16th April 2014 Meeting Minutes

Chair: David Huband
Chair welcomed all to the meeting.
Apologies: Joanna Kinnaird, Sue Mackey, Tom Reed
Minutes of the last Open Meeting agreed.

Campaigns

  • Hakamada Iwaio:
    David H celebrated the news that Hakamada Iwaio, who was imprisoned in 1966 on Death Row in Japan for murder, has been temporarily released pending a re-trial based on new DNA evidence. Members of Amnesty have been campaigning for him since his imprisonment.
  • Uzbekistan:
    The new ‘Stop Torture’ campaign will focus, among other States, on Uzbekistan, so it is likely that the group will have new cases to deal with.
    Nobody in the group has had an acknowledgement or reply to the letters concerning Salidzhon Abdurackhmanov, sent last month to MEP John Mann. David F will pursue this.
    25th May is Salidzhon Abdurackhmanov’s birthday and it is planned to take a group photo (with banner) at the next Open Meeting, which can be sent to the President. Meanwhile, copies of a letter to be sent to the Uzbekistan Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights were circulated.
  • Monthly Action:
    Roz highlighted the dire human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). She circulated copies of a letter to President Barack Obama asking him, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to follow the recommendations of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Report of March 3rd and to ensure that the UN arms embargo is enforced.
  • Shaker Aamer:
    No news specific to Mr Aamer’s case, but David H reported that Guantanamo prisoners have won the right to appeal against the unlawful conditions of confinement, including the practice of force feeding. Mr Aamer has recently protested about the inhumane treatment at Guantanamo. David H read the letter he had drafted to William Hague pointing out, among other things, that our colleagues in AI-USA believe that the factors blocking Shaker Aamer’s release come from the UK – either from the government or UK security services.NB. David F reported that a resolution at the AIUK AGM, that Guantanamo should be included in the forthcoming ‘Stop Torture’ campaign, was carried.
  • Groups’ campaigning 2014:
    Major campaigns planned by AIUK for 2014 include, ‘Stop Torture’, ‘My body: My Rights’, ‘Syria’.
    It was proposed that that the committee would research these and make recommendations for the Group in an Open Meeting, although it was pointed out that this would not give enough time to respond to AIUK. (This issue was not resolved.)

Events

  • Shaker Aamer Stall
    There will be a stall publicising this case on Millennium Plain (outside St Peter Mancroft church) on Saturday 26th April.
  • Committee meeting
    This will now be on 13th May at Joanna’s house. (Please note the change of date.)
  • Refugee Week
    This will be held on 16th -22nd June. Various activities will be co-ordinated in Norwich. Amnesty will have a Chilean speaker (and film) focusing on Chilean refugees from the Pinochet persecutions.
  • Street collection
    This will be on Saturday 5th July.

Report on the Annual General Meeting of AIUK held at Heriot Watt University 13th-14th April

(This was attended by David H and David F.)

  • There were 11 workshops – David F attended “The future of Amnesty 2016-20” and made two proposals:
    • That the Torture campaign ought to be on-going.
    • That Amnesty should campaign on behalf of children and young people. He pointed out that although there were two researchers on sex workers in the IS, there were none for young people.
  • The treasurer reported that, after a difficult period, the finances were in good shape, though there might be problems when AIUK has to increase its contributions to the IS.
  • There were 20 resolutions on a wide variety of topics…
    • That Amnesty should campaign to retain the Human Rights Act.
    • The Secret Policeman’s Ball
    • The need to monitor the move to International Hubs.
  • The resolutions on sex workers (which we debated in our last meeting) had a rather confused passage.
    • De-criminalisation of sex workers – carried.
    • The Nordic model whereby the purchaser of sex would be criminalised – defeated.
    • AIUK has no policy on these issues – narrowly carried by 507/502 votes.
    • Our Group was one of 44 Groups which responded. Generally, Groups had voted for the “No policy” option).

Speaker:

We were very pleased to welcome Alphas Ndhlovu from the Southend Zimbabwe Network who spoke about Zimbabwe: The Inside Story. He described the process of Independence and explained how Robert Mugabe’s policies concerning the land had resulted in a society based on Shona supremacy. He also explained how the political system in Zimbabwe is controlled by Mugabe and his Zanu PF henchmen – and this was driven home by harrowing video footage of the brutal beatings administered to those deemed to be disloyal to the regime. An interesting question and answer session ended the meeting.

Wednesday 21st May at 7.30pm

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