16th July 2014 Meeting Minutes
Chair: David Huband Chair welcomed all to the meeting. David F introduced and welcomed Carol Chilton from the Social Responsibility Group linked to the Unitarian Church at the Octagon Chapel. The Group supports AI’s ideals and we look forward to working together more.
Minutes of the last Open Meeting agreed.
- Monthly Actions:
Joanna introduced 2 Actions
The first concerned Mahdi Abu Dheeb, a Bahraini who is serving a 5 year sentence for exercising his human rights. Amnesty believes him to be a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for the exercise of his legitimate rights to freedom of association and because of his trade union activism. Members signed appeal cards which Joanna will send to AIUK who will deliver them to the Bahrain Ambassador in the UK.
The second concerned Khalil Ma’touk, a Syrian Human Rights lawyer who has disappeared. He is believed to have been arrested by government supporters though this has been denied by the Syrian government. Joanna took photos of members holding a placard “Free Khalil Ma’touk” which Joanna will email to AIUK.
Members signed letters (produced by David F) to the Prosecutor General of Uzbekistan urging the immediate and unconditional release of Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, along with copies to be sent to the Uzbekistan Ambassador in London.
Similarly, members signed letters to the Minister of Foreign Affairs urging an investigation into the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova with copies to be sent to the Turkmenistan Ambassador in London.
- Shaker Aamer
Jim reported that Shaker Aamer had had a medical examination in Guantanamo between 16-20 December 2013 which took place over 25 hours. He detailed the findings of the medical examiner (from a 19 page document) which concluded that Mr Aamer will need continuing psychotherapy and medication for years. That his symptoms will worsen if he is sent to Saudi Arabia and that he should be returned to England to receive treatment where his family is. An appeal based on this report was launched in April but has been rejected without any reasons being given. Members were recommended to send short emails to David Cameron and Philip Hammond and to President Obama, urging Shaker Aamer’s release to the UK.
- Syrian women
Roz highlighted a UN Report from the Refugee Agency and played a recording of a feature on this topic from Woman’s Hour. Essentially, after 3 years of Civil War a quarter of all families in the refugee camps in neighbouring countries are headed by women. Many can’t get work, food or medicine and are often harassed, exploited and abused – because they are on their own. The UN Report calls for host countries to open their borders for men to join their families and to prioritise the abused for re-settlement.
- Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP)
Tom had raised concerns about this proposed Treaty (between the US and EU) at a previous meeting and David F had agreed to ask AIUK if they had any policy about it. David reported that he had had a reply saying that it was not an AI concern. Tom agreed to inform us of any further developments concerning TTIP.
- Street Collection
This raised £233 – despite the rain and the Lord Mayor’s Procession. Nicky was thanked for organising it.
- Peace Camp
This went well. The main focus was the Brazil campaign – 34 photos taken. Thanks to David Y for organising the event.
- Pride Stall
This takes place on 26th July at the Forum. David Y passed round a rota.
Stop Torture Campaign
David F introduced this new international campaign.
He pointed out that AI had been instrumental in the 1984 Convention against Torture, but 141 countries are using torture today and since 9/11 torture seems to have become more “acceptable” and we have to go out and demonstrate that it is wholly unacceptable.
This campaign is to run for two years in every Section of Amnesty.
Materials available include:
- Stop Torture Poster
- Five cases from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Philippines, Nigeria and Mexico.
- Campaign flyers
- Postcards to sign
- Articles in the AI magazine
David F invited the meeting to come up with ideas for getting the public involved:
Debbie made the point that we have to be ready with a response to those who respond that, “We live in dangerous times….”
- Stall on Hay Hill (maybe with ‘merchandise’ such as shackles).
- Placards associated with the next election
- A line of candles interspersed with the ‘Stop Torture’ message
- An event (this autumn?) which links with Shaker Aamer.
- Demonstration of water-boarding (Christopher Hitchens film)
- Target professionals e.g. Doctors to sign up
- Approach churches, mosque
- Exhibition – Cathedrals, Forum, Body Shop
- Amnesty Street Party
- Lord Mayor’s procession
- Derek James (EDP) might be prepared to come up with an article
- Mustard TV – always looking for material
- PEN, Writers’ Centre, UEA, Cinema City
David will co-ordinate this.
Wednesday 20th August at 7.30pm