Tag Archives: campaigns

Report from our May meeting

22 May

Taunton AI virtual meeting - MayIn tune with the times we held our second online virtual meeting this month, and followed up several Monthly Actions, influenced by the current crisis.

Covid-19 is exacerbating a domestic abuse crisis in the UK. Lockdown has seen a huge surge in calls (up 120%) to domestic abuse services and a reported increase in domestic abuse killings. We wrote letters and signed a petition on the Government’s duty to protect all its citizens as the Domestic Abuse Bill passes through Parliament.

We discussed and resolved to write letters on the case of Russian journalist Elena Milashina, who has received death threats from Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov after publishing an article about the spread of Covid-19 in Chechnya.

In India the crackdown on dissidents continues. Meeran Haider, Shifa-Ur-Rehman and Safoora Zargar, who is three months pregnant, have been arrested for peacefully protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a law that legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of the Constitution of India and international human rights law. Detained under the repressive Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the three can be held without charge for up to 180 days or even more, a duration far exceeding international standards. We were urged to write on their behalf to the Minister of Home Affairs.

We listened to detailed reports on the Middle East and North Africa (Ali Aarrass of Morocco has finally been released after 12 years) and on the Death Penalty.

The Death Penalty file makes wretched, depressing reading.  We were asked to email on behalf of Hew Yoo Wah of Malaysia, arrested at the age of 20 for drugs offences, and awaiting execution 14 years later. Likewise for Billy Joe Wardlow of Texas, arrested for murder at the age of 18, and still on death row 27 years later.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 9 June and will also be online.  If you would like to join us, please email amnestytaunton@gmail.com for details.

Amnesty campaign evaluations

2 Jul

‘Stop Torture’ and ‘My Body My Rights’ were two global Amnesty International campaigns during 2014-16. A recent external evaluation looked at the successes and failures of these two campaigns.

Overall, both campaigns helped to produce successful outcomes in some countries. It was felt that they contributed to significant improvements in a number of countries, for example, restrictive abortion laws or provisions were dropped or changed in Poland, Portugal and Spain and there were also clear examples of individuals having benefitted from these campaigns.

Results were less strong than expected in other ways, for example, with regard to their impact in changing national law or policy. The ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign had an important influence on public debates, especially in El Salvador and Ireland about abortion and in Burkina Faso about forced marriage. There is also anecdotal evidence that the ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign was effective at mobilising young people in countries like El Salvador and Burkino Faso.

Taunton Amnesty International ran a campaign stall at this time focussing on Early Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation. It generated a lot of interest and support among the people of Taunton who signed petitions and gave donations to help to continue Amnesty’s work; it’s good to feel that we were part of something so much bigger which had a very beneficial effect on the lives of young people in other parts of the world.

DIARY DATE: On Sat 1 September (10am–2pm) we will have an information stall in Taunton town centre (near Next) to highlight Amnesty’s campaign BRAVE, calling for the increased recognition and protection of Human Rights Defenders around the world.

Next Taunton Amnesty meeting Tuesday 12 July

6 Jul

against_hate_1200x600px2_0Our next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 12th July at 8pm at Taunton Quaker Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, TA1 4EP (there is nearby parking behind Boots). 

Join us to hear about our campaigns, human rights and the work of Amnesty International.

We hope to see you there.

Unity 5 released!

19 Apr

myanmar_smallerWe were delighted to hear that the Unity 5 journalists, for whom we started working in September 2015, were released on 17th April; they were among 83 political prisoners pardoned by Burma’s new President, Htin Kyaw, as part of the celebrations of the Burmese New Year.

Many thanks to everyone who has written letters and/or signed cards on their behalf.

Next Amnesty Taunton Group Meeting Tues 13th October

6 Oct
51EM9HKtRiL._SX270_Our next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 13th October at the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton, TA1 3DH.  8pm start.
Join us to hear about our campaigns – including our new prisoners of conscience in Burma – plus find out more about human rights and the work of Amnesty International.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Note: there is parking at the rear of the church; ring the bell at the rear entrance if there is no-one there to let you in. Check the board by the entrance door for which room we are in.

Torture: Change the story

26 Jun

hpcts_keyvisual1_cleanToday is the Global Day of Action in Support of Victims of Torture. Please take a moment to watch this animation and also sign petitions to help victims of torture.

Thank you.

Global Day of Action in Support of Victims of Torture

19 Jun

468x283mexicotorture2Friday 26th June is the annual Global Day of Action in Support of Victims of Torture.  Amnesty is currently running a major campaign focused on the use of torture. To support the Global Day of Action, please would you sign a petition demanding justice for victims of torture in Mexico?

Amnesty’s research shows that torture in Mexico has increased by 600% since 2003. Despite making the right noises, the Mexican authorities have failed to properly tackle the issue. Claims of torture are rarely properly investigated, and scant few perpetrators are ever brought to justice.

Prompt and impartial forensic medical examinations are a key step towards justice for victims. Such examinations rarely happen and when they do, they are often years after the claims of torture – by which point, many physical wounds have healed and the experts often fail to document the psychological signs of torture.

The fact that timely and impartial examinations rarely happen is a big contributor to the on-going culture of torturers getting away with it. Change this, and we will be on the road to justice. There’s increasing pressure on Mexico to sort this out and with a new Federal Attorney General in post we have a real chance of making a difference.

Please sign the petition here.

Thank you.

Report from our June meeting

15 Jun

The life of a 10-year-old girl, pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, is in danger in Paraguay. Despite the high risk this pregnancy poses, and her mother’s request, Paraguayan authorities have denied her access to a safe abortion. We signed letters to the Attorney General and President of Paraguay pleading for swift action in this distressing case.

We also signed letters to the Japanese authorities for Hakamado Iwao, the Japanese man who, until his provisional release last year, had been on death row for 46 years, living under the constant fear of execution, never knowing from one day to the next whether he was going to be put to death. This adds psychological torture to an already cruel and inhumane punishment. At 79, he now awaits a possible re-trial.

Dr. Tun Aung

Dr. Tun Aung

On a happier note, the Group were delighted to read the letter that Dr Tun Aung (left), our now released Burmese Prisoner of Conscience, had written to Amnesty:

‘When I was arbitrarily arrested and sentenced, Amnesty was the first organization I thought of and I hoped in some way it would work for my release….I started receiving some letters from Amnesty International members. It was the first flicker of light in my dark days…. The extent of the campaign and hundreds of personal letters written to me and my family made me very emotional and humbled.’

Our next meeting is at 8pm on Tuesday 14th July at the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. We look forward to seeing you there.

Keep The Act

20 May

imageDear Supporters,

The latest message from Amnesty International UK says:
“There are many different stories about the Human Rights Act. We’re being told that certain rights will be removed from criminals and terrorists. But taking rights away from anyone undermines your rights too; a fundamental principle of human rights is that they are universal, they apply to all humans. It cannot be down to the whim of the politicians of the day to say who rights apply to and who they do not. In order to show the unity and the power of the UK public, we need to send a powerful message to Justice Secretary Michael Gove and demand that he saves the Human Rights Act.”

Please can you go to http://keeptheact.uk/#signup-form to sign the online petition and then forward this link to your friends and contacts to ask them to do the same.

Many thanks for your support!

Report from our April meeting

28 Apr

advan_1920x1080pxOur monthly action focused on the Human Rights Act. Often attacked, rarely championed, and surrounded by myths and misconceptions, the HRA is vitally important. As the election approaches, Amnesty’s April Monthly Action is to make people aware of this. What, for example, is our prospective Parliamentary candidates’ attitude to the HRA?

The Act incorporates into English law most of the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention was created from the ashes of WW2, and inspired by the desire to protect individuals against those abuses happening again. It drew on British ideas – British lawyers drafted most of it, and the UK was the first to sign up to it in 1951. Don’t let those efforts go to waste!

Our meeting heard reports on, among others, the Mansoura Three in Egypt (3 young women caught up in the violence in 2014 – their appeal was being heard on April 12), letters written for those on Death Row in Pakistan, Belarus and Bahrain, and the possibility of a new Burmese Prisoner of Conscience.

At our May meeting Andy Moody, Amnesty’s China Country Co-ordinator, will be coming to speak on that country – do join us if you can. We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church.

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