Tag Archives: Egypt

Report from our April meeting

18 Apr

DRfQwnLX4AAYiqW.jpgOrdinary people, extraordinary achievements: Susan Mew of the Minehead Group came to talk to us about Amnesty’s BRAVE campaign. Launched last year, this aims to strengthen the recognition and protection of human rights defenders around the world. Who are they? A Human Rights Defender is a person who individually or with others acts to defend and promote human rights at local, national or international levels, using non-violent means.

People like lawyer Azza Soliman who defends victims of torture, arbitrary detention, domestic abuse and rape in Egypt, and is now facing three trumped up charges, carrying a possible sentence of 25 years.

People like Tep Vanny of Cambodia, a housing rights activist, jailed in 2016 for supporting people at risk of forced eviction.

Or people like Sakris Kupila, a medical student in Finland who is a transgender activist, denied legal recognition. “I dream of the day when I can truly feel that this world is for people like me, too. I’ll stop when this fight is over.”

We heard reports from Poland about how women’s rights are being affected by increasingly restrictive abortion laws; from Myanmar (Burma) on the continuing dire straights of the Rohingya people, and about action on behalf of Ali Arras and photo journalist Shawkam of Egypt.

Amnesty’s “I Welcome” Photo Exhibition is to be displayed at Richard Huish College in the near future, and a Great Get Together picnic, with a Seventies theme, is planned for 23 June at 5pm in Long Run Meadow, Taunton. Save the date!

Our next meeeting is on Tuesday 8th May at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton – all are welcome.

Report from our September meeting

19 Sep

Palestine2For 50 years Israel has occupied Palestinian land, forcing Palestinians from their homes and illegally using that land to house Israeli settlers and to produce millions of pounds worth of products that are sold around the world, including in UK markets. We petitioned the Foreign Secretary to ban the sale of Israeli settlement products in the UK, and to stop UK companies operating in settlements or trading in settlement goods.

We discussed Amnesty’s “I Welcome” campaign for refugees. Amnesty has put together a photo exhibition covering refugees past and present. We plan to show this exhibition at a number of venues in the Taunton area in the next few weeks, including Taunton Library from 16th October. It is also available online, with a commentary by actress (and Amnesty’s UK Ambassador) Juliet Stevenson. We will have a stall, focussing on refugees, at the Tacchi Morris Centre on 27th September when they show Twist, a modern, refugee directed take on Dickens’ novel.

We signed letters for prisoners in Egypt (Mahmoud Abu Zeid, a photo journalist, part of a mass trial of 738 people, whose hearing had been adjourned for the 35th time) and for two Ukrainians condemned to death. The number of countries rejecting the death penalty has risen in the last few years from 16 to 104 – but in the Maldives it has been resumed.

We discussed again the extremely worrying state of affairs in Myanmar (Burma) where Muslim minority Rohingya have been persecuted and forced to flee in Rhakine state. Questions over the stance of leader Aung San Sui Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, remain of international concern.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 10th October at 7.30pm in the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. All welcome!

Report from our March meeting

23 Mar

Keep Calm and Support AmnestyHelp turn the lights back on in Syria and bring its people out of darkness!

For the fourth anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict Amnesty International, along with many other international NGOs, is pressing to prioritise a political solution with human rights at its heart. For our March Monthly Action, we’ve been asked to  plan a light-filled vigil to mark the occasion. Find out more about this campaign at www.withsyria.com.

This month Amnesty member Nicky Saunter, CEO of Transform, gave a thought-provoking talk about their work. Transform is a charitable think tank that campaigns for the legal regulation of drugs both in the UK and internationally; currently drugs are criminalised, but there is no system of regulation. The human rights implications are considerable. Prohibition cannot be judged a success on any front. Handing control of the drug trade to organised criminals has had disastrous consequences across the globe. Transform therefore works to get drugs under control by advocating for strict regulation of all aspects of the trade.

We also signed letters on behalf of our Mansoor University cases in Egypt; Death Penalty letters to Florida for a case where key testimony has been retracted; the long-running case of Hakamada Iwao in Japan, who could be put back on Death Row; and on behalf of Liu Ping in China, who was imprisoned for campaigning for senior officials to reveal the sources of their wealth.

Members of the Group recently met with Rachel Gilmour, prospective Taunton parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats, to hear her views, especially on issues that concern Amnesty; we’ve already met Conservative and Labour candidates.

Our next meeting is Tuesday 14th April at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. We’re always delighted to welcome newcomers.

Report from our February meeting

23 Feb

197010_mansoura_women1200The meeting began with the Taunton Group’s AGM; we decided which of Amnesty’s campaigns we should focus on this year. These include Stop Torture and the Death Penalty, and a focus on country campaigns: a new Burmese prisoner of conscience now that Dr Tun Aung has been released, a new interest in China, and a continuation of our work for the Mansoura Three in Egypt (pictured). We signed letters to the Egyptian authorities on behalf of these three women who were caught up in protests in 2014 and face years behind bars.

This month’s group action took an ironic look at typical Valentine’s Day messages against the background of the ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign. Being able to make our own decisions about our health, body and sexual life is a basic human right. Yet all over the world, people are persecuted for making these choices – or prevented from doing so at all.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. Everyone is most welcome to join us.

Next Taunton Amnesty Group Meeting Tues 10th February

3 Feb
178228-My Body My Rights briefingOur next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 10th February at the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton, TA1 3DH.  8pm start.
All are most welcome to join us for campaign updates, news and actions and to find out more about human rights and the work of Amnesty International. Our monthly action is for the My Body My Rights campaign and we’ll also
be discussing our casefile on the Mansoura women in Egypt.
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.
We look forward to seeing you there.

Report from our October meeting

23 Oct

 

egyptwomenNeil Guild, prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for Taunton, was our speaker this month (Rebecca Pow, Conservative Parliamentary candidate, spoke in May).   In a very interesting talk he sketched in his life so far: University, Army, service in Iraq, Civil Service, and then moved on to how these experiences had shaped his current concerns, with particular reference to those issues that concern Amnesty.

This month’s Action is a call for Asylum Support rates to be increased; currently asylum seekers (who are not allowed to work) receive 50% of Income Support – about £7 a day for all living expenses outside accommodation. This is not enough to live on, and those left thus stranded may resort to illegal work, prostitution and begging.

Asylum seekers get a terrible press in the UK. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not entitled to council housing. An increase in support rates in other countries has not led to an increase in applicants there. The UK is only fourth in popularity among asylum seekers – Germany, France and Sweden all receive higher numbers of applicants.

We were asked to write to our MPs on the issue.

We now have prisoners of conscience in Egypt: 3 Egyptian women from Mansoor University, imprisoned for peaceful protest. We signed letters to President el-Sisi on their behalf, as we did for a number on Death Row in the US and other countries.

There is no further news about Dr Tun Aung, our prisoner of conscience in Burma; 3000 prisoners were released in Burma last week (in advance of the ASEAN conference), but only 3 of them were political prisoners.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. Do join us there, and follow us on our website: amnestytaunton.wordpress.com

Read all about our September 2014 meeting here…

28 Sep

Torture is out of control in Mexico – there’s been a 600% rise in cases of torture and ill-treatment over the last 10 years. Think of Claudia Medina Tamariz, dragged from her home by marines in the middle of the night, tortured with electric shocks, sexually assaulted and left tied to a chair in the scorching afternoon heat.

Over 2 years later, no investigation of Claudia’s complaint has been made. Since last year Amnesty International has been in frequent contact with the authorities in Mexico, and its recommendations verbally welcomed – but action has yet to be taken.

We signed letters on behalf of those imprisoned or persecuted in Libya, Morocco, Yemen, and Egypt, including human rights activist Yara Sallam.

With regret we said goodbye to Laura, who’s returning to the Midlands. As well as campaigning for those imprisoned or persecuted in the Middle East and North Africa, Laura has set up this WordPress blog for us.

We’re most grateful to local musician Damian Clarke who, in support of Amnesty International, gave a very entertaining lunchtime fundraiser concert to a sizeable audience in St John’s Church on September 12. 

At our October meeting Neil Guild, the prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for Taunton, will be coming to talk to us about his stance on human rights issues. We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church – all are most welcome.

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