Tag Archives: take action

Report from our October meeting

19 Oct
Rob Wenham of Taunton Town Football Club joining forces with members of Amnesty Taunton to raise awareness about refugees.

AIUK is extremely concerned about the assault on human rights – in our own country. A week of action for Human Rights in the UK is planned. The very restrictive Policing Bill is being drafted; the Human Rights Act is under review,  and the Nationality and Borders Bill is now back in the House of Commons – ‘a cruel piece of legislation which, if enforced, would largely shut down the UK asylum system…’.

But here in Taunton we do have some reasons to be glad, as Amnesty’s Welcome Refugees has been actively endorsed.  Taunton Town Football Club’s Community Engagement Project kicked off in September.  “It has a variety of aims which include promoting and encouraging health, fitness, and well-being, and forming community links with individuals and groups within the immediate local community and across the wider Taunton area.” One of those groups is Amnesty; two of our members were invited to last weekend’s game and we’ve been greatly encouraged by the positive and welcoming atmosphere of the project.

Demand justice for the El Hiblu 3! We signed a petition to the Maltese Government asking for the release of three African teenagers from Libya, falsely accused of hijacking a rescue ship, the El Hiblu.

We heard reports from those responsible for our Campaigns: the usual tide of wretched treatment for political prisoners in Morocco and Egypt; two men executed in the US, one having been in a Texas gaol for 28 years; 246 executions in Iran last year; a student anti-monarchy protester, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul jailed and on hunger strike in Thailand.

Our Media of the Month is ‘Ridley Road’, a BBC drama about the fight of the Jewish community against the resurgence of English fascism in 1960’s London. 

Our next meeting will be on 9 November at the Quaker Meeting House in Bath Place.  Follow us too on Facebook and amnestytaunton.com.  Visitors are always welcome.

Report from our September meeting

28 Sep

A landmark meeting – after 18 months we dared to meet in person, and it did give a much better feeling than Zoom or Teams!

Aser Mohamed, then a child of 14, was first arrested, tortured and imprisoned in 2016 in Egypt.  He has since been sentenced to 10 years for membership of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. We asked for his immediate release and an investigation into his treatment.  We signed letters and created doves of peace to send on his behalf to the Egyptian Ambassador to London, and to President Al Sisi of Egypt.

The general situation in Egypt remains threatening.  12 men are facing the death penalty for actions in 2013; women influencers are being convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.  However a major piece of good news is that all charges against Human Rights lawyer Azza Soliman have been dropped, and her travel ban lifted.

We discussed the dangerous situation in Afghanistan, and how to mobilise opinion and effective action from the UK Government in rescuing and giving sanctuary to Afghans in danger.

In India there have been no developments in the BK16 human rights defenders, but a heartening message has come to the mid-Devon group from one of them, Vernon Gonsalves, a 61 year old writer, professor and trade union activist:

“Heartfelt thanks for the cards and letters of solidarity you have been sending. Words are indeed powerful means of support – and don’t we all need support always – though I must say we have never, through these 3 years, been allowed to feel alone. It’s persons like you who keep reminding us that the path towards justice may be long, but won’t be lonely.”

The 3 part ITV series on the Stephen Lawrence case was recommended  – ‘Stephen’, a drama about Doreen and Neville Lawrence’s crusade to achieve justice for their son. 

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House in Bath Place – visitors always welcome. Email: amnestytaunton@gmail.com for further details. Follow us too on Facebook  and at amnestytaunton.com

Report from our July meeting

26 Jul

DSCF3275Brazilian Jorge Lazaro has seen two of his children, Ricardo and Enio, murdered in the last 5 years and has been fighting for justice ever since. Ricardo and Enio were young black men. Every year thousands of young black men are murdered throughout Brazil – killed by military police, by death squads and militias with links to the police.

We wrote to the State Governor, Jacques Wagner and to Joaquim Barbosa, President of the National Council of Justice calling on them for a fair and timely investigation into these killings, and support for Jorge Lazaro and his family.

We were pleased to get a letter from Rebecca Pow MP supporting our stall on Castle Green on 16 July, highlighting the issues of Female Genital Mutilation and Early Forced Marriage, with particular reference to Burkino Faso and Sierra Leone. The event was very successful, raising £178.90 in donations from the public; this has since been doubled by the UK government and so the sum of £357.80 has been sent to Amnesty International UK to support its work in this area. We are very grateful to everyone who made donations and also signed a petition concerning these issues.

We remembered Jo Cox MP, a supporter of Amnesty, murdered in a hate crime last month, and wrote to our local District Councils urging them to make a stand against recent rises in racism and xenophobia.

There is no meeting in August so our next meeting will be Tuesday 13th September at the earlier time of 7.30pm at the Quaker Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. We look forward to seeing you there.

Reminder: Amnesty stall this Saturday

14 Jul


If you are in Taunton this Saturday (16th July) please drop by our stall at Castle Green (near the museum). We are raising awareness about and fundraising for one of Amnesty’s key campaigns on Women’s Rights, focusing on Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

The Department for International Development will be doubling any money raised by Amnesty to support projects to prevent cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Early Forced Marriage (EFM) in Burkino Faso and Sierra Leone.

Please come along to make a small donation (which will be doubled by the UK government) and sign our petition calling on Burkino Faso’s government to protect girls and young women from forced marriages.

We’ll be there from 10am until 2pm. Hope you can pop along!

Report from our June meeting

23 Jun

The Tunisian Penal Code criminalises same-sex sexual relations between adults. It also includes articles that criminalise acts and expression that are ‘offensive or undermine public morals and decency’ and which are used to prosecute people based on the expression of their gender identity. These laws put LGBTI people at risk of arrest and prosecution and create a climate of abuse from the police and the community with little accountability. Activists and organisations that call for LGBTI rights to be protected in law are also threatened and harassed.

We wrote messages of support on balloons as part of a solidarity action by Amnesty International members worldwide, the photos of which will be used on postcards and posters and shared with LGBTI activists and organisations in Tunisia. We also signed a letter to the Tunisian authorities.

Tunisia action_crop.jpg

Diary date: On Saturday 16 July (10am–2.30pm) we will be holding a fundraising stall by Castle Green, Taunton, to raise awareness about the issues of Early Forced Marriage (EFM) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Any money raised will be doubled by the Department for International Development to support a project to prevent cases of FGM and EFM in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. We hope you can come along and show your support.

Our next meeting will be held at the Taunton Quaker Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, TA1 4EP at 8pm on 12 July. All are welcome.

Save the date! Taunton Amnesty stall Saturday 16th July

6 Jun


On Saturday 16th July we will be holding a stall event from 10am until 2.30pm at Castle Green in the centre of Taunton. We are aiming to raise awareness about one of Amnesty’s key campaigns on Women’s Rights, focusing on Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone where discriminatory attitudes and high costs create barriers to women accessing contraception and sexual and reproductive services and information.

From 18 April to 18 July this year, the Department for International Development will be doubling any money raised by Amnesty to support a project to prevent cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Early Forced Marriage (EFM) in Burkino Faso and Sierra Leone.

Please come along to make a donation (which will be doubled by the UK government) and sign our petition calling on Burkino Faso’s government to protect girls and young women from forced marriages.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Next Taunton Amnesty group meeting 10th May

3 May


Our next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 10th May at 8pm. Please note this will be at a different venue from usual: Taunton Quaker Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, TA1 4EP. 

Join us to hear about our campaigns, human rights and the work of Amnesty International. Our monthly action will be for Khadija Ismayilova, an award-winning Azerbaijani journalist and prisoner of conscience, locked up by the Azerbaijani authorities for exposing corruption.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Report from our March meeting

25 Mar

We had a busy meeting, dealing with a range of issues. We marked the 5th anniversary of the Syrian Uprising by contacting our local MPs and asking them to write to the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, to ensure that the UK Government champions human rights benchmarks at the ongoing Syrian Peace talks, and lobbies to end unlawful attacks on civilians.

Mindful of the threats to the Human Rights Act, we circulated a petition calling on the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, to save an Act that maintains those fundamental rights we all have as human beings.

To mark International Women’s Day on 8th March we were anxious to show solidarity with the young women of Burkina Faso in West Africa, where physical and sexual violence against women and girls in early and forced marriages is common. Amnesty is working directly with five of the Shelters set up for them, and we made decorative bunting to show our support.

Some members had attended the South West Regional Conference in Exeter last month, and gave an account of the topics covered, including Human Rights, Roma, China, Drugs Policy and Asylum issues.

We had a letter of apology from Rebecca Pow MP, who was unable to attend our debate on Human Rights held on 14th March at Taunton School.

Please note: our next meeting on Tuesday 12th April at 8pm will be held at a different venue: the Taunton Quaker Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, TA1 4EP.  All are welcome.

Making a Murderer and Matsumoto Kenji: The truth can be stranger than fiction

9 Mar


Does this set of circumstances sound familiar?

·         A man from a poor background, with an IQ below 70; a score so low that he has difficulty comprehending what is happening to him.
·         His implication in a serious crime, in which a dominant older relative was the prime suspect.
·         A confession extracted by police after hours of intense interrogation, a confession which was subsequently described as ‘coercive’ by the man’s lawyers.

Well, if you’ve been watching the Netflix documentary ‘Making a Murderer’ you may be thinking of the case of Brendan Dassey who, at the age of 16, confessed to assisting his uncle in a rape and murder after hours of intense police questioning. No lawyer was present during the interrogation, nor was his mother, despite the fact that he was a minor.

Brendan Dassey is not the only young man spending a very long time in prison after being convicted of a crime following a confession extracted in contentious circumstances.

In 1993 Matsumoto Kenji – along with his older brother – was arrested and charged with a double murder in Japan. Kenji has an IQ of between 60 and 70, allegedly caused by Minamata disease (mercury poisoning) which was common in the prefecture in which he was born, around the time he was born. As a result of the condition Kenji suffered from seriously hampered cognitive function.

Amnesty has serious concerns about Kenji’s treatment at the hands of the police. His interrogation has been described at coercive, as officers offered him food if he talked and told him to “be a man” during the interrogation.

Upon learning of a warrant being issued for his arrest, his brother killed himself and Kenji was left to face trial alone. During his trial it was accepted by the court that he was totally dependent upon his brother and was unable to stand up to him. Following his conviction he was sentenced to death, a sentence which has been repeatedly upheld in subsequent appeals.

Unfortunately, Kenji’s mental health has deteriorated significantly on death row, to the point that he has developed a delusional disorder. His lawyers have argued that he is currently unable to communicate or understand information pertinent to his case and they further believe that his isolation has contributed significantly to his deteriorating mental health condition.

Kenji’s case is currently under review for appeal and the Minister of Justice will be the key decision-maker. If you have a moment, please write to him and call for him not to execute Kenji. Visit the Death Penalty page of our website to find out where to write. Thank you.

Help reunite refugees with their families

4 Mar


If you had family members trying to escape war and persecution, wouldn’t you do everything you could to help them reach you safely?

Unfortunately, for many, current immigration laws make that almost impossible.

Left with no choice, people are forced to embark on life-threatening journeys or seek out a life in miserable and inhumane conditions.

The UK government must open up safe and legal routes to safety.

Demand they amend immigration rules so refugees can be reunited with family members in the UK.

Please take a moment to read more and email your MP by clicking here.

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