Chair: David Huband

Chair welcomed all to the meeting – 10 members present.

Actions

  • David Ford has written in Russian to the wife of Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov (with thanks to Judith for her translation).
    We patiently wait for a response.
  • David H reminded members to put a return address on envelopes as in some countries, letters may not be delivered without a return address.
  • Joanna has received a reply from Richard Bacon MP saying that the Government supports the efforts of Human Rights Defenders.

Past Events

  • December 1st. Peace Vigil– with a petition against UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This was very successful with around 15 students from Norwich School to whom we are very grateful. 180 signatures were collected in 2 hours.
    The petition is also in the Amnesty Bookshop.
  • December 8th. The Write for Rights Campaign, which took place in St. Peter Mancroft was also very successful. 71 cards and 48 letters were written and £130 was donated towards postage. The verger and secretaries at the church were very welcoming and have said that we can return next year.
    Many thanks to David Yates and Ev for organising this.
  • David Huband visited Kesgrave Schoolin Ipswich which went well.
  • Thanks to Sue Mills for the successful sale of all the Amnesty Christmas cards at the Charity Christmas card shop.

Future Events

  • June 23rd Bishop’s Garden Party
    September 28th Street Collection

As usual in December, the remainder of the meeting was occupied with drinks and mince pies and letter writing.

Next Meeting

7.30 Wednesday January 16th

Charing Cross Centre

Chair: David Huband

  • 12 members present
  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting:
  • Apologies : Joanna

Actions

Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov

David Ford reported that a number of members have received a letter from a Judge of the Uzbek Supreme Court – but in incomprehensible legalese.

As Salidzhon is due for release this year, we should keep up the letter writing pressure, sending copies to the Uzbek Ambassador. David F will write to Salidzhon’s wife.

Seyi Akwowa

A women’s rights activist who received a wave of abuse after speaking in the European Parliament. Twitter failed to respond to her claims. Take action on Amnesty’s on-line campaign

Me Nam

A Vietnamese blogger, featured in Write for Rights, given a 10 year sentence has been released.

Tep Vanny

David Huband reported that Tep Vanny, imprisoned for 2 years, has been released.

Sale of arms to Saudi Arabia

Members were invited to sign an on-line petition against the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and encouraged to join the Peace Demonstration on December 1st.

Talk and Discussion

David Huband welcomed Jo-Anne Veltman for a talk and discussion about climate change and refugees.

At present, migrants cannot claim refugee status on the grounds of loss of livelihood and habitat caused by climate change. Should Amnesty be making the case at the UN that this ruling should be changed?

There was a lengthy discussion following Jo-Anne’s presentation. A vote was taken and a majority of those present voted for the motion. Jo-Anne was warmly thanked for her excellent presentation.

Past events

David Huband visited Peterhouse Primary School in Gorleston.

Future events

  • Michael Mears’ play about WW1 conscientious objectors – “This evil thing”. 26th November 7.30pm.
  • Peace Demo – outside St Peter Mancroft 12noon –1pm 18th December
  • Write for Rights at St Peter Mancroft – December 8th 10am-3pm
  • Bishop’s Garden party – 23rd June 2019

Next Meeting

7.30pm Wednesday December 19th

Letter writing and Mince pies

Chair: David Huband

  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting; 22 members present.
  • Minutes of last meeting agreed.

Talk and Discussion

David Huband suggested that we needed to address the issue of the relationship between Human Rights and climate change, especially in the light of the latest IPCC report. He introduced Jo-anne Veltman, who spoke with convincing authority about “Climate change – a tipping point for human rights.” This was followed by a discussion with many interesting points made. AI tends to be reactive (e.g. The Dakota pipeline) but the AI Board will ensure, by the 2018 Global Assembly, the delivery of a draft strategy to effectively safeguard human rights In the face of climate change. It was pointed out that AI has never campaigned to challenge a regime, but on behalf of people and/or groups (though local groupswereinvolved in the campaign against the arms trade.) Jo-anne Veltman was warmly thanked for her presentation.

Actions

BRAVE Campaign

details are online and members are urged to focus on our government and to prioritise the campaign through Embassies and High Commissions. Also, when contacting our MPs to urge them to speak in Parliament and to attend the annual Human Rights Day at Speaker’s House in Westminster.

Rodrico Mundaca

Joanna introduced the case of Rodrico Mundaca, a Chilean water rights activist. Members are asked to sign the on-line petition calling for protection for him and his fellow workers. (His case is also part of the Brave campaign).

Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov

David Ford reported that both Joanna and Jim had received replies to their letters (pointing out that Salidzhon is now due for release), from the Prosecutor General’s Office in Uzbekistan, who wrote that “You will be informed about the results of the request”. Members are urged to keep up the pressure and write again to the Uzbek authorities and their ambassador.

Past Events

  • The Peace Camp went very well. Many thanks to David Yates for his efforts, and to the large number of helpers.

Future Events

  • 22nd October – Open Rights Group meeting (Digital Rights) at the Charing Cross Centre – 6.25pm
  • 3rd November – Peace Vigil, outside St. Peter Mancroft – 12-1pm
  • 9th November – Freedom from Torture Quiz @ White Woman Lane School – 7.30pm
  • 8th December – Write for Rights at St Peter Mancroft from 10-3pm

Next Meeting

7.30pm Wednesday 21st November

Charing Cross Centre

Chair: David Huband

  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting: 10 members present
  • Minutes of last meeting agreed
  • AOB: None

Actions

Joanna introduced the case (through the Children’s Human Rights network) of Aser Mohamed, an Egyptian boy who was arrested on 12 January 2016 at the age of 14. He was subjected to enforced disappearance and reportedly tortured. Joanna distributed letters, addressed to President Abdel Fattah al Sisi asking for an impartial and effective investigation into this case.

Joanna introduced an Urgent Action on behalf of Chilean lawyer Karina Riquelme who is being followed and surveilled by police intelligence agents because of her work as a defender of Mapuche indigenous rights. Members were asked to write immediately (before 19thOctober) calling on the Chilean authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that Karina Riquelme can freely and safely carry out her work as a lawyer and a defender of Mapuche Indigenous People and ensure that the police and public prosecutor’s office does not interfere with the free exercise of legal activities.

Joanna also distributed copies of a useful paper on How to Write an Effective Appeal letter.

Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov
David Ford reminded the meeting that Salidzhon is due for release this year and urged members to continue to send appeals to the Uzbek authorities and Ambassador asking for his release.

Global Assembly Report

David Ford gave a summary of AI’s Global Assembly Report detailing AI’s impact in 2017 This is an International Committee meeting held every 2 years.

David picked out the salient points.

  • AI has 6.8 million supporters and 1million of these are from the Global South.

There are 5 main goals

  1. Reclaiming Freedoms(e.g. The ‘Brave’ Campaign.)
  2. Equal Rights for all(e.g. The Peru Report)
  3. Responding to crises.(Difficult to achieve, but AI continues to document these.)
  4. Ensuring accountability (e.g. AI reported 993 executions in Guinea which may have influenced the decision to abolish the Death penalty in Guinea).
  5. Growing the movement.(In 2017 68million supporters took action (56%female and 44% male.)
  • £268 million has been raised – 2/3 individual giving – the rest, philanthropy.

Short Paper

David Huband gave an interesting and thoughtful analysis of the detail and implications of Israel’s “Jewish Nation State” Law – followed by a discussion.

Past Events

The Refugee Social Event was a sell-out though disappointingly, there were few refugees present.

Future Events

  • Sept 22nd Peace Camp at the Forum. Volunteers signed a rota.
  • Sept 29/30th. Amnesty Speaker’s Conference
  • October 3rd. Committee meeting at Joanna’s
  • October 6th. Peace Vigil 12 o clock outside St Peter Mancroft
  • Write for Rights – Date to be finalised

Next Meeting

7.30 Wednesday October 17th

Charing Cross Centre

Chair: David Huband

  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting
  • 10 members present
  • Apologies: Joanna
  • Minutes of last meeting agreed
  • AOB: None

Actions

Myanmar

David Huband introduced the case of former Myanmar child soldier, Ko Aung Htwewho was imprisoned following a media interview he gave about his experiences. Template letters were distributed for members to sign addressed to the Myanmar Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney General. (Copies to be sent to Aung San Suu Kyi).

A petition to the UK government was circulated urging sanctions on behalf of the Rohingya people.

Salidzhon Abdurackmanov

David Ford urged members to continue writing about the case ofSalidzhon Abdurakhmanovto the Prosecutor General’s Office in Uzbekistan, as there have been slight changes in Uzbekistan. Members should also send copies of their letters to the Uzbek Ambassador.

Azza Soliman

David Huband described the case of Egyptian lawyer, Azza Soliman. Egyptian law threatens to fine and imprison Human Rights staff members who maintain links with other HR organisations. Members were urged to write to the President of Egypt asking for all charges against Azza Soliman to be dropped.

Talk and Discussion

David Ford gave a very interesting and wide-ranging talk on “Human Rights Today: New challenges.”which led to an interesting discussion. Human Rights affect us all – as a democratic society tolerates minority views.

There are now 50 Amnesty Sections – in countries around the World – including Brazil, Tanzania and Mongolia.

The death penalty has been abolished in 500 countries; human trafficking has become better recognised and governments find secrets more difficult.

His talk ended with a ‘wish list’ and a hopeful quote from Professor. Hans Roslyn – “Most of us are better off”.

Past Events

Pride Day
This was very successful – with over 200 signatures for our petition – but we badly need more volunteers to help at events like this.

Future Events

September 1st Peace Vigil: Outside St. Peter Mancroft. 12.00- 1.00pm.

September 3rd. Refugee Social at Norwich Arts Centre with Music and Poetry. Tickets can be bought online (pay what you can). Please bring a plate of food for sharing.

September 22nd Peace Camp: Forum. Volunteers urgently needed to help man our stall for an hour or so. This year’s campaign will be focused on Human Rights abuses against campaigners challenging their loss of rights affected by climate change.

AOB

A card was circulated and signed for Lynn Holt who has had a bad fall.
The new Bookshop on Unthank Road is doing well. Now open from Tuesday to Saturday.

Next Open Meeting

7.30 Wednesday September 19th

Charing Cross Centre

Next Committee meeting 3rd October @ Joanna’s

  • Chair: David Huband
  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting: 10 members present
  • Minutes of last meeting agreed.

Past Events

Quiz and Dips

This was very enjoyable and a big success. £627 was raised.

Very many thanks to Roz and Debbie for all their hard work.

The Committee will discuss whether summer is the best time of year for this event.

Visit to Norwich Girls High School

David H spoke about the role played by Amnesty in successfully campaigning against the Arms Trade.

Street Collection

Many thanks to Nicky for organising this – it raised £160.

There was a discussion about how we might raise more money through this event. Ideas ranged from holding it at a different time of year, advertising and recruiting younger collectors. The Committee will discuss this. Joanna will contact AIUK for the most recent rulebook about working with young people and the Committee will discuss this at their next meeting.

Future Events

Bookshop Opening

The shop may open 3 days a week in August.

There was a discussion about possible literary celebrities who might perform the Grand Opening.

July 28th Pride Day

David Yates will be away but will pass all materials to David Ford.

Helpers still needed – a rota was passed round. David Yates will ask Carl to publicise the event and ask for more volunteers.

4th August– Peace Vigil St Peter Mancroft 12-1pm

22nd September– Peace Camp

AOB

Jim Massey had received an email from Reprieve to write to his MP about the enquiry into UK involvement in rendition and torture. He had received a reply in which Clive Lewis asserted that he believed a judge-led enquiry is inescapable.

The meeting then focused on letter writing

David Ford gave a resume of the case of Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov from Uzbekistan, who is due for release this year. He distributed sample letters. It is important that we keep up our letter writing, making sure that we send copies to the Uzbek Ambassador.

Joanna distributed the AIUK briefing sheet for the BRAVE campaign and a letter writing Guide from AIUK.

Next Meeting

7.30 Wednesday, August 15th

Charing Cross Centre

  • Chair: David Huband
  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting with a reminder that this was “Refugee Week” and that according to The Guardian newspaper, 35,000 refugees have died trying to get to a place of safety.
  • Minutes of last meeting agreed.

Speaker

Mike Clemo of the Norwich International Youth Projectspoke very movingly and in detail about the work done to support young people in Norfolk who are asylum seekers, refugees or otherwise displaced from their country of origin. The project began with the Balkan wars and continues today as numbers of asylum seekers continue to rise – since the beginning of the year there have been 64 individuals, from 16 countries, currently accessing support; 25% of them unaccompanied under 18s.

A question and answer session followed and Mike was warmly thanked for his excellent, informative talk and discussion.

Campaigns

Esmail Abdi

Joanna introduced the case of Esmail Abdi, a teacher from Tehran. He is a prisoner of conscience – in prison for standing up for workers’ rights in education. He has been in Evin prison for 6 years. A petition was circulated for members to sign, calling for his release and improved health care.

Gabriella Ratcliffe

David Huband took a photo of members holding Birthday Greetings cards on her 4thbirthday for Gabriella, the daughter of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who remains in Evin prison. AI will be sending all the photos to Gabriellas

Letter on Capital Punishment

David Ford had written a letter to the EDP on Capital Punishment. It was, apparently, published, but no-one saw it – which suggests that our monitoring system has broken down.

It was agreed that next month’s meeting would focus on letter writing. David Huband reported that Write for Rights is the World’s biggest HR event.

He quoted some powerful statistics…

  1. 5.5 million actions were taken last year
  2. 758,000 letters were sent from Taiwan
  3. In Poland there were 700 Write for Rights events across the country
  4. In China, there has been a notable reduction of harassment of those Chinese whose homes were demolished before the Olympics.

Previous Events

  • Amnestea: Very many thanks to Lyn Holt for all her hard work in organising this enjoyable event which raised an astonishing £314.
  • David Huband was very impressed with the pupils during his School visit to Newton Flotman Primary: 18th June.

Future Events

  • Refugee Week June 21st-24th
  • Community sponsorship of Refugees meeting at St Andrew’s Church hall, Eaton – June 21st. 7.30
  • Quiz and Dips St Thomas’ Hall, Earlham Road – June 23rdMore volunteers needed.
  • Street Collection June 30th
  • School visit to Norwich High School for Girls
  • Amnesty Bookshop opening early July

Next Meeting

Mainly focussing on letter writing

Wednesday July 18th

Charing Cross centre 7.30

  • Chair:David Huband
  • 20 people attended
  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting.
  • Minutes of last meeting agreed

Speaker

Chair welcomed Mark English, Human Trafficking Co-ordinator for Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, who gave a wide-ranging and very informative talk about Modern Slavery: “Hiding in Plain Sight” – followed by a question and answer session.

Campaigns

  • Joanna introduced an action to send emails on behalf of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffewho remains in indefinite detention in Iran. Details will be on our website.
  • Sakris Kupila– a transgender rights defender from Finland. His was one of the cases in 2017’s Write for Rights Campaign and AI is calling for him to be legally recognised as male without having to go through an irreversible sterilisation. Details on the AIUK website.
  • AIUK has drafted a template letter highlighting the fact that Saudi Arabia and China continue to practice capital punishment.It leaves room for improvement but David Ford agreed to re-write it and send it to the EDP.

Local News

The Amnesty Second Hand Bookshop on Unthank Road will be fitting out May 21st- June 1st. It plans to open week beginning 4thJune.

Past Events

  • David Ford reported that the Educational Book Stall for trainee teachers at UEA was very successful with many students requesting Amnesty publications.
  • David Huband gave a talk at Lakenham Primary School during an event, “Football Welcomes” which involved hundreds of young people and was connected with “Schools of Sanctuary”.

Future Events

  • May 30th PSC Discussion: Anti-Semitism. Friends Meeting House 6.30pm.
  • May 30th Amnesty Committee Meeting. Joanna’s 7.30
  • June 1st. Love Music, Hate Racism Event. Octagon Chapel 6.30 pm.
  • June 2nd. Amnestea Martineau Hall 3 -5 pm.
  • June 3rd. Peace Vigil St. Peter Mancroft 12-1pm.
  • June 21st. Meeting re sponsorship of refugees. St. Andrew’s Church, Eaton. 7.30pm.
  • June 23rd. Amnesty Quiz and Dips St Thomas’ Church hall, Earlham Road 7.30pm
  • June 30th. Street Collection
  • Sept 3rd. Refugees’ Social Norwich Arts Centre.

Next Open Meeting

Charing Cross Centre

Wednesday 20th June 7.30

Speaker: Mike Clemo

Norwich International Youth project

Chair: David Huband

  • 35 people present
  • Chair welcomed all to the meeting and introduced our Speaker, Paul Burnal from the UEA School of Law who spoke about Internet privacy – Cambridge Analytica and Human Rights.

Mr Burnal made clear his belief that after the leaks from Edward Snowden, revealing that Governments and Corporations around the World were monitoring everything they could, we should all be very wary– yet on the whole, the UK seems relatively unconcerned..

He described the way in which this level of surveillance impacts on our Human Rights – particularly the right to privacy.

Facebook is almost universal giving huge opportunities to target groups (by race/politics/age etc.) and this profiling can and is used to influence people. Fake news, he said, works because it fits the profiles which have been mined from the internet – by companies like Cambridge Analytica.

A short question and answer session followed and Mr Burnal was warmly thanked.

Campaigns

  • David Huband publicised the abolition of the death penalty in Guineain sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Joanna introduced the case of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager who is serving 8 months in prison for attacking an Israeli soldier who had shot her cousin in the head. Details can be found on the Amnesty web-site and on the Norwich Group’s website.

Other matters

  • David Huband reported that, at the AIUK AGM, all the motions we, as a group, instructed him to vote against, were passed – except the first, concerning self-determination for Papua New Guinea.
  • He also announced that an Amnesty second hand bookshop would be opening on Unthank Road and that the manager was asking for volunteers to work there.

Past Events

  • Many thanks to Helen for her work in organising our Film Festival at Cinema City.

Future Events

  • April 19th/20th: David Huband is giving a talk at Lakenham Primary School on Refugees and Human Rights.
  • Friday 20th April 1pm. David Ford is giving a talk on Human Rights Today: New Challenges at the Friends’ Meeting House.
  • Friday 27th April – Political Economy of the Palestinian Struggle. UEA Elizabeth Fry Room 01.05.
  • Saturday 5th May:12 -1pm. Peace Vigil St. Peter Mancroft
  • Saturday 2nd June: 3-5pm. An Amnestea at the Martineau Hall.
  • Saturday 23rd June – Amnesty Quiz and Dips at St. Thomas’ Church Hall, Earlham Road. More details later.
  • Saturday 12th May 11am-3pm:A stall on Hay Hill in aid of Norwich Open Rights.
  • Saturday 30th June – Street collection. Volunteers needed!! More details later.
  • September 3rd. Poetry and Music Social at the Arts Centre. More details later.

Next Open Meeting

Wednesday 16thMay 2018

Charing Cross Centre at 7.30

Speaker: Mark English ‘Modern Slavery’

Chair: David Huband

Chair welcomed all to the meeting

Apologies: David Ford, Joanna Kinnaird

Minutes of last meeting: Agreed

Matters arising

“Families together” Campaign.

On Friday 16thMarch, 129 MPs from across the political spectrum voted for a Bill to allow young refugees to be united with their families. 42 voted against. (Neither Clive Lewis, nor Chloe Smith were present.) The Bill will go to the Committee Stage in around 6 months. However the government has indicated that it will oppose.

Campaigns

Shakelia Jackson.

Her brother was shot dead in Kingston, Jamaica. She and her family have been campaigning to bring those responsible to justice. (The police were looking for a suspect with dreadlocks and shot without any investigation). The case was included in this year’s Write for Rights and Shakelia thanks the 6,000 letter writers who have given her the courage to continue to continue to speak out.

Rodrigo Mundaca: The Defence Movement of Earth, Environmental Protection and the access to water. (MODATIMA).

David Bissonet introduced this action on behalf of Rodrigo Mundaca in Central Chile, whose work to defend community access to water has resulted in death threats and physical attack. This is part of the BRAVE campaign in support of Human Rights defenders and it is thought that the publicity has had an impact as Rodrigo and his colleague, Veronica were summoned to a hearing in January concerning the death threats. Campaigning postcards were distributed. More details online.

Amnesty International Annual Conference and AGM.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to discussion of the 6 Motions to be debated at the Conference.
David Huband plans to attend and will act as our representative for the Group vote.
Members also have a proxy vote which can be accessed on line.

B1 Homelessness:

The Committee had discussed this and recognised that Homelessness is a HR issue, but felt that other specialist campaigning organisations, such as Shelter, were better placed to deal with this.

AGAINST

B2 The right of self-determination of Papua-New Guinea

The Committee recognised that AI takes no position on specific self-determination claims- nor on calls for referenda in other parts of the World (Catalonia, Scotland). Any such policy change would result in a Global Assembly decision.

AGAINST

B3 Human Rights and International Trade – with specific reference to Cobalt (Democratic Republic of Congo), Palm Oil (Indonesia), Shell Oil Nigeria.

David Yates pointed out that Amnesty had always taken a position supporting human rights obligations in international trade and investment. Brexit will mean that the UK will be able to negotiate new, International trade and investment agreements. This resolution seeks to ensure that all human rights are respected and that violations will incur criminal sanctions and just compensation.

AGREE

C1 Freedom of Religious ExpressionThat AIUK should include advocating for Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the next strategic plan.

Sue Mills explained that Article 18 guarantees Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion. It has never been codified as this has historically proved to have been a divisive issue used by some states to justify the suppression of other rights. Nevertheless, since its creation in 1961 AIUK has alwayscovered this issue– and Freedom of Religious Expression will continue to fall within the current strategic objectives.

The Board has taken no position on this and looks forward to the debate.

AGREED THAT DH SHOULD DO THE SAME.

C2 The Right to live with your spouse or civil partner.

David Bissonet gave details of the financial requirements for bringing a spouse or civil partner to the UK. The board opposes this resolution as currently worded as the policy has been challenged in the Courts and the case lost. AIUK does not have the spare funding for another campaign and work already planned would have to be dropped.

AGAINST

C3 Discrimination based on Caste

A decision on this would be premature before the Government Equalities Office (GEO), which is consulting on this, has reported.

AGAINST

Events

  • PSC film ‘Stone Cold Justice’ Friends’ Meeting House. March 28th.
  • Film Festival : Waltz with Bashir has been cancelled because not enough tickets had been bought.
  • Selma will go ahead – Cinema City March 29th – 6pm.
  • AGM Swansea April 7th and 8th
  • Peace Vigil April 7th St Peter Mancroft; 12-1

Next meeting April 18th

Speaker: Dr. Paul Burnell (UEA)
“Internet Privacy, Cambridge Analytica and Human Rights”