Talk:Prisoner of conscience

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List by country[edit]

Would anyone like to start a page that maintains a list of the AI adopted prisoners of conscience by region/country?

I couldn't find such a list on the web --Malbear 16:21, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)


I think we should refrain from listing particular countries here, unless we're prepared to list all of them. --Dcfleck 21:58, 2005 May 1 (UTC)

Nelson Mandela[edit]

Didn't AI consider Nelson Mandela a 'prisoner of conscience'? Say what you will about him, but he exercised violence against the South African government.

Actually AI did not name Nelson Mandela as a "POC" precisely because he used violence at that time. --Slp 19:05, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Mandela was named a POC in 1962. The definition is still correct, perhaps he was an exception. Either way, I am removing him as the example from the entry. Binerman 17:24, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Just found more info in Mandela. He was origionally adopted as POC in 1962, then his violent turn in 1964 raised concerns that resulted in the original decision to not include prisoners who advocated violence in the def of POC. Yet they continued to advocate on his behalf as a comprimise because his trial was unfair and his prison conditions severe. (info from Amnesty International: The Human Rights Story by Powers, 1981) Binerman 17:29, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Added some information, I hope its not too much for one go. Personally I feel that the metion of individual "Prisoners of Conscience" should be removed as they are covered in the political prisoner page. They could still be included, but perhaps by saying "some famous prisoners of conscience Amnesty International have adopted..." This would also provide a framework to talk about Nelson Mandela and how after polling the membership the origonal definition was upheld, but symbolic acts like defacing posters or tearing down flags would not exclude someone from POC status need to get a name


Ahmad Qatamesh[edit]

How does a name get into this Wikipedia list? Is there any more to it than having someone (Amnesty) claim it is so? The definition of non-violence does not fit Ahmad Qatamesh (detained by Israel), who is a leader of the terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). That means he is not imprisoned by Israel merely for being a writer or for being a Palestinian Arab; he is involved in terrorism and trying to destroy Israel. http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/Cterror2.htm#PFLP Labellesanslebete (talk) 23:29, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

The criteria for inclusion on the "list of individuals that Amnesty International currently considers to be prisoners of conscience, organized by country" is exactly that. I notice that he still lacks an article; perhaps you could begin one with the sort of sources you're talking about as well as the Amnesty Int document cited here to create a balanced view. Khazar2 (talk) 02:39, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

International Brigade Association[edit]

To IP holder 154.20.137.51

I am concerned over the inclusion of your edit, "because of its obvious links to the communist International Brigade Association" into the article as the reason why Amnesty International was refused charity status. The Claudio Veliz article you’ve provided as a source does not explicitly state this at any point. From my reading, the article interprets that Peter Benenson had used Alec Digge’s idea about an ‘Amnesty’ organisation for Spanish communists as the basis for Amnesty International.

There are several problems with this idea. Firstly, Veliz, based upon his meetings between Digges and Benenson during the mid-fifties, assumes that this was the point where Amnesty International was conceived: "...and all things evidently having been considered, Peter Benenson accepted Alec’s suggestion and took the helm of Amnesty International". However, Veliz was only visiting London in the early 1960s and by his own admission is drawing this conclusion from external appearances, meaning this view is somewhat superficial.

However, current historiography also contradicts Veliz. Linda Rabben (http://www.bu.edu/agni/essays-reviews/print/2001/54-rabben.html) and Tom Buchanan (cited in the main article) point to an array of organisations and campaigns that Benenson had been involved with or knew of as inspiration for his own organization. No doubt the supporters of the International Brigade Association was one source of inspiration, but not the only one.

Secondly, the organisation most likely to be inspired by the events in Veliz's article was the Appeal for Amnesty in Spain campaign, which was a strong supporter of the Spanish communists, and which Benenson's Appeal for Amnesty went to great lengths to distance itself from. (Buchanan, The Truth Will Set You Free, p. 580) Veliz appears to be suggesting that Amnesty International was a pro-communist front, designed to "overcome resistance to the communist onslaught". However no archival evidence has ever been published to back up the frequent accusations that Amnesty International was the stooge of some foreign power or shadowy organisation, either left or right. Veliz's evidence appears to hinge upon the circumstantial presence of Benenson with Digges. Benenson had been participating in Spanish trials since 1947, quite openly on behalf of The British Trade Union Congress which is the most probable cause of his contact with the International Brigade Association, rather than deep pro-communist sympathies. (Winner, D. People Who have Helped the World: Peter Benenson (Wisconsin: Gareth Stevens, 1991) p. 10 and Buchanan, The Truth Will Set You Free p. 578)

Thirdly, The British Government was supportive of Benenson's Amnesty International, a relationship that continued until 1966. The British government felt that, left to its own devices, Amnesty International would naturally lean towards an anti-communist organisation due to more political prisoners being held in the East than in the West. This view is incompatible with the idea of the government refusing charitable status because they feared the Amnesty International being a communist front. Kirsten Sellers provides a useful quote: 'Business began in 1963, when the Foreign Office gave the campaign its formal blessing as a body that 'provided humanitarians with an organisation free from Communist exploitation'. (Sellers, K. The Rise and Rise of Human Rights (Gloucester: Sutton Publishing, 2002) p. 98)

The most probable reason for the British Government's refusal to award Amnesty International with charitable status was an inability to comprehend a 'Prisoner of Conscience' as a purely humanitarian mission since the organisation apparently worked to change foreign political opinions to end political imprisonment so making it fall afoul of standard charity laws. This is why the 'Prisoner of Conscience Fund' was approved charitable status because it simply provided aid to prisoners and their families rather than attempting to involve itself in political/judicial affairs. To quote Steven Hopgood: 'In managing the funding, especially the absence of a reliable source of regular income, Amnesty was confronted by British charity laws that classified it, despite legal challenges and its strongly held self-image, as a political organisation'. (Hopgood, S. Keepers of the Flame: The Understanding Amnesty International (New York: Cornell University Press, 2006) p. 70)

Therefore, I am respectfully removing your edit because it is neither explicitly supported by Veliz or by the rest of the historiography and replacing it with a citation from Steven Hopgood. 82.46.179.19 12:39, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Wikiproject Prisons[edit]

If anyone is interested, I have proposed a new Wikiproject concerning prisons here.--Cdogsimmons (talk) 22:46, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

WP:BLPN thread.[edit]

I have just started a thread about this article at Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard#Prisoner of conscience. For reference after that thread is archived, here is a direct link of my comment/question. Chick Bowen 00:51, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Chick, it looks like that other thread didn't really go anywhere. I agree that a list would be helpful here, but that it should be carefully defined. Why not make a list of those currently considered PoC's by Amnesty? Only those that could be directly cited from its website or press releases would be allowed, all others deleted. I may start on this tonight, and if others disapprove, we can remove it. Khazar (talk) 03:28, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Add Liu Xiaobo to the See also section[edit]

I think Liu Xiaobo the nobel winner in prison should be added in the list of POC, to make the list more comprehensive and informative. But my English as a second language is not capable of editing this article. So I asked here. Thanks in advance.

Tianyi Cui (talk) 01:43, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Or maybe Bradley Manning —Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.29.124.246 (talk) 17:20, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Proposed merge[edit]

Its been proposed at the Political Prisoner talk/page, that the two pages be merged. I would like to get the ball rolling on that. What do you all think of such a page, titled Political Prisoner, but with the content of Prisoner of Conscience, stressing that they are two variations of similar ideas, and that the terms are inherently subjective?Cecilex (talk) 03:19, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Cecilex, this makes sense to me to a degree, but I do think that the AI POC definition has a certain rigor to it in that it's both carefully defined and has a specific arbiter (AI) determining who and who isn't a prisoner of conscience. I also feel like it's useful to have this list in one place on Wikipedia--it's notable and widely quoted--and it'd be a bit long for the Political Prisoner article. So I think I'd agree that it would make sense to include a subsection about Prisoner of Conscience under Political Prisoner, but that Prisoner of Conscience should remain its own "breakout" article. Make sense? -- Khazar (talk) 13:16, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Khazar here. The Free Software Definition is a well-known definition of Free software by the best-known group of people involved in the topic - the two articles remain separate. Amnesty is one of the world's biggest and best-established organisations for internationally supporting one particular class of political prisoners, so it makes sense for this article to treat Amnesty's particular definition and judgments of who is presently a prisoner of conscience separately from a more general article. As for subjectivity of the two terms, Amnesty clearly states that it considers "prisoners of conscience" to be a term that it believes it can define concretely, and that it believes it can apply to the real world. This article also clearly states this as a defined term rather than a general term used in common English. If another well-known, internationally notable human rights organisation introduced another term that it defined itself, then that could potentially lead to another subarticle without too much controversy. Boud (talk) 16:29, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

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Burmese Prisoners Released[edit]

Mie Mie was released on Jan 13. See [1]. I have removed her from list in response. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Burmyanmar (talkcontribs) 03:55, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the note, and the source. I've updated her article as well. -- Khazar (talk) 04:12, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

List of former prisoners of conscience[edit]

I've removed the start of a list of former prisoners of conscience, as this list would likely include a thousand individuals at minimum. If there's a strong feeling such a list should exist, it could be created as a separate article devoted entirely to this list; for the time being, though, it seems simplest to just use "Category:Amnesty International prisoners of conscience" for both present and former prisoners. Does that sound agreeable? Khazar2 (talk) 15:04, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

I'm okay with current and past prisoners listed separately, but wouldn't placing current prisoners more prominently lead to bias toward recent events? When I think notable prisoners of conscience, the first three names that come to mind are all former prisoners. Suu Kyi, Havel, Anwar Ibrahim. Matt Fitzpatrick (talk) 18:58, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree that it would be nice to find a practical way to list some past famous PoCs. Unfortunately, "notability" quickly becomes subjective here; several hundred PoCs meet WP notability requirements. A fair number have even gone to hold major national offices. This becomes problematic when editors interested in particular causes become motivated to add or remove, say, every Cuban PoC. (To put this in perspective, the "list" I removed included only Baik Tae-Ung, who surely does not meet the level of notability we'd want.) What criteria could we use to neutrally determine who should be on or off of this list? Perhaps we could find some coverage of PoCs that enumerates famous examples, and work from there? Khazar2 (talk) 19:06, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

May be prisoners of conscience[edit]

Do we add people who AI classify as "may be prisoners of conscience"? (example) Mohamed CJ (talk) 22:51, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

I see Iran has a lot, USA only has ONE POC[edit]

I see Iran has a lot, USA only has ONE POC --Inayity (talk) 05:59, 7 November 2013 (UTC)