Amnesty has always harnessed creativity, commitment and support of artists of all disciplines in its 60 years of existence, Amnesty International Philippines said in a statement on human rights day.
“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our movement and the 20th year of Write for Rights this year, Amnesty International Philippines launches the ART+FACTS Project to provide Filipino human rights artists and defenders a safe space where art and advocacy meet. It is no coincidence that artists of all disciplines have been at the forefront of support for Amnesty International since our founding in 1961. Hundreds of writers, playwrights, musicians, and poets persecuted and imprisoned for their art have been adopted by Amnesty International as Prisoners of Conscience. Artists have always valued the freedoms and rights that Amnesty works to protect as an integral condition of their creative expression,” said Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director.
A play on the word ‘artifact’, ‘ART+FACTS’ symbolizes the role artists play in upholding the truth through their art and in countering disinformation. All works of art of artists-human rights defenders also serve as ‘artifacts’ for the advocacies they support towards building a human rights future for a better Philippines.
“Amnesty Philippines recognized the challenges that many artists are facing brought about the pandemic, an opportunity to help presented itself for Human Rights Week 2021. After several discussions with artists on how to uplift their livelihood, we decided to provide a free virtual space where artists can showcase their art and support them mobilize people to take action for human rights at the same time,” added Olano.
Taking Amnesty Philippines’ engagement up several notches from the usual mobilization using arts-based activities in 2012, the group started Artists for Amnesty (A4A) Philippines. A partnership that did not only open Amnesty Philippines up to a more diverse audience but has reached human rights defenders among A4A fans who are already willing to take action and get more involved.
Bringing together artists of all disciplines and supporters of Amnesty International in collaborative efforts to support human rights work has brought about some of the largest impact in the Amnesty .
“Bringing together artists of all disciplines and supporters of Amnesty International in collaborative efforts to support human rights work has brought about some of the largest impact in the Amnesty. It has helped garner international attention and win personal freedom for those like legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and Russian punk band Pussy Riot, whose governments sought to silence them. Here in the Philippines, we worked with Ice Seguerra and Dingdong Dantes for the Stop Torture Campaign, both Jerryme Corre and Alfreda Disbarro have been released from prison, their torturers brought to justice,” explained Olano.
Today, as the Amnesty’s movement of human rights defenders continues to grow, Artist for Amnesty responds with a curtain call for artists on the global stage in the digital age. For Write for Rights 2021, Amnesty Philippines brings several cases to this stage by featuring individuals-at-risk on ART+FACTS. Supporters may take action on the website while enjoying artworks submitted by several artists. The project is set to run until 2022 with possibility of sustaining Filipino artists for many more years.
“Amnesty International embraces the creativity inherent in every human and celebrate all artistic expression that connects people everywhere in taking injustice personally. Together on human rights day, let us share the gift of art by protecting freedom of expression. As Ai Weiwei said, ‘freedom of expression is an essential human condition’. So we must value it, respect and protect it. Happy human rights day to all!” concluded Olano.