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John Lennon's Music to Help Darfur

The human rights group Amnesty International has teamed up with John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, to raise awareness and money for the victims of the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.  Ono was recently on hand at Amnesty's headquarters in London to launch the release of a special double CD set of Lennon's post-Beatles songs,  "Make Some Noise - Instant Karma." Ono donated the rights to the music to Amnesty and the album features some of the world's top artists.  For VOA, Mandy Clark reports from London.

"To present Yoko with a platinum disk for sales of 'Instant Karma - Make Some Noise' the Amnesty campaign to save Darfur" was the introduction at the presentation ceremony.

A show of thanks to the woman who made the campaign possible and a celebration of the success of the original album. It came out in June.  Ono said her decision to donate the rights to the music is what Lennon would have wanted. "I will accept this on behalf of myself and John Lennon who really, had an incredible feeling for the world and he wanted to see the world become better for all of us."

The album already has raised more than a million dollars, and it is expected to raise millions more after the special edition box set goes on sale October 9th. It includes all of the original double CD tracks, plus previously unreleased material.

More than 50 artists are involved in the project, including the Black Eyed Peas, U2, REM and Avril Lavigne. The goal -- to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 and involves rebel groups, government troops and government-backed Arab militias known as Janjaweed.  The rebels accuse Khartoum of ignoring the impoverished south and west of the country.

The United Nations estimates the fighting has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than two million others.The U.N. says that by now more than four million people rely on humanitarian aid.

Amnesty International says it wants the U.N. to take greater action to protect civilians and to ensure that aid is delivered safely.

Irene Khan is the secretary general of Amnesty International. She says she believes the 'Instant Karma' album can be used as an instrument to peace. "I hope that through projects like 'Instant Karma and Make Some Noise' we will generate hope, because this is all about bringing hope to people. They will fight for the future, they will stand up. I have seen activists in Sudan, in the midst of all that, still standing up. They have courage. We have to give them hope that we will stand with them and that is what Yoko, your gift to Amnesty did -- it gave hope to many people around the world."

Singer Peter Gabriel also was in London to support the campaign.  He says he still believes the message that one person can make a difference is important.

"It is an old message but it still works for me. I think Amnesty has been built on this child-like premise that writing a letter might make a difference and clearly many people have been rescued from jail and torture on that very idealistic, basic belief. So, these things can work."

The special album is being released on October 9th, on what would have been John Lennon's 67th birthday. He died in 1980 after a gunman shot him outside his New York apartment building.

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