Chair: David Huband
Chair welcomed all to the meeting.
Apologies: David Bissonet.
Minutes of last Open Meeting agreed.
Roz reported that the Iranian government had introduced two laws which have serious repercussions for women. One denies equal rights in divorce cases/family relationships/the workplace. The other is a Bill to increase fertility which would remove funding for clinics providing sex information, family planning and contraception. There is an on-line petition on the AIUK website.
The USA Section of Amnesty has an on-line action to coincide with the anniversary of the abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.
Joanna highlighted a campaign linked to the on-going pressure from land-owning interests to take land from the Afro-Caribbean and indigenous people of Columbia. On 18th March, armed men broke into the home of Marlene Benitez and beat her and her son and young granddaughter. Information sheets were distributed, for members to write (to the President, Defence Minister and Ambassador) expressing concern for Marlene Benitez and her family and asking for a full, independent investigation into the role of paramilitaries and their collusion with the armed forces.
David Ford distributed letters to the Head of the Directorate of Execution of Sentences (copies to the Ambassador) highlighting the case of Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov.
No more news of Shaker Aamer, but Reprieve has highlighted the case of Ahmad Rabbani – a Pakistani man on hunger strike in Guantanamo. His family has filed an emergency application with the Pakistani High Court demanding that the Pakistani government intervene immediately in his case.
A short Paper…The Case against Human Rights
Philip Wilson gave a short talk based around an article in The Guardian by Eric Posner. In summary, the argument was that although we are all signed up to promoting Human Rights, they are widely ignored (1000 people killed by police in Rio de Janeiro p.a.) Among many reasons for failure might be that the UN Declaration is too large and many factors lead to disagreement: e.g. freedom of religion can conflict with women’s freedoms, ambiguity, conflict with economic development, Western bias. A lively discussion! Thanks to Philip for a thought provoking topic.
The Regional Conference
David Huband thanked all for a terrific team effort.
Joanna reported that the feedback was extremely positive. Many referred to the Groups’ contributions and the powerful speakers.
Jim has one photo of the Group action to be sent to each Group.
Robin Legg from AIUK recommended that we consider using ‘Street Life’ to attract new members. To be discussed at Committee meeting.
A draft letter, attacking Conservative proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights, was drawn up at the conference to be sent to local MPs. However, an AIUK Barrister has criticised this, saying that AI is working very hard with ‘soft’ Tory MPs hoping that the move will be defeated. A ‘watered down’ letter for the local press seemed so anodyne as to be pointless. A lively debate followed.
There will be no Quiz & Dips this year– a major fund-raiser.
The meeting agreed that a sponsored walk linked to the Stop Torture Campaign would be a good idea. (To be discussed at the next Committee meeting).
Refugee Week: Sue Mackie will find the contact name.
AIUK AGM 17/18 April
David F and Joanna will attend as will Francesca from the UEA Group.
Election Hustings at the Friends Meeting House. 22nd April Lower Goat Lane at 6.00
This will be on May 9th. Our base will be at the Greenhouse on Bethel Street. Nicky Leach passed round a schedule of time slots. More volunteers needed!
David F updated us on Gordon’s health and sad time over the last three months.
Next Meeting – Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 7.30pm