned writers; a powerful photographic exhibition at St Giles Cathedral documenting the reality of human trafficking; and the Protect The Human exhibition in the Assembly Rooms, showing some of Amnesty’s best-known supporters from the worlds of comedy, music, and film standing up for human rights.

Comedian Ed Byrne, speaking to Amnesty as part of its podcast series, said:

“Freedom of speech is such a fundamental part of what we do – if we weren’t allowed to say what we liked then a lot of us would be out of a job.

“The point when a lot of comedians started getting into it was when we started campaigning for two comics from Burma who were jailed for doing the kind of stuff that any of us would get away with over here, no one would bat an eyelid. The fact that people could go to jail for that struck a nerve with a lot of comics”

More information about Amnesty’s programme across the Festivals at www.amnesty.org.uk/Scotland /p>

Notes to Editors:

The Container, Nimble Fish/Underbelly/Escalator East to Edinburgh/Creative Partnerships Thames Gateway.
Topic: Asylum, racial and religious persecution.
Venue: E4 UdderBELLY's Pasture, Bristo Square

Rash, Jenni Wolfson.
Topic: Genocide and human rights in Rwanda, Working in human rights and the UN.
Venue: Pleasance Dome, 1 Bristo Square

As the Mother of Brown Boy, Chickenshed.
Topic: Racial issues and death in police custody;
Venue: Zoo Southside, 117 Nicholson Street

Truth in Translation, Michael Lessac.
Topic: Apartheid South Africa and the Triuth and Reconciliation Commission.
Venue: Assembly @ Assembly Hall, Mound Place

Superpatriots and Morons, Rooftop Productions.
Topic: Satire on the political situation in Zimbabwe.
Venue: Assembly @ Hill Street Theatre, 19 Hill St

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