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Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty International

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Jonathan Power

In 1961, a news report about human rights violations in Portugal motivated a British lawyer named Peter Benenson to set up a group to push for the release of prisoners locked up solely for exercising their freedom of speech on political matters. Forty … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Jonathan Power
Publisher: Northeastern
1 review about Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty...

An excellent look inside Amnesty International

  • Dec 4, 2001
Amnesty International was started in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a british lwayer who read about students in Portugal (at that time under a military dictatorship) who received long prison terms for toasting freedom. His idea of flooding the offending government with letters, telegrams and unpleasant publicity was derided at the time as silly. Over the years, AI has kept its emphasis on those prisoners who do not use or advocate violence, and has stayed as non-partisan as possible in various international disputes while double and triple-checking all information it receives. Today, with members in over 160 countries, Amnesty International is the world's most influential private organization dealing with human rights.

This book looks at the difficulties faced by AI in its work around the world. Nigeria is the home of AI's most famous political prisoner, Olusegun Obasanjo (now President of Nigeria). Amnesty's attention to detail and fine detective work exposed the massacre of more than 100 children in the Central African Republic. Political freedom in China seems to go through phases of openness, only to be slammed shut by the government. The book also deals with death squads in Guatemala and attempts to bring former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to justice.

The author also explores human rights in America. Around the world, America is the first one to say something to other countries whose human rights records are less-than-perfect. But, looking at America's domestic record of police brutality, racial profiling and inability to ratify various human rights conventions and treaties, the word "hypocrisy" comes to mind.

This is a fine piece of writing. Those who are already active in the human rights field, and those who just want to know something about AI (before becoming members) will learn a lot from this book. Highly recommended.

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