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May 1991 - Issue No. #05 (p. 12-13)

EFL Lesson on the Amnesty International Human Rights Group

by Steve Brown

This EFL lesson on human rights organization "Amnesty International" helps students practice reading and discussion skills. Please send sample class activities of your own for future newsletters

- Step 1 -

Match the headlines with the paragraphs.

  • What are the results?
  • What practical help do the prisoners get?
  • What is Amnesty international?
  • How does Amnesty international get its information?

- Step 2 -

1. Which of the following is not a prisoner of conscience according to AI's definition?

  1. a woman who is arrested for protesting government policies
  2. a woman who is arrested for killing three soldiers with a bomb
  3. a woman who is arrested for supporting a banned political party

2. Which of the following is mentioned last as a way AI researches cases?
  1. radio broadcasts
  2. fact-finding missions
  3. letters from prisoners
3. Which of the following things might AI do? (Two possible)
  1. support a political candidate
  2. send a mission to interview government officials
  3. call a press conference to claim credit for the release of a prisoner
  4. give food, clothing, or other aid to a prisoner's family
  5. give up on a case because the government asks it to

Pre-Reading Questions:

  • What do you know about Amnesty International?
  • What kinds of things would you like to know about an organization before you join it?

Sample Newspaper Article About Amnesty International

  1. Amnesty International tries to be of real assistance to the prisoners whose cases it takes up. International publicity about their plight is important, so is the constant stream of letters and appeals. Amnesty International often interview prisoners and may doctors to examine torture victims. Amnesty International medical groups help to secure better treatment for the prisoners and independent care and rehabilitation after their release. Relief funds are raised for food, clothing, and other aid, both for prisoners and their families.

  2. Some prisoners are released soon after their cases are taken up; some are freed in general amnesties; other serve their entire sentences before regaining their freedom. Amnesty International, however, does not claim credit for the release of any prisoner. This is regardless of whether it has been investigating the case or campaigning for the prisoner's freedom. But once a case is taken up for adoption, Amnesty International never gives up its efforts.

  3. Amnesty International attaches great importance to impartial and accurate reporting of facts. Its activities depend on meticulous research into allegations of human rights violations. The International Secretariat in London (with a staff of 250, comprising some 30 nationalities) has a Research Department which collects and analyzes information from a wide variety of sources. These include hundreds of newspapers and journals, government bulletins, transcriptions of radio broadcasts, reports from lawyers and humanitarian organizations, as well as letters from prisoners and their families. Amnesty International also sends fact-finding missions for on the spot investigations and to observe trials, meet prisoners and interview government officials. Amnesty International takes full responsibility for its published reports and if proved wrong on any point is prepared to issue a correction.

  4. Amnesty International is an independent worldwide movement. It plays a specific role in the international protection of human rights. Its activities focus on prisoners:

  • It seeks the release of prisoners of conscience. These are people detained anywhere for their beliefs, color, sex, ethnic origin, language or religion, who have not used or advocated violence.

  • It works for fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners and on behalf of such people detained without charge or trial.

  • It opposes the death penalty and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment without reservation.

  • Amnesty International does not support or oppose any government or political system. It is impartial. It does not necessarily support or oppose the views of the prisoners whose rights it seeks to protect. It concerned solely with the protection of the human rights involved in each case, regardless of the ideology of the government or the beliefs of the victims.

For more information, write to Amnesty International Japanese Section, 2-3-22, Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169 Japan

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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
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