INSTANT KARMA: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur

Gift of Lennon’s Songbook Supports Amnesty International’s Global Campaign on Darfur

February 18, 2009

Yoko Ono’s generous gift to Amnesty International — the right to have leading international musical artists record new versions of John Lennon’s solo compositions – provided a significant boost toward the organization’s campaign to end the violence in Darfur, achieve security for 2.6 million displaced civilians and demand accountability for horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity.

More than $4 million in revenues from the Instant Karma project — with recordings of Lennon’s iconic songs by world-class artists — support grassroots organization’s actions and engagement to keep the pressure on governments and the United Nations to end the six-year-old crisis.

With funds dispersed to Amnesty International’s national country sections worldwide, human rights activists are engaged on nearly every continent to keep the crisis in Darfur alive in the public sphere through vigils, petitions, demonstrations and direct lobbying of government officials in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and elsewhere. AI members have staged actions in Belgium, Britain, Burkina Faso, Canada, Finland, France, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and the United States, among others.

Amnesty International, having achieved significant breakthroughs, continues to press leaders for progress on security, access for humanitarian aid and justice. For example, protection for Darfur refugees in Chad would not have been possible without the support of that government, whose diplomats credited Amnesty International for helping change its position to allow peacekeepers to protect displaced Darfuris under attack in eastern Chad. In the United States, Amnesty International kept the pressure on Congress and the White House in 2008 to help ensure significant U.S. funding for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Darfur and Chad. Direct lobbying in the U.S. House and Senate achieved millions of dollars in disaster and famine assistance to help suffering Darfuris and for support of an African Union mission to Darfur (AMIS) and a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force to Darfur (UNAMID).

Amnesty International exposed atrocities from the start of the crisis and achieved groundbreaking work in 2007 by putting Sudan on notice that its activities were under scrutiny through the Eyes on Darfur satellite project to monitor vulnerable villages in Darfur. In April 2008, the United States section of Amnesty International led the organizing for a Global Day for Darfur, which included the installation of “Displaced” on the National Mall in Washington DC, drawing thousands of Americans to tour the exhibition and participate in a rally aimed at the White House. The exhibition, housed in six field tents, educates the public on the massive displacement of 2.6 million Darfuris in the conflict. The exhibition is now available online for wider use by the public at

Amnesty International has campaigned successfully for the release of individuals imprisoned in Sudan for their political views, writings and human rights work, including Al-Ghali Yahya Shegifat, president of the Association of Darfur journalists, and Ammar Jalak of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, both of whom were tortured while in detention.

By mobilizing hundreds of thousands of activists worldwide and directly lobbying UN member states, AI campaigned for the UN peacekeeping force, which beginning in 2008 began slowly deploying to Darfur. Amnesty International continues to keep the pressure on member states and the Security Council — through global letter-writing, petitions and lobbying — to ensure that the force of 26,000 uniformed personnel are deployed fully and that governments keep their promises to supply air and ground transport equipment, such as helicopters, that are essential to the successful operation of the peacekeeping mission.

“The delay in peacekeeping continues to put millions of lives at risk in a region where hundreds of thousands of individuals have died in six years of unrelenting, horrific violence,” said Larry Cox, executive director, Amnesty International USA.

Through its ongoing research missions, Amnesty International in 2008 continued to exposed atrocities in the region, including egregious human rights abuses such as rapes taking place in refugee camps in Chad, where hundreds of thousands of Darfuris have sought refuge from the violence. The organization’s researchers also exposed Chinese, Russian and other arms sales to Sudan that resulted in some of those arms ending up in Darfur, in violation of the arms embargo on Darfur.

Significantly, the human rights organization pressured China to shift its policy on Sudan, including supporting the peacekeeping force with engineers and sending funds for humanitarian assistance. Recently, Amnesty International’s work in the United Nations helped prevent wavering countries from abandoning support for or delaying the International Criminal Court’s move seeking an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.Amnesty International was an early advocate of the investigation by the International Criminal Court, which has led to indictments against government officials in Darfur.

In partnership with the Save Darfur Coalition, Amnesty International is calling on President Barack Obama to turn his promises on Darfur into concrete action during his administration’s first 100 days. In partnership with other organizations, Amnesty International is collecting one million signatures to deliver to the White House to reinforce the need for Darfur to be a top-priority issue. Individuals can take action to end the violence by sending President Barack Obama a letter.

On April 27, Amnesty International and other organizations are launching Justice for Darfur to call on the United Nations Security Council, regional organizations and individual governments to press Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

Among other demands, the campaign is urging the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling on Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC and immediately arrest Sudanese officials Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb, both indicted for war crimes, and surrender them to the Court.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, released by WB Records
Working Class Hero t-shirt, released by Hard Rock Cafe

Message from Yoko Ono:

Instant Karma: the Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur

Instant Karma: the Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur – available on iTunes HERE.

It  features 34 covers from John Lennon’s solo catalogue featuring artists like U2, Christina Aguillera, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Green Day (who also appear in a great video of “Working Class Hero”) and more.  Yoko donated all the publishing rights and all proceeds benefit Amnesty International.

Disc 1:

U2 – Instant Karma
R.E.M. – #9 Dream
Christina Aguilera – Mother
Aerosmith featuring Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars – Give Peace A Chance
Lenny Kravitz – Cold Turkey
Los Lonely Boys – Whatever Gets You Through The Night
Corinne Bailey Rae – I’m Losing You
Jakob Dylan featuring Dhani Harrison – Gimme Some Truth
Jackson Browne – Oh, My Love
Avril Lavigne – Imagine
Big & Rich – Nobody Told Me
Youssou N’Dour – Jealous Guy

Disc 2:

Green Day – Working Class Hero
Black Eyed Peas – Power to the People
Jack Johnson – Imagine
Ben Harper – Beautiful Boy
Snow Patrol – Isolation
Matisyahu – Watching the Wheels
The Postal Service – Grow Old With Me
Jaguares – Gimme Some Truth
The Flaming Lips – (Just Like) Starting Over
Jack’s Mannequin featuring Mick Fleetwood – God
Regina Spektor – Real Love

iTunes Exclusives:

Duran Duran – Instant Karma
Gavin Rossdale – Mind Games
Deftones – Jealous Guy
Ben Jelen – Woman
Me’Shell Ndegeocello – Imagine
Rocky Dawuni – Well Well Well
OAR – Borrowed Time
Widespread Panic – Crippled Inside
Emanuel Jal – Mother
Fab Faux – I Don’t Wanna Face It
Yellowcard – Oh My Love

Instant Karma CDInstant Karma T-shirtInstant Karma Poster

Get the CD, T-Shirt, Poster. from the Amnesty International shop.


Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur

April 30, 2007 — In an historic effort to mobilize activism around the human rights atrocities occurring in Darfur, Sudan, more than 50 international recording artists and over 30 record labels have united behind “Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.” The collection features iconic songs by legendary musician and peace activist John Lennon recorded by an array of best-selling artists and will be available for purchase both on CD and as digital downloads via online retailers.

In keeping with its long tradition of activism powered by music, Amnesty International, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, will use Yoko Ono’s generous gift of Lennon’s solo catalogue as the centerpiece of its campaign to rally activists toward human rights activism for the people of Darfur. The “Instant Karma” mobilization centers on saving the lives of innocent women, children and men who are dying by the thousands and restoring peace in the region.

The two-CD set of “Instant Karma,” which will be released by Warner Bros. Records on June 12, boasts a stellar line-up of 23 world-class artists from a variety of genres putting their own unique spin on classic songs from Lennon’s solo songbook. The artists — who come from the worlds of rock, pop, hip-hop and country — include longtime activists U2 (“Instant Karma”), Green Day (“Working Class Hero”), R.E.M. (“#9 Dream”) and Jackson Browne (“Oh My Love”); female pop powerhouses Christina Aguilera (“Mother”), Avril Lavigne (“Imagine”), and Corinne Bailey Rae (“I’m Losing You”); country stars Big & Rich (“Nobody Told Me”); alternative favorites Snow Patrol (“Isolation”), The Flaming Lips (“(Just Like) Starting Over”), Postal Service (“Grow Old With Me”) and Regina Spektor (“Real Love”); best-selling rockers Aerosmith (“Give Peace a Chance”), Lenny Kravitz (“Cold Turkey”) and Los Lonely Boys (“Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”); and pensive singer-songwriters Jakob Dylan with Dhani Harrison (“Gimme Some Truth”) and Ben Harper (“Beautiful Boy”).

The rights to Lennon’s songs were generously donated by Yoko Ono, who has donated all music publishing royalties. Amnesty International chose to harness the power of Lennon’s music to inspire a new generation of activists to stand up for human rights. Proceeds from CD and digital sales will support Amnesty International and its campaign to focus attention and mobilize activism around the urgent catastrophe in Darfur, and other human rights crises.

“It’s wonderful that, through this campaign, music that is so familiar to many people of my era will now be embraced by a whole new generation,” Ono says. “John’s music set out to inspire change, and in standing up for human rights, we really can make the world a better place.” Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International U.S.A., adds, “We know music’s power to unite and inspire people. With hundreds of thousands dead, millions driven from their burned out villages and rape being used as a tactic in the Darfur conflict, the world needs a mass mobilization demanding action and justice. The ‘Instant Karma’ campaign combines John Lennon’s passionate desire for us to imagine a more peaceful world with Amnesty International’s expertise in achieving justice. ‘Instant Karma’ allows ordinary people to lend their hand in saving lives — a notion we think would make John proud.”

“John Lennon was not just a famous Beatle, he was the social conscience of his generation,” says Jeff Ayeroff, one of the album’s executive producers. “By reinterpreting his music and reintroducing it to a new generation, we shine a light on the darkness that is Darfur. Yoko Ono’s gift of John’s music to Amnesty International, whose work points out the pain and injustice in the world, is a true beacon of light. Give peace a chance is all we are saying.”

Winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize, Amnesty International includes people from all walks of life taking action and is composed of more than 2.2 million human rights activists worldwide. Its members protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Amnesty International investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and helps transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

Amnesty International has a long history of activism involving musicians including 1988’s worldwide Human Rights Now! Tour and 1998’s Paris concert, which honored the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respectively. Collectively, the concerts featured performances by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N’Dour, Alanis Morissette, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Radiohead.

For more information about “Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur” or Amnesty International, please visit in the United States or outside the United States.


Green Day: Working Class Hero


Jack’s Mannequin: God (Featuring Mick Fleetwood)


Take Action and Help End the Violence

Call on Investors to Stand Up for Human Rights in Darfur.
To ensure the speedy and full deployment of UNAMID in Darfur, Khartoum must hear from key economic interests. To convince these companies to act, we must enlist their investors as our allies. Urge 10 of the top investors in Sudan’s oil industry to take a stand for the people of Darfur.

Amnesty International is the only organization with 2.2 million members globally, who can create the global pressure necessary to end the violence in Darfur. Join now!

Amnesty International believes that learning about human rights is the first step toward respecting, promoting and defending those rights.
Teaching about human rights means both conveying ideas and information concerning human rights and nurturing the values and attitudes that lead to the support of those rights. Teach others about the crisis in Darfur and become an agent of change.
Download the Curriculum Guide.


Documentary film: Darfur Now

Dafur Now is a documentary about struggles and achievements of six different individuals from inside Darfur and around the world bring to light the tragedy in Sudan and show how the actions of one person can make a difference to millions.
Learn more about the film


Amnesty International: Human Rights Now

Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with over 1.8 million members worldwide. Amnesty International undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.


MySpace: Instant Karma
Facebook Instant Karma group
Amnesty International website: PROTECT THE HUMAN
Amnesty International blog: HUMAN RIGHTS NOW
Amnesty International Social Networks: FacebookMySpaceYouTubeTwitter.

For more information about “Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur” or Amnesty International, please visit in the United States or outside the United States.


Download: Desktop

IMAGINE PEACE  Washington DC Billboard  (Jan 2009)



Download: Banners and Badges






Instant Karma: $2.5 million to Amnesty International

Make Some Noise

Executive Director Larry Cox, Yoko Ono, Jeff Ayeroff and Lori Feldman celebrate the album’s success with a couple of the men from Darfur who appeared in our Green Day video of Working Class Hero.
Photo: John Smock


14 December 2007

An Amnesty International album of John Lennon cover songs has raised $2.5 million after proving a hit in the album and download charts.

Warner Bros. Records presented the organization with a cheque for $2.5 million – proceeds raised so far from the sales of Make Some Noise/Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur.

The double album – released in support of Amnesty Internationals campaign to end violence in Darfur – features a collection of classic John Lennon tracks recorded by a range of top international artists including U2, Snow Patrol and Green Day.

The album was made possible by the generosity of Yoko Ono, who granted Amnesty International the right to record the Lennon songs and donated all music-publishing royalties to the project. The album is part of Amnesty International’s global music activism project Make Some Noise – which has aimed to inspire a new generation of activists to stand up for human rights.

Amnesty International has also generated more than 500,000 signatures on a petition calling on President Bush to press for an urgent timetable for the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Darfur by early 2008.

Tom Whalley, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Records, said: “Amnesty International’s work is crucial to raising awareness of the human rights catastrophes occurring in Darfur and around the world – and we are thrilled to be able to support their campaign.”

Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA, said: “John Lennon’s music and his legacy as an activist continue to inspire human rights advocacy. Now, his music is encouraging young people to get involved and add their voices to the cause of stopping the horrific violence in Darfur.”

Following extensive worldwide campaigning, the UN Security Council agreed in August to send a new peacekeeping force to Darfur. Amnesty International is now pressing for its speedy deployment, plus the funds and equipment to support the mission and the arrest of Sudanese officials indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Since 2003, government-backed militia have killed hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed thousands of villages and left millions of refugees struggling for survival in relief camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad