International Human Rights Day and the Amnesty video

A few days ago I noticed this interesting new video ‘You Are Powerful‘ from Amnesty International, driven by a message that every individual can affect human rights change. The video shows multiple scenes of human rights abuse, some of them with individuals who stepped in to stop the abuse.   After each of these quick scnes, those same individuals are then seen in a peaceful environment, facing the camera and looking serious and proud.

I think the ad is effective, but I’m sorry that there isn’t an opportunity to learn more. Were the incidents real, or are the individuals and their acts supposed to be representative of people who do stand up for human rights? If they are real, I want an opportunity to read or hear more about their stories. Where was the incident? Why were they there? How were they able to get past the fear for their own personal safety, in the action that they took? What were the repercussions for doing what they did? How can they safely go public with these stories? How do they feel now about their actions, looking back?  What’s the story about how the video came to be?  How did they find the people who risked their lives doing these things, often in such mayhem?

Couldn’t find answers with a quick search on Amnesty International’s main site.

I think it’s a strong, effective ad, but also that they’re missing out on an opportunity to engage citizens and potential advocates at the moment they’re most interested.


  1. The people who are stepping in to help are actually digitally “placed” into those scenes. AI has done a great job with the editing! You can really tell on the scene where the man in the pink shirt opens the jail cell door….the movement of his hand does quite match.
    Its an interesting video, a great display of graphic skills, and I think it makes a nice statement. But for me, there are some problems.
    First of all, with the exception of the first guy, the whole video is images of white people stepping in to save the day.And they seem to have some kind of ability or protection that no one else has. Men, women and children are being oppressed, beaten, jailed, executed….but THESE men and women can step in and stop it? Is there something magical about being western? Don’t you think the pregnant woman in the striped shirt or the woman in the red business suit would have been shot, or beaten? Why is it that these people can make changes that the others in the situations can’t? I think I have a problem with the imagery…certainly not the main message, that we can do something. But then again…sign a petition? THAT’s AI’s suggestion? They are showing us images and displays of courage and bravery, tell us we can make a difference. Then they give us a petition to sign. An online petition at that. I don’t know… not my favorite. Fantastic graphic imaging, lackluster advocacy. (In my opinion!)

    1. Do I ever feel a bit naive. You know, someone once told me the word ‘gullible’ didn’t exist in the dictionary, and I went and looked it up to show that it did. I’m afraid to say that’s a true story.

      Wow, those are really insightful points about the ‘You Are Powerful’ video. I think you’re absolutely right that the ad really speaks of the old model of development communication, which is more like ‘westerners will rescue’ rather than capacity-building. I wonder if that was debated prior to going ahead with producing the ad: one side arguing that they want the video to target people in wealthy countries, telling them they can make a difference with lobbying and advocacy even with situations that are far away and far different….the other side arguing that the video is condescending and insulting. Thanks.

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