Thursday 27 June 2019

Angelina Jolie urges schoolchildren to ‘fight for universal human rights’

The Oscar-winning actress said that adults today are “a little lost” and that children are needed to help in the future.

Angelina Jolie urges children to fight for universal human rights (Adrian Dennis/PA)
Angelina Jolie urges children to fight for universal human rights (Adrian Dennis/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Angelina Jolie has launched a plea for today’s young people to be paramount in the next generation’s fight for universal human rights for all children.

The actress, director and humanitarian opened a performance of more than 600 schoolchildren at London’s Royal Albert Hall for Amnesty International on Monday evening, urging them to do their bit for the cause.

The Oscar-winning star, 42, told the children that they can be inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to complete the work started by her generation.

Angelina Jolie (Ian West/PA)

Speaking via a video address, Jolie said: “Children, I need you. We all need you. We adults, we are a little lost these days, we want you to think that we have it all under control, that it will all be fine. And it will be.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; it’s like your secret book of laws. And if you can master it, no-one can trick you, or your friends.

“And you can take those laws and rights and go head on with those adults who won’t listen.”

She said: “With the power of not only what is right and fair, but what is law, you can fight back. And as you grow up, you will have the tools to protect yourselves and to defend others.

Angelina Jolie (Adrian Dennis/PA)

“It means you can grow up to be citizens who together can complete the work that my generation will leave unfinished and fight for universal human rights for all children.”

A joint project with Chickenshed Theatre – a charity that brings people together to create theatrical productions to inspire, inform and entertain – the performance was based on Amnesty’s children’s book Dreams Of Freedom, a celebration of the words of human rights activists including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Malala Yousafzai.

The show was based on the youngsters’ own thoughts and dreams inspired by the book, and they shared their own messages of freedom and solidarity.

While some of their messages started with the words “I stand with”, many amended their openers to “I stand with Grenfell” in support of all those affected by the recent Grenfell Tower fire.

The Grenfell Tower (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Those taking part in the human rights organisation’s production included children from London schools in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fullham, Westminster, Wandsworth and Enfield, while other schools and children’s groups have also been involved in the creation of the show over two years.

Former children’s laureate and Amnesty ambassador Chris Riddell joined forces with nine-year-old Jude Holland to produce live illustrations in response to the singing and dancing, their work projected on to screens for the audience.

Riddell said: “This is a chance to come together while children perform songs and dances, and draw all sorts of wonderful things based on freedom, which is what Amnesty is all about.”

Jude added: “We shouldn’t just let people be trapped and not be able to do things, and it’s good we have rights now to be free and do most things.”

Director of Amnesty International UK Kate Allen (Yui Mok/PA)

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Children have a unique way of viewing the world, and their playful interpretations of our freedoms should inspire us all.

“The freedom to laugh, to draw, to dance and to sing remind us that our human rights help us truly enjoy life and have fun.

“Human rights also exist to keep us safe, and it’s important that we learn about them so we can help protect them, no matter what our age.”

Press Association

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