Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel: WITNESS!
Gabriel came up with the idea for Witness in 1988, while he was on a world tour sponsored by Amnesty International. "I met, for the first time, many victims of human rights abuses," he said in a recent e-mail interview. "There were people who had suffered all manner of tortures, those who had seen loved ones murdered in front of them and many whose relatives had been 'disappeared.' I was appalled by everything that I was learning, but was just as shocked to discover how often the perpetrators avoided prosecution and successfully buried their atrocities. Although written reports were often published, they often seemed impotent, leaving justice undone and many activists and victims very isolated."
Gabriel had a video camera with him on the trip, and he hit on the idea "to arm the activists with cameras that they themselves would operate" in order to document abuses. He sought funding for the project until 1991, when amateur video footage of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles police officers proved how potent a tool for change video could be: Soon the King footage was ubiquitous, sparking a national discussion of racism and police brutality. With seed money from the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, Gabriel set up Witness under the umbrella of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
Since 1996 Witness, which occupies the second floor of a loft building in downtown Manhattan, has been a full-service organization for its partners. It provides not only cameras but training and assistance in editing footage and in creating game plans for getting it seen, whether in a full-blown TV documentary or as streaming video on the Witness Web site. This year it has given cameras to groups in India, Romania, Gambia, the Philippines and Palestinian communities of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and trained groups in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Here is one example: OUTLAWED:Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror'
Thank you Mash for posting this during the Blogathon 2006, and sharing the video with me.