50 years of Amnesty art

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The Independent Culture

For 50 years, Amnesty International has been shining a light on human-rights abuses around the world. To celebrate this landmark, the organisation is taking an exhibition around the world to display half a century's worth of campaign posters. Its collection of designs features work from the artists Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, the photojournalists Stuart Franklin and Annie Leibovitz, and the young Thai artist Kwanchai Lichaikul.

Thailand will be the first Asian country to host the exhibition, which will be held at the WTF Gallery in Bangkok. The exhibition originally opened in Britain in March. Artists have been closely involved with Amnesty International over the years. The famous Amnesty logo of a candle circled by barbed wire was designed by the British artist Diana Redhouse at the request of Peter Benenson, who was one of the founders of Amnesty in 1961. He wanted an image to illustrate an old proverb: "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

Speaking at anniversary celebrations in London on Saturday, Amnesty's secretary general, Salil Shetty, said: "It is clear that threats to human rights lie at the heart of key challenges facing the world. Amnesty International needs to continue to adapt and evolve if we are to shine a light for freedom and justice in a changing world. We will reach out to new areas of the world ... to strengthen our presence, as the idea of Amnesty International as a truly global movement comes of age."

Amnesty now has three million members in 150 countries.

2006 Devenez le cauchemar des bourreaux

"Become the Torturers Nightmare" was produced by Amnesty International Belgium. A ghoulish apparition composed of pens shows that a collection of signatures in the form of a petition can become a nightmare for those who torture.

1978 Argentina 78

Johan Cruyff boycotted the 1978 World Cup in Argentina to highlight the plight of thousands who were tortured and murdered under the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla. Created by AI Germany, the poster reads: "Football Yes – Torture No."

1978 Red terror

Produced by AI USA for its Ethiopia campaign, this poster shows one of the thousands of victims killed in the capital, Addis Ababa, during the Red Terror of 1977-1978. The death toll was estimated to be as high as 500,000.

1980 Turkey, the real face

The "Real Face" poster was produced for a campaign planned for 1980, which never took place because of a military coup on 12 September. It targeted potential tourists to Turkey to increase awareness of human rights violations there.

2000 Picasso for Amnesty International

A keen supporter of human rights, Pablo Picasso donated this design to be used as a general poster by Amnesty International. It was commisioned by AI USA with a lithograph called "The Prisoner and the Dove" by the artist. The post-war peace movement adopted Picasso's "Dove of Peace" as an emblem of hope to combat fear during the Cold War.

1994 Defenders of Women

Created by AI Egypt for an international campaign, the poster reads: "Human rights are women's rights". At the time, Egyptian women were not allowed to travel abroad without the permission of their husbands.

1989 Tiananmen Square

This poster, commisioned by AI France for a campaign on China, used photographer Stuart Franklin's famous Tiananmen Square photo of a solitary man standing in front of advancing tanks. After non-violent protests calling for political reform led mainly by students and intellectuals, martial law was declared and the Chinese government cracked down on protesters. It is not known what happened to "Tank Man".

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