Monday, February 28, 2005


Peter Benenson, a British lawyer whose outrage over the imprisonment of two Portuguese students for drinking a toast to liberty spawned the human rights organization Amnesty International in 1961, died Friday in a hospital in Oxford, England.

The Washington Post obituary shows that Benenson was always putting the cause of human rights before his personal aggrandizement:

Almost every British prime minister in the past 40 years has offered to recommend him for knighthood, but he responded to each with a personal letter suggesting "if they truly wished to honor his work, they would clean up their own backyard first, and then he would set out a litany of human rights violations the British government was complicit in," said Kate Gilmore, the deputy secretary general of Amnesty International. "It was a clever and inspired pitch, and it was heartfelt. In an era of ego and self-aggrandizement, it was almost hard to conceive that such a man . . . had such a worldwide impact."
Despite the regressive Right's repeated assertions that they are for all things freedom and liberty, for some reason, they have not stepped up to honor Benenson, a man who dedicated his life to advocating freedom and liberty:

[Amnesty International] shows no favor to the West; it regularly criticizes the United States for its military operations and prison executions.


[W]hen Mr. Benenson began, there were few international legal standards that would hold governments to account for violations of the United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but there are now conventions against torture and other egregious acts.
Of course, those conventions no longer apply in George Bush's America.

But, if you want to light a candle rather than curse the darkness -- and there is no reason you can't do both -- you can contribute to Amnesty International here:

No comments:


Blog Archive