Dublin: June 29, 2011: An Post is expecting strong national and international demand for a new 55c stamp marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of Amnesty International which will be issued tomorrow (Thursday, June 30th).
Former death row prisoners Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle unveiled the new 55c stamp at the GPO and encouraged Irish people of all ages to support Amnesty International’s campaign to end the death penalty. Speaking at the GPO they said:
“Something as simple and as powerful as writing a letter can help save a life. It can give hope to the forgotten prisoners, men and women held in jails and torture chambers around the world”.
Sunny Jacobs spent 17 years on death row in the United States before her conviction was overturned and she was released in 1992. Peter Pringle is one of the last people to be sentenced to death in Ireland. Convicted in 1980, his sentence was commuted by President Hillery to 40 years in prison before his conviction was overturned and he was released in 1995.
The stamp and first day cover were designed by Irish designers, Zinc Design and feature the Amnesty International logo comprising barbed wire, representing oppression, and a burning candle evoking hope. They may be viewed and purchased at www.irishstamps.ie , at the GPO, Dublin, main Post Offices and by phone at (01) 7057400.
Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland said: “Amnesty International started with a very simple idea, writing letters in support of prisoners of conscience and people at risk of execution. These letters have saved lives, freed prisoners of conscience and protected innocent victims of torture. This makes it especially appropriate to mark 50 years of Amnesty International with a commemorative stamp and we’re delighted to have worked together with An Post on this project.
“For our anniversary year we’re urging people to help make Europe a death penalty free zone. Belarus is the last European country that carries out executions and by sending a letter today you can help stamp out the death penalty.”
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement that campaigns for internationally recognised human rights for all, regardless of political or religious affiliations. It was founded on May 28, 1961, by British Lawyer Peter Beneson.
In 1962, the Irish section of Amnesty International was launched. Sean MacBride, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, was heavily involved with Amnesty International in its early years. Today, Amnesty International has close to three million members and subscribers in over 150 countries, 15,000 of whom belong to the Irish arm of the organisation.
Foundation of Amnesty International:
British lawyer, Peter Beneson, was reading a newspaper article while travelling on the London Underground. It told the story of two students in Portugal who had been jailed for raising a toast to freedom. Soon after, he had a letter published in The Observer, London, and other international newspapers, about these 'forgotten prisoners' and this attracted over 1,000 offers of support, enough for the launch of Amnesty International.