By Miranda Nicholas, U2 360º Tour embed, Art for Amnesty
Art for Amnesty is a global project that aims to increase artistic support for our human rights work.
I am sitting on one of the uncountable crew buses and trucks winding through Canada’s rocky mountain roads en route to Seattle. With honor I have taken the role of tour embed for Amnesty International on the North American leg of the U2 360º Tour. The excitement we shared with thousands of Canadian fans is still surging through my veins.
It was only a few nights ago in Winnipeg that U2 lead a stadium of over 46,000 into song; singing at the top of their lungs “Happy Birthday dear Amnesty.”
Bono raised a glass of Guinness into the air, cueing the audience to also raise their cups and toast all of Amnesty International’s hard work, and above all — a toast to freedom. Bono shared with the crowd that is was this exact gesture, fifty years ago that caused the wrongful imprisonment of two Portuguese students. When Peter Benenson called to the public to write letters for their release not only was Amnesty International born, but an understanding that influence and justice can come from a movement of ordinary people. There it was — 46,000 ordinary people chanting and cheering for our movement, and that was only in one city and at one concert. It was visible and tangible in the air, without a doubt we have blossomed over the years into powerful grassroots organization, known for providing hope for justice globally.
In Winnipeg and at our show yesterday in Edmonton twenty-eight volunteers met me under our big yellow tent located out side of the gates. My gratitude towards all of our volunteers is unending. I remember the challenges, the success and the nervousness I endured the first time I campaigned at a concert, these volunteers were spared no tribulation. Amnesty International Canada took on a particularly hard action within the Demand Dignity Campaign. The petition asks the president of Nicaragua to aid in the ending of rape and sexual abuse of girls in his country. Specifically the petition requested the president to develop, resource and integrate a national plan that will prevent sexual violence, protect survivors and ensure justice and reparation to young victims of sexual crime. That part of it was quite comprehendible and agreeable for the majority of the crowd, sans those whom protested they would not sign any action unless it was to benefit Canadians. The more controversial part of our petition was our request to repeal the law criminalizing women who seek or access abortion, so that young girls pregnant as a result of rape can make their own decisions without the fear of imprisonment. Many concert attendees in Winnipeg and even more attendees in Edmonton refused to sign because of their steadfast commitment to anti-abortion, but after five hours of passionate campaigning both Canadian concerts were a success! Winnipeg gathered 5,514 signatures and Edmonton gathered an additional 4,518!
With integrity, pride and honor we will continue to raise awareness across North America for the Demand Dignity campaign. More to come, so read frequently.
Activist and enthusiast