USA: GoodStorm's MixTape Widget Spreads Word About ‘Instant Karma', the Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur’

Former political prisoner ‘pays back’ Amnesty

GoodStorm, a US-based e-commerce and digital music company, has joined forces with Amnesty International to launch a viral music campaign in support of a new John Lennon music project called Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.

Instant Karma sees a double-CD of new versions of classic Lennon songs released in record shops (from 25 June), as well as exclusive downloads only available online.

With artists like U2, Avril Lavigne, R.E.M, Aerosmith, Christina Aguilera and Green Day having given their time for free - and Yoko Ono donating all music-publishing royalties to the project, Instant Karma is set to raise funds for Amnesty International’s human rights work, including on the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

GoodStorm's ‘MixTape’ widget (http://noise.amnesty.org/spreadtheword ) specially designed for installation on blogs and social networking sites, allows people to play music samples directly from a blog or social network page and points users to iTunes to purchase Instant Karma songs. MixTape installs via a simple cut-and-paste of code and is available in three widths and is customised for use with Facebook, TypePad and WordPress.

GoodStorm's CEO Yobie Benjamin sees his company’s involvement in Instant Karma as a way of “paying back” Amnesty International for its campaigning on his behalf 30 years ago.

Benjamin is a former political prisoner who credits Amnesty International’s activism with keeping up his spirits during imprisonment as well as eventually securing his release. As a student activist in the Philippines under the Marcos dictatorship, Benjamin was arrested in 1977 after helping to set up a student organisation to oppose martial law. He was held for seven months, much of that time in solitary confinement, and was tortured as well as enduring the threat of summary execution. A postcard from Amnesty International activist Deborah Kaufman, which Benjamin kept during his entire imprisonment, served as a “talisman of hope”.

Benjamin, who still has Kaufman's postcard (bearing the message “You can imprison a revolutionary, but you cannot imprison a revolution”), said:

"I believe that millions of people online are eager to be part of Yoko Ono and John Lennon's legacy of peace and justice.

“MixTape widget technology will make it possible for everyone to be part of this global campaign of compassion and activism. Using the power of viral internet technologies, we will be able to sustain the global campaign over many months and potentially in millions of social networks and websites of righteous and peace-loving people."

Meanwhile, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said:

“It’s fantastic that these new interpretations of John Lennon’s classic songs will support our human rights work. Darfur and other human rights crises are really motivating artists and their fans to take action, and this project is a brilliant example of that.“

The release of Instant Karma is part of Amnesty International’s campaign to stop human rights violations in Darfur in western Sudan, where over 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million people forced to flee their homes.

Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government to allow the immediate and full deployment of a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force to the crisis-hit region. It is also pressing the Khartoum authorities to halt attacks on civilians, to disarm a regional militia (the Janjawid), to respect a UN arms embargo and to bring all human rights violators to justice, including by cooperating with the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Following its release in download-only form on 12 June, Instant Karma has achieved substantial worldwide sales, reaching number one in the iTunes albums chart in Portugal, Greece and Ireland, and the top 10 in 13 countries. Meanwhile, the Instant Karma CD debuted at number 15 in the Billboard Top 200 chart in the United States following its release there in mid-June.

All the songs from Instant Karma are available at: http://noise.amnesty.org/store or via the Amnesty International ‘Make Some Noise’ website at: www.amnesty.org/noise /p>

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