Tag Archives: report

Report from our April meeting

24 Apr

Distant_but_together_-_web_copyDespite the current lockdown measures we were able to hold a virtual meeting from our own homes, and, thanks to the system set up, managed to communicate successfully.

Amnesty UK have suggested a number of supportive remote actions we could take. Solidarity is at the heart of much of what Amnesty does, and they are calling for our support in getting the Government to protect those at particSUMW_-_placardsular risk from Covid-19: women who are victims of domestic abuse, refugees and migrants, and, crucially, essential workers who need proper support and protective equipment.

Ben Grant gave a presentation on “Families Together”, based on the exhibition in Taunton Library (illustrated with drawings by children from Parkfield School), based on the premise that Refugee Children should be allowed to sponsor their families to join them in the UK. In 2018 a Bill to achieve this was passed by a resounding majority of 131; Taunton’s MP, Rebecca Pow, took part but, sadly, filibustered against it.  The Bill was lost in the Brexit manoeuverings, but there is now a simple Bill to rectify the position in the House of Lords. The UK’s current position is in contravention of international law.

We heard reports on the Middle East and North Africa, the Death Penalty and Amnesty Feminists.

Alun gave a report on India; the BK9 (9 activists fighting for the rights of the poorest and most marginalised communities in the country) have become the BK11; letters and emails have been written to the authorities on their behalf.

Driven by events, “La Peste” by Albert Camus was chosen as Book of the Month. Many have interpreted it as an allegorical representation of French Resistance to Nazi occupation in WW2; today we may have another take on it – surely the hallmark of a great work of art.

Our next meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 12 May via video link. If you would like to join us, please email amnestytaunton@gmail.com

 

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.

Report from our October meeting

23 Oct

It’s now more than 50 years since the 6 day war of 1967 when, in six days of fighting, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of East Jerusalem, both previously under Jordanian rule. By the time the United Nations cease-fire took effect on June 11, Israel had more than doubled its size.

The illegal Israeli settlements that have since encroached on Palestinian land were the subject of the training session given to us by Susan Mew of the Minehead Group. Amnesty is aiming to put pressure on the UK Government to ban goods from these illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. They have caused much distress among the Palestinians whose land has been illegally taken over.This is a difficult and contentious issue which needs sensitive handling.

Amnesty wants to put pressure on our MPs to encourage to Government to be more active in its support for BRAVE Human Rights Defenders world wide.

We heard reports from members working on the Middle East (we signed letters on the case of Amal Fathy of Egypt), the Death Penalty, Burma (a wretched picture, with the two Reuters journalists now sentenced after reporting on a massacre of Rohingya men by the Burmese military) and the Women’s Network.

We discussed our Write for Rights Day (during the Christmas Season we write, and encourage others to do so too, to a selection of men and women imprisoned world wide); St Mary’s Church, Hammet Street, Taunton are kindly welcoming us to have our Write for Rights stall at their Saturday Coffee Morning on 8th December from 10am–2pm.

There is an Anne Frank Exhibition at The Brewhouse until the end of November.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 13th November at 7.30 in the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place. Do come and join us.

Report from our January meeting

15 Jan

WriteforRights2017.jpgEvery year, thousands of people in the UK write letters in solidarity with those suffering human rights abuses around the world as part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.

We were delighted to be able to host another Write for Rights event in December, by kind permission of St Mary’s Church, Taunton. Among the people we talked to we were happy to welcome the Mayor of Taunton Deane, Hazel Prior-Sankey and Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, who were both positive and supportive. We posted off some 60 cards and letters to Prisoners of Conscience and their supporters.

At our January meeting we heard members’ reports and discussed future initiatives. We spent some time considering international issues and the effects of Amnesty’s work. Our ‘I Welcome’ Exhibition on refugees was staged in Taunton Library for a week last autumn; it’s hoped it will be on show at The Brewhouse in spring, and at Blundells School, Tiverton.

Further disquieting reports flood out from Myanmar (Burma) about the horrific treatment of the Rohingya people; the UN’s Special Rapporteur has been banned from visiting the country.

Our next meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 13th February at The Friends’ Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton; visitors are always welcome.

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.

Torture In 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises

29 May

Electric shocks. Beatings. Rape. Humiliation. Mock executions. Burning. Sleep deprivation. Water torture. Long hours in contorted positions. Use of pincers, drugs, and dogs.

The very words sound like the stuff of nightmares. But every day and across every region of the world, these unimaginable horrors are the reality for countless men, women and children.

Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Click here to read the report from Amnesty USA

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