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Friday, May 26, 2006

Making a song and dance about human rights

Amnesty International marks its 45th year

Amnesty International began over four decades ago, when British lawyer Peter Benenson wrote to The Observer newspaper campaigning for worldwide protests about the rights of forgotten prisoners. Benenson had heard about the case of two Portuguese students sentenced to seven years imprisonment simply for raising a toast to freedom.

News photo
Japan-based Kenyan singer/dancer Nyama Kante

The campaign quickly caught the imaginations of readers and developed into a fully fledged international movement with an emphasis on the international protection of the human rights of individuals. On May 28, Amnesty International will mark its 45th anniversary with a charity concert titled "Songs for Human Rights." This year also marks the 35th anniversary of Amnesty International Japan.

Subtitled "For the freedom of children in Africa and the world," the charity concert's lineup includes Japan-based Congolese percussionist and pianist, B.B. Mo-Franck. The Kinshasa-born musician turned his back on making a living playing music for tourists decades ago, instead creating a fusion sound that mixed traditional Central African music with Western sounds and electric instruments. A longtime resident of Japan, Mo-Franke has formed two bands in his adopted country, Bitasika and, more recently, Jambo. He will be performing with the latter at "Songs for Human Rights."

Also performing is Kenyan singer and dancer Nyama Kante. Takuya Terasaki, who plays the djembe, a goblet-shaped West African drum, will perform with Kante.

The Amnesty Charity Live concert "Songs for Human Rights" starts 6 p.m. on May 28 at SuperDeluxe, B1F 3-1-25 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Tickets are 3,500 yen (including one drink). Proceeds from ticket sales will support activities for the protection of human rights. For more info, visit www.super-deluxe.com

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