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minutes

April 2020 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these minutes, which are also available as a PDF.

Attendees: FL, CC, MDS, CL, MR, RT, JGe, KM

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.

The programme for these weekly lockdown videoconferences is as follows:

Thur 9th Apr: Human rights in North Africa with Jackie Fry, Amnesty's Country Co-ordinator for Libya and Algeria

Thur 16th Apr: Brave (Human Rights Defenders) Campaign with Sara Rydkvist, Brave Campaign Manager, AIUK

Thur 23rd Apr: Human Rights in Israel & the Occupied Palestinian Territories with Peter Frankental, AIUK's Economic Affairs Programme Director and Garry Ettle, AIUK's Country Coordinator for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Thur 30th Apr: Children's Human Rights with Anna Warren, Children's Human Rights Network Committee Member, AIUK

Thur 7th May: In discussion with Kate Allen, Director, AIUK

Thur 14th May: I Welcome with Tom Davies, the AIUK Campaign Manager for the I Welcome Refugees campaign.

Mal will continue to organise these sessions 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.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Local Group Briefing

Amnesty UK is suggesting Amnesty groups get involved with the following activities at the moment:

  • Send messages of solidarity (e.g. Write a message of solidarity with essential workers on social media, using hashtags for your area for example: "A huge thanks to all the supermarket staff in #York for all your hard work in these challenging times. We are with you #coronacrisis", write a letter, or letters, to essential workers in your community, or draw a picture, and post a photo of them on social media, again using the appropriate hashtags and tagging relevant Twitter or Instagram accounts, or design a poster thanking essential workers to put up in your window for neighbours and people passing by to see.

  • Send a letter to your local paper calling for emergency support for all migrant victims of domestic violence, suggested wording available here - on the AIUK website

  • Take Action for journalist Darvinson Rojas - On 21 March 2020, journalist Darvinson Rojas was arrested by the Special Action Forces (FAES) of the National Police (PNB), in an apparent attempt to silence his reporting on the spread of COVID-19 in Venezuela. Darvinson live-tweeted when officers came to his house in Caracas claiming there was a "COVID-19 case" and took him in for questioning. There is no evidence of this being the case, nor would it justify his arrest, detention and prosecution. Darvinson is in FAES' custody, who have an appalling record of committing grave human rights violations. Amnesty demand his immediate and unconditional release. Take action here - via the AIUK website

  • Take Action for Azza Soliman - Azza Soliman is a women's rights defender who has been persecuted by the Egyptian government for almost 30 years. Her crime? Simply fighting for the basic human rights of Egyptian women. She faces years in prison on dubious charges. Her freedom is severely limited by an asset freeze and travel ban. Tell President al-Sisi that he must drop these charges and restore Azza's freedom immediately - take action online here

  • Even more ideas of how to keep busy as an Amnesty activist here -
    on the AIUK website

Reminder that the June AGM is cancelled. The Board will review the situation in May and make a decision about whether it will be possible to hold a slimmed-down AGM later this year.

Europe Must Act (CL)

CL talked to us about the Europe Must Act Campaign which she has recently become involved in. Europe Must Act is demanding a change to EU refugee policies. It was originally started by grassroot NGOs working with refugees in the Greek islands. They are demanding this change on the highest European level. The campaign's key goals are:

  • To immediately decongest the Aegean Islands through fair relocation across Member States

  • To replace the EU-Turkey Agreement with a fair and humane EU policy on migration

  • To advocate for dignified and legal conditions of reception across Europe

There are lots of ways to get involved, starting with:

1. Follow Europe Must Act on social media - on Facebook, the Glasgow EMA, on Twitter, and on Instagram

2. Sign the petition asking Glasgow officials to pledge to take in
refugees from the Greek islands - here.

CL has agreed to keep the group updated with the campaign.

Virtual Pub Quiz (Events group)

We are planning a virtual pub quiz with other Amnesty groups.

Trial run to test the technology, format, etc. - Sunday 19th April,
8pm

Real thing! - Sunday 26th April, 7.30pm.

Urgent Actions

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

Next meeting

Thursday 14th May -- 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

March 2020 Minutes

Thanks to FL for these. They can be read in PDF form if you prefer.

March 2020 Minutes

Apologies: CA, Jge, JG

Attendees: FL, CCa, RT, MDS, MR, R, CC, C, M, AS

Speaker: Rebecca, Crisis and Tactical Campaigner, AIUK

Unfortunately, Rebecca had to cancel her talk because of travel restrictions due to COVID 19. However, we plan to rearrange this talk ASAP. She suggested some links to relevant short films to watch instead (see below).

Treasurer's Report (JG)

£430.89 in bank.

Secretary's Report (FL)

Double donations for next two months!

Thanks to a group of major donors, donations from Amnesty groups will be doubled for a limited time. These matched funds will be supporting Amnesty's work exposing human rights abuses in Syria with our donations going towards the Amnesty International UK Section.

Marielle Franco action

Marielle Franco was murdered in a drive-by shooting in March 2018. Her killers and those behind the plot to assassinate her have still not been brought to justice, nearly two years later. Marielle dedicated her life to speaking out for LGBTI, black and women's rights in Brazil. She paid the ultimate price for defending human rights. As a group, we have campaigned for justice for Marielle before, including at our Pride stalls.

Email authorities in Rio de Janeiro demanding that her killers are found and brought to justice.

Yulia Tsvetkova action

Yulia Tsvetkova is a Russian LGBTI and women's rights activist currently facing charges of creating and sharing "pornographic materials", for sharing body positive drawings of women's bodies on social media.

Yulia was also fined approximately 600 GBP in 2019, for acting as the administrator of two 18+ LGBTI communities on the Russian social media site, Vkontakte. During her most recent arrest, she said officers called her a "lesbian, sex trainer and propagandist leader". She is facing up to six years in prison if convicted.

Yulia Tsvetkova is a prisoner of conscience, ask for her to be immediately released.

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territory: campaign win!

Good news: on the 13th of February, the UN finally released the long-awaited database of businesses involved in illegal Israeli settlements.

The list includes 3 UK based companies, such as construction firm JCB, as well as all the major tourism companies Amnesty has campaigned on, such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb. This is a major step towards accountability in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Free e-learning course: The impact of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In partnership with FutureLearn Amnesty have developed this online course "Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (perfect for self-isolation!)

On the course you will learn:

- Dignity and Human Rights

- Promoting Equality and Non-Discrimination in your community

- Shaping a Society based on Human Rights principles

The course starts on 13 April 2020 and is completely free. You can access it here.

National Conference & AGM 20-21 June

Update: The National Conference and AGM has now been cancelled.

Amnesty's next Annual General Meeting takes place 20-21 June 2020 at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham. You can find more information on Amnesty's website.

Entry is free for all Amnesty members!

New individual at risk case allocation

I have applied for a new case for the group. I will let the group know once we have one allocated.

Possible events

Turkey photo exhibition

Planned for end of April. Hoping to have mini exhibitions at the City Chambers and Milk Cafe and the full exhibition in a larger community venue.

Update: this has now been postponed for later in the year (possibly end of Summer/ start of Autumn)

Ceilidh

Several members of the group attended a really successful ceilidh organised by the Edinburgh Amnesty groups on the 7th March. We would like to organise a similar Amnesty fundraiser here in Glasgow. We're in the process of looking for suitable venues and ceilidh bands. If you are interested in helping with the organisation, please let us know. We are currently thinking of holding this at some point in July.

Walk from Strathaven to Dungavel

A member of the group has suggested a sponsored walk from Strathaven to Dungavel (the immigration detention centre) to tie in with one of the next vigils organised by the organisation Scottish Detainee Visitors. We will keep the group updated on when this will be.

Pub Quiz

We are planning another pub quiz and raffle fundraiser at the Dram in May. Keep an eye on social media for updates.

Update: Although it will not be possible to have a physical pub quiz in May, we are looking at the possibilities of a virtual one.

Future speakers at our Amnesty meetings

- Anna from the Amnesty Children's Rights Network (April?)

- Lynnda from The Weekend Club (June)

- Rebecca from Amnesty UK (an upcoming Spring/Summer meeting)

Update: We will not be having face to face meetings until the government guidance changes. However, we intend to have virtual meetings and will be circulating information regarding these via our mailing list and social media.

Letters to MPs (FL)

Amnesty UK is encouraging local groups to engage with MPs on a variety of issues this year, including:

- the position of human rights defenders in UK Government foreign policy

- reforms to refugee policy to enable families to be together

- UK arms trade, especially sales of arms to Saudi Arabia

- proposed new Domestic Abuse Bill

- possible constitutional review of the Human Rights Act

FL brought a template letter for attendees to use to write to their own MPs inviting them to attend an upcoming Amnesty meeting.

Update: We will postpone inviting our MPs to our meetings until face-to-face meetings resume.

Saudi Arabia Campaign Update (CC)

CC shared the latest newsletter on Saudi Arabia.

This consisted of details of a new campaign focusing on the Specialized Criminal Court plus some other updates.

Anti-Death Penalty Campaign: #RunForMagai (CC)

Magai Matiop Ngong was just fifteen when he was sentenced to death in South Sudan. Before his life changed forever, Magai loved running. That\'s why, to draw attention to his case, Amnesty UK\'s Anti-Death Penalty Project is asking people to #RunForMagai. According to his testimony in court, Magai fired his father's gun at the ground to warn off his cousin who was trying to stop him fighting with another boy in his neighbourhood. The bullet ricocheted and hit his cousin, who later died in hospital. Magai faced trial for murder without a lawyer. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Our research shows that the death penalty is disproportionately used against poor and disadvantaged people. According to international law, and South Sudanese law, sentencing a child to death is illegal. Last year Magai was finally given access to a lawyer who has helped him file an appeal. He finally has a chance to turn things around.

If you enjoy running, print a #RunForMagai running number from the website and take a photo of yourself on your next run. Then tweet pictures of your #RunForMagai - including \@AmnestyUK and \@RepSouthSudan - urging Sudan not to execute a child.

Urgent Actions (MR)

Three men at risk of execution

Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi have been sentenced to death in connection with acts of arson that took place during protests in November 2019. Their trial was grossly unfair. They were denied access to lawyers during the investigation phase and say they were tortured. Amirhossein Moradi says he was coerced into giving a "confession" that was broadcast on state television and used as evidence to convict them.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/three-prisoners-risk-execution

Prisoner of conscience in critical condition

The physical and psychological condition of human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Ahmed Mansoor, has significantly deteriorated, following three months of him being on continuous hunger strike to protest his detention conditions. He is no longer able to walk unattended. He has been detained in dire conditions and and in solitary confinement since his arrest on 20 March 2017.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/prisoner-conscience-critical-condition

Human rights defender detained and tortured

On 7 February 2019, airport immigration officers arbitrarily arrested and tortured human rights defender Patrick Zaki George at 4:30 am upon his arrival at Cairo Airport on charges including "disseminating false news", "inciting to protest" and \"incitement to violence and terrorist crimes\". In detention, National Security Agency officers questioned and tortured him before he appeared in front of the prosecutor the following day.

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

Uyghur academic jailed for \"inciting extremism\"

Prominent Uyghur historian and publisher, Iminjan Seydin, was convicted of "inciting extremism" after a secret and grossly unfair trial in February 2019. His daughter only learned about his conviction in recent months through word of mouth. Missing since May 2017, he has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. No evidence against him has been made public.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/uyghur-academic-jailed-inciting-extremism

Film Showing: Bedouin Women

Unfortunately, due to technical issues we were unable to show the short films at the meeting. However, you can watch them from home here:

This short movie is a good intro about Bedouin women (it also mentions an exhibition in NY which is now outdated but gives some context for the work): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xskZ0EniMvA

This 20 minute film was made by Sabach, a Palestinian woman from the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib, which is located in the Naqab in Israel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otv0nDeW9Qg She recorded her daily life and interactions with Israeli police and soldiers. Al-Araqib has been destroyed 174 times. The last times was just two days before Amnesty visited in February 2020. They spent the day with these women, listening to their stories. Although Amnesty have so far mainly focused our work on illegal settlements, Amnesty are planning on doing more work on Palestinian who are citizens of Israel (and represent about 20% of the Israeli population). They face a wide range of discriminatory practices and are treated as second class citizens. This is true of the Bedouin population in Israel, who are particularly vulnerable, but also of Palestinian parliamentarians who sit in the Israeli parliament. Amnesty published a report on their situation back in September: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1508822019ENGLISH.PDF

AOB

Human rights related events at Aye Write festival:

https://www.ayewrite.com/pages/event-details.aspx?event=1/zeba-talkhani-and-hashi-mohamed-finding-a-home-finding-yourself

https://www.ayewrite.com/pages/event-details.aspx?event=1/azadeh-moaveni-among-the-women-of-isis

https://www.ayewrite.com/pages/event-details.aspx?event=1/christy-lefteri-the-beekeeper-of-aleppo

Update: Unfortunately Aye Write was cancelled, although some of their events are being held online. See the Aye Write website for details.

Next meeting

Thursday 9th April -- we are hoping to organise an online meeting. Details will be circulated via this mailing list and our social media.

Categories
minutes

January 2020 Minutes

Apologies: CaC

Attendees: FL, RT, KB, JG, MDS, MR, CC, CA

Treasurer’s Report (JG)

£550 in the bank. Still need to pay next three months rent and send annual return to Amnesty.

Secretary’s Report (FL)

FL brought the most recent issue of Amnesty’s Group News magazine for the group to look through. The mag showcases the work of Amnesty’s groups up and down the country.

Prisoner of Conscience – Ali Arrass

Ali’s release date is set for the 2nd April. 

The group decided that we would request a new prisoner of conscience for the group to campaign on. FL will get in touch with head office.

Plans for 2020

We began discussing ideas for our activities this year. To continue in February’s meeting once we have received the Local Groups Planning Pack.

“Christmas” Dinner  

We decided to have our annual social on Thursday 27th February at Chillies on Woodlands Road. To confirm in February’s meeting.

Urgent Actions (MR)

PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE HELD IN DIRE CONDITIONS

On 7 September 2019, human rights defender, Ahmed Mansoor, went on hunger strike to protest the conditions of his detention, after prison guards had beat him. He remained on strike until at least the end of October, with signs of deteriorating health. His conditions have not improved. He has remained in solitary confinement, without a mattress or access to fresh air, since his arrest on 20 March 2017.  

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/prisoner-conscience-held-dire-conditions

VERDICT DATE SET FOR TWO LEBANESE MEN

The Federal Supreme Court has set 20 January 2020 to issue its verdict in the case of two Lebanese men, including Ahmed Nimr Sobeh, who are appealing their conviction and sentences. The Court has yet to set the date for the appeal hearing of a third Lebanese man, Abdelrahman Talal Chouman. The three men were previously sentenced by the Federal Appeal Court in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/uae-verdict-date-set-two-lebanese-men

AOB

We also discussed the option of changing meeting venue. One suggestion was the Woodlands Community Space. This option will be researched in more detail and fed back to the group.

Next meeting

Thursday 13th February 2020, 7.30pm, Woodlands Methodist Church, Woodlands Road

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