Amnesty International will mark its 50th anniversary this weekend at its annual gathering in San Francisco. Friday’s kickoff event is a tribute to folksinger/songwriter/activist Joan Baez, recognizing her longstanding work on behalf of human rights.
POLITICO: What issues are most important to you right now?
Baez: I feel very strongly about immigration. That's something we need to work on. This country has so much and people say, "Oh, they're going to take [our] jobs away."... The fact is, there are very few American citizens who would be willing to do what the farm laborers are willing to do. ... To be a nonwelcoming society just seems bizarre to me.
POLITICO: Amnesty International has been very outspoken in denouncing military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, and just this month the president announced that those trials would resume for detainees, ending a two-year hiatus. What was your reaction when you heard that news?
Baez: It's a sin. There's no excuse for it in the first place. To have people detained there for nine years without having a trial boggles the imagination. I'm not sure why it stays open.