Amnesty International is the voice of freedom for thousands of people across the world who are oppressed. When people are persecuted for their beliefs, tortured or awaiting execution, we are there to defend them.
That’s as true today as when we first began five decades ago. But never has the demand for our work been as high as it is right now. That is why we are building a group of 50 individuals to support this work from New Zealand. People who believe, like we do, in the value of defending everyone’s right to freedom and dignity. This is a call to people with the capacity and generosity to support real change.
As a member of the Freedom Foundation, you will be making this vital work possible. You will be funding investigators to go under cover into war zones. You will be holding governments to account by shining a light into the torture cells they would otherwise keep hidden from the world. You will be breathing life into Amnesty International campaigns that bring new hope to people who are suffering around the world.
Real change takes time and it takes resources. Freedom Foundation members make a suggested minimum yearly gift of $5000, which goes directly to our life-saving work.
We do not accept funding for our human rights work from any government. It is your donations that ensure Amnesty International remains unbiased – independent of any party or ideology.
As a member of the Freedom Foundation we will keep you informed, with direct and personal insights into what your support is achieving. This is your opportunity to join with other New Zealanders who share your commitment. Together, we will shine a light in the darkness.
To learn more about the Freedom Foundation, please contact Maria Trogolo at any time.
Amnesty International New Zealand
Why we need you
The horrors of oppression, persecution and war can be hard to imagine from here in New Zealand, but they are all too real for many people.
In fact, at this very moment, too many families are struggling to hold onto hope for their loved ones, without knowing if they will ever make it out alive from their torture cells. Parents face the terror that their children could be bombed at school, or stumble on unexploded cluster-bomblets that lie hidden in fields and trees. And right now, people are living under the weight of oppressive governments, forced to hide their religion, beliefs or identity.
What is Amnesty International?
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people, recognised with a Nobel Peace Prize for our human rights achievements.
Our vision is to see all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights become a reality for everyone.
All our work is fact-based. We investigate and expose the truth, whenever and wherever abuses happen. Our work takes us to over 150 countries around the world.
We are funded by people like you and governed by our members around the world.
Where it all began
In 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson was outraged when two Portuguese students were jailed simply for raising a toast to freedom. He wrote an article in The Observer and launched a campaign that provoked an incredible response. Reprinted in newspapers far and wide, his call to action sparked the idea that people everywhere can unite for justice and freedom.
This wasn’t just the birth of an extraordinary movement. It was the start of extraordinary change.
Few would have predicted when we started that torturers would become international outlaws. That most countries would abolish the death penalty. And seemingly untouchable dictators would be made to answer for their crimes.
“Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done.”
– Peter Benenson, Amnesty International founder
How we work
Our investigators work in war zones where civilians are targeted, at border crossings where refugees are denied safety, and in remote detention centres where people seeking asylum have been banished. They meet with survivors of torture and find out where essential human rights are being denied. They tell the stories that would otherwise go untold.
The reports that come from these investigations are carefully fact-checked and corroborated. To the first-hand accounts we add other evidence – such as satellite imaging, video footage and recovered weapons fragments – then produce reports that shine a light on human rights abuses.
Once the facts are established (and this often happens fast in crisis situations) our campaigning, advocacy and media teams swing into action.
You are probably already familiar with the media coverage they generate, often the first step in getting international attention on a situation. But what you may not know about is the lobbying work we are constantly doing – with governments, companies and other powerful groups – because it happens behind the scenes.
One example of how these strands link up comes from Sri Lanka, where within a month we went from meeting with
the mothers of the disappeared, to the Human Rights Council deliberations in Geneva, to meeting with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister and government officials, to lobbying other influential governments.
Add in the strength of our network of seven million supporters around the world – who we call on to write letters, send emails, stand up and make their voices heard – and our impact is powerful. We are also a global force in shaping the human rights agenda. Amnesty International was a significant part of major advances in the human rights framework, including the Convention against Torture, the International Criminal Court and the Arms Trade Treaty.
This is difficult work – sometimes it is unimaginably tough. But we have a record of real achievement that has lasted over 50 years. For us no government is beyond scrutiny and no situation is beyond hope.
What is the Freedom Foundation?
The Freedom Foundation is a new initiative that takes its name from Amnesty International’s founding principle.
Here in New Zealand we often take freedom for granted, but in many parts of the world it is still a dream. Daily we hear from people who strive to be free – free from persecution for their beliefs, free from discrimination because of who they are, free from the horrors of war. From this we see time and again that people’s instinct to freedom is not extinguished simply because they are threatened, imprisoned or abused. On the contrary, most often it grows stronger – and so must we.
Right now the need for our help is beyond what we can do. And so we have set up the Freedom Foundation to link a select group of 50 New Zealanders who have the generosity and means to make a significant contribution to this life-saving work.
As a member of the Freedom Foundation we’ll keep you informed every step of the way, with exclusive personal updates on our work, challenges and achievements. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in talks and gatherings alongside fellow Freedom Foundation members.
What are we asking you to do?
Real change takes time and persistence. We’re doing more than merely addressing the symptoms of human rights abuse – we are addressing the root causes from the ground up.
That’s why we ask Freedom Foundation members to join as ongoing members, with a suggested minimum contribution of $5,000 annually. These regular gifts allow us to plan our work and commit to support people’s struggle for freedom, even when we can’t get a quick result.
Most members join with a monthly pledge amount. This really helps to keep our administration costs down and allows us to work strategically. Some prefer to contribute once each year, which of course we are happy with as well.
We also know that things can change. So if you need to hold, stop or adjust your contributions at any time we will completely understand and be grateful for your support.
Often we are asked whether there is a time commitment in being a member of the Freedom Foundation. The answer is that it’s entirely up to you. For many members the way that they feel they can contribute best is through financial support, enabling our specialist investigators and campaigners to do what they do best. For some, it’s also important to be involved through online actions, letter writing or campaigning. The choice is yours.
As a member of the Freedom Foundation you will have a direct and significant impact on lives around the world. We hope you can join us.
Our work in action
YEMEN: SHINING A LIGHT ON WAR CRIMES
Since 2015 our crisis response team has spent months in Yemen, the scene of a brutal war inflamed by Saudi Arabia’s merciless bombing campaign. Investigations into live conflicts are tough – the toughest work we do.
Through these missions our lead investigator Rasha Mohamed and her colleagues put together evidence that Saudi Arabia is using US-made cluster bombs against civilians. The findings were some of the most damaging parts of our much larger body of evidence, which included airstrike fragments (later analysed by munitions experts) from US and UK supplied weapons.
Amnesty International proved that these weapons are being used to destroy schools, hospitals and homes, bringing world attention to a conflict that had been largely out of the headlines. Our work here is not finished, but finally pressure is beginning to build on Saudi Arabia and the countries supplying weapons for these horrific attacks.
MYANMAR: PHYOE PHYOE AUNG RELEASED
In Myanmar student leader Phyoe Phyoe Aung walked free in 2016. Amnesty International supporters across the world wrote more than 394,000 letters, emails and Tweets for her. She was released along with scores of other students.
‘‘Thank you very much, each and every one of you, not just for campaigning for my release, but for helping to keep our hope and our beliefs alive.’’
Phyoe Phyoe Aung
NIGERIA: 100 PEOPLE RELEASED FROM HORRIFIC CONDITIONS
On 11 May, 2016 we exposed the deaths of more than 149 people in a Nigerian military holding facility. The cause was likely starvation, dehydration and disease. Among the dead were 11 babies and children under the age of six.
While the Nigerian military publicly denied the findings, they immediately released 100 detainees, including women and children.