Every year, the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award celebrates individuals and groups who speak out for justice.
The recipients are people who have used their talents to inspire others to fight for human rights. The award also aims to create debate, encourage public action and raise awareness of human rights issues.
In 2016, the prestigious award will be shared between world-renowned musician Angélique Kidjo and three inspirational African youth activist groups, Y’en a marre from Senegal, Le Balai Citoyen from Burkina Faso and LUCHA from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Award event is produced by Art for Amnesty, Amnesty International’s artist engagement programme, which brings together international artists of all disciplines in a collaborative effort to defend and celebrate human rights for all.
I have always tried to use my singing and spoken voice to fight injustice and inequality.Angélique Kidjo, singer-songwriter and 2016 Ambassador of Conscience.
This prestigious award… is a great encouragement to keep up our non-violent fight for social justice and democracy in our country.Juvin Kombi, LUCHA, 2016 Ambassador of Conscience Awardees
The 2016 Ambassador of Conscience Awardees
Grammy-winning artist Kidjo fled her homeland Benin in the 1980s after being pressured to perform for the country’s repressive regime. In a 40-year-career spawning 12 albums, she has been a prominent campaigner for freedom of expression and for the education of girls in Africa, as well as against female genital mutilation.
LUCHA (Lutte pour le Changement, or “fight for change”) is a community-based youth movement committed to peaceful protest in Goma, eastern DRC. It focuses on social issues, human rights and protecting civilians from armed groups. At least nine people connected to the movement are currently in jail. In March 2015, LUCHA member Fred Bauma was arrested alongside 26 other activists when security forces stormed a youth workshop.
There is no such thing as a foregone conclusion, there are only abandoned responsibilities.Fadel Barro, Y’en a marre, 2016 Ambassador of Conscience Awardees.
Le Balai Citoyen
Le Balai Citoyen (“The Citizen’s Broom”) is a political grassroots movement in Burkina Faso committed to peaceful protest. It was co-founded in 2013 by two musicians, reggae artist Sams’K Le Jah and rapper Smockey (Serge Bambara), and voices people’s concerns about issues such as power cuts and land grabs. Using the slogan “after your revolt, your vote”, the group ran political education schools to encourage young people to vote ahead of elections in November 2015.
Y’en a marre
Y’en a marre (“Fed Up”) is a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists who joined forces in January 2011 to encourage young people to register to vote. Three of the group’s founders were arrested in February 2012 after helping to organize a peaceful sit-in protest against the government. Y’en a marre remains active, urging the new government to implement promised reforms.
Freedom of expression is an essential human condition; it should be valued, respected and protected by all of us.