By Lucy Macnamara, Demand Dignity Campaign Co-ordinator at Amnesty International
It’s nearly midnight on Thursday and I’m writing this backstage in the Production office at Hannover, with my ears still ringing from another fantastic concert. Amnesty’s involvement on this tour is very special and I can’t wait to tell you about a magical moment that takes place during the shows.
You might have heard a beautiful U2 song called ‘Walk On’. It was written by Bono for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest in Burma – a dignified and graceful symbol of the oppression and hardship experienced by her people in a country where there are over 2,200 political prisoners.
Tonight, Bono introduced ‘Walk On’ as a message of love and support from the people of Hannover to the people of Burma. The lights went down and the crowd watched, mesmerised, as 40 volunteers each carrying Amnesty International lanterns slowly ‘walked on’ around both sides of the stage runway. As the band sang their heart out, each volunteer placed their lantern down to form a circle of Amnesty lights around the stage, which also shone out in 360 degrees from the huge cylindrical video screen above the stage.
“Amnesty International… keep up the campaign” said Bono from the stage at the end of the song, as a crowd of 55,000 people watched in wonder. It was an incredibly moving and emotional moment. With tears in my eyes I was simply bursting with pride to be a member of such an amazing organisation, and seeing the faces of other Amnesty volunteers I know that they felt the same way.
Because for me, as well as campaigns that change not only the lives of individual people but elevate human rights on a global scale, a big part of what Amnesty has always been about is solidarity – that people are not alone enduring such suffering in the struggle for what is right. Together we are powerful, one in our vision for a better and just world. And somehow at that moment, in that song, with the Amnesty logos burning brightly, thousands of different people in that stadium became one. It was lovely.
Tonight I’m just thankful that, as a human rights defender, I live in a country where I won’t be imprisoned and tortured simply for peacefully standing up for democracy. Or for telling a few jokes about my government. Later this year the eyes of the world are on Burma as they prepare for elections. Amnesty is calling on foreign ministers of Burma’s neighbouring countries to speak out against the military government. Please join us. Take action online at http://3freedoms.amnesty.org
Let’s hope that the power of U2 shining a spotlight on Burma to over a million people on this leg of the tour, combined with the hard work of Amnesty members and other organisations, will bring the positive light of change for Burma.
“And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
Stay safe tonight”
Amnesty International on tour with U2 (9 August 2010)