Report from our March meeting

23 Mar

Our focus this month was on International Women’s Day. Amnesty’s ‘Women’s Action Network’ has now become the more direct ‘Amnesty Feminists’, and our actions were all focussed on women. AIUK writes: “This year, like every year, we are living in a world that is unfair and unsafe for women. We remain less free, less valued, less in charge of our own bodies purely by virtue of our gender. Women continue to be demonised and abused when we raise our voices, or demand recognition of our identities, or call ourselves ‘feminist’.”

We wrote a card of support to the women living in the dangerous, overcrowded and insanitary refugee camps in Greece; they have escaped from the dangers of such countries as Afghanistan only to find themselves in the unsafe dead end of these camps. We signed a petition to draw attention to the plight of Polish women on the Independence Day March in Warsaw. They were among those attacked by right wing extremists. Pressure has forced the authorities into resuming the investigation into that day’s violence. Finally, we signed a petition to draw attention to the plight of Human Rights lawyer Azza Soliman and other human rights defenders in Egypt. With much courage, Azza speaks out for victims of torture, arbitrary detention, domestic abuse, and rape. Having been arrested and interrogated, Azza has now been banned from travel and her assets frozen; she could face emprisonment.

We heard reports on Burma, on the welcome release (under onerous bail conditions) of Egyptian photo-journalist Shawkam and on the Death Penalty. There is an online action on the AIUK website on behalf of 5 Saudis on death row for a non-violent protest in 2015. Our death penalty coordinator shared details from a recent report on global use of the Death Penalty in 2017. There have been notable improvements in many countries, but there are still executions of children and those with mental issues. The numbers only cover published figures. Many executions are carried out in secret.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton.  We’re always delighted to welcome visitors. 

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