Peter Benenson’s letter writing to dictators formed the foundations of Amnesty

To understand Amnesty International at all, you need to think of this: an ordinary citizen sits in an ordinary home, writing an extraordinary letter on behalf of somebody they don’t know, to a dictator who doesn’t care.

The letter says: “We know you have imprisoned X. We know they are illegally detained. Be warned. We will go on writing until you have freed them.”

The absurd act of faith that writing letters about prisoners of conscience might have an effect on the most hardened of dictators was first made by one man 50 years ago – the British lawyer, Peter Benenson.


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