Amnesty International, with its easily recognizable logo of a burning candle encircled by barbed wire, is one of the most known non-profits aiming at the observance of human rights. Since 1961 it has helped hundreds of prisoners of conscience across the world to be freed from prison, to escape torture, and to get justice for their cause.
The logo of Amnesty International is inspired by a Chinese proverb: “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” The barbed wire represents “the darkness” (hopelessness) of people put in jail where they think nobody remembers they are there.
With its logo or without, Amnesty International is also one of the non-profit organizations which got almost instant recognition on stamps. As early as 1974, and up to today, the work of the organization has been celebrated on the stamps of tens of countries. Below you will find this interesting history on stamps.
Germany issued Amnesty International-themed stamps on two occasions. The first one is also the issue where for the first time the title ‘Amnesty International’ was used. Since the issue dates from 1974, the organization was but a young non-profit, a long time before its current recognition and successes.
The second time a German stamp devoted to Amnesty International was issued was in 2011, for the organizations’ 50th anniversary.
San Marino issued a very evocative stamp in honor of Amnesty International in 1982.
Luxembourg as well pioneered in the field. In its series of stamps from 1978 for cultural anniversaries, one of the 3 stamps of the set is devoted to Amnesty International. Two supplementary stamps are devoted to the organization “Terre des Hommes” and to the awareness and prevention of tuberculosis.
A second series of cultural anniversary stamps which celebrated the activity of Amnesty International was issued in 2011, for the organization’s 50th anniversary. The other two stamps of the series celebrate the 50th anniversary of the local bowling association, and the 75th anniversary of the Day of the Stamp.
In 1982, the Greek post issued a 2-stamp set devoted to Amnesty International, as well. The images are very evocative, and although not accompanied by any slogan, their message comes through easily. The Greek stamps are also the first ones on which the organization’s logo is being used.
Denmark issued Amnesty International stamps on two occasions. The first time in 1986, for the 25th anniversary of the organization.
The second time, it was in 2001, when Amnesty International celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The 2001 stamp features the text “skriv for liv” (“write for life”), alluding to the letter-writing marathons initiated by Amnesty International, in which young students, as well as adults, try to gather a significant critical mass of petitions addressed to governments and institutions from different countries of the world in order to request the freedom of prisoners of conscience.
In 1986, a 3-stamp set was issued in Faroe Islands in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Amnesty International.
The same occasion, the 25th anniversary of the non-profit inspired stamps in several other territories. Below, you can see the Netherlands Antilles issue of 1986.
Again in 1986, Sweden is another country which celebrated the organization’s 25 years of activities on stamps.
The below issue of 1986 from the Dutch post is not credited by catalogues as an official issue, it being indeed what is called a ‘stadspost’ issue (or, a penny post). It was issued in single stamps, blocks, and affixed to first day covers.
Belgium joined the celebrations 5 years later, in 1991, when a stamp from a 2-stamp set was devoted to Amnesty International. The first stamp of the series was devoted also to the humanitarian efforts of a non-profit organization, Médecins sans frontières (Doctors without Borders).
Still in 1991, a 3-stamp set was issued in Congo to celebrate Amnesty International’s 30-year presence on the human rights arena.
The 1991 celebrations were important also in France, where the organization was devoted a single stamp issue.
Wallis & Futuna
The 1991 celebration was also marked on a stamp issue from Wallis & Futuna.
This issue of Morocco dates from 2005. Although it was not issued to mark a special occasion, like the previous entries from this post, it is indeed one of the breakthrough issues – and the first one from the Arab world. Kudos for that.
Australia was one of the first countries to celebrate the organization’s 50 years of longlasting, human-rights inspired activities with a stamp issue in 2011.
Still in 2011, Iceland celebrated the first half of century of activities of Amnesty International with this single stamp issue.
This Irish Post stamp was also issued in 2011.
The Italian Post issue of 2011 did not miss the occasion either, to mark the half a century anniversary of Amnesty International.
The very evocative stamp issued by Norway in 2011 for the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International was made available in a limited printrun.
Last but not least, I want to present in this article a 2018 stamp from Tunisian Post. Unlike the others from the article, this one celebrates the 30th anniversary of the local chapter of the non-profit organization.
Stamps featured in post: 38; Period: contemporary (1974-2018); Pricing: low ti moderate; Availability: most items are readily available.