Amnesty founder dies aged 83

The founder of Amnesty International, Peter Benenson, has died at the age of 83, the London-based human rights organization said.

    The group was the world's largest human rights organisation

    Benenson died on Friday evening in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, west of London.

    Benenson started the organisation in 1961 after having read an article about two students who were arrested and imprisoned for drinking a toast to liberty in a café in Lisbon, Portugal, then under a dictatorship.

    "Peter Benenson's life was a courageous testament to his visionary commitment to fight injustice around the world," said Irene Khan, the organization's secretary-general.

    "He brought light into the darkness of prisons, the horror of torture chambers and the tragedy of death camps around the world."


    In the first few years of Amnesty's existence, the London-born Benenson supplied much of the funding for the movement, went on research missions and was involved in all aspects of the organisation's affairs.

    At its 25th anniversary, he lit what has become Amnesty's symbol - a candle entwined in barbed wire - and said that it burned "for all those whom we failed to rescue from prison, who were shot on the way to prison, who were tortured, who were kidnapped, who disappeared. This is what the candle is for".

    Now in its 44th year, Amnesty International has become the world's largest human rights group with more than 1.8 million members and committed supporters worldwide.



    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?