Categories
minutes

March 2021 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these minutes. If you would rpefer to read them in PDF form, they can be viewed here.

Welcome and Introductions

Attendees: MDS, CA, JG, JGi, EMCs, MR, KM, ZA, BM

Apologies: CL, CC

Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders (CA)

Thanks to CA for an update on our Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders.

There was a Twitter storm action on March 8th for International
Women's Day.

Loujain al-Halthloul

  • Loujain al-Halthloul was sentenced on 28 December 2020 by the Specialised Criminal Court to five years and eight months in prison with partial suspension of two years and 10 months, in addition to three years 'probation' and a five-year travel ban. Loujain, cannot speak to media or have a social media account and cannot travel, two ongoing trials.

  • Loujain was released on 10 February 2021 and has appealed her sentence.

  • Loujain's appeal before the Specialised Criminal Court began on 2 March 2021 where the Public Prosecutor called for Loujain's sentence to be increased. The judges also continued to deny Loujain's torture allegations and the hearing was adjourned until 10 March.

  • The family has asked that we do not say that Loujain is "free" because she is only conditionally released.

  • Key action for this month: Help demand Loujain's unconditional freedom. There are two ways you can do this.

Option One:

This is an easy email action available here.

Option Two:

Write a letter to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud with copies to the Embassy. Remember to send your copies to the Embassy -- very important to do this to increase impact.

Addresses:

The King

His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud,

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court, Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: +966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)

Twitter: \@KingSalman

The Embassy

His Excellency HRH Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Al-Saud

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

30 Charles Street, Mayfair W1J 5DZ.

020 7917 3000

You can either use this model letter or write the letter in your own words. You can write in English or Arabic. You have until 15th April 2021.

Suggested Text

Your Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud,

On 10 February, Saudi woman human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul was conditionally released from prison after being sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court in December 2020 to five years and eight months in prison, with partial suspension of two years and 10 months, including the time she has already served in detention since May 2018. She was convicted of trumped-up charges related to her peaceful human rights work, including "spying with foreign parties" and "conspiring against the kingdom" for promoting women's rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia.

Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested in May 2018 and was detained without charge or trial from 17 May 2018 until 13 March 2019, when she appeared for her first court session. She was subjected to lengthy spells in solitary confinement throughout her detention. For the first three months of detention, Loujain al-Hathloul endured torture, sexual abuse and other ill-treatment when she was held incommunicado and in solitary confinement with no access to her family or lawyer.

Even though she is now outside prison, Loujain al-Hathloul is not free yet. She continues to face probation, which means she faces the risk of re-imprisonment - conditional release and a travel ban of five years. In addition, she continues to be denied access to justice and accountability for her allegations of being tortured and harassed in prison during the first three months of her detention.

I urge you to ensure that Loujain al-Hathloul's conviction and sentence are quashed as she was detained and tried solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression.

I also urge you to ensure Loujain al-Hathloul's freedom of movement and travel by lifting the ban imposed on her for the coming five years, as well as removing the travel ban on her parents.

Furthermore, I call on you to ensure an impartial, effective investigation into the reports of Loujain al-Hathloul being tortured, harassed and ill-treated in prison, that she receives full reparation, and that those suspected of responsibility are prosecuted in fair trials with no possibility of the death penalty.

Finally, I urge you to ensure Loujain al-Hathloul's safety and protection from threats, harassment and any kind of punitive measures, to enable her to safely continue her human rights work without intimidation or fear of prosecution.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]

Please let Christine know about any actions you take so we can keep a record of our activities:
[christinealison\@btinternet.com]

Nassima al-Sada

  • Nassima al-Sada was sentenced on 25 December 2020 to five years in prison backdated to start on 23 July 2018 with two years suspended. A five-year travel ban is expected but an original fine of three million riyals appears to have been dropped. She is expected to be released in early June 2021.

  • On 8 February 2021, the Public Prosecutor appealed the sentence and hinted at an earlier release.

  • CA also shared a touching message from the son of Nassima who received messages of support as part of the 2020 Write for Rights campaign.

Israa al-Ghomgham

  • Israa has been provisionally sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.

  • The five other male defendants in her case were sentenced to between eight and seventeen-years' imprisonment.

  • The court did reject the Public Prosecution's call for the men to be sentenced to death. It is unclear whether the Public Prosecution will appeal these sentences.

  • All six defendants had been charged with filming and uploading footage of protests. None had been charged with using violence. They are being held in Damman prison.

  • No additional action on this case is planned at this stage.

Samar Badawi

  • Samar Badawi was sentenced on 25 December 2020 to five years in prison with two years suspended together with a one million riyal fine.

  • She is expected to be released in early June 2021 and her lawyer has appealed her fine.

Nouf Abdul Aziz and Maya'a a-Zahrani

  • Nouf Abdul Aziz and Maya'a a-Zahrani can now be mentioned publicly in appeals but Amnesty does not currently have any updates on their cases.

Jamal Khashoggi Update

  • Although not one of our women human rights defenders, you may still be interested in this update on the Jamal Khashoggi case:

  • A United States intelligence report has named Crown Prince Mohammed as the person who gave the order for Jamal to be murdered. Amnesty has issued a press release saying that the findings reinforce the need for accountability. The press release can be found here.

  • Reporters without Borders has filed a criminal complaint with the German Public Prosecutor General targeting the Crown Prince and other high-ranking Saudi officials responsible for crimes against humanity. More information can be found here.

  • MR also flagged up the film, the Dissident [https://thedissident.com] which is about Jamal Khashoggi.

We are hoping to do some more public-facing campaigning on our Saudi Women Rights Defenders over the course of the year. Perhaps around the Grand Prix as Saudi Arabia is this year's host country.

Second long term case?

If we would like to take on a second long term case, we would need someone from the group to be the lead on the case. If you would like to talk informally about what this would involve please contact [christinealison\@btinternet.com]. As we have not been allocated a second case yet, if there is a particular region of the world/ human rights issue you are interested in please let us know so we can request this.

AIUK Priorities for 2021 (MDS)

Three broad types of campaigning that Amnesty does:

  1. Global level: this is on a particular human rights issue, usually last a few years

  2. Urgent Actions: people who need help right now, in imminent risk, we share some of these with you every month

  3. Long term individual cases: e.g. the Saudi Women Rights Defenders or our previous case Ali Aarrass

AIUK Priorities for 2021:

  1. Legislative threats to human rights in the UK, e.g. removal of the Human Rights Act, aspects of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC Bill) etc.

  2. Syria -- the conflict has now been going for 10 years. AIUK intends to focus on Syrian human rights defenders going forward.

  3. Refugees -- in the UK there is the Football Welcomes and Families Together campaigns among other work.

  4. COVID 19 -- workers rights campaigning with Amnesty's trade union network, calling for enquiry into how pandemic was handled, Covid in prisons, etc.

  5. Individuals at Risk -- main focus on Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

  6. Write for Rights -- annual campaign, will be Nov and Dec this year

  7. UK homelessness -- new issue for Amnesty, chosen by members in AGM

  8. Children's rights and youth engagement

  9. Incorporation of UN international Human Rights treaties into Scots
    law

  10. Defending the Amnesty movement -- better supporting our colleagues at threat!

Fundraising/ Campaigning (FL)

Ideas from other Amnesty Groups

To get you inspired, here are some examples of what other Amnesty groups have been up to over the last few months:

  • Lewes group's year-long campaign against human rights abuses in the US (good example of collaboration between Amnesty groups)

  • Westminster and Bayswater and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights online event with a variety of speakers in English, Arabic and Farsi (great example of collaboration with other organisations)

  • Lambeth group's virtual embassy crawl -- MPs invited to speak on issues important to them. This replaced their usual in-person event where members of the group walk from embassy to embassy delivering Amnesty letters pertinent to the individual countries. We discussed doing something similar here in Scotland. Could we do something similar
    with the consulates in Edinburgh? Here is a list of all the foreign
    consulates in Edinburgh - [https://www.embassypages.com/city/edinburgh] Perhaps as a future collaboration with the Edinburgh Amnesty groups?

  • Various groups video their events so they can be watched later on YouTube and remain as long-term record of their work

  • Themed activities around key dates -- e.g. World Day Against the Death Penalty, Black History Month, Refugee Week, etc.

  • Ipswich group -- poetry night, poetry read by group members

  • Croydon group and Glasgow Uni group -- auction of promises/ online raffles

  • Cardiff and Southampton groups -- photo mosaics -- option to exhibit these mosaics in the future if we wish

Our ideas (possible now):

Sponsored litter pick

We have decided to do a sponsored litter pick to fundraise for Amnesty and do our bit for our local environment! All you need to do is:

  1. choose your litter pick date and location (remember to stay local)

  2. ask your friends and neighbours to sponsor you. Freya has made a free flyer on the website Canva to share with your neighbours as per Christine's suggestion.

You can edit and download the flyer to print yourself via this link:

Flyer on Canva

If you need a hand with this let Freya know ([mail\@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk]).

We've also set up a GoFundMe page for people's donations:

[https://gofund.me/6e80e1bd]

  1. take a photo of yourself out on your litter pick and send them to Freya or share them directly to our social media pages (\@AmnestyGlasWest for Twitter and \@glasgowwestamnesty for Facebook and Instagram)

Christine has some litter pickers you can borrow so get in touch with her if you'd like to use these. If you'd like a buddy from the Amnesty group to do your litter pick with, get in touch with Freya and she can link you up. Remember current rules are four people together from two households. Let's all aim to do our litter pick before the April meeting and raise some much-needed funds for Amnesty!

Auction of Promises

Our second fundraiser is an Auction of Promises. We're asking everyone to think of something we could contribute to the auction by the April meeting.

You can either offer your own services in a promise, e.g. a guided walk, baking a cake, an hour's gardening, a language lesson, cat/dog sitting, house/garden plants, a painting, etc. What special talents do you have?

Alternatively, contact your local businesses and see if they'll donate something to the auction. Their business will be promoted on our publicity for the auction.

Or you could do both. ūüôā

Here is some inspiration from the Glasgow Uni Amnesty who organised a similar fundraiser with donations from local businesses for Christmas:

GUAI
JustGiving

We look forward to hearing what you all come up with next month. We can aim to hold the online auction in April or May.

We also discussed some other ideas such as another online quiz and reaching out more to our local MPs/ SMPs including inviting them to our meetings.

Our future ideas (as COVID restrictions ease):

  • Letter writing picnics

  • Relaunch party for first face to face meeting -- Amnestea, speakers,
    photo action, possible new venue? etc.

  • Campaigning around COP21 in Glasgow

  • Write for Rights large event in collaboration with Interfaith
    Glasgow. JG suggested a nice idea where the room is in darkness, each
    person represents a case and as the speaker mentions them, they light a
    candle. At the end the room is full of the light from the candles.

  • Ceilidh (possibly in early 2022)

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update:

Local Groups Update

Treasurer's Report (JG)

Remember to send JG receipts for any stamps for the letters you send as the group can reimburse you. You can email the group and FL will forward on ([mail\@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk])

Urgent Actions (MR)

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions. Plenty of letter writing to keep you busy in the (hopefully) last few weeks of full lockdown:

IRAN: BRITISH-IRANIAN LABOUR ACTIVIST DETAINED

Mehran Raoof, a British-Iranian national and a labour rights activist, is being arbitrarily detained in Tehran's Evin prison. Revolutionary Guards agents arrested him on 16 October 2020. He is being held in prolonged solitary confinement, in violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

IRAN: BRITISH-IRANIAN LABOUR ACTIVIST DETAINED

IRAN: TWO BALUCHI PRISONERS AT RISK OF EXECUTION

Death row prisoners from Iran's Baluchi ethnic minority, Hamed Rigi and Mehran Naru'i, are at risk of execution. They have been subjected to serious human rights violations including enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment to extract "confessions" used to convict and sentence them to death in unfair trials. Since mid-December 2020, the Iranian authorities have executed 18 Baluchi men, raising fears that Hamed Rigi and Mehran Naru'i may be executed imminently.

IRAN: TWO BALUCHI PRISONERS AT RISK OF EXECUTION

IRAQ: JOURNALISTS MUST BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY

On 16 February, the 2nd Erbil Criminal Court, in the Kurdish Region of Iraq's capital, sentenced activists and journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Ghudar Zebari, Hussein Issa, Ayaz Karan and Shvan Saeed to six years in prison following an unfair trial, based on trumped-up charges of "destabilizing the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I)". The five journalists are now on hunger strike as they await the appeal verdict expected to take place by 16 March. They must be immediately and unconditionally released.

IRAQ: JOURNALISTS MUST BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY

AOB

Aleksei Navalny

Concerns were raised in the meeting over Amnesty's decision to no longer class Russian activist Aleksei Navalny as a prisoner of conscience.

Thanks to Mal for sharing Amnesty's statement on Aleksei:

Amnesty Statement on Aleksi navalny

MR also shared the following article from the Moscow Times which was published before Amnesty's statement on the issue:

Moscow Times Article

We are being encouraged to contact Andy Hackman at AIUK (governance\@email.amnestyuk.org.uk) if we have been upset by the decision.

Next meeting

Thursday 8th April 2021

We look forward to welcoming one of AIUK's South Asia Country Coordinators who will give a talk on the situation for women in South Asia. We will also use the meeting to plan our auction of promises.

Categories
minutes

February 2021 Minutes

Many thanks to FL for these minutes. If you prefer, you can download them as a PDF for reading.

Glasgow West Amnesty International

Welcome and Introductions

Attendees: LW, CC, FL, MDS, JGi, CA, MR, JG, ZA, BM

Apologies: KM

Talk and Q&A: Lynnda Wardle, Interfaith Glasgow -- the Weekend Club

About Interfaith Glasgow -- three strands of work:

1. Dialogue -- scriptural reasoning (thematic discussions to compare what different faiths have to say on these themes) and Faith to Faith (discussing the more contentious topics)

2. Friendship building -- e.g. new project supporting the Glasgow LGBT+
Interfaith Network

3. Cooperation -- e.g. the Interfaith Food Justice Network -- many Weekend Club participants have been involved, the network has almost doubled in size during the pandemic. Annual One Big Picnic -- stalls with free food in George Square, hoping they will be able to have this again this year.

The Weekend Club:

New arrivals to Glasgow found they were most lonely during the weekend.

What it does: monthly fun, free, educational activity on a Saturday. Transport paid to make it more accessible.

Types of activities: visits to cultural centres, museums, safari parks, parks, trips to the countryside, etc.

Often participants go on to become volunteers.

In addition the Weekend Club also builds connections with faith communities.

During the pandemic, the Weekend Club has offered online sessions. Had to get around issues of digital poverty so provided devices and data top-ups. Recent session with Kelvingrove Museum was very successful.

Participants from all over the world. Really positive feedback from Weekend Club participants. A new Weekend Club started in Edinburgh inspired by the Glasgow club.

15 different volunteers -- from many faith backgrounds and none

Funding -- rely mainly on small grant funding, recently been able to hire two sessional members of staff to help.

How do they publicise their events -- connections with other organisations working with refugees, policy to always have 10% new people at every event

Contact details:

weekendclub\@interfaithglasgow.org

www.interfaithglasgow.org

Twitter - \@interfaithGlasg

Instagram - (IG:
interfaithglasg)

www.facebook.com/interfaithglasgow

Mobile: 07511044814

Email:
lynnda.wardle\@interfaithglasgow.org

The Weekend Club are always looking to work with new organisations for their activities so please get in touch if you have any suggestions.

Q&A

Here's a few notes from the Q&A session:

Do you offer support with asylum cases? Short answer no, but we can signpost people to the appropriate organisation. We also do sometimes write references if we know the person well.

How do you volunteer? Please get in touch. We would suggest that you come along to an activity session first and see what we do.

How are you operating during lockdown? Online only, but we are still getting great participation levels (80 people at the last session!) We do data top ups so it remains accessible.

Do you help with travel costs? Yes, within Glasgow.

Do you vary venues? Venues we use church halls, etc. We try to work with faith communities and they offer their spaces for free to us which is great. It's really important to connect refugees with local communities. We need to collaborate!

Thanks again to Lynnda for giving up her time to share the great work of the Weekend Club with us.

Long Term Case: Women Human Rights Defenders (CA)

Good news on the release of Loujain al-Hathloul:

Saudi Arabia: release of Loujain al-Hathloul 'an incredible
relief'

Please retweet the following tweets -

https://twitter.com/amnestygulf/status/1359551068229754882

https://twitter.com/amnestygulf/status/1359549726287400970

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update

Note this year is the 60th anniversary of Amnesty International!!

Group action for Nazanin

I did send a letter to the Glasgow Evening Times but got no reply ūüôĀ

Treasurer's Report (JG)

Remember to send JG receipts for any stamps for the letters you send as the group can reimburse you. You can email the group and FL will forward on (mail\@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk[)]()

Annual return -- thanks JG for sending!

Online/ outside fundraising ideas -- bring to next month's meeting please.

Possible Upcoming Glasgow West speakers (FL)

April meeting -- One of the AIUK South Asia Country Coordinators

May meeting - Simon John (Secretary of the Thetford AI local group) talk on modern slavery. Possibility of doing joint session with the Scotland Amnesty Online Group.

Urgent Actions (MR)

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

GERMAN-IRANIAN WOMAN ARBITRARILY DETAINED (IRAN)

German-Iranian Woman Arbitrarily Detained

Nahid Taghavi, a 66-year-old German-Iranian national, has been arbitrarily detained in Tehran's Evin prison since 16 October 2020. She has serious medical conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, placing her at heightened risk of severe illness or death if she contracts COVID-19. She is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

INVESTIGATE SUSPECTED ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (TURKEY)

Investigate Suspected Enforced Disappearance

H√ľseyin Galip K√ľ√ß√ľk√∂zyińüit, a former legal advisor at the Prime Ministry who was dismissed following the 2016 coup attempt, has been missing since 29 December 2020. His family suspect him to have been abducted and subjected to enforced disappearance and all their efforts to locate him since have been in vain. The authorities have denied that he is in official custody. Turkish authorities must promptly investigate to determine the whereabouts of H√ľseyin Galip K√ľ√ß√ľk√∂zyińüit and urgently inform his family.

KREMLIN CRITIC ALEKSEI NAVALNY INCARCERATED (RUSSIA)

Kremlin Critic Aleksei Navalny Incarcerated

On 17 January, prominent Russian anti-corruption and opposition activist Aleksei Navalny was arrested at the airport as he returned to Moscow. He has narrowly survived what has since been independently confirmed as poisoning by Novichok nerve agent in August 2020 and spent the last five months in Germany recovering. He is a prisoner of conscience, his detention arbitrary and politically motivated.

Update: Please note Amnesty International's recent statement on Aleksi Navalny

KAZAKH FAMILY AT RISK OF TORTURE IN DETENTION (CHINA)

Kazakh Family Risk Torture in Detention

Weilina Muhatai and her two sons, Muheyati Haliyoula and Parisati Haliyoula, have been missing since August 2020. All ethnic Kazakhs living in China's Xinjiang region, their possible detention is thought to be linked to the activism of their husband and father, who they suspect to have died in detention in December 2020. With no communication or access to them for more than six months, there are grave concerns for the health and wellbeing of Weilina Muhatai, Muheyati Haliyoula and Parisati Haliyoula.

You can download the full PDF or click Take Action at the top of the page for a link to a pre-prepared email/letter action.

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home - https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions

AOB

Ali Aarrass

Our previous long-term case was released from prison last year, he sent a message thanking his supporters -

On behalf of the board of "freeali", on behalf of all its members, on behalf of all my family and myself, I'd like to thank you for your support, your solidarity and your encouragement throughout these past long years. It's true that your ongoing perseverance, alongside our committees/groups and other NGOs, all of your voices have passed through the wretched prison walls in Morocco -- where torturers "set to work" on all those who dare to demand their rights and that their dignity be respected.

Let's not forget I've survived these atrocities, these ordeals, such despicable torture in conditions of inhuman detention in Morocco. However, despite everything, thanks to you, they failed at one thing. They weren't able to make an animal out of me. The world knows of their crimes against vulnerable people, who are suppressed and terrorised by their country -- a country which wants us to believe that it's a "democracy" or a "State based on law/rights". All of you outside of Morocco, you have made a fool of them and revealed the truth -- yes -- through your noble work, with courage and solidarity. And this is why we must continue relentlessly and stay strong. We must stay united and of course always stay in touch.

Today I'm finally free, even though we can't travel due to the Coronavirus. We're finally free to meet and to get together -- even with our family. But that mustn't stop us from continuing the fight -- a fight for what we believe to be right and just. Because there is so much injustice and there are so many human rights violations.

I'd also be honoured to get to know each and every one of you -- you who've so willingly shared my story over these last 12 years -- my testimony of arbitrary unjust imprisonment with which Spain, Belgium and Morocco were all complicit. I'd like to finish by telling you that: I will never stop revealing the crimes and injustices that they did against me.

Thanking you eternally for the support and solidarity that you've given to me and my dear family, Ali Aaarrass Aa

We discussed the possibilities of sending Ali a message back. CC will get back to the group about this at our next meeting.

Human Rights Courses

Amnesty has produced a great selection of free online human rights courses on a variety of topics. Check them out here: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/online-learning

Next meeting

Thursday 11th March 2021

Annual planning meeting (get your thinking caps on and bring your ideas
for campaigning/ fundraising activities/ future meeting venues, etc.) If
you wish to discuss any of these ideas informally before the meeting
please get in touch with Freya (mail\@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk).

Joining instructions will be sent via email and our social media.

Categories
minutes

January 2021 Minutes

Many thanks to FL for these minutes. If you prefer, you can read them as a PDF.

Glasgow West Amnesty International

Attendees: CL (Chair and co-lead on Saudi Women Rights Defenders), CA (co-lead on Saudi Women Rights Defenders), FL (Secretary), CC, CL, JG (Treasurer), JG, KM, MR (Urgent Actions, Twitter), Z, AH

PD (Country Coordinator for Saudi Arabia and Yemen)

AB, B, EC, JA, JW, MW (Perth Amnesty Group)

Apologies: CCa

Talk: Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

We were joined by the Country Coordinator for Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Paul Dawson, who gave a fantastic talk on human rights in Saudi Arabia. The Glasgow West Amnesty group has recently taken on the Saudi Women Rights Defenders as our local term case.

Paul has kindly shared his notes with us. These are available at the bottom of these minutes.

Following his talk, we also had an interesting Q&A.

Paul will share any updates on the campaign, including a potential to link with Amnesty's Football Welcomes Campaign, with the group in due course. Craig and Christine are the group's leads on the Women's Human Rights Defenders case so please contact them if you have any queries/ campaign ideas.

Women Human Rights Defenders (CA + CL)

Please could everyone print out the attached letter addressed to the Saudi Ambassador and post it as soon as possible. Alternatively you could adapt the letter. If you find the website for the Saudi Embassy there is the option of clicking on a "contact the ambassador" button which will allow you to email an appeal for the imprisoned women:

[https://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/uk/EN/Ambassador/pages/Contact.aspx]{.ul}.

Also, it would be great if everyone could write to their MPs and ask them to raise the issue of the imprisoned women's rights defenders at any opportunity. If you would like more details then please get in touch with Christine or Craig.

Case Summary:

On 15 May 2018, a group of activists, including the country's leading women human rights defenders, who campaigned for the right to drive and the end of repressive guardianship laws, were arbitrarily arrested. For the first three months of their detention, at least ten of the activists, including several of the women, endured torture, sexual abuse and other forms of ill-treatment when they were held incommunicado and in solitary confinement with no access to their families or lawyers.

A year later, the Saudi authorities charged and tried the women for their human rights activism. At least two human rights defenders detained in the same wave remain to date without charge or trial. Following the first trial session in March 2019, several Saudi women activists were released on temporary and provisional basis (Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Amal al-Harbi, Dr. Ruqayyah al-Mharib, Shadan al-Anezi, Dr. Abir Namankni, and Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi and an anonymous activist), while five remain to this day in detention (Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Naseema al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya'a al-Zahrani) on charges related to their campaigning for women's rights.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update:

Local Groups Update

Group action for Nazanin

Most local groups will be very familiar with the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian dual-national who has been in detention in Iran since April 2016. As you will know, Amnesty are campaigning hard for her to be fully released (she is currently under a form of house arrest in Tehran) and allowed to return to her family here the UK. As part of this work we will be sending a letter to a local Glasgow paper highlighting the case.

For more background and context, here's a link to Amnesty's most recent press release on Nazanin's case, along with another dual-national detained in Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori:

Press release on Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori

and a campaign update:

Nazanin and Anoosheh campaign update.

Write for Rights 2020 Sum Up

Our group's activities:

  • Nov and Dec: 10 Weeks of W4R on our social media feeds -- followers
    were introduced to one case per week and shown how to take action

  • Thurs 10th Dec: Collaboration with Amnesty Scotland Online Activism
    group

  • Sat 12th Dec: Write for Rights workshop with Interfaith Glasgow's
    Weekend Club

  • Jan 2021: Write for Rights at MILK caf√© -- cancelled due to COVID
    restrictions (hope to do something together in Nov-Dec 2021)

Not taken action yet? The Write for Rights materials are still available online:

Write for Rights

and

WfR 2020 Page.

Urgent Actions (MR)

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

10 Hongkongers sentenced in unfair trial

UA: 10 Hongkongers sentenced in unfair trial

Ten of the 12 Hongkongers arrested in August 2020 by the Chinese coast guard were sentenced on 30 December 2020 without a fair trial. Having been detained for more than four months, the 10 individuals still have no access to their families or family-appointed lawyers

Students allege ill-treatment in detention

UA: Students allege ill-treatment in detention

Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse an overwhelmingly peaceful protest held at the Bońüazi√ßi University on 4 January. At least 45 students were detained during dawn raids between 5 to 7 January after their alleged participation in a protest at the Bońüazi√ßi University in Istanbul. Many among them have alleged torture or other ill-treatment, including being handcuffed on their back, beaten and some LGBTI+ students threatened with rape and subjected to insults. The prosecuting authorities must investigate these allegations and bring law enforcement officers found to be responsible to justice.

Execution risk for Iranian-Swedish academic

UA: Execution risk for Iranian-Swedish academic

Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali has been held incommunicado
in Tehran's Evin prison since 24 November 2020, when he learned that his
death sentence for "corruption on earth" (efsad-e fel-arz) was to be
carried out imminently. In late December 2020, his family learned that
Ahmadreza Djalali's execution was halted for one month. He remains at
risk of execution.

Lengthy imprisonment for retired Uyghur doctor

UA: Lengthy imprisonment for retired Uyghur doctor

Retired Uyghur doctor Gulshan Abbas was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment in a secret trial for "taking part in organized terrorism, aiding terrorist activities and seriously disrupting social order" in March 2019. Her family learned about this sentencing through a trusted source 21 months later in December 2020. They believe that Gulshan Abbas's lengthy sentencing is linked to the activism for Uyghurs of Gulshan Abbas' relatives in the US. Gulshan Abbas has multiple chronic diseases that require constant monitoring and regular medical treatment. The fact that Gulshan has no access to her family members for more than two years raises serious concerns for her health and wellbeing.

You can download the full PDF or click Take Action at the top of the page for a link to a pre-prepared email/letter action.

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions

Upcoming Glasgow West activities

February 11th -- Lynnda Wardle (Programme Manager at Interfaith Glasgow). Interfaith Glasgow is a project which aims to support and develop positive engagement between people from diverse religion and belief backgrounds in Glasgow. She helps run the Weekend Club which aims to address the social isolation experienced by asylum seekers, refugees and new migrants in Glasgow.

March 11th -- Annual planning meeting (more information to follow)

New meeting venue? - We look forward to being able to meet again in person. When this is eventually possible, we are considering changing our meeting venue. Please get in touch with Freya (mail\@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk) if you have any venue suggestions or requirements.

AOB

Human Rights Film Festival: "Document"

Document Human Rights Film Festival returns for its 18th edition, prompting new ways of viewing, resisting, and affirming our shared relationship to human rights.

Taking a deep dive into the 'politics of viewing' and the role of cinema in a world of perpetual emergency, the programme features twelve feature documentaries, a desktop-documentary performance, a critical reading group, an industry-focused critical forum, filmmaker Q&As, workshops and discussions, and a director masterclass - all available UK wide. Runs from Sunday 24 January‚ÄČto‚ÄČSunday 31 January 2021.

Document: Human Rights Film Festival-2021

Next meeting

Thursday 11th February -- Talk about Interfaith Glasgow and the Weekend Club. We use the online platform WebEx for our meetings. There is the option to dial in from a landline or mobile if you don't have internet access.

Joining instructions:

Join from the meeting link - WebEx

Join by meeting number - Meeting number (access code): 181 849 3382 and meeting password: AIUK (2485 from phones and video systems)

Join by phone - +44-20-7660-8149 United Kingdom Toll

Any issues get in touch with Mal at malcolm.dingwall-smith\@amnesty.org.uk

Paul's Notes

Amnesty's work on Saudi Arabia

  • Amnesty's first report on Saudi Arabia was in 1990

  • In 2000 the last country campaign by Amnesty was on Saudi Arabia (also first campaign on a Middle East country). Focussing on the secretiveness of the Saudi judicial system which remains to this day and this allows abuses to flourish.

  • Saudi Arabia is a closed country for Amnesty research visits or meeting with Saudi officials despite numerous requests by Amnesty

  • Saudi is currently a priority country for Amnesty.

  • Two concurrent campaigns currently running:

    • Politicised trials before the Specialised Criminal Court

    • Detention of women's rights activists.

Human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia

a) Arbitrary arrests and detentions

  • Mass and arbitrary detention of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

  • Scores of prisoners of conscience, detained solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly, remain in detention.

  • Detention is often without charge or trial and incommunicado detention is common. Trials are often summary.

  • Unfair trials of activists often accused under 'terrorism' legislation continue.

  • Widespread abuses are possible because of the judiciary system

b) No room for dissent

  • There are no political parties, trade unions or human rights organizations

c)Crackdown on activists

  • Since Prince Mohamed bin Salman became crown prince on 21 June 2017 the human rights situation has deteriorated sharply.

  • Mid-September 2017 a wave of arrests with more than 20 prominent religious figures, writers, journalists, academics and activists arrested.

  • Since May 2018, at least 15 activists, including several women human rights defenders have been detained in Saudi Arabia. These include Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef.

  • On 19 May 2018, the Saudi Press Agency that seven individuals had been arrested for their "Suspicious contact with foreign entities", "Recruiting people working in sensitive government positions" and "Providing financial support to hostile entities abroad with the aim of undermining the security and stability of the Kingdom and shaking the country's social fabric".

  • In July 2018, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada were arbitrarily detained. Nassima has been in solitary confinement since February 2019.

  • In November 2018, it was reported that several of these activists had been tortured, subjected to sexual violence and otherwise ill-treated. The women were initially held incommunicado and in solitary confinement without access to their families and lawyers.

  • Since April 2019, at least a further 14 individuals have been arrested including journalists, writers and academics.

  • Of the eleven women on trial before the Criminal Court in Riyadh (first session was held on 13 March 2019) eight have now been temporarily released but remain on trial. Loujain al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya'a al-Zahrani remain detained. Many were key campaigners against the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and campaigners to end the male guardianship system.

  • Diplomats and journalists have been barred from attending the trial.

  • On 28 December 2020, Loujain was sentenced by the Specialised Criminal Court to five years and eight months' imprisonment. Two years and 10 months of the sentence were suspended and time she has already served will count meaning she could be released in March 2020 but she may appeal the sentence.

d) Systematic discrimination of women

  • Women and girls face discrimination in both law and practice

  • Discrimination is largely a result of the male guardianship system

  • Women have subordinate status to men under law in matters such as
    marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.

  • 11/03/2002 fire at girl's school in Mecca killed 15 girls. The religious police prevented some of the girls leaving the building and hindered rescue workers because the girls were not correctly dressed. There was an inquiry and one of the outcomes was that girl's schools were brought under the control of the Ministry of Education rather than the conservative agency that had previously controlled them.

  • In 2004 a popular television presenter was severely beaten by her husband and the photos appeared in the press. She had reportedly answered the telephone without her husband's approval.

  • In August 2013 a law was introduced to criminalise domestic violence with a punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to 50,000 riyals. The punishments can be doubled for repeat offenders. But women remain inadequately protected and there is a lack of competent authorities to enforce the law which is therefore largely unimplemented in practice.

  • Launch of domestic abuse helpline

  • Women were allowed to stand and vote in the municipal elections
    in 2015.

  • In February 2018, the Ministry of Commerce and Investment announced that women did not need the permission of a male guardian to start a business.

  • At the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 the government committed to abolishing the male guardianship system and to allow women greater freedom to travel, study, work and marry but there has been no noticeable improvement.

  • In 2011 the Women2Drive campaign was launched and those that have supported the campaign have faced harassment and arrest.

  • In December 2014 two women drivers were arrested at the UAE border and were charged under terrorism offences. Now released.

  • 26 September 2017 government announced that women would be allowed to drive and this came into force on June 2018.

  • Raif and Waleed - More info on AIUK site

e) Executions

  • Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of execution in the world both in absolute numbers and per capita. Saudi Arabia is in the top three countries for executions -- China & Iran higher.

  • Saudi Arabia has expanded the scope of the death penalty to include non-violent offences such as apostasy, drug dealing, sodomy and 'witchcraft' therefore do not fall under the category of 'most serious crimes' under international law

  • Executions are usually by public beheading although women are
    sometimes shot.

  • Executed bodies are sometimes displayed in public.

  • The death penalty is used as a political weapon against the Shi'a
    minority

  • Those under sentence of death and their families are often not informed of their imminent execution and bodies are often not returned to families.

  • Many people in Saudi Arabia sentenced to death and executed are charged guilty following seriously flawed court proceedings that routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. They are often convicted solely on the basis of "confessions" obtained under torture and other ill-treatment, denied legal representation in trials which are held in secret, and are not kept informed of the progress of the legal proceedings in their case.

  • Foreign nationals are often not provided with interpretation assistance.

  • More than 2,000 people executed between 1985 and 2016, In 2015 -- 158+, In 2016 -- 154+, In 2017 -- 146, In 2018 -- 149, In 2019 -- 184 (178 men, six women. Just over half foreign nationals, majority of executions were for murder or drug related offences but there was an increased use of the death penalty as a political weapon against dissidents from the Shia minority) and In 2020 -- 27 (provisional figure).

  • On 23 April 2019, 37 people were executed on terrorism charges. Most of those executed were Shi'a men after sham trials which relied on confessions extracted under torture. 11 of the men had been convicted of spying for Iran. At least 14 were executed after having been convicted of violent offences related to their participation in anti-government demonstrations in the Eastern Province between 2011 and 2012.

  • Scores of people remain on death row but the actual figure is unknown as death sentences are not often reported in the media.

Cases:

  • Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa, an Indonesian domestic worker and mother of two, was executed by beheading in Medina on 14 April 2015 for killing her female employer in 1999 who had reportedly continually mistreated her. She reportedly suffered from mental illness and neither her family or the Indonesian government was notified in advance of her execution. The authorities had waited 15 years so that the youngest relative of the victim could decide whether to demand her execution as retribution or pardon Siti. She was alleged to have 'confessed' in 1999 but received no legal representation during her detention or trial and police believed she was mentally ill at this time.

  • On 13 September 2018 Said al-Sai'ari was executed in the city of Najran, in the southwest of Saudi Arabia. He was found guilty of the murder of another Saudi Arabian man, by the same court that concluded that there was not enough evidence to convict him.

  • Suliamon Olufemi. A Nigerian national who was sentenced to death after any unfair trial and has been in prison awaiting execution since 2002.

    Document on AIUK website

Juvenile offenders:

  • The use of the death penalty for crimes committed by people younger than 18 is prohibited under international human rights law.

  • Since 1993 eight juvenile offenders have been executed in Saudi Arabia. Probably between 15 and 17 at the time of their offence.

  • Abdulkareem al-Hawaj was executed in April 2019 as part of the 37 after being involved in the demonstrations. He was 16 at the time of his arrest.

  • Recently reported that in August 2018 the Public Prosecution had sought the death penalty for Murtaja Qureiris. He was 13 at the time of his arrest and had been involved in protests in the Eastern Province since the age of 10. Has now been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

  • A number of other juvenile offenders are currently on death row.

  • In April 2020, Saudi Arabia announced that it planned to end the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime in cases not involving the counter-terrorism law.

  • 27 August 2020, Saudi Arabia's Human Rights Commission announced that the country's public prosecutor had ordered a review into the death sentences of Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Dawood a-Marhourn. The three are Shia activists who were all arrested as children in 2012 and charged with offences relating to their participation in anti-government protests in the Eastern Province.

Extrajudicial executions:

  • Jamal Khashoggi. UN report released 19 June 2019. States he was the victim of 'an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under human rights law', and that 'there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's'. Amnesty is calling on the UN to launch a follow up investigation.

f) Torture

‚ÄĘ Foreign nationals are often denied interpretation facilities

  • Torture and ill-treatment are routine, common and widespread. It is used to extract confessions and to enforce discipline. Prisoners have died as a result of torture. Perpetrators are never brought to justice.

g) Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments

  • Raif mentioned previously

  • There does not appear to be an upper limit on the number of lashes that can be given in a sentence. The most Amnesty is aware of is 4,000.

  • Amputations and cross-amputations are carried out.

  • Ruth Cosrojas, a Filipino domestic worker, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and 300 lashes after an unfair trial in October 2013 when she was convicted of organising the sale of sex. When she was released in September 2014, she had received 150 lashes.

  • 02 February 2016 Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet, had his death sentence overturned but was resentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. He was charged with apostasy due to his supposed questioning of religion and spreading atheist thought via his poetry. He was also charged with having photos of women on his mobile.

h) Refugees

  • Recent report on Ethiopian migrants.

  • Since March 2020, the Huthis in Yemen have expelled thousands of Ethiopian migrant workers and their families to Saudi Arabia where they are being held in life threating conditions.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign policy

Influence

  • Saudi Arabia uses its financial and economic influence to prevent discussion of its human rights record:

    • It is one of the world's largest spenders on defence

    • It is a source of economic aid to many poorer countries

    • Oil

Yemen

  • On 25 March 2015, Saudi Arabia began a military campaign in Yemen against the Shi's Huthi and their allies.

  • All parties to the conflict in Yemen have repeatedly committed violations of international law resulting in horrific suffering for civilians.

  • Saudi-led coaliton has repeatedly violated the laws of war and war crimes have.been committed with , involving aerial bombardment that has killed hundreds of civilians. Hospitals, schools, markets and factories have been hit as well as civilian homes and civilian vehicles and vehicles carrying humanitarian assistance.

  • Huthi forces have indiscriminately shelled civilian-populated areas especially in Tai'z (Yemen's third largest city). They have laid anti-vehicle mines indiscrimately, used banned anti-personnel mines and recruited children to fight.

  • In July 2018, Amnesty reported on how Yemeni security forces that are backed by the UAE together with UAE troops operating in southern Yemen have been carrying out hundreds of arbitrary arrests and committing serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment, mostly under the pretext of 'fighting terrorism'. An opaque structure of competing security forces and a network of informal and formal detention centres makes it difficult to find accurate information on the cases.

  • October 2018 YouGov asked "As far as you are aware, which, if any, of the following countries are currently, or have recently, been involved in ongoing armed conflict?" 42% of respondents didn't identify Yemen from the list. Shows lack of public awareness in the UK of the conflict.

  • Consequences of the conflict:

    • https://news.un.org/en/focus/yemen

    • https://www.una.org.uk/yemen-crisis-key-facts

    • https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/yemen-crisis

    • The United Nations have described Yemen as the 'world's worst
      humanitarian crisis' in what was already the Middle East's
      poorest country.

    • The country is ravaged by preventable diseases and teeters on
      the verge of a historic famine.

    • 24 million people (about 80% of the population) including more
      than 12 million children need some kind of humanitarian or
      protection assistance to survive.

    • 17 million people are short of food.

    • Sanitation and clean water are in short supply.

    • Half of all health facilities are damaged or unable to function.

    • Around 3.5 million people are internally displaced.

    • In October 2019 the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (https://www.acleddata.com/) announced that more than 100,000 people had been killed since 2015 including over 12,000 civilians in direct attacks.

    • The Yemen Data Project (https://www.yemendataproject.org/) gives a figure of 8.757 civilian deaths and 9,797 civilian casualties.

    • There have been 21,998 coalition air raids and these have picked up during 2020 with a large number where it was not known who was responsible.

  • Why the conflict?

    • Proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia

    • Geo-political aims of Saudi Arabia and UAE

    • US and UK involvement

Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

  • Secrecy, corruption, lies

  • Military equipment has been provided by the US and the UK. Both have also provided logistical support and intelligence eg targeting information, inflight refuelling

  • But it isn't just US and UK equipment. Canada, France, Spain, Montenegro, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, Italy, China. Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Sweden, Croatia have all sold arms to Saudi Arabia or UAE.

  • According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute between 2014-2018, Saudi Arabia become the world's largest arms importer, accounting for 12% of all imports, and an increase of 192% over 2009-2013

  • 88% of these arms came from the US. This is actually insignificant for the US total exports (0.125%) but important to individual factories/communities.

  • 22% of US arms are to Saudi Arabia up from 4.9% in the previous five years.

  • Planned deliveries to Saudi Arabia between 2019-2023 include 98 combat aircraft, seven missile defence systems and 83 tanks from the US, 737 armoured vehicles from Canada, five frigates from Spain and short ballistic missiles from Ukraine.

  • Top five exporters to Saudi Arabia over this period are US, UK, France, Spain and Germany. Totalling \$5.6 billion. Sharp decrease over the last three years from UK with increases from France, Spain and Germany.

  • Since the start of the Yemen war the UK has exported combat aircraft, combat naval vessels, missiles, bombs, torpedoes, rockets, sniper rifles.

  • Trump has vetoed a bipartisan effort by Congress to block the sales of \$8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

  • Russia's share of the Middle East defence market has doubled in three year largely because the Syrian conflict has enabled Russia to use the conflict as a testing ground for its weapons.

  • Saudi Arabia is in talks to buy S400 missile systems from Russia.

  • Russia will modernise the UAE's Pantsir -- S1 systems and has purchased \$40 million of anti-tank missiles.

  • High Court ruling on UK arms sales:

    • In July 2017, the High Court ruled against the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) ruling that the government is entitled to continue authorising arms supplies to Saudi Arabia. Half of the evidence was heard in secret on national security grounds. This secret evidence was apparently crucial in the ruling.

    • 12 April 2018 CAAT went to the Court of Appeal and on 4 May 2018 was granted the right to appeal

    • April 2019 appeal hearing which Amnesty, HRW and Rights Watch UK made expert submissions in the legal challenge.

    • In June 2019, the court ruled that British arms sales were unlawful stating that the government "made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so".

    • Difference between unlawful and illegal. Unlawful against the law but not necessarily criminal.

    • But they ruled that arms sales would not have to be immediately suspended and that ministers had to 'reconsider the matter' and make further considerations when granting any new export licences.

    • The government though did suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and promised to appeal the ruling.

    • The government has since announced the suspension has been breached at least three times (radio parts, air cooling system and repair equipment for IED detection).

    • In September 2019 a United Nations report concluded that the US, UK and France may be complicit in war crimes by Yemen by arming and providing support to the Saudi-led coalition.

    • 07 July 2020 Liz Truss announced that arms sales would resume and that the government's review had found no 'pattern' of Saudi Arabia air strikes that breached international law and that there had only been 'isolated incidents' of violations. "I have concluded that, notwithstanding the isolated incidents...‚ÄČSaudi Arabia has a genuine intent and the capacity to comply with international law."

    • The previous day the UK government had sanctioned 20 Saudi nationals for their involvement in the killing of Khashoggi.

What can you do?

  • What happens in the Kingdom stays in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is a closed country for human rights organisations.

  • Saudi Arabia one of many countries in the region with abysmal human rights record.

  • Activists and their families within Saudi Arabia who contact Amnesty are at risk of the punitive measures outlined above.

  • Vital that Saudi authorities are aware that the world is watching but it is important to be effective and targeted.

Who can you target? In Saudi Arabia:

  • King Salman -- Has dementia. Only person that can grant clemency, release prisoners

  • Mohammed bin Salman -- The King's son. Most important man in Saudi Arabia. Minister of defence but also in charge of the economy and the "vision 2030' project. Crown prince

  • Mohammed bin Nayaf -- Minister of interior. Responsible for internal security.

Who can you target outside?

  • Saudi embassy

  • Your MP/ SMP

  • Social media. Twitter. Saudis are one of the world's heaviest users
    of Twitter.

How can you follow the Middle East/Gulf team:

‚ÄĘ Follow Paul and/or Middle East/Gulf team on Twitter

‚ó¶ \@pdawson_amnesty

‚ó¶ \@AIMidEastGulf

‚ÄĘ Follow Middle East/Gulf team on Facebook

‚ó¶ https://www.facebook.com/AmnestyMEG.org.uk

‚ÄĘ Website

‚ó¶ https://sites.google.com/site/aiukmeg/

Categories
minutes

November 2020 Minutes

Thank you to FL for these minutes. The minutes can alternatively be read as a PDF online here.

Attendees: JG, MDS, FL, MR, CA, CL, KM

Apologies: CC

Write for Rights 2020

Our group's activities:

  • Nov and Dec: 10 Weeks of W4R on our social media feeds - we'll introduce followers to one case per week and explain how to easily take action

  • Thurs 10th Dec: Collaboration with Amnesty Scotland Online Activism group

  • Sat 12th Dec: Write for Rights workshop with Interfaith Glasgow's
    Weekend Club

  • Jan 2021: Write for Rights at MILK cafe

You can follow our social media pages:

for updates on all of the above.

Please email mail@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk for details or to volunteer to help out. We're especially looking for volunteers with the online workshop on the 12th December.

The Write for Rights materials are available online: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/write-for-rights and https://www.amnesty.org.uk/write-rights-2020-get-started

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

You can read the latest Local Groups Update online here.

New Individual at Risk Case: Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders

Following the release of our previous adopted case, Ruben Gonzalez, the Glasgow West Amnesty Group now has a new case to campaign on. Our new case is that of the Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders. The overall campaign goal is to see the release of the women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and the dropping of all charges against them.

Case Summary

On 15 May 2018, a group of activists, including the country's leading women human rights defenders, who campaigned for the right to drive and the end of repressive guardianship laws, were arbitrarily arrested. For the first three months of their detention, at least ten of the activists, including several of the women, endured torture, sexual abuse and other forms of ill-treatment when they were held incommunicado and in solitary confinement with no access to their families or lawyers.

A year later, the Saudi authorities charged and tried the women for their human rights activism. At least two human rights defenders, detained in the same wave, remain to date without charge or trial. Following the first trial session in March 2019, several Saudi women activists were released on temporary and provisional basis (Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Amal al-Harbi, Dr. Ruqayyah al-Mharib, Shadan al-Anezi, Dr. Abir Namankni, and Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi and an anonymous activist). Five remain to this day in detention (Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Naseema al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya'a al-Zahrani) on charges related to their campaigning for women's rights.

Primary Objectives

  1. Immediate and unconditional release of Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Naseema al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya'a al-Zahrani

  2. Drop charges against all WHRDs and Saudi women activists, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Amal al-Harbi, Dr. Ruqayyah al-Mharib, Shadan al-Anezi, Dr. Abir Namankni, and Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi and an anonymous activist on trial for their human rights work

  3. Allow diplomats and journalists access to the trial sessions to ensure the right to fair trial

Take Action

BEFORE 21st November:

  1. Write to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to grant clemency to women's rights activists (see template letter attached).

  2. Have a Twitter account? Please re-tweet the following tweet from the Gulf section of Amnesty International:

    https://twitter.com/amnestygulf/status/1326194555662848002

  3. Email the UK Government urging them to use their platform at the G20 summit to make a public statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Saudi Arabia's women's rights activists. You can use this easy online form:

    https://www.amnesty.org.uk/write-for-rights/action/nassima?from=issue

Throughout November and December:

Nassima al-Sada (one of the five currently in detention) is one of this year's Write for Rights cases. You can send Nassima's son a message of solidarity and send an appeal letter to King of Saudi Arabi to release Nassima al-Sada immediately and unconditionally.

Details on page 13 of the W4R booklet available here.

Ongoing:

Sign this petition:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2018/06/saudi-arabia-release-women-human-rights-defenders/

Come along to our meetings, read our mailings or follow our social media to hear about future actions you can take.

Urgent Actions (MR)

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

1. USA: THREE PEOPLE FACE FEDERAL EXECUTIONS

Two men and one woman convicted under USA federal law face execution in November and December 2020. After a hiatus of 17 years, the Trump administration resumed federal executions on 14 July 2020, putting to death seven men over ten weeks. Their cases reflected concerns on arbitrariness, racial bias and unfairness that have long affected the USA death penalty system, as well as contempt for international law restrictions on the use of the death penalty. We urge the US Attorney General to withdraw any pending death warrants and abandon any plans to pursue further executions.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/three-people-face-federal-executions

2. AUSTRIAN-IRANIAN PRISONER AT RISK

Massud Mossaheb, a 73-year-old Austrian-Iranian dual national, is serving a 10-year prison term imposed after a grossly unfair trial for vague national security offences. He is being held in Tehran's Evin prison and has serious medical conditions, including heart failure and diabetes. He is at heightened risk of severe illness or death if he contracts COVID-19.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/austrian-iranian-prisoner-risk

3. CRITICAL OPPORTUNITY TO LEGALIZE ABORTION

In March 2020, Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez publicly committed to present a bill to Congress to legalise abortion before the year's end. This commitment has still not been fulfilled as we quickly approach the end of Congress' current session on 30 November. After this date the possibilities of getting this vital bill approved will diminish significantly. We are therefore calling on the president to honour his word and meet Argentina's human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfil women and girls' rights, life, health and autonomy by urgently presenting the bill to legalize abortion before the end of the year.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/critical-opportunity-legalize-abortion

You can download the full PDF or click Take Action at the top of the page for a link to an email action.

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions

Upcoming speakers

We will be starting off the new year with a couple of interesting speakers at our monthly meetings.

January 14th -- Paul Dawson (Country Coordinator at AIUK with the Middle East and Gulf Team) will be talking to the group about our new case file and the human rights situation in general in Saudi Arabia.

February 11th -- Lynnda Wardle (Programme Manager at Interfaith Glasgow). Interfaith Glasgow is a project which aims to support and develop positive engagement between people from diverse religion and belief backgrounds in Glasgow. She helps run the Weekend Club which aims to address the social isolation experienced by asylum seekers, refugees and new migrants in Glasgow.

AOB

Online Amnesty UK events:

Children's Human Rights Festival -

Student Conference -- For UK university students, including a range of dynamic panels, workshops and discussions on a range of Human Rights topics from Black Lives Matter to Climate change. Dates: 23- 29 November.

Register on Eventbrite here.

Amnesty LIVE! In Conversation with Donatella Rovera and Sascha Pare

Join Amnesty International UK in conversation with Donatella Rovera and UK student Sascha Pare. Donatella's work as Amnesty International's senior investigator on crisis response takes her to the world's most dangerous and desperate areas. From armed violence in Syria and Libya to the conflicts in Gaza and Sudan, Rovera has reported on the serious human rights abuses that make headlines. Most recently Donatella's research highlighted the UK Government's failure to protect older people in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Date: Thursday 26 November.

Register online here.

Write for Rights Online Event

Kate Allen (Director Amnesty International UK) will be going into conversation with Sena Atici (Individuals at Risk campaigns coordinator), and Geraldine Chacon, a Venezuelan activist who was featured in the Write for Rights campaign in 2018. Date: 2nd of December 2020. Time: 19:00 -- 19:45.

Register online here.

Amnesty LIVE! Black Activism in the UK: From the Battle of Lewisham to
Black Lives Matter

This Amnesty LIVE event will be in conversation with Sophie Kabangu, founder & leader of BLM Colchester, Tamika Green, board member of Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives and Trevor Sealy, who experienced the Battle of Lewisham in the 70s & brings a wealth of knowledge to the conversation. Join us to hear from them on impact of racism in the UK, their anti-racist activism covering the Battle of Lewisham in the 70s to today's Black Lives Matter movement in the UK. This conversation will be hosted by Amnesty UK's Human Rights Education Manager, Shoomi Chowdhury. Date: Wednesday 9 December.

Register online here.

Next meeting

Thursday 10th December -- We'll be sharing our meeting with the Amnesty Scotland Online Activism Group with a special event for International Human Rights Day and Write for Rights. As always, joining instructions will be sent out ahead of time via our mailing list and social media. With all these calls there is the option to dial in from a landline or mobile if you don't have internet access. Any issues get in
touch with Mal at malcolm.dingwall-smith@amnesty.org.uk

Categories
minutes

October 2020 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these. If you would like to download them in PDF format, you can do so from this link.

image

Glasgow West Amnesty International

Attendees: JG, JGi, MDS, FL, CA, KM, CLa

Apologies: CC, CCa

New Amnesty Scotland Online Activism Group!

A message from Malcolm, Regional Rep for Scotland:

This has been a difficult year. Our passion for securing human rights in Scotland and around the world is as strong as ever. Amnesty International has been working hard throughout this global pandemic to ensure that everyone's human rights are protected. However, activism has been challenging.

We haven't been able to get together in our local, student and youth Amnesty groups. It has been harder to meet politicians to persuade them to take our concerns seriously. Our ability to responsibly protest the abuses we see has unquestionably been curtailed. And of course sadly there will be no Amnesty Scotland Activists Conference this year.

But we are innovating and finding new ways to organise. So, I'm delighted that we are launching a new Amnesty Scotland Online Activism group allowing us to come together to connect, learn and take action. This group will build on the success of the conference calls held during lockdown. The group will connect existing Amnesty group activists and provide an online platform for new activists to engage. The group will hold online events twice a month, the first Thursday and third Tuesday of the month. Each event will feature a speaker talking about a different human rights topics.

The first event will be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday 20 October when we will discuss the challenges facing refugees as they arrive in Scotland and in Europe through the Greek islands with guests from the Glasgow Night Shelter for destitute asylum seekers and the campaign group Europe Must Act. Followed by a brief introduction to the Amnesty Scotland Online Activism group, including how those who want to can get more involved.

Join the Group's mailing list by contacting:

malcolm.dingwall-smith@amnesty.org.uk

Follow the Group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/AmnestyScotlandOnlineActivismGroup

Register for the events:

http://AmnestyScotlandOnlineActivismGroup.eventbrite.com

We've scheduled events up until the end of 2020 (all 6.30pm):

Tue 20 Oct -- Refugees Welcome

Thu 5 Nov -- Human Rights in Turkey

Tue 17 Nov -- Policing in Scotland

Thu 3 Dec -- Human Rights in Zimbabwe

Thu 10 Dec -- Write for Rights: special event for International Human
Rights Day

Tue 15 Dec -- TBC

Join the mailing list and follow us on Facebook to get updates on
speakers for these sessions and details to register for future events.

Write for Rights 2020

We discussed the plans for our group's campaigning activities for W4R 2020 including:

  • Working with local cafes (e.g. having a stall on the street or a
    table in the cafe)

  • Special Write for Rights online meeting on the 10th December

  • Possible online/ social media "writeathon"

  • A W4R online workshop with the Weekend Club

Thanks to all for their suggestions. Our plans should be confirmed in
our November meeting.

The Write for Rights materials are now available online: Write for Rights 2020 and Get Started with W4R.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update:

Local Groups Update

New Individual at Risk Case: Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders

Following the release of Ruben Gonzalez our previous Individual at Risk, the group has decided to take on a new case, the Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders.

Case summary: On 15 May 2018, a group of activists, including the country's leading women human rights defenders who campaigned for the right to drive and the end of repressive guardianship laws were arbitrarily arrested. For the first three months of their detention, at least ten of the activists, including several of the women, endured torture, sexual abuse and other forms of ill-treatment when they were held incommunicado and in solitary confinement with no access to their families or lawyers.

A year later, the Saudi authorities charged and tried the women for their human rights activism. At least two human rights defenders detained in the same wave remain to date without charge or trial. Following the first trial session in March 2019, several Saudi women activists were released on temporary and provisional basis (Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Amal al-Harbi, Dr. Ruqayyah al-Mharib, Shadan alAnezi, Dr. Abir Namankni, and Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi and an anonymous activist), while five remain to this day in detention (Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Naseema al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya'a alZahrani) on charges related to their campaigning for women's rights.

We look forward to hearing more about this case and starting our campaigning at our November meeting.

Yu Yu Williamson

We have some sad news about Yu Yu Williamson who has recently died from
cancer.

Yu Yu was an active member of Glasgow West Amnesty for a number of years. She was always very active, not just on raising awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, but also human rights abuses in China generally. Yu Yu also took part in Amnesty's campaigning on issues around the world. She is fondly remembered by our long-standing members for her passion. We have her family's contact details if anyone would like to send their condolences. Her family also asked for donations to Macmillan Cancer Support. Yu Yu's obituary is available to read here:

Yuyu Williamson Obituary

Urgent Actions (MR)

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

1. Jailed lawyer's health at serious risk

UA: Jailed lawyer's health at serious risk

Jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh's health is at serious risk after the Iranian authorities returned her to prison from hospital, even though a doctor said she needed a heart-related medical procedure. She had been hospitalized when her health severely deteriorated on a hunger strike, which she is doing in protest at the Iranian authorities abuses in the criminal justice system, including their refusal to release eligible prisoners held on politically motivated charges. She is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Please act ASAP and at latest 18 Nov 2020

2. Tortured Kurdish man at risk of execution

UA: Tortured Kurdish man at risk of execution

Iranian Kurdish prisoner Heidar Ghorbani, 47, is at risk of execution for "armed rebellion against the state" (baghi), despite serious fair trial violations and the trial court confirming that he was never armed. His conviction is based on torture-tainted "confessions", obtained while he was forcibly disappeared. The authorities must quash his sentence and grant him a fair retrial.

Please act ASAP and at latest 17 Nov 2020

3. Free families kept in immigration detention

UA: Free families kept in immigration detention

As COVID-19 runs rampant in USA family detention centres, immigration authorities continue to lock up nearly ninety families who travelled to the US seeking safety from violence and persecution in their home countries. As of 6 August, at least 130 detained family members and facility staff tested positive for COVID-19. In July, a judge ordered authorities to release children because of COVID-19, but she did not have jurisdiction over parents. Authorities refused to release them together. Releasing children but continuing to detain parents constitutes family separation. We demand authorities release all families together immediately to protect them from the pandemic.

Please act ASAP and at latest 27 Nov 2020

4. PIKPA refugee shelter faces imminent closure

UA: PIKPA refugee shelter faces imminent closure

Greek authorities intend to close the open, self-organised refugee shelter PIKPA on 15 October. PIKPA has been operating in Lesvos since 2012, hosting and assisting thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers among the most vulnerable. Greek authorities must revoke the decision to close PIKPA, let the organization operate freely, protect its around 100 residents, and ensure and promote open and safe spaces for asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece.

Please act ASAP and at latest 30 Nov 2020

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home:

Urgent Actions

Social Media

Don't forget that Glasgow West Amnesty is also on social media!

Facebook - @glasgowwestamnesty

Twitter - @AmnestyGlasWest

Instagram - @glasgowwestamnesty

AOB

Scottish Human Rights Commission Report on social care provision during the pandemic

Thanks to GK for sharing this report by the Scottish Human Rights Commission. Their research shows that a considerable proportion of people who use social care support at home have experienced either a reduction or complete withdrawal of support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more at the SHRC site.

Amnesty have also been campaigning on similar issues related to the pandemic here in the UK. Please see the website for details:

AIUK coronavirus issues

Amnesty International podcast 'Witness'

Thanks to MDS for telling us about a new podcast series by Amnesty International. The podcast introduces listeners to the organisation's Research and Crisis Response teams -- whose investigations take them to some of the most dangerous and volatile places on earth. It is available on normal podcast platforms and at https://www.amnesty.org/en/witness/

Next meeting

Thursday 10th December

We'll be sharing our meeting with the Amnesty Scotland Online Activism Group with a special event for International Human Rights Day and Write for Rights. As always, joining instructions will be sent out ahead of time via our mailing list and social media. With all these calls there is the option to dial in from a landline or mobile if you don't have internet access. Any issues get in touch with Mal at malcolm.dingwall-smith\@amnesty.org.uk

Categories
minutes

September 2020 Minutes

Many thanks to FL for these minutes. If you prefer, you can read them as a PDF.

Attendees: JG, JG, CL, MDS, FL, CC

Apologies: CA, MR

Church meeting venue

MDS attended a meeting at our usual meeting venue, Woodlands Methodist Church to discuss returning to face to face meetings. The church is back up and running for meetings. Chairs and tables have been arranged for social distancing, there is a one way system in place, attendees are expected to disinfect their chairs and wear face masks, etc. However, it is unclear whether local Amnesty groups are allowed to meet inside yet.

MDS is going to get some advice from the Scottish Government as to whether groups such as Amnesty International are allowed to meet inside.

CC raised the point that it would be useful to have internet access so people could continue to join the meetings virtually if they preferred/ were self-isolating, etc. We are going to look into ways of having internet access. There is no wifi in the church.

For the time being we will continue our meetings online.

AGM Resolutions

AGM 2020 resolutions can be read online
here.

After a group discussion, we decided on the following:

  • S1 -- Yes

  • O1 -- Yes

  • O2 -- Yes to first request. AIUK wouldn't be able to commit
    resources itself until it had the go-ahead from the International
    Secretariat.

  • O3 -- Yes to parts 2-4

  • O4 -- Yes. Other NGOs may be better placed to work on this in the UK
    but we could add our support/ backing.

  • O5 -- Yes, continue working on this please.

Write for Rights 2020

We discussed ideas for socially distanced campaigning for Write for Rights:

  • Weekend Club -- possible online workshop

  • Schools /further education colleges?

  • Brownies / other youth groups

  • Other adult groups? Church groups?

  • MILK cafe -- Write for Rights postcards in their takeaway Supper
    Club

  • Forwarding digital Write for Rights materials to interested people

  • Facebook live event -- speaker followed by letter-writing, perhaps
    with all Scotland groups?

We will continue to discuss these ideas at October's meeting. We welcome any ideas from all members. For those of you unfamiliar with Write for Rights, here is some more information about Amnesty's annual global campaign:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/write-for-rights/

Israel/OPT update: opportunity to be involved in local procurement campaign

Amnesty is currently campaigning to bring about a prohibition of trade with Israel's settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on grounds of their illegality under international law. Amnesty would like us to approach our local authority (i.e. Glasgow City Council) on this issue.

According to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which is the applicable law in this case, any company that is culpable of Grave Professional Misconduct may be barred from tendering for public contracts.

The Scottish Government has already taken the view that breaches of human rights can amount to Grave Professional Misconduct and the Scottish Procurement Office has issued guidance to public bodies in Scotland advising as to when it might be appropriate not to procure from companies that conduct business with Israeli settlements.

Amnesty is asking local groups to contact the person responsible for public procurement in their local authority to ask them to revise their procurement policies. FL volunteered to do this this month and then feedback to the group.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update:

Local Groups
Update

Individual at Risk Case: Rubén González (MR + CA)

Great news! Ruben has been pardoned!

President Maduro has issued a decree pardoning 110 people who were the subject of criminal proceedings or convictions.

Amongst these 110 people are Ruben Gonzalez, Maury Carrero, Nicmer Evans and Gilber Caro, on all of whom we have been campaigning.

Among the 110 are people arbitrarily detained in the intelligence service headquarters, people who had already been released with measures restricting their freedom and people in exile with outstanding arrest warrants.

Amnesty has welcomed the news, while making clear that the pardon must not in any way be considered as an acknowledgement of responsibility by those receiving it. They called for this step to serve as a turning point to stop the practice of arbitrary detentions and unfair trials, including the use of military courts, against those with differing opinions in Venezuela. Amnesty noted that there were still many cases of people arbitrarily detained who should also be released and undertook to continue to report on the situation of other people, such as Leopoldo Lopez, Villca Fernandez, Rosmit Mantilla, Geraldine Chacon, Gregory Hinds, Luis Carlos Diaz and Juan Requesens, who have been released under conditions that severely limit their right to freedom.

Amnesty has received messages from Ruben and Maury's families, recognising the enormous support they felt from Amnesty and thanking the movement for its solidarity and action.

Many thanks to all of you who took action on these cases. Thank you to Graham Minter, Campaign Coordinator, for this update.

We will now look to start working on a new long-term case. More information to follow.

Urgent Actions (MR)

COVID-19 THREATENS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES LIVES

In August, the Ecuador government published a national protocol to respond to COVID-19 among Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous and human rights organizations in the Amazon said this protocol was not adequately consulted and does not reflect their demands. They also said they have been excluded from the Emergency Operations Committees in charge of implementing it. We call on the President to ensure that the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon participate in the decision-making structure in charge of the COVID-19 response in the Amazon, and guarantee that this response is sufficiently funded and respects their rights and needs.

Read more
online

MOROCCO -- STOP HARASSING JOURNALIST OMAR RADI

The Moroccan authorities had been harassing journalist Omar Radi since the publication in June 2020 of an Amnesty International report revealing they had unlawfully spied on him through his phone.

He has been charged with "harming national security" and "rape".

Moroccan authorities are subjecting him to legal harassment. On 25 June 2020 and six subsequent occasions in July 2020, he was summoned by the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations and questioned about phone calls and text messages dating back to 2011 and transfers of funds to his bank account. On 29 July, he was charged and detained and is due to
stand trial before the First Instance Court of Casablanca on 22 September 2020.

Omar Radi is an investigative journalist and activist from Morocco. His investigations have focused on political affairs, including the relations between political powers and business elites in Morocco and suspected corruption by the authorities.

Omar Radi is a vocal critic of the government's human rights record and has investigated corruption by the authorities.

Demand the Moroccan authorities stop the harassment.

Read more
online

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home:

Urgent Actions

AOB

6pm, Tue 29 Sept - AIUK online event on police brutality in the US: A discussion with staff from Amnesty International USA. Details and register at the AIUK website.

7.30pm, Wed 30 Sept -- Amnesty Media Awards 2020: Celebrate some of the best human rights journalism of the last year. Watch it at the Amnesty media awards website.

Next meeting

Thursday 8th October -- we will send out joining instructions via our mailing list and social media nearer the time.

Categories
minutes

August 2020 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these minutes. You can alternatively read them as a PDF.


Attendees: FL, MDS, CA, CL, MR, JG

Apologies: CCr

Speaker: Geraldine Chacón

We were very lucky to be joined by Geraldine Chacón who gave an inspiring talk about her about her experience as a young human rights defender in Venezuela. You may remember Geraldine from Write for Rights 2018 when many of you will have taken action on her behalf. Geraldine is an amazing role model for young women. She is a law graduate and youth activist who set up an Amnesty student group. But for her incredible work, she has been repeatedly persecuted by the authorities in Venezuela. Geraldine is currently studying in the UK.

Restarting Face to Face Meetings

Although it has been brilliant to be able to continue our Amnesty meetings online, I think we are all missing meeting in person. Woodlands Methodist Church, where we hold our face to face meetings, is looking at ways to facilitate groups meeting in person again. MDS is going to attend a briefing meeting and feedback to the group. At the moment, it seems unlikely that we will be able to meet until October at the earliest.

The current government guidelines state a maximum of three households inside and five households outside.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update:

Local Group Update.

Individual at Risk Case: Rubén González (MR + CA)

The 13th August was the one year anniversary of the sentencing of Ruben Gonzalez, our group's new long term case. There is more detail of Ruben and his case below. To mark the anniversary, please take one or more of these actions:

1. Email:

Email the Venezuelan Ambassador at ambassador\@venezlon.co.uk.

Suggested e-mail (English): Rubén González is one of hundreds of people detained for political reasons in Venezuela, so we will continue to demand that the government of Nicolás Maduro stop the policy of repression in this country and return their freedom, we need justice for Venezuela.

Suggested e-mail (Spanish translation): Rubén González es una de las cientos de personas detenidas por motivos políticos en Venezuela, por lo que seguiremos exigiendo que el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro detenga la política de represión en este país y les devuelva la libertad, necesitamos justicia para Venezuela.

2. Twitter action:

Tweet the head of government, Nicolas Maduro, @NicolasMaduro including the hashtag #MaduroLiberaARuben

Suggested tweet: @NicolasMaduro Ruben Gonzalez is a prisoner of conscience. His detention and trial in Venezuela were unfair and politically motivated. He should be released immediately. #MaduroLiberaARuben

3. Write to your MP:

Ask them if they would be willing to write an appeal letter to Nicolas Maduro c/o the embassy in London.

4. Reach out to trade unions:

Let us know if you have any contacts with any trade unions based in Scotland or further afield. Since Rubén is a trade unionist we are hoping they will want to show solidarity!

Rubén González - Background

Rubén González is a trade unionist who has been arbitrarily detained and subjected to unfair trials on several occasions. On 29 November 2018 he was arbitrarily arrested by the General Directorate of Military Counter Intelligence (DGCIM) on the allegation of having attacked a military officer who tried to arrest him violently, shortly after having participated in a protest against government policies. He was tried by a military court, with no reliable evidence against him, in violation of his right to due process. On 13 August 2019, the same military court that was never competent to try his case in the first place, convicted him of the alleged crimes of which he was accused and sentenced him to five years and nine months in prison.

His role as a defender of workers' rights has been very prominent in Venezuela. His sustained defence of the rights of workers in the state-owned mining company Ferrominera del Orinoco, key in the iron industry, included actions on collective bargaining. His participation in demonstrations critical of the labour policies of the governments of Hugo Ch√°vez and Nicol√°s Maduro also put him at risk of being victim of the government's policy of repression.

Rubén has suffered from renal failure for more than 10 years, as well as hypertension. His lawyers have repeatedly requested medical attention to the courts, but only once was he transferred to receive medical attention. Authorities repeatedly deny his family's attempts to send him his medication, unless González is experiencing severe pain.

***Please email [mail\@glasgowwestamnesty.com] with details of any actions you take on behalf of Rubén so we can monitor our impact.***

Online Letter Writing Meeting -- Wednesday 2nd September, 7.30pm (FL)

In more ordinary times we have letter writing meetings at each others' homes. It is a chance to focus on writing actions that we may not ordinarily have time to do in our monthly meetings or at other times in the month. All you need is a pen and pencil and a device which connects to the internet. If you can, please come along with an action to share with the group. Joining instructions will be sent via email nearer the time. Hope to see you there.

Urgent Actions (MR)

1. Imprisoned Mapuche life's at risk

Machi (spiritual Mapuche leader) Celestino Córdova Tránsito completed over 100 days on hunger strike demanding to join his community for the period of a mandatory spiritual retreat. He was convicted and in prison in the city of Temuco for homicide induced by arson in 2014. Authorities failed to dialogue with him and a local Court authorized the possibility of force feeding him. On 10 August, he expressed his intention to enter a dry strike. We demand authorities to urgently initiate a dialogue with Celestino Córdova and abstain from feeding him against his will.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/imprisoned-mapuche-lifes-risk

2. Tortured Iranian Kurd at risk of execution

Arsalan Khodkam, from Iran's Kurdish minority, is at risk of execution in West Azerbaijan province. He was sentenced to death for "spying" after a grossly unfair trial that lasted about 30 minutes and relied on "confessions" he says were obtained under torture. He has never been allowed access to a lawyer of his own choosing. The use of the death penalty for "espionage" violates international law.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/tortured-iranian-kurd-risk-execution

3. Protect peaceful protesters in Belarus

The world is shocked by images and reports exposing police using brutal violence against peaceful protesters as the Belarusian authorities wage a vicious crackdown on their own citizens. Sign the petition demanding that the police violence ends now.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/protect-peaceful-protesters-in-belarus/

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from
your home: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions

AOB

Europe Must Act online event - Have a cup of tea, write to your MP

On the 15th of August, in the run up to world humanitarian day (August 19th), Europe Must Act UK is launching a letter writing campaign. They will ask our MPs to stand in solidarity with asylum seekers, refugees and campaigners by calling for an end to overcrowded hotspot camps, supporting family reunification and promoting a welcoming environment for refugees in the UK.

To kick off the campaign, they will come together on Zoom to write or type letters, discuss the campaign and inform you about other actions you can take to support Europe Must Act, all with a cup of tea in hand.

Sign up here, and click 'going' to receive updates in the run up to the event!

If you can't attend but want to get involved with the campaign? Go to http://europemustact.org/more-action.

Next meeting

Thursday 10th September -- we will send out joining instructions via our mailing list and social media nearer the time.

Categories
minutes

July 2020 Minutes

Many thanks to FL for these minutes. You can read them as a PDF here.


Attendees: FL, MDS, KM, CC, CCr, JG, MR, GK

Apologies: CA

Amnesty Lockdown Videoconferences

We held our meeting via videoconference, following on from the weekly Amnesty videoconference organised by our regional rep and Glasgow West member, Malcolm. This week the speaker was Zoe Birchall, Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer at Girls Not Brides on Ending Child Marriage.

If you missed Zoe (or want to find out more), there's plenty ofinformation here:

This was the last of the weekly Amnesty videoconferences. Mal will be taking a break to think about ways Amnesty groups in Scotland can use the internet to better connect, e.g. bring groups together, gaining access to speakers across the UK, etc. If anyone has any thoughts on what they would like to see and especially if anyone wants to be involved in organising future activity, please get in touch with Mal -- Malcolm.dingwall-smith@amnesty.org.uk

Secretary's Report (FL)

Phone Catch-Up with Elaine (Community Organising Assistant)

Elaine has been ringing round the secretaries of the local groups over the last few weeks. In our chat we discussed:

  • Activities for social distancing -- Amnesty will soon be circulating some of the best ideas from other local groups

  • Participating in public actions -- Amnesty is still encouraging us to get involved with local demonstrations with a human rights dimension. Demonstrators should wear masks and keep to social distancing guidelines as much as possible. If anyone hears of any local demonstrations that they feel Amnesty should have a presence at please get in touch (Mail@glasgowwestamnesty.org.uk).

  • Training for local group members -- Amnesty UK is currently putting together some training for us, including on the best use of social media. This should be available towards the end of the year.

Local Group Update

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Group Update:

http://webmail1.amnesty.org.uk/q/11meBeGf3QfjDgmkdrhAX3k/wv

New Individual at Risk Case! (MR + CA)

Glasgow West Group has a new Individual at Risk case to work on and, although we are not having normal group meetings at the moment, we hope that you will find the time to write some letters or Tweet about Ruben Gonzalez's detention. Below is a summary of the case and a model letter which you can use or adapt into your own words. We are hoping that we can send some appeals written in Spanish; any volunteers?

Rubén González is a trade unionist who has been arbitrarily detained and subjected to unfair trials on several occasions. On 29 November 2018 he was arbitrarily arrested by the General Directorate of Military Counter Intelligence (DGCIM) on the allegation of having attacked a military officer who tried to arrest him violently, shortly after having participated in a protest against government policies. He was tried by a military court, with no reliable evidence against him, in violation of his right to due process. On 13 August 2019, the same military court that was never competent to try his case in the first place, convicted him of the alleged crimes of which he was accused and sentenced him to five years and nine months in prison.

His role as a defender of workers' rights has been very prominent in Venezuela. His sustained defence of the rights of workers in the state-owned mining company Ferrominera del Orinoco, key in the iron industry, included actions on collective bargaining. His participation in demonstrations critical of the labour policies of the governments of Hugo Ch√°vez and Nicol√°s Maduro also put him at risk of being victim of the government's policy of repression.

Rubén has suffered from renal failure for more than 10 years, as well as hypertension. His lawyers have repeatedly requested medical attention to the courts, but only once was he transferred to receive medical attention. Authorities repeatedly deny his family's attempts to send him his medication, unless González is experiencing severe pain.

Please write or Tweet (Twitter: \@NicolasMaduro) demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Ruben. As sending physical mail to Venezuela is unreliable it is recommended that we contact the local embassy or high commission. It is best to email them (ambassador@venezlon.co.uk)

Please let Christine know if you receive a reply to your letter or Tweet - christinealison@btinternet.com

Model letter:

Mr Nicol√°s Maduro
c/o Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary
Her Excellency Rocío Del Valle Maneiro González
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
1 Cromwell Road
LONDON
SW7 2HW

Tel: 020 7584 4206 or 020 7581 2776
Fax: 020 7589 8887

Dear Mr Nicol√°s Maduro

I am very concerned about Rubén González's imprisonment and current health condition.

Rubén González, 60, was detained on 29 November 2018 for peacefully standing for labour rights in Venezuela. He has been denied proper medical attention for over a year and is now faced with a serious medical condition that requires urgent treatments.

Rubén González should not be in prison in the first place, since his work as a trade union leader is allowed under the Venezuelan Constitution, and because the legal process has not been in accordance with international fair trial standards.

Since Rubén González is a Prisoner of Conscience, I demand his immediate and unconditional release; and that as long as he remains in custody, he receives urgent and adequate medical treatment, according to his wishes, and provided by doctors of his choosing.

Yours sincerely,

Possible second Individual at Risk Case: Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders (FL)

The Amnesty UK office has also offered us a second long-term case: Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders.

On 15 May 2018, a group of activists, including the country's leading women human rights defenders who campaigned for the right to drive and the end of repressive guardianship laws were arbitrarily arrested. For the first three months of their detention, at least ten of the activists, including several of the women, endured torture, sexual abuse and other forms of ill-treatment when they were held incommunicado and in solitary confinement with no access to their families or lawyers.

A year later, the Saudi authorities charged and tried the women for their human rights activism. At least two human rights defenders detained in the same wave remain to date without charge or trial. Following the first trial session in March 2019, several Saudi women activists were released on temporary and provisional basis (Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Amal al-Harbi, Dr. Ruqayyah al-Mharib, Shadan al- Anezi, Dr. Abir Namankni, and Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi and an anonymous activist), while five remain to this day in detention (Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Naseema al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya'a al- Zahrani) on charges related to their campaigning for women's rights.

At our July meeting, group members expressed an interest in working on this case. However, in order to take this on, we would need a volunteer (or two) from the group to be the lead for this case. The main part of the role is to communicate updates on the case from AIUK or the Country Coordinator. This is usually at our monthly meetings. Other aspects of the role are what you make of it really! For example, you may wish to do the social media updates or work with the Events Group to put on campaigning activities such as speakers, film nights, demonstrations or stalls. It really depends on what you'd like to do and the campaign needs of the case. If this is something you would be interested in trying please email Freya ASAP at freya_lyte@hotmail.co.uk.

Update from past Individual at Risk case (MR)

MR has been trying to find further info on Salidzhon, our group's former prisoner of conscience, and found out that he had failed to have his conviction overturned despite the UN ruling last year that it should have been and that he should have received compensation. She had another dig under a different spelling (Solizhon) and found an interview given to Amnesty in May this year when he was asked about what it meant receiving letters etc when in prison:

The first postcard he received (spring 2009) showed a view of a lake in the Netherlands with \"We're thinking about you, keep holding on\" written on it in Russian. At first he thought that some agent from the Uzbek National Security Service had sent the postcard from abroad to find out his reaction, whether he was connected with any foreign intelligence service. Later that day he was asked if he had friends abroad, in which countries, which of them sent the postcard. He replied that he had no friends and relatives abroad, and he didn't know who sent the postcard either.

Then he got a second postcard, with a drawing of a dove with a twig in its beak, against the background of the globe, and the words \"We're thinking about you.\" It had been drawn and written by a child, which he found particularly heart warming. He used to work as a teacher, which I don't think we knew when we were working on the case.

Then he had a visit from his wife, who told him that she had received about 300 cards, which brought tears to his eyes. \"The warmth of feeling that the world has changed, and that thanks to the Internet and post, people from all over the world can communicate, express their thoughts, and that there are thousands and thousands of people who support a prisoner completely unknown to them, kept me going through the long and painful 3406 days and nights [of my sentence].\"

When he was released the first thing he did the day after he got home was to look through the huge pile of post, from eg the Netherlands, Britain and France. His 3 young grandchildren helped him sort it out and turn it into a display. He wanted his grandchildren to see the letters and postcards from their peers in distant countries in support of their grandfather as a connecting thread, uniting children of the whole world against injustice. He added his grandchildren's drawings to the display.

Asked for a message for Amnesty International supporters, he said: \"I would especially like to thank the children for their drawings and letters. Many of them are grown up now. I am sure that they are doing lots of useful things not only for their countries, but for the entire planet. If all the children of the world were brought up not to be indifferent to other people's suffering, in the manner of Amnesty International, when they grew up there would be an end to war and people suffering indignity at the hands of other people.\"

So even though we never knew if our letters were getting through MR thinks this reinforces the value of taking up the cases of prisoners of conscience. It is humbling to think of Salidzhon/Solizhon carrying on with his activism despite all that time in prison and risking harassment from the authorities since he got out.

Future Activities

Online Letter Writing Meeting

We are organising another online letter writing meeting. A chance for us to write some Amnesty letters together (even if we are still in our separate homes).

Please fill in this online poll to tell us your availability:

https://doodle.com/poll/9xhbyrxc663emwy6.

We'll start at 7.30pm. We will then send out an email to all those who have expressed an interest with the exact details and joining information. Any questions? Please email Freya at freya_lyte@hotmail.co.uk

Picnic Social

This has been postponed until Scotland goes into phase four to ensure this activity is as safe as possible for our members and meets government guidelines.

Urgent Actions (MR)

1. Covid-19 threatens indigenous people's lives

On 1 July, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) reported 1,215 confirmed (45% of 2,673 people tested) and 622 suspected cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous Amazonian communities. They face a higher risk situation due to scarcity of drinking water, food sources, medical supplies, health services and COVID-19 tests. An oil spill from 7 April and seasonal floods polluted the environment and food and water sources of many communities, increasing their risk of infection. We call on the President to urgently implement an action plan to protect them guaranteeing their human rights.

Take action here:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/covid-19-threatens-indigenous-peoples-lives

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions

AOB

Clemency Film Screening (JG)

You can now watch the brand new Chinonye Chukwu movie, Clemency, online now via the Glasgow Film Theatre. The film, starring Academy Award Nominated actress Alfre Woodard, is a powerful death row drama. Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden, Bernadine Williams. The emotional wedge in her marriage grows. Memories of a recently botched execution plague her daily. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Thanks to JG for drawing our attention to this screening. Details on how to watch below:

https://glasgowfilm.org/clemency-watch-online

Next meeting

Thursday 13th August -- we will send out joining instructions via our mailing list and social media nearer the time.

Categories
minutes

June 2020 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these minutes. If you prefer, you can read them as a PDF.

Attendees: FL, MDS, CA, CC, GK, JG, KM, MR, CCa

Apologies: JGi

Amnesty Lockdown Videoconferences

We held our meeting via videoconference, following on from the weekly Amnesty videoconference organised by our regional rep and Glasgow West
member, Malcolm. This week the speaker was Sunit Bagree. Sunit works for Action for Southern Africa but was talking to us in a personal capacity.
He explained how

  1. unjust external debt payments,

  2. illegal financial ouflows and

  3. the denial of climate debt

deprives governments in Southern African countries of vital funds which they could use to help their people realise their economic and social
rights.

To find out more about this important issue, check out their report:

ACTSA: The Money Drain

Amnesty also has a relevant action on the right to water in South Africa:

AIUK: Turn on the Tap

The programme for the upcoming weekly lockdown videoconferences is as
follows:

  • Thurs 18th June - Paul Bridges, Chair of AIUK's Anti-Death Penalty
    Project.
  • Thurs 25th June - AIUK Country Co-ordinator for Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan).
  • Thurs 2nd July -- Women's Human Rights with Chiara Capraro, Women's Human Rights Programme Manager, AIUK
  • Thurs 9th July -- Ending Child Marriage with Zoe Birchall, Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer, Girls Not Brides

All run from 6.30pm to approx. 7.45pm. For information on how to attend please email Mal at
malcolm.dingwall-smith@amnesty.org.uk.

You can connect using your laptop, tablet, smart phone or call in using a mobile or landline.

You may recall that this month we had planned to have a talk from Lynnda Wardle from Interfaith Glasgow. We have decided to postpone this until
we resume face to face meetings.

In the meantime you can find out more about the organisation and their Weekend Club here:
https://interfaithglasgow.org/

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Briefing

Pride Inside

Amnesty are creating an exciting online event - Pride Inside - with partners UK Black Pride, Brighton Trans Pride, and Stonewall, with more to come! There'll be a week of activities kicking off on the 28th June with a launch event showcasing all the incredible LGBTI+ activists, artists and allies contributing to this week of Pride celebration! We will come together and invite the public to be proud no matter what, proud no matter where. The launch date is the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969, which as you may know, was the birthplace of Pride. More info here - Pride Inside

You can get started in your activism around Pride by taking action for Polish woman, ElŇľbieta PodleŇõna who could face two years in prison after being accused of owning a poster of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo - AIUK info

NO SIGN OF DISAPPEARED HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

The whereabouts of Muhammad Idris Khattak, a Pakistani father, human rights defender and independent researcher, remain unknown since he was forcibly disappeared on 13 November 2019. A patient of diabetes requiring daily medication, the health of Khattak is at even greater risk during the COVID-19 outbreak as the conditions of his detention remain unknown. With no information about his fate for six months, his daughters fear that Khattak is at real risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Take action here

Nazanin's release extended

Thank you to everyone who lit candles for Nazanin, or sent their best wishes. Amnesty UK are grateful for all your care, and her husband Richard and the Free Nazanin campaign have sent their thanks for the solidarity. Nazanin's furlough was due to end on 20 May and we were relieved to hear that her release has been extended, though we are not sure for how long.

This 'conditional liberty' is far better than outright jail, but we're worried that the Iranian authorities are still playing games with Nazanin and her family. At the end of May we had reason to hope via reports from Richard that Nazanin could be on a list of prisoners' to be pardoned - however once again they have been left waiting for news. The position they have been left in is cruel. That's why your continued support is so crucial. In jail, Nazanin was a prisoner and whilst she's confined to her parents' house in Tehran, she is still
a prisoner. Amnesty will continue to campaign alongside Richard until she is allowed to come home to the UK.

Amnesty's online shop open for business

With a global focus on the impact of COVID-19, Amnesty wanted to share an update on what they are doing at the Amnesty Shop. The health and wellbeing of staff, customers and suppliers is Amnesty's main priority. They are taking all precautions and following advice from the government, but for now the shop is still operating as normal.

Shop online here - Amnesty Shop

Refugee Week 15 - 21 June

Refugee Week is a time when we can all celebrate the contribution refugees make to the UK. The theme of this year's event is 'Imagine', and most activities will take place online this year. To find out how you can take part, have a look on the Refugee Week website. There are many Simple Acts, such as sharing a song, or watching a film and posting about it on social media. You can also join online events or take a virtual exhibition tour. Keep an eye on our social media around Refugee Week.

Amnesty will be posting ideas and updates every day! - Refugee Week

Black Lives Matter (FL)

Call on your MP to stand up for racial injustice. In particular ask them to write to:

  • Dominic Raab MP and ask him to condemn the words and actions of the President of the USA, and call for him to suspend the attack on protesters;
  • the Prime Minister and ask him to denounce Trump's militarisation of the protests in the USA;
  • the Home Secretary Priti Patel and ask her to make assurances that UK protesters will not be met with excessive use of force;

Also request that your MP calls on the government to immediately suspend licences for tear gas, riot shields and rubber bullets to the USA.

There's a template letter available here: BLM letter template

One of our group also shared information about a Stand Up Against Racism Vigil, Glasgow, Weds 6th June.

Why not join the Black Lives Matter Glasgow Facebook page for ways toshow solidarity as a black person or as an ally - BLM Glasgow

Group Picnic

MDS has suggested that we organise a group picnic social / letter writing meeting for when Scotland enters phase three (if practical following government guidelines). More details at our July meeting.

Urgent Actions (MR + CCa)

1. RUSSIA UA: SHAMAN IN PSYCHIATRIC DETENTION FOR CRITICIZING PUTIN

On 2 June, the Yakutsk City Court approved the indefinite forcible psychiatric hospitalisation of Aleksandr Gabyshev, a shaman who in 2019 announced he would march on foot from Yakutsk, in east Siberia, to Moscow "to purge" President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. Aleksandr Gabyshev is being targeted for his open criticism of the authorities and should not be arbitrarily deprived from his freedom or administered any medical treatment without his free and informed consent.

It says we have 39 days left but according to the country coordinator we have a very short time to influence the prosecution as his defence has only until 16 June to appeal the decision to detain Aleksandr Gabyshev indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital.

Email action - click the Take Action button on this page:

Take Action

2. EGYPT UA: LOSS OF CONTACT WITH DETAINED JOURNALIST

On 12 April 2020, Al-Qanater prison authorities started allowing most inmates to receive clothes, food, sanitizers, letters and a hot meal
from their relatives weekly, after suspending prison visits in March.

However, arbitrarily detained journalist, Solafa Magdy, was not allowed to receive packages from her family until 29 April. Her family has still not received any calls or letters from her raising fears about her safety amid a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in prison.

Letter action - click the Take Action button on this page:

Take Action

Keep checking the Urgent Actions sites for actions you can take from your home -
Urgent Actions

EGYPTIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER DETAINED AND TORTURED: PATRICK ZAKI GEORGE

Human rights defender Patrick Zaki George, who suffers from asthma, is at particular risk if exposed to COVID-19 in Tora Investigation Prison. On 5 May 2020, Supreme State Security prosecutors (SSSP) renewed his detention for 15 days pending investigations without Patrick or his lawyer present. The prison authorities failed to transfer him to the SSSP for seven weeks to attend his detention renewal session.

Take action here - Amnesty website

New long term case for the group! (CA)

The group has decided to take on the prisoner of conscience, Rubén González as our new long term case.

Rubén González is a Venezuelan trade unionist, who has been arbitrarily detained and subjected to unfair trials on several occasions. He has suffered from renal failure for more than 10 years, as well as hypertension. His lawyers have repeatedly requested medical attention from the courts, but he has only been transferred for medical treatment once. They do not allow his family to send medication unless he is already in severe pain.

Since his arbitrary arrest on 29 November 2018, Venezuelan labour rights activist Rubén González, 60, has suffered a series of health crises, but has not yet received adequate care. On 19 January 2020, Rubén González began experiencing hypertension, putting his life at risk, unless he receives urgent medical attention. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

More information on this case to follow.

AOB

MR recommended Death Row Bookclub, a podcast on the BBC World Service.
An inmate recounts his experience of setting up a book club on death row

Death Row Bookclub

Next meeting

Thursday 9th July -- this will also be via WebEx. Please contact Mal
at malcolm.dingwall-smith\@amnesty.org.uk
for joining instructions.

The meeting will follow on from the weekly
Amnesty videoconference which runs from 6.30 to 7.30pm.

Categories
minutes

May 2020 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these minutes. Alternatively they can be read as a PDF.

Glasgow West Amnesty International

Attendees: FL, MDS, CL, MR, JGe, KM, JG

Apologies: CA, CCa, CC

Amnesty Lockdown Videoconferences

As with the last couple of months, we held our meeting via videoconference, following on from the weekly Amnesty videoconference organised by our regional rep and Glasgow West member, Malcolm.

Mal will continue to organise weekly videoconferences with Amnesty speakers for as long as the strict lockdown measures continue in Scotland. For information on how to attend please email Mal at malcolm.dingwall-smith@amnesty.org.uk. You can connect using your laptop, tablet, smart phone or call in using a mobile or landline.

Past Events

Virtual Quiz Night

The Glasgow West Amnesty group organised a virtual pub quiz on Sunday 26th April which was open to other Amnesty groups in the UK. The quiz went well and it was an enjoyable evening. The Glasgow West team were the victors but there was no cheating, we promise! Depending on how long lockdown continues, we will consider organising more social events for Amnesty groups later on.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Briefing

Protecting the most vulnerable during COVID19

Amnesty is calling on local groups to write to their local papers encouraging readers to sign a petition calling on better government support for at risk groups during the COVID19 crisis. In particular, key workers, migrants and refugees and women facing domestic violence. We decided to send a letter to the Herald, the Glasgow Evening Times, the National and the Scotsman. More info on the campaign and to sign the petition follow this link: on the AIUK
website
.

Nazanin solidarity action

FL lit a candle on behalf of the Glasgow West Amnesty group for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as part of a social media solidarity action organised by AIUK. Nazanin is currently due to be sent back to prison on the 20th May. She was released on a temporary basis after fears that coronavirus could infect large numbers of detainees in Iran's overcrowded jails and we're afraid that her furlough won't be extended.

Update: Nazanin's release has now been extended but we do not know for how long. Sign the petition to help get Nazanin home once and for all: on the AIUK
website

Urgent Actions (MR and FL)

Man claiming innocence faces execution

Walter Barton's execution is scheduled for 19 May 2020. He is on death row in Missouri, USA, since 2006 in connection with the 1991 murder of a woman, for which he maintains his innocence. He faced five trials over 15 years before being convicted and sentenced to death. Expert opinion and evidence, never heard by a trial jury, counter key elements of the prosecution's theory which led to Barton's conviction. The 19 May execution would be the first in the USA since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Governor Parson can grant Barton's request for clemency, halting the execution.

Further details:
https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/man-claiming-innocence-faces-execution

Contact the governor: https://governor.mo.gov/contact-us

Update: Very sadly, Walter was executed as planned on the 19th May.

See this further article here - https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/usa-cruel-execution-missouri-set-go-ahead-despite-innocence-claims

Whistleblower doctor facing reprisals

Tatyana Revva, doctor from Volgograd region, in southern Russia, is facing disciplinary proceedings that may result in dismissal, following her complaints of the shortage of personal protective equipment and other problems in her hospital in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She should be able to perform her professional duties, and exercise her right to freedom of expression, without fear of reprisals by the administration.

Further details:
https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/whistleblower-doctor-facing-reprisals

Human rights defender detained and tortured

Human rights defender Patrick Zaki George, who suffers from asthma, is at particular risk if exposed to COVID-19 in Tora Investigation Prison. On 5 May 2020, Supreme State Security prosecutors (SSSP) renewed his detention for 15 days pending investigations without Patrick or his lawyer present. The prison authorities failed to transfer him to the SSSP for seven weeks to attend his detention renewal session.

Further details:
https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/human-rights-defender-detained-and-tortured-0

Journalist at risk after receiving death threat

On 13 April, Chechnya's Head Ramzan Kadyrov posted a video on Instagram in which he issued a death threat aimed at Russian journalist Elena Milashina. The threat followed the publication of her article about the spread of COVID-19 in Chechnya. She is in grave danger and Russian authorities must take urgent steps to ensure her safety. More details:
https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/journalist-risk-after-receiving-death-threat

Crackdown on dissent continues during COVID-19

Activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde were arrested by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) on 14 April 2020, and charged under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code along with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for their involvement in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon riots. These arrests appear to be politically motivated and relate to the massive crackdown on human rights defenders in 2018, when nine other prominent activists were arrested in the same case.

Further details:
https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/crackdown-dissent-continues-during-covid-19

Upcoming Events

Virtual Letter Writing Meeting

We are planning a virtual letter writing meeting for Monday 25th May at 7pm. For joining instructions please email Freya at freya_lyte@hotmail.co.uk. In more ordinary times we have letter writing meetings at each others homes. It is a chance to focus on writing actions that we may not ordinarily have time to do in our monthly meetings or at other times in the month. All you need is a pen and pencil and a device which connects to the internet. If you can, please come along with an action to share with the group. Hope to see you there.

Next meeting

Thursday 11th June -- this will also most likely be via WebEx. Please contact Mal at malcolm.dingwall-smith@amnesty.org.uk for joining instructions. Earlier in the year we had arranged for Lynnda from the Weekend Club to come and speak at our June meeting. As a group we have decided to save her talk for when we can resume our face to face meetings.