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Dean Imprisoned for Amnesty (posted 4 May 2011)

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Dean Imprisoned for Amnesty...

Picture: Dean imprisoned
Dean imprisoned

The Mayor of Chichester, the Dean of Chichester and the Vice-Chancellor of the University all took turns as prisoners in a cage to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of Amnesty International.

Councillor Michael Woolley, The Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling and Professor Clive Behagg joined local Amnesty group members in a cage on Chichester Cathedral's Green on Saturday 30th April.  Each prisoner was imprisoned for 50 minutes and passers-by were encouraged to write to ask for the release of each prisoner, as well as writing on behalf of the group's adopted prisoner of conscience Cheng Guangcheng.

The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of human rights group Amnesty International, which was founded in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Benenson, who wrote a newspaper appeal, 'The Forgotten Prisoners', calling for an international campaign to protest against the imprisonment of men and women for their political or religious beliefs.

The appeal on 28 May 1961 received a tremendous response.  Within a month, more than a thousand readers had sent letters of support and offers of practical help. They also sent details of the cases of many more prisoners of conscience.  Within six months, what started as a brief publicity effort was being developed into a permanent, international movement.  Locally, the Bognor Regis, Chichester & District Group started in 1977 and has been campaigning for prisoners of conscience world-wide ever since. 

Local group chair Kath Shakespeare said:
"This may seem a strange way to celebrate our birthday, but this goes to the heart of what Amnesty is about: seeking the release of men and women imprisoned for what they believe in."

There will be a series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty in the local area, including an Amnes Tea party and a world music concert at Fishbourne Roman Palace on 9 July, during the Chichester Festivities.

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