Amnesty International 60th Anniversary

Amnesty International 60th Anniversary

In 1985 Seamus Heaney was invited by his local Sandymount branch of Amnesty International to write a poem for International Human Rights Day that year.  He initially declined because he felt that no poem of his could do justice to the suffering of the prisoners whose dossiers he had been given to read. But then he relented and wrote the poem about a mythical republic, where the dictates of conscience inform every decision of the State.


This poem ‘The Republic of Conscience’ has become Amnesty International’s unofficial anthem, and in 2003 it was the inspiration for the creation of the Ambassador of Conscience award. Begun by Bill Shipsey, this is an Art for Amnesty Award, the highest award that Amnesty International can bestow. Past recipients include Václav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Harry Belafonte, Mary Robinson, U2, Peter Gabriel,  Malala Yousafzai and most recently Greta Thunberg.

To mark the 60th anniversary of Amnesty International today, 28 May, Stoney Road Press in Dublin have created a magnificent limited edition broadside of the poem, which you can buy here.

All text and images © Stoney Road Press
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