Chair: David Huband
Minutes of last meeting agreed
Matters Arising: Greenhouse will be new base for Street Collection
Resolutions: None Proposed
Monthly Actions (JK)
No writing action this month
Children’s Human Rights Network
Shafqat Hussein, Pakistan, faces execution after conviction when aged fourteen. The conviction was based on a “confession” after being subject to torture for nine days. Government has partially lifted moratorium on the death penalty. Action is to write to President of Pakistan and Prime Minister.
Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov – Letters circulated to authorities.
Shaker Aamer (DH)
DH thanked all those who turned out on a cold morning for the demonstration on Hay Hill. One hundred signatures collected for letter to President Obama.
Debate about his continued detention was held in House of Commons during March. MPs from all main parties spoke in support of Shaker. It seems that all that has been achieved to date is to make Shaker’s case a higher priority. Meeting agreed that next action could be directed at the new US Defence Secretary.
The debate can be viewed at:
Question about ourselves that we should address
- Have our energies been best directed during the past year?
- Have we succeeded in recruiting new members, particularly young ones?
- Have we had a high enough profile in the city?
A review of our activities should enable us to answer some or all of these questions and we should look critically at, as well as congratulate, ourselves.
The discussion on decriminalisation of sex workers came to the conclusion that we should have no position on this i.e. it would not have been a profitable use of our time.
In a discussion of ‘strategic goals’ we agreed that AI should focus on its core values and avoid issues which are too vague or too broad, such as ‘eradicate poverty’. Other organisations may better deal with these.
We have worked consistently on monthly actions (Roz, Joanna), Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (David F), Shaker Aamer (Jim, David F, David H). These represent what I take to be AI’s core values. Plus, we hope, there have been many letters written in response to Urgent Action calls, responses to internet petitions. We should never underestimate the power of the personal letter, it’s easy to be distracted from that by other forms of campaigning.
In terms of higher profile activities, we have taken part in the Peace Camp, Pride Day, organised by David Y, and Write for Rights, also organised by David Y. The latter, in particular, produced a good number of cards and letters signed by people who don’t necessarily attend meetings, including Simon Wright MP.
We also held a street collection (Nicky), a very successful and enjoyable Amnesty at Appleyards event (Tom), Greeting cards sale (Sue), carol concert at the Octagon (Lyn), Quiz and Dips (Debbie, Roz and others). These last five were also effective fundraisers.
More recently we had a stall on Hay Hill, for the Stop Torture and Shaker Aamer campaign, at which we collected over one hundred signatures. We were very glad for the help of Norwich school pupils who did brilliantly at this event.
David F recently gave a talk to the UEA Amnesty group and in the autumn, David H spoke to Litcham School. David H is now an approved schools’ speaker.
Future campaigns this year will include campaigning on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees, and in particular for increased living allowances. Questions about refugees and the abolition of the Human Rights Act will be put to the prospective parliamentary candidates at the election hustings in April. These and the anti-lobbying bill are issues we have raised with MPs. In lobbying we should not forget that Richard Howitt is Labour spokesman on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament.
Looking at wider AIUK and AI issues, we did not participate fully in the Strategic Goals Consultation, but look forward to hearing the report by David F following the AIUK AGM.
We have, as was suggested in that survey, worked with other organisations including Reprieve, Liberty, Thirty-Eight Degrees, Avaaz, and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign.
Internationally, AI continues with its Global Transition Programme. In Spring 2014 offices opened in Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Nairobi, Dakar then Mexico City, Bangkok, Delhi. In 2015 offices are planned for Lima, Bogota, Middle East, North Africa and the Moscow office will be enlarged.
Regarding our profile in the city I am concerned that the AI brand may not be recognised enough. The uncomfortable fact is that it’s probably when we stand outside at a stall with our banners collecting signatures that we access a wider audience than usual, and reach people who would not necessarily be considered natural Amnesty supporters, unlike the people who come to meetings who tend to be already converted.
One of the points which emerged at the recent Cambridge conference on recruitment was the tendency for AI to stay within its comfort zone, and to assume, for example, that Daily Mail readers do not care about human rights. Our new banner showing the Mail’s front page story about Shaker Aamer demonstrates that the |Norwich group questions this assumption.
We note too, from campaigning in the street, that many young people are sympathetic to Amnesty causes, and will sign letters and petitions. We regret that very few are willing to become active campaigners with us. Chair concluded by suggesting a regular low profile use of the Hay Hill stall with one or two people, and prominent banners bearing the AI logo.
This focused around issues of awareness raising and tendency to target allies.
Is it better to target specific groups rather than have a stall on Hay Hill, for example? Stalls tend to attract similar narrow group of people. Would the library, UEA, Norwich Cathedral Refectory, gyms, for example, be better?
Could we liaise with UEA students for events, talks or do we accept UEA does its own thing?
We have fewer links with Churches no permanent presence in the library. We compete with more and more organisations. More people act on line rather than join a group.
David Y agreed to postpone planning session until the April monthly meeting. Priorities must be clarified before we work on the detail. These will include fundraising, campaigning on core principles, raising awareness, recruitment.
You can view and download the Treasurers Report:
Notes for Treasurer’s Report
The Appleyards gig and the Unitarians carol concert made a great contribution to funds.
The Quiz and Dips raised its greatest amount to date.
The group’s annual financial report for 2014 has been sent to AIUK.
The estimated cost to the group of organising the regional conference is likely to be about £240. Nothing has been paid out yet. There is a small AIUK budget, currently £400, to claim against. I suggest we try to reclaim half our costs. Do you agree?
This year we have spent £151.79 for the cage and a Shaker Aamer banner. This is not included in the closing February balance.
£100 has been sent to AIUK as 2015 contribution. This is included in closing February balance.
Should we send more to AIUK now?
Meeting agreed to send £500 to AIUK – ACTION DF
Election of Officers
David F, Sue M, David B, Roz, Jono, Joanna, Tom, Philip, David Y, David H, All re-elected. Francesca is invited to join us at the next committee meeting.
End of AGM business
Shaker Aamer stall
– There was a suggestion that stalls would be better placed in the middle of Gentlemen’s walk even if it costs more.
UNA meeting Lunchbox talk 20/3/15 1pm Tom Hockley, Consultant in International Development working with governments in post conflict resolution. Francesca will sound him out about talking to our group if his talk impresses.
Regional meeting 28/03/15
- Joanna will liaise with Roz about catering
- We need more help at start and end of day with moving furniture
- David F will get oil for candle
- Davids B,F,H, will liaise about image for screen/projector
- David F and David H will liaise about introductions
Election Hustings 22/4/15 Friends’ Meeting House
Quiz & Dips Date in April not settled.
Lyn will investigate alternative venues at Martineau Hall
David F updated us on Gordon’s health and sad time over the last three months.
Next Meeting – Wednesday 15th April 2015 at 7.30pm