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.