AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL THIRTY-SIXTH ANNIVERSARY
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA [10.49 p.m.]: Tomorrow, Wednesday 28 May, marks the thirty-sixth anniversary of Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organisation. Since its inception in 1961, Amnesty International has campaigned through the grassroots action of its one million members to have prisoners of conscience released, to end disappearances, torture and political killings, to end cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and to pressure governments around the world to adhere to their international humanitarian obligations.
During 1997 Amnesty International will campaign for the rights of more than 24 million refugees worldwide. It will harness the activism and passion of its members and their commitment to justice to remind governments that all governments have a responsibility to prevent the human rights violations which give rise to refugee populations. Tomorrow at 10.00 a.m. in the Strangers Lounge all members of Parliament and staff are invited to the official launch of the refugee campaign. In Australia local groups, professional networks and school students will participate in this campaign, and all are determined to work for a positive solution to the refugee situation.
I am proud to be the president of the New South Wales parliamentary group of Amnesty International. The Hon. Bob Carr, Premier, and the Hon. Peter Collins, Leader of the Opposition, are patrons of that group. The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby and the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner are its vice-presidents, the Hon. Kevin Rozzoli is its secretary and Mark Swinson is the treasurer. Many members of Parliament and staff are members of the group. It sends letters regularly to governments which abuse human rights, and at times it is successful in its submissions. We are grateful when we receive letters of acknowledgment and letters informing us that a prisoner has been released.
We raise funds for Amnesty International and will hold our next function on 12 June. At that function the guest speaker will be the distinguished Dr John Wong, who will speak on the subject of some possible scenarios for post-1997 Hong Kong - an interesting topic. I hope all honourable members will support this worthwhile organisation by attending the function. Above all, I extend my warm congratulations on behalf of all members and staff to Amnesty International on its thirty-sixth anniversary.