19th November 2014 Meeting Minutes
Chair: David Huband
- Apologies: Joanna Kinnaird
- Chair welcomed all to the meeting
- Minutes of last open meeting agreed.
- Letter from Afghan Embassy
Sue Mackey reported that she had received a reply from the Afghan ambassador in response to her letter concerning the rape of a young girl by a Mullah. He had forwarded her letter to the Minister, reported that the rapist had received a 20 year sentence and wrote encouraging statements about the importance of women’s and children’s rights in Afghanistan.
(However, it was pointed out that the ratio of women in public office had recently been reduced from 25% to 20% in Afghanistan.)
- Arms Trade Treaty
This will become international law on 24th December 2014. Five of the top arms exporters – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK have ratified the treaty. The USA has signed but not ratified, while China, Canada, Israel and Russia have yet to sign.
- Hakamada Iwaio
Imprisoned for 45 years, Hakamada Iwaio was recently released but faces a re-trial. Amnesty is following the case closely.
- Monthly petition
Postponed until next month.
David Ford reported that Gitti Dunham has stepped down – the new Area Co-ordinator is Chloe Tenant.
There is news that In January a woman from an Uzbekistan Human Rights organisation named ‘Compassion’ was allowed to visit Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov in prison and given permission to pass information to Amnesty. The prison director and a cameraman who videoed the meeting were also present. She described Salidzhon as having aged and looking sad. He had on a new prison uniform and had showered… He was transferred to the prison a year ago because of health problems.
Amnesty welcomes this meeting but regrets that it was not held in private. A letter to the President was distributed for members to sign and post as well as a copy to the Ambassador.
- Shaker Aamer
David Huband reported that he had attended the demonstration to free Shaker Aamer outside parliament where there were about 15-20 protesters. The organisers admired our banner and the meeting agreed that we should offer it to them.Reprieve reports that a US Judge has demanded that a video of the force-feeding in Guantanamo should be seen as part of the case claiming that this practice is torture.
Two congressmen from Arizona and Minnesota are campaigning for the closure of Guantanamo. David H will draft a letter in solidarity for discussion at the next meeting.
G4S has a huge contract providing equipment to Guantanamo. Sue Mackey will write to The Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 news with this information.
Rendition is still in the news: the UK government has just lost a case based on reluctance to offend/embarrass the USA.
The EU is reviewing the law on the sale of torture equipment. Please consider signing the on-line Amnesty petition to put an end to the EU torture trade.
There is also a letter writing campaign and petition for the release of Chelsea Manning. Details are on line.
- Financial support for asylum seekers
AI had suggested we wrote to our MPs for increasing support. David Huband has written twice to his MP but not received a reply.
- Women’s action
Roz reported that the campaign for ‘Women’s Rights in Afghanistan’ is coming to an end but a petition is still open. The next action will be ‘My body, my rights’.She highlighted the case of Liu Ping who has been imprisoned and tortured for her fight against corruption in China. An information sheet with addresses to write to was distributed.
- Stop Torture Campaign
David Ford reported on a Skills Day run by AIUK to help groups campaign effectively in the Stop Torture campaign. He made the point that torture was often carried out routinely and in a situation where justice was at a very low level. Police were often ill-educated and badly paid. He spoke of a very interesting piece of street theatre which we might adopt for the campaign – particularly if we can find actors willing to take it on. He has a very good 5 minute introductory video which he will pass on to Tom Read, who will contact an actors’ group.
David also reported on an interesting evening meeting with the Pussy Riot Collective.
- AIUK Governance
David Huband reported on the AIUK Governance meeting which was largely concerned with AGM voting procedures.
- Reconciliation procedures
David Huband gave a short ‘paper’ on the use of reconciliation practices following atrocities committed during violent conflicts. He highlighted the different approaches used after the Spanish Civil War, South African Apartheid, Colombia, Cambodia and Ruanda and gave a thoughtful analysis of the consequences of each. All agreed that this was an interesting and thought-provoking discussion. David invited others to consider presenting a short report on an issue of interest.
- Write for Rights
This will be held at The Appleyard Cafe on Exchange Street on 21st December between 11.00 and 3.00 pm.
Tom is in contact with Mark Thomas who is performing at The Playhouse – hoping to publicise Amnesty.
- Christmas Concert
This is to be held at the Octagon Chapel on 30th November at 3.00 pm. All proceeds to Amnesty.
- Christmas Cards
Sue Mills reported that sales of Christmas cards are slower than last year – probably because of the position of the venue which is in The All Saints Centre on Westlegate. Members took small posters advertising the shop to distribute.
- Green Party Christmas Fair
This will be at St. Thomas’ Church Hall, Earlham Road. 13th December.
- David Mead is coming to the January meeting to talk about the Repeal of the Human Rights Act.
Next Meeting – Mince Pies and Letter writing
Wednesday 17th December at 7.30pm