Chair: David Huband
- Chair welcomed all to the meeting
- Apologies: Nicki Leach
- There were no minutes of the last meeting owing to illness.
There was no monthly action for this meeting as the February action was designed to be sent by Valentine’s Day. Joanna presented an action from The Children’s Network concerning an Iranian, Saman Nasseem, who was arrested in 2011, when he was under 18, after conflict between the PJAK and Revolutionary Guards. He has been severely tortured and forced to make a confession. Sentenced to death in 2012, he is due to be executed on the 20th of February. Given the urgency, Joanna presented letters she had written to the Head of the Judiciary and the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the members to sign.
David Ford distributed letters to the President requesting a public enquiry into the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova with a copy to be sent to the Ambassador.
Similarly, David also distributed letters to the President of Uzbekistan requesting that the case of Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov , a journalist imprisoned for carrying out human rights work, should be reviewed and that he should be released-again with copies to the Ambassador.
Six members took part in the London Demonstration against the continuing detention without trial and torture of Shaker Aamer in Guantanamo. A letter was handed in to No. 10. Jim Massey will put the photos of the event on ‘Drop Box’ to be distributed via the Committee.
One of the Speakers from Reprieve reported that there has been a debate in Congress to ban all releases from Guantanamo until 2017. Jim reported that although this has been passed, the president will exercise his veto.
There are on-line petitions concerning Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, the Al Jazira journalists in Egypt and the situation in Bahrain.
We were very pleased to welcome Dee Robinson from the New Routes charity which supports asylum seekers in Norwich. She explained that there are currently 180 asylum seekers in Norwich – a number which may double. Most do have a chance of success, but face isolation and uncertainty and practical problems such as a lack of local psychological and legal support. For example, there are no immigration solicitors in Norwich, but Norwich asylum seekers are allocated solicitors in Solihull – one of 5 UK asylum centres. There was an interesting discussion around ways in which Amnesty might be involved in campaigning and support – maybe during Refugee Week, though there has as yet been no information about this.
Tom Read gave a short review of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
He gave examples of the ways in which ‘Big Business’ in the USA is trying to get influence/control over our food. (Though Jim Massey pointed out that the US Food and Drug Administration is superior to our own.) A major concern is the proposal that if a company feels that a government policy is harming its profits, it can sue the government – which is an attack on democracy. A poll taken within Europe resulted in 97% against TTIP.
There is a meeting organised by 38 degrees to debate this issue on 26th February at Blackfriars Hall from 7-9pm with a number of political figures.
US Senate Report on CIA Torture
A judge-led enquiry has been agreed by David Cameron – so witnesses cannot refuse to appear. The government has said that the redactions were made between the US and UK government in the interests of national security. David Huband had received a letter from David Davies thanking us for our support.
Hay Hill Stall
There will be a demonstration against torture at the Hay Hill Stall on Saturday 28th February. There will be a cage and prisoner and Shaker Aamer’s case will be highlighted. Members signed up for time slots – more volunteers needed.
Human Rights Act
A lecture, “From Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights 1998: Why Your Human Rights Act needs you” is being given by Stephen Bowen, the Director of the British Institute of Human Rights at the Council Chamber, City Hall on Tuesday 3rd. March at 7.30.
Planning meeting for the Regional Conference
This will be held at the Charing Cross Centre on March 4th at 7.30 pm.
This will be held on Saturday 28th March at the Church Centre, Chapelfield Methodist Church, Chapelfield Road. More volunteers needed.
General Election Hustings
These will take place on 22nd April. We are invited to submit three questions.
Topics suggested were:
- The export of torture equipment
- The Human Rights Act
- Refugees and Asylum seekers
Members were asked to draft a question and send it to David Huband asap.
David Ford reminded members to vote in the elections to the AIUK Board.
Nicky Leach cannot find a venue for the street collection on 9th May. Barclays Bank (Red Lion Street) and the Co-op bank were suggested and David Huband will make enquiries.
Next Meeting – Wednesday 18th March 2015 at 7.30pm