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21 avril 2006

In Your Eyes

This Week's Show: In Your Eyes

Musician and human rights activist
Peter Gabriel is empowering people to document human rights abuses in their own backyards and bring them to the world's attention. After achieving fame as a singer, Gabriel helped set up Witness, a Brooklyn-based organization that trains human rights advocates to use video cameras, provided by the group, to document abuses around the world. Their motto: 'See it, film it, change it.'

"It was clear that where there was footage, where there were photos, it was a great deal harder to bury stories,"
Gabriel told NOW. David Brancaccio spoke to Peter Gabriel on a recent trip to Washington D.C., where he was lobbying members of Congress to do more to end human rights abuses in Burma using Witness video as his weapon.

Human rights themes can be found in some of
Gabriel's earliest hits, such as the track "Biko", a homage to the anti-apartheid, South African activist Stephen Biko, who died in prison in 1977. Gabriel was enlisted by fellow musician Bono in 1985 for Amnesty International's human rights tour, which Gabriel describes as an amazing emotional and educational experience.

"One of the things that shocked me on that tour was that people could not only suffer … but that their stories could be really effectively denied, buried and forgotten,"
Gabriel said. Inspired by his father and his experiences with Amnesty International, Gabriel co-founded Witness, in New York, back in 1992.

Witness-sponsored videos have shined light on human rights abuses in over 60 countries on issues ranging from forced labor in
Burma to the neglect of juveniles held in California's prison system. And the videos have made a difference. After the California legislature viewed the Witness-back video "System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority," it introduced legislation to tackle some of the problems exposed.

Are we bearing enough witness to the world? Next time on NOW.

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