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 Chávez and Nicolás 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 Chávez and Nicolás 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 Nicolás 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 Nicolás 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, Elżbieta Podleśna 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.

Categories
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