An ad campaign from Amnesty International USA that was rejected by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will be displayed across the city today and tomorrow, calling on activists to join together with the global human rights group in holding world leaders to account.
The series of ads, which depict US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, warn that “a storm is brewing.”
“We want to send a message to Washington – there’s a storm brewing and we’re ready to stand strong for human rights. Our world leaders, including President Trump, need to know that when human rights are denied, Amnesty International and our supporters won’t be silent. We will continue to fight injustice around the world and here at home,” said Amnesty International USA executive director, Margaret Huang.
On Monday and Tuesday last week the ads were displayed on a truck with LED video panels as it drives through Washington, DC, stopping at landmarks. It coincides with Amnesty International USA’s lobby day. More than 300 of the group’s activists will meet with their members of Congress on Capitol Hill on Monday to discuss crucial human rights issues, including refugee protection, gun violence and women’s rights.
The ads were originally intended to run as a teaser to the launch of Amnesty International’s annual report on the state of the world’s human rights, which launched on Thursday Feb. 22 in the US for the first time in the organization’s history. The report highlights the growing importance of activism in an era of “state-sponsored hate” in which leaders are openly pushing hateful rhetoric and policies that are undermining human rights.
However the ad campaign was rejected by WMATA on the grounds that it violates its policy against issue-oriented advertising. Amnesty International USA rejects the notion that these ads are political, given they focus on human rights, which is a matter of international law.
“It’s deeply unfortunate that advocacy ads are so notoriously hard to place in our nation’s capital — exactly the market where they’re needed the most. We’re very disappointed with WMATA’s decision, but are determined to get our message out to defend human rights both here at home and around the world,” said Margaret Huang.
“The message of our ads is a simple one asking people to join us in upholding human rights, which is not and should not be a political or partisan issue. World leaders are accountable to their citizens and should respect their basic human rights. It should not be controversial to point out that this is their job.”