Amnesty International on tour with U2

Amnesty International Italy volunteers get ready for action © Amnesty International

By Lucy Macnamara, Demand Dignity Campaign Co-ordinator at Amnesty International

Uno, dos, tres, catorce! Welcome to U2 world! Last night Amnesty was present as the European leg of the amazing U2 360 tour kicked off in Turin, Italy. In fact, rather amazingly, we’re here for the whole leg of the tour. Because for the first time ever, Amnesty will have a tour ‘embed’ travelling with the production crew.

I’m Lucy Macnamara and I’m travelling for the first three weeks of the tour from Turin to Moscow, where my colleague Danielle Solick will pick up and travel through to Rome.

U2 have supported Amnesty for over 27 years and their passion and commitment to human rights have inspired thousands of people to engage with Amnesty’s work. I’m just one of them. As a huge U2 fan, at the tender age of 13 it was listening to ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’ on The Joshua Tree (followed by my first ever gig at Wembley Stadium, with Mum and sisters in tow!) that moved me to join Amnesty, igniting a passion for justice that has never dimmed.

Neither has my appreciation for U2. I love their music and I’ve seen them play live in Dublin, Las Vegas, New York, London… you name it. ‘U2 mini breaks’ – even better than the real thing, my friends and I highly recommend them. So can you imagine the phone call where I was offered the opportunity to go on tour for Amnesty? The world’s largest and most respected human rights organisation and the best band on the planet? Let’s just say I started with a rather undignified squawking noise (I didn’t even know I could squawk) and ended with ‘I love you, Bill!’ (just to re-assure you, professing undying love for my new boss isn’t my normal ‘modus operandi’).

But enough about me. From Amnesty’s perspective, this is a unique opportunity to promote our work to a massive number of people. As a worldwide membership organisation with 2.8 million members around the world, we’ve got an Amnesty presence in every country that the tour is visiting. We’re focusing on the ‘Demand Dignity’ campaign, which calls for people to ‘Use their Rights to Fight Poverty’, and aims to mobilise people all over the world to demand that governments, big corporations and others with power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights.

Poverty and human rights violations are so interlinked that while this may seem a new direction for Amnesty, it’s absolutely crucial that we broaden our campaigning on this in order to have meaningful impact and positive change in improving all human rights, universally.

Right now, it’s Saturday morning and I’m writing this on a U2 tour bus travelling from Turin on our way to Frankfurt, feeling like I’m in a dream and reflecting on last night’s show.

Our team of 25 Italian Amnesty volunteers (ably led by Laura, Patrizia and Samanta) looked stylish and graceful in their ‘IO PRETENDO DIGNITA’ (‘Demand Dignity’) T-shirts. And what a professional team they were – within seconds the Amnesty tent was up and clipboards were at the ready (they surely would have won if it was a game show). There was a warm response from the crowd as Amnesty volunteers asked them to take part in a photo action and petition to stop violence against women in Nairobi’s slums. Thousands of women live in informal settlements and slums in Nairobi and every day they are at the risk of violence at the hands of gangs, family members, employers and government security personnel. Violence is widespread and goes largely unpunished because of ineffective policing – particularly the absence of police in the slums and many obstacles that women face in access to justice. If you were there and took part – thank you. If you’d like to take action, we’ll be posting a link shortly.

As for the show? Wow. Bono may have just turned 50, but my oh my, those boys can rock. I’m not sure I should have been singing and dancing like a wild thing in the VIP area – I got a couple of surprised looks from the lovely lads in Kasabian, and a security guy asked me what I was doing. ‘Dancing! Yay!’ I replied. He was unimpressed. I really must remember to be more cool. Really.

But the best part? There was a very, very special Amnesty moment. But I’ve got to save something to tell you about for next time, right? So for now, the luckiest girl in the world is signing off.

Till then…

Posted in Death Penalty, International Organizations | 13 Comments

  1. Simona says:

    In the afternoon, when people say thank you to Amnesty International after the photo-petition…
    In the evening, when U2 asked people to support Amnesty…
    During the concert, with the song ‘Walk on’ and Amnesty candles…
    In those moments, the light of human rights enlightened the stadium. My eyes were moist and I thought that I’ll never stop to ‘Walk on’ and give voice to people without voice.
    Thank you.
    Simona (AI Italy volunteer)

  2. Maria Pietropaolo says:

    Dear Lucy, I’m one of 25 lucky italian Amnesty volunteers. Thanks for the wonderful evening, I enjoyed very much!!!! :-)
    I got to meet you and I must say that you’re really full of energy. Thanks again to you and Amnesty for the opportunity. I will continue together with Amnesty to defend human rights…forever!!!!! :-)
    Many kisses Maria

  3. Natasha says:

    Wow Lucy it sounds like this opportunity is right up your street!! I look forward to hearing about more of your tour exploits. I think Amnesty are very lucky to have someone who is not only very passionate about the cause but is a fun and enthusiastic person as well. Give us more info soon!!! :)

  4. Silvia says:

    U2 playing a meter away from us, Amnesty candles enlightening the stadium, 42.000 people singing together… a night I will never forget!

  5. Bill Shipsey says:

    Dear Lucy, As the ‘Bill’ to whom you professed your gratitude I want to congratulate you on this blog report. You have captured for many of us what U2 has meant as a source of inspiration for the human rigths work we do. ‘Art’ is like that. We are rarely moved by the head or intellect alone. We need heart and soul and music is a great trigger for inspiration. The added bonus of the 50 Amnesty lanterns for ‘walk on’ is really perfect. I want to thank Amnesty Torino for doing such a great job and hope that the remaining 21 shows will be as good.

    Go Lucy!


  6. Osvalda says:

    With Amnesty I usually feel myself ONE. During the concert I felt myself ONE-TOGETHER, for the first time!!

  7. Kelly Hart says:

    I’m really enjoying reading all about Amnesty International on tour with U2. Please keep us posted!

  8. Dear Lucy, keep your dream on adn dance everytime you can. It´s also cool!. When you see the results everytime after each concert you´ll realize that it is for real. Keep the good work and enjoy it. Warm wishes from Caracas. Claudio Mendoza. A4A Board Member

  9. Amy says:

    hey lucy, It was an amazing experience to promote AI in this way. I hope the accident on the stage wouldn’t have any consequences and we (AI) will also in future be able to do such campanias. thank you very much for your energy and effort.

    many kisses from frankfurt

  10. Paula Aliwell says:

    U2′s continued support of Amnesty is fantastic. I too was inspired by U2 as a teenager and became an Amnesty member; my interest in human rights continues…
    Enjoy the tour and keep up the good work!

  11. shay says:

    How does Bono’s political activism reconcile itself with him giving Russian dictator Medvedev a photo-op on August 24th? At best, Bono is endorsing a brutal non-democratic regime.

  12. James Parter says:

    It’s great to see U2 are using their massive publicity to promote something so worthwhile. Well done!

  13. Mohd. Abdul Saeed Khan says:

    well done Lucy.

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