Amnesty International Honors Joan Baez + Ai Weiwei
Amnesty International, arguably the biggest and most prestigious human rights organization in history, has announced the honorees of their annual award for excellence in human rights. This year was surprisingly a tie between two individuals, both of very different disciplines and expertise. The winners in question? Controversial artist Ai Weiwei and singer/songwriter Joan Baez.
The award, officially titled the ‘Ambassador of Conscience Award,’ has been given to everyone from Nelson Mandela to Aung San Suu Kyi to last year’s recipient Malala Yousafzai. While Ai Weiwei and Joan Baez may seem peculiar additions to a company of world leaders and political prisoners, both are unquestionably assured choices to receive such an honor.
Weiwei has been detained in his homeland of China after years of protest of his government’s political policies, resulting in the removal of his passport. Despite these obstacles, he has continued working on projects commissioned all over the world, most recently directing a feature film via Skype. “Through his work Ai Weiwei reminds us that the right of every individual to express their self must be protected” said Amnesty in the announcement of his award. Joan Baez, who has been recording music for five decades now, has long been a proponent of peace and love coming out of the ‘flower power’ ‘60’s. Amnesty is honoring “her mesmerizing voice and unwavering commitment to peaceful protest and human rights for all.”
The ceremony honoring both Weiwei and Baez will take place in Berlin on May 21st, though Weiwei may not be able to attend given the Chinese government’s strict ban on his travel outside the country. Congratulations to both, and may they continue to fight the good fight.