Tag Archives: group

Report from our July meeting

31 Jul

amnesty group (1)Our July meeting was held virtually – the new normal! We were joined by Helen Clarke of AIUK, Country Coordinator for Turkey, to describe her work, which is to keep abreast of all that is going on in Turkey from a Human Rights point of view and translate this into information and action.

She outlined some current cases in Turkey: Taner Kilic, the ex-head of AI Turkey was sentenced this month to 6 years in prison; Eren Kiskin, another human rights activist, one of Amnesty’s Individuals at Risk, threatened and victimized; writer Ahmet Altan who had emerged from prison after a sentence of some years, only to be re-arrested the following day on a different charge and returned to prison.

This month’s actions are all online.  We were asked to sign appeals on a variety of subjects: a call for social media companies to show more restraint and sensitivity in the images they show of violent events;  an appeal for urgent care for dual British-Iranian national Anoosheh Ashoori serving a lengthy prison sentence after a grossly unfair trial, and an appeal to Russia to vote at the Security Council for renewal of vital cross-border aid for refugees in north-west  Syria.

We heard reports from members of work on India, Egypt and the death penalty. Member Ben Grant had had a discussion with Taunton MP Rebecca Pow focusing on the Families Together campaign, and pointing out the contradictions in the Government’s position on child refugees.

Our Book of the Month is No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus prison by Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish-Iranian journalist asylum seeker imprisoned for 4 years on Christmas Island by the Australian Government.

Our next regular meeting (still virtual) will be at 7.30pm on Tuesday 8 September. Email amnestytaunton@gmail.com if you’d like to join us.

Report from our June meeting

30 Jun

As with so many of us at present, all our actions and meetings have been at a distance.  Our June meeting was again a virtual one.

EJ4r7LCXkAAldlcThis month’s action was for Pakistani human rights defender and researcher Muhammad Idris Khattak (pictured) who was ‘disappeared’ in November 2019.  Nothing has been heard of him since, and his family is extremely concerned for his well-being – he is a diabetic needing daily medication, and at risk of course from Covid-19. The disappeared are at risk of torture and even death. If they are released, the physical and psychological scars endure. Disappearances are a tool of terror that strikes not just individuals or families, but entire societies. Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law and, if committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack, they constitute a crime against humanity. We emailed Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on his behalf; his government promised to criminalise enforced disappearances, but nothing has been done.

We were asked to sign petitions highlighting the 120% increase in reports of  domestic abuse under lockdown; the difficulty accessing abortion under lockdown for women in Northern Ireland, and the gross 38 year sentence and 148 lashes imposed on Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh for her work defending women’s human rights.

We heard reports on the Middle East and North Africa, the Death Penalty and India, and discussed the Black Lives Matter protests.

Our Book of the Month is Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive by human rights lawyer Philippe Sands.

Our next meeting will be a virtual one on 14 July at 7.30pm; Helen Clarke of AIUK will talk on the human rights situation in Turkey. Email amnestytaunton@gmail.com if you would like to join us.

Amnesty Taunton meeting: Tuesday 10 March

9 Mar

Keep Calm and Support AmnestyOur next meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 10 March at the Quaker Meeting Rooms, Bath Place, Taunton. It will include a workshop on Amnesty and Climate Change led by our Amnesty Trainer Susan Mew.

We hope to see you there.

Report from our January meeting

28 Jan

Write for Rights: our stall in St Mary’s at the end of November generated interest among the plethora of other events going on that day.  We collected nearly £80 for AI, and received a generous donation from Taunton School as a result of our visit to them – we hope to maintain that contact.

At our January meeting our coordinator for India filled us in on the Kashmir issue, and the protests about the new citizenship changes and restrictions on Muslims.

Our North Africa coordinator had written a letter for us to sign on behalf of Assa Mohammed in Egypt, asking that his sentence be quashed.

Amnesty International had also asked her to keep up the pressure on behalf of Ali Arras of Morocco, who should be released on 2 April. She reminded us that Ali, a Belgian-Moroccan national, was forcibly returned to Morocco in 2010 from Spain, where he was caring for his ageing father. He was tortured for 12 days in a secret detention centre and afterwards confessed to using weapons illegally and supporting a terrorist group. He has been in prison since then.

We discussed future actions, particularly an event on ‘Families Together’ to highlight the plight of refugee children in this country who are again (contrary to the Government’s previous undertaking) being denied the right to re-build a family life.

Our selected Book of the Month is First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung on her experiences in the Cambodian killing fields.

We meet at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month in the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton (next meeting 11 Feb). We’re always delighted to welcome visitors.

Amnesty Taunton meeting Tuesday 14 January

9 Jan

Keep Calm and Support Amnesty

Please join us at our first meeting of 2020, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 14 January in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton.

The meeting will include a short talk by Alex Melbourne providing an introduction to the humanitarian and human rights situation in South Sudan.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Report from our July meeting

17 Jul

June19 stall.jpgTaunton Amnesty had a stall in the Town Centre on 29 June to raise awareness of LGBT rights and the Death Penalty. We discussed these issues with passers by, handed out leaflets and collected signatures for an LGBT petition defending Pride marches in Turkey. We were very glad to welcome the Mayor, Francesca Smith, and Federica Smith-Roberts, the Leader of the District Council to our stall (pictured); our MP, Rebecca Pow, had planned to visit but sadly had to decline due to her recent bereavement.

We heard reports from our group co-ordinators for the Middle East and North Africa, and for India. We signed a letter to the Egyptian authorities urging the release of Aser Mohamed, a prisoner of conscience, who had signed a confession under torture in 2016 when only 14 years old in defiance of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For India, Amnesty has an Urgent Action Campaign to support Dalit Human Rights Defenders the ‘Bhima Koregaon 9’. These are nine people committed to the causes of the poorest and most marginalised communities in the country, like Dalits and Adivasis. Far from being anti-national as they have been branded, the Bhima Koregaon 9 are for many, national heroes.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing the 5 Big Questions that Amnesty believes we must look at to consider how we should develop in the future. Check this out at nextstrategy.amnesty.org.

We don’t meet in August, but at the 10 September meeting Cherry Bird of the Minehead Group will talk on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. We are always delighted to welcome visitors to our meetings; we meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place.

Report from our April meeting

15 Apr

This month we discussed and wrote letters for a variety of Prisoners of Conscience.  Every month we hear of cases in Egypt.  This month it’s an Egyptian musician Rami Sidky who has prominence. In May 2018, Egyptian authorities arrested him at Cairo International Airport. He was detained in connection with a satirical music video, which had gone viral ahead of the March 2018 presidential elections, and appeared to poke fun at President El-Sisi. According to his lawyer, Rami Sidky took no part in writing, producing or performing this, but along with his co-defendants is facing the trumped-up charges of ‘membership of a terrorist group’ and ‘insulting the president’.

We wrote too for the even worse case of Nasrin Sotoudeh (pictured), an Iranian Human Rights lawyer imprisoned for 38 years and sentenced to 148 lashes.  She has dedicated her life to peaceful human rights work.  This extraordinarily harsh sentence (a death sentence in fact if carried out) suggests the authorities in Iran are stepping up their repression.

A report from our Death Penalty coordinator highlighted the fact that in California a moratorium has been called on the DP by the State’s governor.  In Malaysia there was hope the DP would be completely repealed, but at least the mandatory element of it has been removed.

Our Book of the Month is “I Will Never See the World Again”, a wonderful memoir about his arrest, captivity and urge to create by imprisoned Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan; his sentence ‘life without parole’.

We meet at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place.  Visitors are always very welcome.

Taunton Amnesty meeting Tuesday 12th March

5 Mar
Keep Calm and Support Amnesty

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 12th March at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton from 7.30-9.30pm (nearby parking behind Boots).

All welcome – you do not need to be a member of Amnesty International to come along to our meetings. Hope to see you there!

Write for Rights campaign 2018

13 Dec

AI 8 Dec 2018Our meeting in December was transformed into a Write for Rights event, held by kind permission at St Mary’s Church, Taunton during their Saturday Coffee Morning on 8th December.

Every December Amnesty International worldwide picks 12 people or causes who are suffering persecution in some form, and writes to them and to the authorities in their country. Last year people in 208 countries sent 5.5 million letters, cards, emails and social media posts. More than 430,000 helped to protect Chinese housing activist Ni Yulan; nearly 875,000 demanded the release of 11 human rights activists in Turkey – all are now free!

On Saturday visitors, including the Mayor of Taunton and her consort, came to our stall and signed cards. This year’s campaign supports women all around the world who do extraordinary things to protect human rights, including Pavitri Manjhi, harassed for standing up to big business in India; Atena Daemi, jailed for speaking out against the death penalty in Iran; and Seyi Akiwowow, bombarded with online abuse for speaking up in the UK.

If you’d like to write to any of the people in this year’s Write for Rights campaign you’ll find all the details here.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place – all are welcome.

Taunton Amnesty meeting Tuesday 13th November

6 Nov

https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-48324262-63374541021-1-originalOur next meeting is on Tuesday 13th November at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton from 7.30-9.30pm (nearby parking behind Boots).

All welcome – you do not need to be a member of Amnesty International to come along to our meetings.

We don’t have a meeting in December but instead will hold a Write for Rights stall at St Mary Magdalene Church, Hammet Street, Taunton on 8th December from 10am–2pm. Please come along and sign a card for imprisoned human rights defenders around the world.

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