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'The Truth Will Set You Free': The Making of Amnesty International

Tom Buchanan
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 575-597
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3180761
Page Count: 23
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'The Truth Will Set You Free': The Making of Amnesty International
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Abstract

On 28 May 1961 an appeal was launched by the British lawyer Peter Benenson on behalf of the world's 'Prisoners of Conscience'. The appeal was so successful that it rapidly developed into a permanent international voluntary organization: Amnesty International. This article is the first published account of Amnesty's conception and early years to be based on archival evidence, including Amnesty's own archives. It examines the political and cultural milieu in which the organization developed and studies Peter Benenson's ideas about what Amnesty might become. The article concludes that Amnesty was initially envisaged not simply as a movement to free political prisoners, but also as an attempt to mobilize international idealism against the polarization caused by the Cold War.

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