Red Cross Youth campaign for human rights


Red Cross Youth campaign for human rights


This summer the Swedish Red Cross Youth launched a campaign for human rights influenced by the upcoming olympics in Beijing. We are encouraging people around us to visit our webbsite and discuss such matters as:
• What can You do to promote human rights?
• Is it ever acceptable to violate human rights?
• What can each nation do for human rights?
• Do Sweden ever violate human rights?

We think it is extremely important to educate young people on human rights and to raise the issue whenever it´s possible. Our campaign should not be seen as anti-China, but pro-human rights.

The Swedish Red Cross Youth has chosen to make a campaign on human rights because:
• Human rights is a fundemental part of the Red Cross/Red Crescent society
• It is 60 years since the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
• The Chinese government promised an improved situation for human rights in their Olympic campaign
• There are several documented cases where the Chinese authorities have violated human rights, Amnesty presents four central areas in the Olympic campaign:
- Fair trials for all
- Freedom from censorship
- Respect the rights of activists
- Stop executions

Human rights are, and always has been, a vital part of the Red Cross/Red Crescent philosophy. With that in mind, We see this as the perfect time to manifest the importance of human rights.

Update July 21 (added here by Dabitch) Red Cross campaign pulled..


On Sunday, I came across these ad campaigns by the Red Cross:

I realised immediately that the police in these pictures are Nepalese not Chinese. However the concept of these campaigns were obviously and directly pointing at China's policy in Tibet and the upcoming Beijing Olympics! I was furious and decided to get in touch with the Red Cross Youth Sweden!

This is the email i sent to them initially:


Dear sir/madam,

I'd like to point out that, your latest campaigns that feature the images of Tibetans being beaten and chased by police lack the basic accuracy and it is very unprofessional and embarrasing for the Red Cross and whatever agency that dealt with this project.

The police wearing blue uniforms are in fact Napalese not Chinese as the ads indicate. I am astonished that such an obvious and almost arrogant error would have happened in a campaign that's launched by such a reputable organisation as the Red Cross... This would have extremely damaged the image of the organisation, dampend the message that you tried to get across to the audience and most important and definitley lost a lot of people's confidence and trust in the Red Cross.

What an embarrasement...


I initially thought this email would have fallen on deaf ears. But to my surprise, I got a reply from the Head of Communicatons the following morning:



Thanks for your opinion. The picture is from Tibet. It was taken at an anti-china demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Lhasa, where the Tibetan police attacked the protestors with riot sticks. 113 Tibetans were arrested, amongst them several monks and nuns. So you are right in that the picture doesn’t show any Chinese policemen. What it shows are the consequences for those who react towards Chinas behavior in Tibet. So sure, you can choose to be angry over how the pictures show the “wrong” perspective. We choose to be angry over Chinas violation on human rights and the consequences they create, even in Chinas neighboring countries. I hope you feel that we have answered your question. In the campaign we also show several pictures taken in China where the Chinese authorities are in focus.

med vänliga hälsningar
Simon Brouwers


I cannot believe how ignorant they have been. It's just incredible and the list of how many things are wrong with that email just goes on and on and on and on and on... so to this email, I replied:


Dear Simon

Thanks for your reply and the clarification.

*For everyone else copied in this email. Please see the attached images which are in question and the previous email correspondence for your reference.

May I be honest in saying I am even more concerned that you do not even have the slightest clue in what was happening in those pictures, or indeed what you were saying!! You really work for the Red Cross??

Let me correct the mistakes you made in your reply, if I may:

1. you said "The picture is from Tibet. It was taken at an anti-china demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Lhasa"

I can assure you that these pictures were taken in Nepal and there is no such a thing as "Chinese Embassy in Lhasa"! These pictures were taken outside the Chinese Embassy in NEPAL, not Lhasa, which explains the presence of Nepalese police. And the action of the Nepalese police is out of the control of the Chinese government. I cannot believe you didn't even know this basic fact and you are claiming to be campaigning for the Tibetan people!

2. you also said "Tibetan police attacked the protestors with riot sticks."

No, wrong again. These police, like I have said were Nepalese. And there isn't such a thing as Tibetan police.

Initially, I thought there was a genuine mistake made in the preparation of this campaign by the Red Cross, so that I emailed to inform you. However, having read your reply, I realised just how little clue you have on the subject you are supposed to be campaigning about. This really saddens me as I am a regular donor to the Red Cross and other charities. Your incompetence and complete lack of knowledge on the matter has resulted in a misleading campaign which doesn't represent the truth and twisted the fact. And because of this I have no choice but to report this issue to other parts of the Red Cross organisation and to inform the Media of this shockingly unprofessional and irresponsible mess up by the Red Cross.

Back to the pictures themselves, they have a huge potential of misleading the public in mistaking the Nepalese police for Chinese, without proper clarification with the campaign, people would no doubt come to an impartial and wrong conclusion.

You are right, that I can choose to be angry over how the pictures show the wrong perspective. However, I am more outraged that you and the Red Cross would launch an campaign on such a crucial and sensitive international matter, when you clearly don't even have the slightest clue or ever bothered to research the basic factual background, misleading the general public and I have completely lost the faith and trust in your organisation and frankly I think you are a sham.

I admire your desire for doing something for a good cause, but please please please, do your research, understand what you are talking about, and educate yourself before educating other people.

Shame on you and the Red Cross.


After this email, I got another reply later that afternoon:


Dear Jake,

The information concerning the pictures have been given to us by Scanpix, the picture agency from where we bought the pictures, I pasted the information they gave to us in my reply to you.
I trust that the info they have given to us is correct, but ofcourse i will look it up to be sure. If a mistake has been made somewhere we will make the necessary corrections.

med vänliga hälsningar
Simon Brouwers

Followed by, a few minutes later, this:


You were right; the pictures are from Nepal. It was the protestors who were from Tibet. We are using five different pictures, all taken in five different places, in the campaign - and somehow there has been a mix up. I apologize for this. The other information i sent you regarding the picture is correct.This is ofcourse a very unfortunate mistake and we will make sure that it doesn´t happen again.

Kind regards
Simon Brouwers


To above, I replied this:


I appreciate your reply. I think you would also agree that using these pictures in a campaign that is directly pointing at the Olympics in Beijing and CHINA's policy in Tibet is obviously very misleading. I think people should expect more from a reputable charity organisation such as the Red Cross. And when the Red Cross makes mistake, as it clearly has on this occasion, one should also expect a proper action to be taken to correct the mistake and try to repair the damage it had already caused. I am looking forward to hearing what the Red Cross plans to do regarding this.



Thanks for sharing the story, whole9yards!
I am not against people to express their personal opinion no matter it is right or wrong, but as if you want to educate publics something, I insist you should be the specialist in that case or at least you should know about it very much. But apparently, the organizers of this campaign are far from that....

I made this point on the other thread...

To me it will always be anti-Chinese because of the copy line used. To bring in the Beijing Olympics can only suggest that its focus is on China and not human rights (as a primary message).

The imagery, while not containing Chinese people, is clearly used to point a finger at China's human rights record.

However, using the Beijing Olympics as a focus means it can't be pro-human rights without being anti-Chinese.

You can't have you cake and eat it. Or in this case, the Swedish Red Cross (Youth) can't. Will we see similar posters about the UK in 2012? I hope so, because every country suppresses human rights whether the public agrees or not. Some are just worse than others, but even that's subjective. Perhaps they should have used a variety of countries that are competing in the Games to highlight the issue of human rights (UK, USA, China, etc) rather than focusing on one nation? Would that be the right way to go about it?

I think that whole9yards has done a sterling job in exposing a poorly thought out campaign. And at least this thread hasn't (yet) succumbed to flaming!

"Perhaps they should have used a variety of countries that are competing in the Games to highlight the issue of human rights (UK, USA, China, etc) rather than focusing on one nation? Would that be the right way to go about it?"

Well said! Completely agree!

To lighten the mood a little: If only there was a Humanitarian Award at Cannes, we might just get better work in this area :)

Thanks guys for all your comments. I guess this campaign completed backfired for the Red Cross. I didn't understand why Simon would have re-posted this and raised it to frontpage exposure, but I sure am glad to see the outcome.

Has this campaign ever respected the human right of 1.3 billion Chinese people who are expecting a successful Olympics which should not be mixed by politics?

BTW, to add a little bit knowledge to this campaign. Tibetan Chinese has distinct features of their look. The 'victims' on picture no.3 & 4 are by no means Tibetan Chinese. And those out-of-context pictures are very suspicious of being staged or simply taken on any of the training grounds. The haircut and the vest of the guy on the ground are very much of a feature of normal member of the Chinese army.

Has this campaign ever respected the human right of 1.3 billion Chinese people who are expecting a successful Olympics which should not be mixed by politics?

You can't seriously be thinking that's a human right?

Dear all,

I have managed to trace back to the source of one of the images that was used for this particular campaign, which 'allegedly' portraits Chinese army's unrest of Tibetan or the China's human rights abuse.

It was actually taken at an 'Anti-illegal stowaway inspection practice' which took place in Zhe Jiang province in October 2006.

As you can see, there are shipment containers in the background which indicates that the location is by the sea, and you should know Tibet is nowhere near any sea! There are also other images taken on the same day and here's the link to the news piece about this practice on XinHua net - China's news agency.

I recommend you sack your communication officer and your picture provider agency and improve your 'fact checking' procedure in your future campaigns to avoid similar embarrasing mistakes. I also demand proper action to be taken by the Red Cross to correct this mistake and apologise for the damage it has caused.


Jake, the link is missing. Be interested to read more.

Also, I know I'm not the only one to point this out, but some of these images look really staged. Especially the bottom middle one. I know that's not the reason you're posting or the point of your posting, but someone doesn't add up for me on these images, regardless of how they've been mis-used in the campaign. I could well be wrong, as I don't know the original context of the story behind the images you've posted, but thought it worth saying. Anyone else see it?

Thanks for the input
I agree, they do look staged and I think that explains quite a lot really as they are supposed to be staged. It was a practice for the anti-illegal stowaway mission, and obviously a photo-op for the news agencies as well.

A correction.
The three photographs on the bottom of my posted image, show similar anti-terrorist drill carried out by the Chinese army / police forces. It has come to my attention that they may not have taken place on the same day of the top image. Apologies for the error, however my point still stands.