Last December, Amnesty International Greece organised a concert to bring back Human Rights Education. The outpouring of support was a clear sign of the necessity of HRE.
In the last decade, the south of Europe has been particularly affected by two worldwide crises: the financial crisis of 2008 and the global refugee crisis since 2012. Among these countries, Greece has been one of the most affected.
Greece is one of the countries most reached by migrants seeking a better life in Europe. These migrants have now been joined in their journey by asylum-seekers trying to escape the civil war in Syria and the advancement of ISIS in the region. According to Rescue, Greece currently hosts over 50,000 refugees, many of them in camps. From Greece, they can no longer legally travel deeper into Europe because of the existing European policies.
Niki Mavromati, Marketing and Communication Manager in Greece, explains that “violations of human rights, with respect to economic and social status, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, have been a constant, but also have exacerbated in the last years, due to the current social and economic reality”. She adds that “this is an issue that appears more and more often on the news”. They knew how important Human Rights Education was: “Amnesty International Greece needed a more active stance,” Mavromati says, “the importance of an HRE programme, especially now that integration of different social groups is a hot topic, is more imperative than ever and remains the key to change”.
Human Rights Education is crucial to teach people about human rights, equality and respect. In a society experiencing an influx in population, one with different customs and habits, it is of the utmost importance to be open, welcoming and respectful while also understanding everyone is equal and has the same rights, no matter their origin or who they are. Amnesty HRE has developed extensive resources and materials focused on welcoming refugees and learning about their situation and their rights. Amnesty International Greece knew Human Rights Education was a vital tool for integration, but like everyone else in the country, the organisation saw its budget and work affected by the financial crisis.
“Due to the economic crisis, our HRE department was temporarily closed and awareness and actions in regard to HRE were in decline”, explains Mavromati. For Amnesty International Greece, it was key to fundraise enough to launch the HRE programme that would enable them to bring fundamental values, empowering society to protect human rights. That is when the idea for a fundraising concert started coming up.
It was finally in 2018 that a fundraising concert was organised. Mavromati explains that “the main objective [of the concert] was to raise funds for the Human Rights Education Programme”. Additionally, they wanted to “remind the audience that AI Greece is still active in society and has a necessary role, especially now that issues like integration raise attention”. Finally, she says, they sought to “attract new audiences, young audiences”.
The journey to making the concert a reality wasn’t easy, but the end result was worth it. “Although it was a challenging task for such a small team as ours, the concert was a huge success”, says Mavromati.
After months of preparation, the concert took place on Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2018, celebrating 70 years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event started with an inaugural address by Elena Akrita, important Greek public figure, and then continued with performances by many Greek artists.
Many renowned Greek artists participated: Giorgos Dalaras, Rita Antonopoulou, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Giota Nega, among others. These are artists who are very loved in Greece and who have also repeatedly expressed their interest in human rights and collaborating with Amnesty International Greece. Young promising artists like Christos Mastoras and Marina Satti also participated, aiming to attract younger audiences. Many political and economic figures, like the President of the Hellenic Parliament, also attended.
It was a huge success. The concert sold out, with 1,750 people attending. Media companies sponsored, advertised and covered the event. The response was overwhelmingly positive. “The empowering message of the concert seemed to inspire people of every age” reveals Mavromati, “people left the venue with a renewed interest in our actions, and eager to contribute actively for the purposes of Amnesty International and our newly re-established HRE programme”.
“Every goal we set before the concert, we fully achieved” says Mavromati, “We managed to attract young audiences, redefine our public image, promote our actions and most importantly raise the funds we needed for the HRE programme”. She adds that “we received huge positive feedback from people who were interested to join our HRE programme and collaborate with us”.
As for the future, Amnesty International Greece now has a HRE programme able to teach human rights to anyone who wants to know more about their rights, equality and respect. And they are ready to keep working for human rights: “the outcome has inspired us to proceed to other similar large-scale projects and believe in our power to fulfil our goals”.