ED2011 News

Amnesty launch 2011 Fringe campaign

By | Published on Monday 8 August 2011


Amnesty International earlier today announced its Edinburgh Festival campaign for 2011, which will focus on the fate of five men in the United Arab Emirates – the UAE 5 – who have been jailed over charges of “insulting officials” after they criticised the country’s government and called for democracy, mainly online.

Amnesty supporters are encouraging Fringe-goers to text the word FREEDOM and their name to the number 81222 to add themselves to a petition that will be handed to the UAE embassy in London ahead of the five men’s trial in September.

Announcing this year’s Fringe-focused campaign, Amnesty International Scotland Director John Watson told ThreeWeeks: “The UAE 5 should be released immediately and unconditionally. Their case is typical of the thousands of people in other countries across the Middle East and North Africa – from Egypt to Syria, Libya to Bahrain – whose right to freedom of expression has been denied”.

He continued: “In other countries in the Middle East people have been jailed and tortured just for speaking out; or beaten and shot at just for protesting peacefully in the streets. Here in Edinburgh we can use our freedom of speech to help free the UAE 5. Just by sending a text, people can join our petition to demand their release, which we’ll deliver to the UAE’s London  embassy. We’re hoping that thousands of people will join us and speak up on their behalf”.

As well as taking to the streets of the Festival, Amnesty will rally support for their campaign at the annual Stand Up For Freedom gala show, which will take place on 17 Aug at the EICC, featuring the likes of Mark Watson, Ed Byrne, Russell Kane, David O’Doherty, Holly Walsh and Roisin Conaty.

Confirming his support for the Amnesty project, Watson told ThreeWeeks: “Poking fun at officials and questioning the authorities is a stock-in-trade for all comedians. We’ve got to stand up for people’s right to peacefully express their opinions. I hope plenty of people send a text and this campaign puts some pressure on the UAE authorities to let these guys go”.

While Byrne added: “If you can get locked up in the UAE for insulting officials, I hope no Emirati police ever come to Edinburgh or they’ll end up jailing half of the festival. People have a right to free speech and for the UAE 5 that right is being denied”.

Tickets for Stand Up To Freedom 2011 are available from www.venue150.com