Tag Archives: take action

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.

Next Taunton Amnesty Group meeting Tuesday 8th March

1 Mar
Keep Calm and Support Amnesty
Our next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 8th March at the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton, TA1 3DH.  8pm start.
Join us to hear about our campaigns, human rights and the work of Amnesty International.
We look forward to seeing you there!
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.

Report from our February meeting

23 Feb


Arms export licences from the UK worth £5.5 billion in the last 5 years, bombs worth £1.7 billion and a further 37 arms export licences since 2014. All for Saudi Arabia which, since 2014, has been waging war on an armed rebel group, the Huthis, in Yemen. Schools and civilian targets have been bombed, and hundreds of civilians killed. Read more and sign the petition here.

For our Monthly Action we sent a petition to David Cameron calling on him to suspend all arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and call for an international investigation into human rights violations committed by all sides.

Our Group held its AGM this month. The overall message was ‘Steady as she goes’, with group numbers maintained, and points to be focussed on both in past activities and future campaigns.

We took part in the United Reformed Church’s Christmas Tree Festival, actively supported Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign and the Taunton Literary Festival’s impressive young speaker Gulwali Passarlay, talking about his account of his journey from Afghanistan to the UK in “The Lightless Sky”.

We continue to work on the Death Penalty, on North Africa, China, Women’s Rights and the Unity 5 group of imprisoned journalists in Burma. We wait with concerned interest to see how things will develop in Burma after the recent elections.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 8pm. Check the venue and our other activities on amnestytaunton.wordpress.com. All are welcome.


Poet facing execution in Saudi Arabia

10 Feb


Ashraf, a 35-year-old poet and artist, is sentenced to be executed by Saudi Arabian authorities for his art.

On 17 November, the General Court in Abha, southwest Saudi Arabia, found Ashraf guilty of ‘apostasy’ – renouncing Islam – for his poetry and sentenced him to death.

Arrested for poetry and pictures on his phone

Ashraf was initially arrested on 6 August 2013 following a complaint registered against him by another Saudi citizen, who said that the poet was promoting atheism and spreading blasphemous ideas among young people. Ashraf was released the following day, but then rearrested on 1 January 2014, when he was charged with apostasy – he had supposedly questioned religion and spread atheist thought with his poetry. He was at the same time charged with violating the country’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law for allegedly taking and storing photos of women on his phone.

On 30 April 2014, Ashraf was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes for the charges relating to images of women on his phone. The General Court accepted Ashraf’s apology for the charges of apostasy and found the punishment to be satisfactory.

However, the court of appeal recommended that Ashraf should still be sentenced for apostasy, and his case was sent back to the General Court, which in turn sentenced him to death for apostasy.

Throughout this whole process, Ashraf was denied access to a lawyer – a clear violation of international human rights law, as well as Saudi Arabia’s national laws.

What we’re calling for

Quite simply, we’re calling for Ashraf to be freed. He has committed no crime, and as such should not be imprisoned, let alone face execution.

We’re asking the Saudi Arabian authorities to drop Ashraf’s conviction and all charges against him. We’re also asking for them to stop executing anyone for ‘apostasy’.

Please sign the petition here calling for Ashraf’s release.

Taunton Amnesty Group monthly meeting Tuesday 9th February

2 Feb
imageTuesday 9th February at the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton, TA1 3DH.  8pm start.
Join us to hear about our campaigns, human rights and the work of Amnesty International. This meeting also includes our AGM.
We look forward to seeing you there!
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.


Report from our November meeting

18 Nov

468_atena_farghadaniAtena Farghadani is a 29 year old Iranian artist; she was jailed this summer for over 12 years for her art and her peaceful activism. Since then she’s faced further charges: she shook her lawyer’s hand when he visited her in prison and is now facing charges of ‘illicit sexual relations falling short of adultery’.

We sent cards to Atena and wrote to the Iranian President urging her release. There is also a petition to sign on the AIUK website here.

Members had written letters and cards, which we all signed, on behalf of people imprisoned or facing the death penalty in Morocco, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

We’re taking part in the annual Christmas Tree Festival in the Taunton United Reform Church, held from 11–13 December. Trees are displayed and decorated by groups in the town, which makes a thought-provoking and seasonal display. We hope you can go along and see our tree!

Another annual event for the Christmas period is Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign, when we send cards worldwide to those persecuted and write on their behalf to their Governments. Done on a national scale this campaign has a considerable impact. We’ll be writing cards at our meeting on Tuesday 8 December at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church. Do join us to write cards and enjoy some Christmas nibbles.

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