Tributes pour in after founder of Amnesty International dies

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The Independent Online

Human rights campaigners have been paying tribute to the founder of Amnesty International, Peter Benenson, who died in hospital in Oxford on Friday, aged 83.

Human rights campaigners have been paying tribute to the founder of Amnesty International, Peter Benenson, who died in hospital in Oxford on Friday, aged 83.

The Eton-educated lawyer, who started the organisation in 1961, expected Amnesty to be a one-year campaign but ended up dedicating his life to fighting injustice.

Tributes hailed him as the "father of human rights" and praised him for being the brainchild behind a Nobel Prize winning human rights movement.

He founded Amnesty after reading about the imprisonment of two Portuguese students who were caught drinking a toast to liberty in a Lisbon café during the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar. When they were jailed for seven years, Mr Benenson bombarded the authorities with letters demanding they be freed.

Helen Bamber, founder of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, said: "He was a very kind man, and had an enormous passion for justice. It is unbelievable that he could spark off a worldwide human rights movement that has saved thousands of people and helped establish human rights law and instruments. He made a massive contribution, both at the level of the individual prisoner and on the international stage."

Stephen Jakobi, the founder of Fair Trials Abroad, called him an "extraordinary and a great man".

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