15th January 2013 Minutes
Chair: David Huband
Chair welcomed all to the meeting
Apologies: Carl Grint
Minutes of last Open Meeting agreed save for the omission of the final item: “The meeting ended with mince pies and mulled wine as members wrote greeting cards to the families of Ogulsapar Muradova and Salidzhon Abdurackhmanov and others highlighted in the Write for Rights campaign.”
- Uganda’s anti-homosexuality Bill:
This Bill has been passed by the Ugandan Parliament and the President is the only person who can stop it becoming law. Joanna asked members to sign the on-line petition to the President which can be found on the AIUK website.
- Afghanistan Women’s Rights:
Roz reported no specific monthly action this month but there is an on-line petition to our MPs (AIUK website) urging their support for women’s rights in Afghanistan – especially for those women in positions of authority for whom the situation is worsening and widening, with teachers and health workers now being targeted.
David Ford circulated another letter to be sent to the President of Turkmenistan requesting a judicial enquiry into the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova. Gitti Dunham has reported that other groups involved are asking about tactics and these are being reviewed, but that in the meantime we should continue our campaign.
And another letter is to be sent to the President of Uzbekistan concerning the imprisonment of Salidzhon Abdurackhmanov.
- Shaker Aamer:
2 Sudanese and 4 Saudi detainees have been released since Paul Lewis was appointed as special envoy. However, Shaker Aamer remains on hunger strike and is being force fed. He is in very poor health. David Huband read the text of a letter he has written to Paul Lewis urging him to release Mr Aamer. It was agreed that at the next committee meeting in February, committee members will discuss ways in which we might campaign to increase publicity about this case.
- Anti-lobbying Bill:
This Bill, which will hamper the ability of charities to campaign and fundraise, has been amended in the House of Lords – very much helped by the efforts of the on-line campaigning ‘38 Degrees’. The amendment has increased the amount which charities may spend and has also reduced the time limit to 7 ½ months before an election. However, there are still many problems – for instance concerning charities campaigning together.
- AIUK Questionnaire:
The group has been asked whether it would like to campaign on cases in North America or the Caribbean. It was decided to stick with Central Asia.
- Annual Conference:
This year’s Annual Conference is to be held at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh on 12th/13th April.
- Regional Conference:
The Regional Conference is to be held in Ely on 8th March. It is an open meeting and will be on the subject of migrants.
- Annual Amnesty Quiz and Dips will be on Saturday 1st February at St Thomas’ church hall on Earlham Road.
- Annual Street Collection will be on 10th May.
We were very pleased to welcome Nazia Ahmed who spoke about the origins and work of ‘Freedom from Torture’. This is an organisation founded by Helen Bamber in 1985 out of her work in Amnesty. Although the main HQ is in London there are now centres elsewhere – Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow. The organisation has treated people from over 100 different countries and referrals are now running at around 5,000 annually. Such work is very expensive and it is local groups such as Nazir’s which not only raise awareness but also do much of the fundraising. Her talk was followed by an interesting question and answer session and a collection.
Wednesday 19th February at 7.30pm