Report from our May meeting

27 May

The main focus of this month’s meeting was a Zoom call, with other Groups, on the role of  AIUK North Africa Country Co-ordinators.  One of our own group works on North Africa, and AI’s Country Co-ordinators, all impressively well-informed volunteers, are extremely active in sending through updates and calls for actions.

They try to keep in close contact with Groups, updating and supporting; they produce an ezine every 3 months and make extensive use of social media.  They aim to produce a good spread of cases.  On the advocacy side they maintain links with the FCDO, who are respectful of the materials Amnesty produces.

We have been working on the case of Egyptian housing officer Ibrahim Ezz el Din  who, by happy chance, was released the day before our May meeting. We were especially pleased as two of our Group have organised a letter bombardment on his case, sending some 50 letters. We now plan to turn our attention to the campaign for Alaa Abdel Fattah, a human rights advocate who also has UK nationality.

We discussed Ukraine – there’s a letter for signature online urging the PM to help the people fleeing Ukraine, our response so far having been ‘slow, chaotic and insufficient’ – and other allied issues of migrant and refugee rights.  The Nationality and Borders Bill has been passed, ‘ripping up the Refugee Convention (a long-standing international agreement) and shamefully abandoning the responsibility it owes to refugees’.

Amnesty is launching a Right to Protest campaign next month (in part a response to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill) and continues to focus on the threat to human rights in our own country newly underlined by the new Bill of Rights announced in the Queen’s Speech.

We received reports from members on the Death Penalty campaign, Football Welcomes and India. Our India co-ordinator had prepared cards of support for us to send to members of the BK 15 group of political prisoners. We noted that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, had commented that the US are monitoring  the state of human rights in India.

The Death Penalty report contained the usual depressing list of those imprisoned for decades before execution, or of the mentally impaired executed – Singapore recently executed Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a man with an IQ of 67.

We’re planning a Taunton town centre stall on 25 June – more details next month.

 Our next meeting will be at 7.30pm on 14 June at the Quaker Meeting House, Bath Place.

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