17th December 2014 Meeting Minutes
Chair: David Huband
- Chair welcomed all to the meeting
- Minutes of last Open meeting agreed.
- With reference to September’s monthly action, Joanna reported that she had written to Richard Bacon (her MP) concerning the low rate of pay for asylum seekers and had received a reply from Minister James Brokenshire with details of accommodation and allowances. (David H. had a similar response from Simon Wright). Without relevant knowledge it was impossible to judge whether these allowances were sufficient. Suggestions were made to consult AIUK, the Refugee Council and ask advice from Dee Robinson in the February meeting.
- This month’s Action concerned a case in El Salvador in the ‘My body, my rights’ Campaign. El Salvador has a total ban on abortion and cases quoted include a 9 year old rape victim who was forced to carry the pregnancy to term and a woman who miscarried and is serving a 40 year sentence for aggravated homicide. A petition and letters to the president were circulated.
- The November Monthly Action focused on a call to the USA to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Detailed information was circulated with a petition and letter to the USA Ambassador.
Stop EU export of torture instruments
Amnesty has an on-line petition at amnesty.org.uk/actions/eu-torture-tools-trade-uk
Stop Torture campaign
David Ford reported that an event will be planned for March.
David H referred to the front page Daily Mail report calling for the release of Shaker Aamer. (Could we turn the front page into a banner?) He reported that the videotapes of force feeding have not been released although the prisoner filmed HAS been released to Uruguay. Jim Massey reported that that there were 19 releases in 2014. There have been 12 in December (6 to Uruguay) including 2 of the ‘forever prisoners’. Pressure on the US seems to be mounting. The UN rapporteur on torture has called for the prosecution of those CIA officials involved in the rendition and torture of prisoners and Pope Francis has asked the US to find an alternative to Guantanamo.
David H has drafted a letter to 2 Congressmen from the House of Representatives who are campaigning for the closure of Guantanamo and which he read to the meeting. Tom Read suggested that the letter should also be sent to Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain. This for January’s open meeting.
The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture and British complicity are big issues for the UK. Our government had meetings with the Committee leading to redactions of references to items referring to the UK. There is now pressure for a full judge-led enquiry into the Report and its redactions as the current parliamentary committee (headed by Malcolm Rifkind) is not powerful enough – it cannot insist on appearances and its report could be censored. David Davis MP is pressing for a judge-led enquiry and David H will write to Simon Wright (his MP) asking him to support this. There is also an AIUK petition, “Demand the truth about UK torture”. David F suggested writing during next month’s meeting to David Davis MP and Andrew Tyrie MP in support of their enquiry.
Christmas Concert at the Octagon on 30th November
This was very enjoyable and raised the huge sum of £520 for AI. Grateful thanks were given to all involved.
After a very slow start, sales picked up and almost all the Amnesty cards have been sold.
Write for Rights
This will be held on Sunday 21st. December from 11.00am to 3.00pm at Appleyard’s on Exchange Street. Posters were distributed and David Ford’s sculptural masterpiece admired.
Quiz and Dips
We are uncertain about the date but will aim for Saturday 21st January 2015. Fire regulations limit numbers to 100.
This will be on Saturday 28th March 2015 at the Methodist Church on Chapelfield. Themes will be
- The Human Rights Act (David Mead will speak)
- The Stop Torture Campaign
- A speaker from AIUK
The meeting ended with mince pies and mulled wine as members wrote greetings cards to Shaker Aamer and those people highlighted in the Write for Rights campaign.
Next Meeting – Wednesday 21st January 2015 at 7.30pm