Tag Archives: Somerset

Report from our October meeting

15 Oct

Amnesty_1200x628_0FAMILIES TOGETHER  We discussed how best to bring this campaign home to people.  More than half of the world’s refugees are children;  Amnesty is asking that child refugees in the UK have the right to sponsor their close family to join them, so they can rebuild their lives together, and be helped to integrate in their new community.  Family and togetherness are at the heart of this campaign.

We heard reports on the Death Penalty. We signed letters to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his Ambassador in this country on behalf of a father and son, Ali Nasser Ali Jarallah and Abdulhai Ali Nasser Ali Jarallah who were forcibly disappeared on a journey through Saudi Arabia.

We signed letters to President el-Sisi on behalf of Aser Mohamed of Egypt, 14 when arrested in 2016 and tortured into a ‘confession’; he’s still in pre-trial detention, and on behalf of Ramy Shaath, a political activist arbitrarily arrested this July and still untried.

The time for Amnesty’s Write for Rights is approaching. Sometimes a letter can change someone’s life: that’s the premise of Write for Rights, Amnesty’s global letter and card writing campaign on behalf of those whose human rights are being attacked. This year our focus is on children and young people.

With the kind permission of the Church, Amnesty Taunton will be at St Mary’s, Hammett Street on 30 November (10am-2pm) with cards for you to sign.  There is plenty going on there that Saturday: a Tower Open Day, an Advent Fair in the Church and a Christmas Festival in Hammett Street.  We hope to see you there!

Our chosen book of the month is “Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics”, Jonathan Sumption’s 2019 Reith Lectures, a book very pertinent to our times.

We meet at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month (excluding December) at the Friends Meeting House in Bath Place. Visitors are always welcome. 

Amnesty Feminists update

18 Sep

EGYPT: The Giza prosecution office has ordered the release on bail of a 15 year old girl who was arrested after stabbing a microbus driver who attempted to rape her. In July, Amira was lured to Al-Ayat by a microbus driver, her boyfriend and another man and then offered a lift home by the driver after the other commuters got out. The driver attacked Amira with a knife and attempted to rape her so she stabbed him 14 times in self-defence. Reuters has stated that Egypt is the worst place in the world to be a woman – women who do speak out about sexual harassment are often punished by authorities – in 2018, Amal Fathy was sentenced to prison after posting a video on FB calling out sexual harassment.

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: 25th November – marks the start of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. AI advocates for the full decriminalisation of sex work because if offers a better framework to protect the human rights of sex workers.

dometic-abuse-bill-webUK – DOMESTIC ABUSE BILL – not fit for purpose. Supposed to ‘transform’ our approach to domestic abuse’, it leaves some of the most marginalised women behind. Migrant women are often already isolated in society. They can face language barriers, racial discrimination and many are on low-income jobs. Help support migrant women and join call on the government to make sure the new Domestic Abuse Bill doesn’t discriminate against migrant women. (ON-LINE PETITION)

ON-LINE ABUSE: widespread in the UK with one if five women having suffered online abuse or harassment, latest research has discovered.

ECUADOR: Amazonian Women Patricia Gualinga, Nema Grefa, Salome Aranda and Margoth Escobar are putting their lives on the line every day protecting the world’s largest rainforest. In doing so, they are taking a stand against climate change, while defying huge political and economic interest linked to extractive industries in Indigenous territories. In 2018, unidentified attackers targeted them in a series of attacks and death threats. For more than a year Ecuador’s authorities have failed to protect them or identify their attackers. In Ecuador, dozens of Amazonian Women work together to defend the Amazon, home to hundreds of Indigenous communities, thousands of species and half of the world’s rainforests. Large-scale economic activities such as oil, mining and logging often pose a threat to the environment and to people’s rights.

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!

Women’s Human Rights news

5 Nov

Tep-Vanny-photo-credit-Amnesty-UK-via-TwitterGOOD NEWS – TEP VANNY IS FREE!

Cambodian land rights defender Tep Vanny has received a royal pardon and is free from prison. Tep was detained for two years for peacefully protesting against the forced eviction of her community from Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh. A luxury tourist development on the site has seen thousands of families lose their homes.

SAUDI ARABIA – FREE THE WOMEN WHO FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO DRIVE

However, in Saudi Arabia, the crackdown on women’s human rights defenders continues. The month, Human Rights Watch report that human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham is amongst a group of rights defenders facing the death penalty. This comes as part of the Saudi government’s terrorism tribunal – but these women are being held on charges solely relating to peaceful activism. None the less, women who led the fight for women’s right to drive remain imprisoned and branded as ‘traitors’. Thirteen activists remain detained without charge. Help to achieve their release by taking action here.

IRAN – HELP GET NAZANIN HOME

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British mother serving a five – year prison sentence in Iran – but she hasn’t committed any crime She was recently released on a three day leave from prison to visit her family – but has now, crushingly, been returned to prison. Nazanin has done nothing wrong. Help secure her freedom by signing Amnesty’s on-line petition here.

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.

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