Yoko Ono’s Gift of Lennonʼs Songbook Supports Amnesty Internationalʼs Global Darfur Campaign

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Yoko Ono’s Gift of Lennonʼs Songbook Supports Amnesty Internationalʼs Global Darfur Campaign

NEW YORK, NY (February 18, 2007) Ono News

Yoko Ono’s generous gift to Amnesty International — the right to have leading international musical artists record new versions of John Lennon’s solo compositions – provided a significant boost toward the organization’s campaign to end the violence in Darfur, achieve security for 2.6 million displaced civilians and demand accountability for horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity.

More than $4 million in revenues from the Instant Karma project — with recordings of Lennon’s iconic songs by world-class artists — support grassroots organization’s actions and engagement to keep the pressure on governments and the United Nations to end the six-year-old crisis.

With funds dispersed to Amnesty International’s national country sections worldwide, human rights activists are engaged on nearly every continent to keep the crisis in Darfur alive in the public sphere through vigils, petitions, demonstrations and direct lobbying of government officials in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and elsewhere. AI members have staged actions in Belgium, Britain, Burkina Faso, Canada, Finland, France, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and the United States, among others.

Amnesty International, having achieved significant breakthroughs, continues to press leaders for progress on security, access for humanitarian aid and justice. For example, protection for Darfur refugees in Chad would not have been possible without the support of that government, whose diplomats credited Amnesty International for helping change its position to allow peacekeepers to protect displaced Darfuris under attack in eastern Chad. In the United States, Amnesty International kept the pressure on Congress and the White House in 2008 to help ensure significant U.S. funding for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Darfur and Chad. Direct lobbying in the U.S. House and Senate achieved millions of dollars in disaster and famine assistance to help suffering Darfuris and for support of an African Union mission to Darfur (AMIS) and a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force to Darfur (UNAMID).

Amnesty International exposed atrocities from the start of the crisis and achieved groundbreaking work in 2007 by putting Sudan on notice that its activities were under scrutiny through the Eyes on Darfur satellite project to monitor vulnerable villages in Darfur. In April 2008, the United States section of Amnesty International led the organizing for a Global Day for Darfur, which included the installation of “Displaced” on the National Mall in Washington DC, drawing thousands of Americans to tour the exhibition and participate in a rally aimed at the White House. The exhibition, housed in six field tents, educates the public on the massive displacement of 2.6 million Darfuris in the conflict.

Amnesty International has campaigned successfully for the release of individuals imprisoned in Sudan for their political views, writings and human rights work, including Al-Ghali Yahya Shegifat, president of the Association of Darfur journalists, and Ammar Jalak of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, both of whom were tortured while in detention.

By mobilizing hundreds of thousands of activists worldwide and directly lobbying UN member states, AI campaigned for the UN peacekeeping force, which beginning in 2008 began slowly deploying to Darfur. Amnesty International continues to keep the pressure on member states and the Security Council — through global letterwriting, petitions and lobbying — to ensure that the force of 26,000 uniformed personnel are deployed fully and that governments keep their promises to supply air and ground transport equipment, such as helicopters, that are essential to the successful operation of the peacekeeping mission. “The delay in peacekeeping continues to put millions of lives at risk in a region where hundreds of thousands of individuals have died in six years of unrelenting, horrific violence,” said Larry Cox, executive director, Amnesty International USA.

Through its ongoing research missions, Amnesty International in 2008 continued to exposed atrocities in the region, including egregious human rights abuses such as rapes taking place in refugee camps in Chad, where hundreds of thousands of Darfuris have sought refuge from the violence. The organization’s researchers also exposed Chinese, Russian and other arms sales to Sudan that resulted in some of those arms ending up in Darfur, in violation of the arms embargo on Darfur.

Significantly, the human rights organization pressured China to shift its policy on Sudan, including supporting the peacekeeping force with engineers and sending funds for humanitarian assistance. Recently, Amnesty International’s work in the United Nations helped prevent wavering countries from abandoning support for or delaying the International Criminal Court’s move seeking an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.Amnesty International was an early advocate of the investigation by the International Criminal Court, which has led to indictments against government officials in Darfur.

In partnership with the Save Darfur Coalition, Amnesty International is calling on President Barack Obama to turn his promises on Darfur into concrete action during his administration’s first 100 days. In partnership with other organizations, Amnesty International is collecting one million signatures to deliver to the White House to reinforce the need for Darfur to be a top-priority issue. Individuals can take action to end the violence by sending President Barack Obama a letter.

On April 27, Amnesty International and other organizations are launching Justice for Darfur to call on the United Nations Security Council, regional organizations and individual governments to press Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

Among other demands, the campaign is urging the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling on Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC and immediately arrest Sudanese officials Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb, both indicted for war crimes, and surrender them to the Court.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.