On 28 May 1961, Peter Benenson published his Observer article launching a campaign for the release of ‘Forgotten Prisoners’.
ON BOTH SIDES of the Iron Curtain, thousands of men
and women are bing held in gaol without trial because
their political or religious views differ from those of their
Governments. Peter Benenson, a London lawyer, conceived
the idea of a world campaign, APPEAL FOR AMNESTY,
1961, to urge Governments to release these people or at
least give them a fair trial. The campaign opens to-day, and
The Observer is glad to offer it a platform.
The success of the 1961 Amnesty Campaign depends on how sharply and powerfully it is possible to rally public opinion. It depends, too, upon the campaign being all-embracing in its composition, international in character and politically impartial in direction. Any group is welcome to take part which is prepared to condemn persecution regardless of where it occurs,who is responsible or what are the ideas suppressed. How much can be achieved when men and women of good will unite was shown during World Refugee Year. Inevitably most of the action called for by Appeal for Amnesty, 1961, can only be taken by governments. By experience shows that in matters such as these governments are prepared to follow only where public opinion leads. Pressure of opinion a hundred years ago brought about the emancipation of the slaves. It is now for man to insist upon the same freedom for his mind as he has won for his body.
APPEAL FOR AMNESTY, 1961: THE AIMS
- To work impartially for the release of those imprisoned for their opinions.
- To seek for them a fair and public trial.
- To enlarge the Right of Asylum and help political refugees to find work.
- To urge effective international machinery to guarantee freedom of opinion.
To these ends, an office has been set up in London to collect and publish information about Prisoners of Conscience all over the world. The first Press Conference of the campaign will beheld tomorrow, where speakers will include three M.P.s, John Foster, Q.C. (Con.), F. Elwyn Jones, Q.C. (Lab.), and Jeremy Thorpe (Lib.).