A world record was broken at the U2 Concert in January this year, when Amnesty International South Africa obtained over 10 000 signatures for a petition as part of their Demand Dignity Campaign.
Members of Amnesty International at Wits were also part of the campaign’s petition. “The petition was to the minister of transport,” said Amir Bagheri , Amnesty International Wits chairperson. “It was part of the Demand Dignity Campaign with Amnesty International for women in rural areas to have access to health facilities.
“Rural women have no transport and when they do have transport they find that it’s too expensive,” he said. The petition is still in progress and has now reached about 17 300 signatures. It can be found at the Amnesty International South Africa website.
Twenty- two student members from Amnesty International Wits joined the campaign along with staff from Amnesty International South Africa. Nachita Halim, deputy chairperson of Amnesty International Wits, said the response to the petition from people at the concert was “very good and better than expected. A lot of people were willing to sign once they knew it was for Amnesty.”
Bagheri said U2 has been a member of Amnesty International for 25 years and the band had given all branches of Amnesty International permission to join them at the concert and on stage. “It was a special feeling knowing that more than 100 000 people watched Amnesty International on stage with U2,” he said.
Pearl Pillay, second deputy chairperson for Amnesty International Wits, said that sharing the stage with U2 was “kind of surreal.” Halim said seeing the band and other people who were trying to make a difference was “life-changing.”
Amnesty International Wits was founded in 2007. The society said they hoped to hold more events during the year to get more people involved with Amnesty International at Wits. The campaigns involve creating awareness around the violation of human rights in countries such as Zimbabwe, Iran and the US.