Here I Stand by Amnesty International

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Here I Stand by Amnesty International

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Stories and poems exploring the human rights we have today, how they were won, and the importance of protecting them. Thought-provoking anthology with some wonderful contributors.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2016
Publisher: Walker
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 140635838X

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Every so often Amnesty International gets together a number of great authors and produces an anthology of writing. This time, they've done it for younger readers with Here I Stand. Twenty-five contributions explore where we are with human rights in today's society: the sacrifices many made to win them; the sacrifices that still need to be made to spread them; how, where and why these rights are under attack and how deep is the need to defend them.

Did you know, the dust jacket says...

... government spies can turn on your phone and use the microphone to listen in on you?

... lesbian and gay relationships are still illegal in 78 countries - and can be punished by death?

... in 2015, Amnesty recorded the highest number of executions globally for more than 25 years?

There are contributions from a wide range of (mostly) children's authors. Everyone will find a favourite writer here: John Boyne, Kevin Brooks, Sarah Crossan, Neil Gaiman, Matt Haig, Frances Hardinge, Liz Kessler, Elizabeth Laird, Chibundu Onuzo, Bali Rai, and many more. There are short stories, poems, graphic stories and even an interview.

I loved The Colour of Humanity by Bali Rai, inspired by the awful racist murder of Liverpool teenager Anthony Walker in 2005. It made me cry. As did the the poem Black/White by Amy Leon, also about racism. The Invention of Peanut Butter by Matt Haig explains and deplores the rise of mass surveillance in a very clever way. And these are just a few highlights.

The last entry is an interview with American whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, given from prison. I thought this was particularly poignant, given the recent news of her suicide attempt and the way in which the US authorities broke medical confidentiality by releasing information about the attempt without her permission. Whatever you think about military and political whistle-blowers, and as Amnesty would tell you - prisoners have rights.

Here I Stand is an important and thought-provoking book. Its stories illuminate the various struggles involved in achieving human rights throughout the world and explains the various ways in which they still come under attack. The formats and stories themselves are wildly different but tied together not just by the quality of writing but also by the staunch defence of the value of human life and the rights and dignities that must be afforded for all.


You might also want to look at Another Sky, an anthology written by prisoners of conscience around the world and intended for adults but absolutely accessible to thoughtful teenagers.

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