PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Amnesty International opened its U.S. leg of its human rights concert tour Monday with a star-studded lineup of top international rock stars that included Bruce Springsteen and Sting.
The ″Human Rights Now 3/8″ tour began late Monday afternoon with performers singing the late reggae star Bob Marley’s ″Get Up, Stand Up″ to an unenthusiastic crowd at John F. Kennedy Stadium. By the time Sting took the stage 2 1/2 hours later, the stadium had filled and the crowd had turned boisterous.
About 73,000 tickets at $35 each were sold for the concert, held at the same stadium where 90,000 gathered for the 1985 ″Live Aid″ concert that raised money to fight hunger.
″It’s very easy for young people to feel helpless, to feel impotent, to feel they have no influence or control over the world they are going to inherit. But Amnesty International is a real beacon of hope,″ British rocker Peter Gabriel said at a news conference before the concert.
Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Senegalese singer Yousoou N’Dour also were featured, along with American folk singer Joan Baez, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
Amnesty International launched the worldwide concert tour in London on Sept. 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations adopted in 1948.
The London-based Amnesty International, which monitors human rights abuses and political prisoners, handed out literature and asked concertgoers for signatures on petitions supporting the declaration. By halfway through the concert, 40,000 people had signed, said Amnesty officials.
Philadelphia, one of the 19 tour stops in 14 countries, is the first stop in the United States. The tour stops in Los Angeles on Wednesday and San Francisco on Friday before concerts in Asia, Africa and South America.
″Amnesty International is based on a simple concept: that every person must and can help to enforce human rights standards,″ Amnesty International official Jack Healey said at the news conference.
The performers said they will concentrate on entertaining the crowd and not on educating the audience about examples of abuse.
″The idea is, art poses a challenge. It lets you know what the issues are, and puts it in your hands to do something about,″ Springsteen said.
The concert stage was decorated with a 40-foot map of the Eastern Hemisphere on one side, and a map of the Western Hemisphere on the other. Between sets, the audience saw an animated video about the human rights declaration.
By the time the tour concludes in Buenos Aires on Oct. 15, organizers expect more than 1 million people to have attended the concerts. Amnesty officials said the tour was designed to raise awareness of human rights, not to raise money. The peformers are donating their time.
Margaret Farren, a 16-year-old high school student from Belmar, N.J., went to the concert with about 20 members of an Amnesty International chapter.
She said she expected membership to increase as a result of the tour.
″This is definitely going to catch people’s attention,″ Ms. Farren said.