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Request to our supporters

12 Apr

We are working for two prisoners of conscience this month, both journalists, one from Morocco, one from Egypt, both imprisoned after grossly unfair trials for criticising their respective governments.

Please send a postcard to the prison in Tiflet where Omar Radi is being held (postage £2.20) and, more urgently, before the 17th April during Ramadan, to the President of Egypt, care of the Egyptian Embassy in London to appeal for the release of Alla Abdelfattah. All details in the photo above.

Many thanks!

April monthly meeting

9 Apr

Our next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 11th April at 7:30pm in the Quaker Meeting House, Taunton. All welcome! If you’d prefer to join us online, email: and we’ll send you a link to a Teams meeting.

Action for Omar Radi

23 Mar

Omar, a journalist from Morocco, was arrested and charged on July 29th 2020 with ‘harming national security’ and ‘rape’ because he had been investigating corruption by the authorities. He was sentenced after a grossly unfair trial to 6 years in prison.

He was awarded the 30th annual Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Prize for Independence in Dec 2021. His mother collected the award in Paris. A question about his case was put down in the House of Commons with the OFCD replying that they are monitoring his case.

In our Amnesty Group each member agreed to send 2 cards to the Minister of Justice in March and 2 to Omar’s prison in April.

Please can you help us by sending a card (£1.85 stamp) to:

Minister of Justice Ben Abdel Kader
Ministry of Justice
Mamounieh Square
P.O. Box 1015

Suggested message: We urge you to drop the espionage charges against Omar Radi and grant him a fair re-trial in line with international standards, for the ‘rape’ charge.


Update from our March meeting

21 Mar

We were updated through the AIUK Local Groups news on Amnesty activities round the country. A section on 2023 Priority Campaigns, including ‘Protect the Protest and Freedom of Expression’, and  ‘Ending Israeli Apartheid’ made disturbing reading. 

There are reports on the Central England Conference and the national Student Conference.  Speaking of Conferences, don’t forget that Amnesty’s South West Conference is in Exeter on 25 March, 10am-4pm,  at the Mint Methodist Church Centre.

We plan to attend the Pride march through Taunton on 22 July, with a stall in Vivary Park.  We’re hoping too for a presence at the BTC Freshers Fair in September.

Regretting the absence of  the actions we used to take for specified individual prisoners, one of our Group has initiated a letter writing programme for Moroccan Omar Radi, an activist and human rights journalist.  First arrested in 2019, and tried on what appear to be spurious charges, his sentence of 6 years imprisonment has recently been confirmed.  We wrote individually to the Moroccan Minister of Justice.

Our Middle East and North African specialist has been writing on behalf of Abderrahmane Zitout of Algeria, imprisoned and on hunger strike, and for Hassan al Rabea, threatened with extradition from Morocco to Saudi Arabia.  The case of Egyptian Alaa ab del Fattah is for the moment on hold while the best way forward is considered by Amnesty.

A newly rejoined member has begun work on Afghanistan. No surprise that women’s rights lead the field of concerns.  The UN Special Rapporteur has a report on this same subject.

We selected as Media of the Month the film Till, the dreadful story of a 14 year old black youth tortured, shot and lynched in Mississipi in 1955,  and his mother’s fight for justice.

Our next meeting will be at the Friends’ Meeting House in Bath Place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 11 April – hope to see .you there!

Write for Rights – today and Saturday

8 Dec

On Thursday 8th December from 10 until 2, people are invited to come to 14 George’s Need, TA1 2LX to sign supportive greetings cards to 3 prisoners of conscience, chosen from 10 in the Write for Rights booklet produced annually by Amnesty UK. We are supporting Aleksandra Skochilemko in jail in Russia for opposing the Ukraine invasion, Shahnawaz Chowdhury a Bangladeshi environmentalist facing jail for posting an opinion on Facebook and Dorgelesse Nguessan from Cameroon in prison for attending her first peaceful demonstration.

Mince pies and homemade cake, tea and coffee offered as reward for good deeds!

We will also have a Write for Rights stall in St Mary Magdalene Church this Saturday (10th December) from 10am until 1.45pm, and there is a lunchtime concert from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. Please pop along!

Report from our November meeting and Write for Rights

1 Dec

Cherry Bird, AIUK’s Country Co-ordinator for South East Asia, gave a talk on Sri Lanka, a once peaceful and prosperous country now mired in conflict. For decades there have been tensions between the majority Sinhalese, Buddhist population and the Tamil minority who are mainly Hindu.  The Tamils are poorer and have felt excluded – remember the Tamil Tigers?

The Civil War  lasted for 25 years, with a draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act enacted in 1979. Amnesty is concerned at the very high number of disappearances – estimated at 60,000.  More recently the country has been ruled, in turn, by the Rajapaska brothers, described as muscular populists. Their time has now passed (one has fled the country) and a new president elected – Ramil Wickremesinghe. He has a lot to sort out.

Cherry reminded us that there’s a Regional Conference in Exeter next March – details to follow.

Members updated the meeting on appeals for a number of political prisoners, most prominently Alaa Abdul Fattah, imprisoned in Egypt and on prolonged hunger strike which has come to a head during the COP 27 conference.  His fate is still uncertain.

As usual our own country co-ordinator for the Middle East and North Africa had been busy: she has written for Moroccan Rida Benotmane, charged with putting up critical Facebook posts. Another Moroccan, Fatimah Kassim is in solitary confinement and has now gone on hunger strike. Mohammed Ben Lima of Algeria has been sentenced to death in absentia, but is now being extradited by Spain.

Cherry made the point that writing to Embassies is an effective way of communicating.  Amnesty’s programme on Kashmir is about to be re-launched. What pressure can be brought to bear on India for their human rights violations in the area?  The UK has trade agreements with them.

Write for Rights

November/December bring us round to Amnesty’s annual letter writing campaign, Write for Rights.  We will have a stall in St Mary Magdalene Church in the town centre from 10am-2pm on Saturday 10 December, which, most appropriately, is Human Rights Day. We will break from 12.30 to 1.30 when the church has a lunchtime concert, Opera Muses.

There’ll be no other December meeting – it would be good to see you on Saturday 10 December, when we’ll have information about this year’s Write for Rights cases.  Come along and write a card to a prisoner of conscience.

Next meeting at the Quaker Meeting House will be Tuesday 10 Jan at 7.30pm.

Ibrahim Ezz el-Din

11 Mar

An Appeal to our Amnesty Supporters

Taunton Amnesty Group have taken on the case of Ibrahim Ezz el-Din, a young Egyptian researcher specialising in housing at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom. He was arrested in June 2019 and was ‘disappeared’ for 167 days until November 2019. He alleged he had been tortured. Charges were made with no evidence and in January 2021 a judge decided to release him. He was sent to a police station awaiting release where he was interviewed by the state security force (NSA) who decided to charge him with new offences. He is back in prison. This pattern is common in Egypt. He had twice attempted suicide but has been refused medical help.

Our first action as a group is to attempt a 3-month blitz of letters, each volunteer agreeing to write a letter (rather than an email), on the same day each month, for 3 months (3 letters in all). WOULD YOU HELP US? We would like to cover every day of the month with a letter. Please click here for more details or contact us at

February meeting and AGM report

13 Feb

We met in person for our AGM. Our Chair reported on another year shaped by the pandemic. However, he reflected that we had nonetheless managed to host a number of speakers on a good variety of topics: the Calais Jungle, Women living under Muslim Law, the Human Rights Act.  There were some notable initiatives, for example contacts with Taunton Town Football Club who joined forces with members of Amnesty Taunton to raise awareness about refugees.

Write for Rights was marked by resilient members of the Group running a stall in Taunton High Street during Storm Arwen – we have a photo taken after the gazebo cover had blown away!

No meaningful fund-raising has been possible during the pandemic and it has been hard to get publicity in the local press, which appears (due to its own pressures admittedly) to have given up on reporting on the activities of local groups.

We had a full Agenda for our regular meeting. After intensive research and legal analysis Amnesty has launched a new campaign to highlight Israel’s ‘crime against humanity of apartheid in its treatment of Palestinians’: ‘Demolish Apartheid, not Palestinian Homes.’

A new online action is planned against the Nationality and Borders Bill. ‘Amongst the many other areas of concern, the Bill seeks to largely shut down the UK’s asylum system and criminalise and punish refugees.’

A new activist-led campaign on Human Rights in Afghanistan is being launched; one  particular aim is to ensure that Afghan women’s rights remain in the public eye.

The Human Rights Act is under threat; the Government has launched a consultation and invites public comment. Amnesty is anxious its members should voice their views, and will shortly have a link on its website.  Links to all the above topics (and many others) are also available

A steady stream of Urgent Actions for North Africa continues.  As a group we are focusing on one particular case, Ibrahim Ezz El-Din, with the aim of blitzing the Egyptian authorities with letters, underlining that they are breaking their own laws in this detention.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 8 March at 7.30pm in the Quaker Meeting House, Taunton.

Report from our September meeting

28 Sep

A landmark meeting – after 18 months we dared to meet in person, and it did give a much better feeling than Zoom or Teams!

Aser Mohamed, then a child of 14, was first arrested, tortured and imprisoned in 2016 in Egypt.  He has since been sentenced to 10 years for membership of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. We asked for his immediate release and an investigation into his treatment.  We signed letters and created doves of peace to send on his behalf to the Egyptian Ambassador to London, and to President Al Sisi of Egypt.

The general situation in Egypt remains threatening.  12 men are facing the death penalty for actions in 2013; women influencers are being convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.  However a major piece of good news is that all charges against Human Rights lawyer Azza Soliman have been dropped, and her travel ban lifted.

We discussed the dangerous situation in Afghanistan, and how to mobilise opinion and effective action from the UK Government in rescuing and giving sanctuary to Afghans in danger.

In India there have been no developments in the BK16 human rights defenders, but a heartening message has come to the mid-Devon group from one of them, Vernon Gonsalves, a 61 year old writer, professor and trade union activist:

“Heartfelt thanks for the cards and letters of solidarity you have been sending. Words are indeed powerful means of support – and don’t we all need support always – though I must say we have never, through these 3 years, been allowed to feel alone. It’s persons like you who keep reminding us that the path towards justice may be long, but won’t be lonely.”

The 3 part ITV series on the Stephen Lawrence case was recommended  – ‘Stephen’, a drama about Doreen and Neville Lawrence’s crusade to achieve justice for their son. 

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House in Bath Place – visitors always welcome. Email: for further details. Follow us too on Facebook  and at

Report from our June meeting

19 Jun

14 to 20 June is Refugee Week, looking at the plight of refugees world wide. Its theme is ‘You cannot walk alone’, remembering Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech of 1963.

Amnesty are highlighting a few of its many aspects, continuing ‘Football Welcomes’, something we have been discussing here in Taunton.  On World Refugee Day, 20 June, there will be a vigil outside the Danish Embassy in London protesting against Denmark’s plan to deport refugees from Syria back to Damascus,  where they will be at high risk of arrest and torture. We were asked to write messages in support.

An ever-present stain on the world’s conscience is what has happened to Rohingya refugees who have fled from Myanmar (Burma) to Bangladesh.  We were asked to sign a petition urging the Bangladesh Government to ‘protect, respect and fulfill their rights’ and ensure their participation in the decisions that affect them.

Our North Africa co-ordinator has been writing letters on behalf of journalists, lawyers and other human right supporters in Egypt and Morocco, countries which stand out for their disregard of human rights.  Our India co-ordinator reported on online actions taking place via Twitter last weekend for the BK16 prisoners of conscience.

We were asked to put pressure on the US after the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. ‘As Israel’s closest ally, the US has a responsibility to pressure Israel to end and redress its systematic violations against Palestinians’.

Five of our members took part in the ‘Kill the Bill’ vigil on 5 June, to protest about the proposed powers to be given to the police under the planned Police Crime Courts and Sentencing bill, which it is feared will aim to silence protest.

Our Books of the Month are by human rights lawyer Philippe Sands – East West Street and The Ratline.

Our next online meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 13 July – all are welcome.  Email for details.

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