February 26, 2006

U2 receives human rights award in Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Irish rock band U2 received
Amnesty International's annual Ambassadors of Conscience award
on Sunday in Chile's national stadium, which was once a
notorious detention center for political prisoners.

Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet, herself a
political prisoner in the 1970s, presented the award to U2 at a
backstage ceremony prior to the band playing a concert.

Amnesty said it was recognizing band members Bono, the
Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, as well as their manager,
Paul McGuinness, for using their music and celebrity to
champion human rights causes for more than two decades.

In recent years Chile's courts have condemned and sentenced
dozens of former military officers and secret service agents
for human rights abuses committed during the 1970s and 1980s.
But the cases have been difficult to prove because of the
silence of most members of the military who were involved.

"There are still people in this country that are silent and
they are sick with their secrets ... And I would just stay to
them, this is the moment, the beginning of the new Chile to set
yourself free from those secrets and come forward," Bono said.

Bono earlier in the day met with outgoing President Ricardo
Lagos at the national palace and received the Pablo Neruda
artistic and cultural merit medal. U2 is on the South American
leg of a world tour.

(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Martinez)