Categories
minutes

March 2022 Updates

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

March Updates

Attendees at monthly meeting (10th March):

FL, CC, GC

Anti-Racism March, Sat 19th March

We're taking part in the Stand Up to Racism march on Saturday 19th March. Meet us at 11am outside the Park Gardens entrance to Kelvingrove Park (bottom of the granite steps, G3 7YE). We should be easy to spot with Amnesty International banners/ placards. Come and join us!

Any questions please email Mal (malcolm.ds@gmail.com).

Facebook event for full details: https://www.facebook.com/events/274432127988168/?ref=newsfeed

Saudi Arabia Campaign Updates (CA)

Raif Badawi

You might remember taking action for Raif Badawi a Saudi Arabian poet and activist, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that allowed people to voice their views.

He was sentenced in 2014, and after too many years of unfair imprisonment we are happy to report that Raif was released last Friday. The conditions of his release - and the possible 10-year travel ban - are unclear at this point.

Reprieve Petition

Petition from the organisation, Reprieve, calling on Boris Johnson to cancel his trip to Saudi Arabia and condemn the killings: Reprieve

Local Group Update from AIUK

Please follow the link to read the latest Local Groups Update - Local Group Update from Amnesty UK

Issues covered in this month's mailing:

  • Board elections 2022

  • AGM role vacancies

  • Rise Up, a free campaigning course for 16-24 year olds

  • New online portal where you can access all of Amnesty International
    courses, training and resources in one place

  • Update on the Nationality and Borders Bill

  • Learn more about Israel's Apartheid against Palestinians

  • Amnesty's position on vaccine mandates

  • Human Rights Act consultation

  • Local group fundraising update

Ukraine Refugee Crisis: Call on the UK Government to do more!

With the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine, we need to ensure that the UK government steps up to support refugees. We want to see the UK play its part in strengthening international efforts to protect civilians and in bringing to justice those suspected of crimes under international law.

According to the UN refugee agency, more than 2.8 million people have fled from Ukraine since Russia's criminal invasion on 24 February. Amnesty believes the UK's deeply inadequate response to the Ukraine refugee crisis is evidence of a "corrosively anti-refugee attitude" within the Home Office. The Government is currently taking its Nationality and Borders Bill through Parliament, which will fundamentally undermine the UK's asylum system and damage refugee rights globally.

Please contact your local MP as soon as possible to encourage them to raise these concerns with the Prime Minister. On the link below, you will find a template letter and a briefing to send to your MP. There is also a template press release for you to send to local media to raise awareness locally and help put pressure on your MP and the government.

Ukraine Refugee Crisis Link

Amnesty AGM and National Conference 2022

This year's AGM will be predominantly virtual, and held on the 25th June 2022. The in-person activities will be taking place at the Human Rights Action Centre in London.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions at the Human Rights Action Centre, we will be asking those who can, to join virtually as there will be a limited number of spaces available to join in person. To join us in person, please register your interest here: using this Google Form

Urgent Actions

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

China: Imprisoned Bookseller At Risk Of Ill-Treatment

Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai was sentenced on 24 February 2020 to 10 years' imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for five years, on the charge of "illegally providing intelligence to foreign entities". Since then, he has been denied access to his family and, having obtained Swedish citizenship in 1996, to Swedish consular assistance. There are grave concerns over Gui Minhai's poor health, and that he is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The Chinese government must release Gui Minhai immediately; pending his release, he must be granted access to his family, lawyers of his choice, consular support, and adequate medical care.

imprisoned Bookseller At Risk of Ill-Treatment

Iran: Tortured Kurdish Men At Risk Of Execution

Anwar Khezri, Ayoub Karimi, Davoud Abdollahi, Farhad Salimi, Ghassem Abesteh, Kamran Sheikheh and Khosrow Basharat, all from Iran's Kurdish Sunni minority, are at risk of execution at Raha'i Shahr prison, near Tehran. They were convicted of "corruption on earth" (efsad-e fel-arz) and sentenced to death in grossly unfair trials marred by claims of torture to extract "confessions".

Tortured Kurdish Men At Risk of Execution

Singapore: Halt Resumption Of Unlawful Executions

The authorities of Singapore are poised to resume hangings, after a two-year hiatus linked to pending appeals and the COVID-19 pandemic. In violation of international law and standards, several people who were sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offenses are facing imminent execution, and more executions may follow. The Supreme Court has been petitioned to halt the executions and there are concerns on the use of the death penalty on those with mental and intellectual disabilities. The government of Singapore must halt all scheduled executions, commute these sentences and establish an official moratorium on all executions as a first step towards full abolition of the death penalty.

Halt Reumption of Unlwaful Executions in Singapore

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 - Urgent Actions at AIUK

Next meeting

Thursday 14th April, Woodlands Methodist Church, Woodlands Road, 7:30pm. Full details in our Facebook event: https://fb.me/e/737MR4jN2

Please bring your face masks and do a lateral flow test prior to attending if you can.

You can also contact Freya (freya_lyte@hotmail.co.uk) with any questions.

Categories
minutes

February Meeting Info + January 2022 Minutes!

Thank you to FL for these minutes! As ever, you can read them as a PDF if you would prefer.

Attendees:

FL, MDS, CC, CL, E, JG, KM, MR

Patrick Grady MP Visit in February

We look forward to welcoming back Patrick Grady MP who is coming to talk to the group at our meeting on the 10th February. Patrick Grady is the MP for Glasgow North and friend of the group. We talked about the different points we would like to discuss with Patrick during the meeting.

We'd like to encourage a large turnout to welcome our guest speaker so please share details of the meeting with anyone you think may be interested.

Treasurer's Report and Fundraising Needs

Due to COVID limiting our fundraising activities, the group is low on
funds. Some of the things we need to pay for include meeting room costs,
Amnesty affiliation fees and very importantly, postage costs.

We talked about some of the ways we could fundraise over the next couple
of months.

CC suggested providing a fundraising link on our social media. She is
going to look into the best websites to use for this. Other group
members also suggested putting out a call for donations to our mailing
list.

We aim to start organising face to face fundraising activities again
later in the year when hopefully COVID is less of a concern...

Secretary's Report

Local Group Update

You can read the latest Local Groups Update online

Our group features in this month's Local Groups Update!

Issues covered in this month's mailing:

  • Write for Rights 2021

  • Campaign to stop young girls from being forced into early marriage
    in West & Central Africa

  • Amnesty Activism during COP26

  • Appeal for funds

  • Volunteering opportunity: Become an Activism Rep!

  • JCB Off Track: New Report & Local Action - Israel / Occupied
    Palestinian Territories

  • Training opportunities: Introduction to Equity and Inclusion Course
    and Climate Change and Human Rights Course

No One Is Illegal Events in January

There is a lot of concern in Glasgow and across the country about the UK Government's Borders Bill and it's potential impact on people applying for asylum here. Please join us in protesting against this new and damaging legislation.

You can find Amnesty's Truth Behind the Bill fact sheet here: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/nationality-borders-bill-truth-behind-claims

12-2pm, Saturday 22nd January: We All Belong - No One Is Illegal!

gathering in Maxwell Square Park, Kenmure Street

(NB: This is a different place to the larger Maxwell Park). This is an opportunity to learn more about the issue and prepare for the march the following week. There will be free food, information stalls, spearhead and poster and badge making. Please make sure to take a lateral flow test before attending. We are hoping to have a stall at this event.

More on Facebook: https://fb.me/e/4oEJvyAg9

Saturday 29th January -- March

11am, Saturday 29th January

We All Belong - No One Is Illegal! march from the Bowling Green, Kenmure Street, Pollokshields to George Square to join Refugees for Justice who will be holding an event starting at noon in support of asylum seekers and against hotel detention. Please bring posters and banners.

The march route is approximately 2 miles.

More on Facebook:

Other Upcoming Events

Saturday 15th January Poland Embassy Protest: Stop Refugees Freezing!

We will be outside the Poland Consulate in Edinburgh on the 15th January as part of an International Day of Action in solidarity with thousands of refugees stuck on the Belarus/ Poland border in freezing conditions. We will join with activists from Edinburgh Undercroft Amnesty group, Edinburgh Portobello Amnesty group, Edinburgh University Amnesty group, and Europe Must Act - Scotland group.

The Government of Poland must stop illegal pushback tactics against refugees who arrive in Poland and allow humanitarian assistance from NGOs.

EU should enforce European law but also ensure Poland and other border states are supported to look after the increased number of refugees and to safely and legally settle then in countries across Europe. The UK Government said we are only leaving EU and not Europe so we too have a moral responsibility to support in this way as well, especially if Poland is truly an ally.

Alexander Lukashenko and the Government of Belarus must stop using these refugees as pawns in their geo-politocal games, bringing them to the border on false promises, subjecting them to horrific violence from the police, and then in some cases forcing them back to their home countries where they are at risk.

No country comes out of this situation with any credit, while these humans freeze in temperatures that will drop to below zero this winter!

We stand in solidarity with our fellow activists around Europe raising this issue and to all refugees living in inhumane conditions. As our friends say, Europe Must Act.

Contact Mal (malcolm.ds@gmail.com) for more information.

Saturday 19th March UN Anti-Racism Day March

More details of this march to follow. Please save the date.

Urgent Actions

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

Congo: Peaceful activists jailed for 'defamation' (act by 31 Jan)

Activists Claude Lwaboshi Buhazi (32), Faustin Ombeni Tulinabo (26) and Serge Mikindo Waso (33), members of the citizen movement, Jicho la Raiya (The Eye of the Citizens) were arrested on 18 February in Kirotshe, in the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, as they were preparing to take part in a peaceful protest against "illegal road taxation" and allegations of mismanagement at the Kirotshe health district. They were accused of defamation and jailed at the police station in Kirotshe before being transferred to Goma Central Prison on 2 March. On 26 November, their request for release on bail was rejected by a military magistrate in Goma. Amnesty International calls for the three activists' immediate and unconditional release.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/peaceful-activists-jailed-defamation

China: Covid-19 journalist must be granted medical bail (act by 20 Jan)

Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who has been on partial hunger strike in protest of her incarceration, is at grave risk of death and her family does not expect her to live through the winter if she is not released on medical grounds. Shanghai Women's Prison has not responded to an application for her bail on medical grounds filed by her family on 15 November. Meanwhile, Zhang Zhan's lawyer and family members continue to file applications to visit her in person, but to no avail. Pending her release, the Chinese authorities must accept the application of medical bail before she dies in the prison.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/covid-19-journalist-must-be-granted-medical-bail

Morocco: Sahrawi activist raped by Moroccan forces (act by 25 Jan)

On 15 November, Moroccan security forces broke into the house of Sultana Khaya, Sahrawi woman activist and defender of Sahrawis' right to self-determination. They raped her and sexually abused her sisters and 80-year-old mother. This is not the first time Moroccan forces have committed acts of torture and other ill-treatment against Sultana Khaya and her family, who have been under de facto house arrest since November 2020.

[https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/sahrawi-activist-raped-moroccan-forces]

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

Next meeting

Thursday 10th February, Woodlands Methodist Church, Woodlands Road, 7:30pm.

Full details in our Facebook event: [https://fb.me/e/1uIvdEML6]

Guest speaker Patrick Grady MP for Glasgow North!
https://patrickgrady.scot/

Please bring your face masks and do a lateral flow test prior to attending.

You can also contact Freya (freya_lyte\@hotmail.co.uk) with any questions.

Categories
minutes

November 2021 Minutes

Many thanks to FL for these minutes! If you wish, you may read them as a PDF.

Welcome and Introductions

Attendees:

ES, MDS, MR, CL, FL

Apologies:

CA, KM, JG

Write for Rights Campaign 2021

Amnesty International runs the Write for Rights campaign annually across the world. Individuals and groups who face human rights abuses are identified. Supporters can either chose to send messages of solidarity, or write appeal letters to the relevant authorities, or both! During the 2020 Write for Rights campaign, over 4.4 million actions were taken! For more information, visit the website: [https://www.amnesty.org.uk/write-for-rights]

Write for Rights Event at Milk Cafe

We are planning an event(s) at Milk Cafe on Victoria Road the week beginning 6th December.

We need volunteers to help with this. Please email Freya ([freya_lyte\@hotmail.co.uk]) ASAP to find out more.

We will also be taking part in Write for Rights at our December meeting and via our social media. Double check that you're following us on Twitter (\@AmnestyGlasWest) Facebook (\@glasgowwestamnesty) and Instagram (\@glasgowwestamnesty)!

Week of Action: Stop the Rights Raid (10-17th October)

Thank you to all group members who got in touch with their MPs re: legislation going through parliament which we believe will negatively impact human rights. We had supportive responses from local MPs Alison Thewliss and Patrick Grady. Please get in touch if you would like a copy of their responses.

COP26 Activism

Glasgow West Amnesty were busy with two events over COP26.

We participated in the climate justice march on 6th November alongside members of the Glasgow University Amnesty group and Amnesty members from other parts of Scotland.

On Sunday 7th, we organised a vigil for persecuted environmental activists. The vigil featured speeches from Marie Kolo, an activist from Madagascar, Sandra from Colombia, Allyson Castillo, Amnesty youth activist from Chile and Glasgow university students. Attendees took part in a solidarity action for Bernardo Caal Xol and signed petitions on related issues. The event was well-attended, including by local MP Patrick Grady and MSP Paul Sweeney.

Thank you to group members Kirstie and Claire L for helping to organise the vigil and Mal for introducing all the speakers and coordinating the event on the day. Thanks also to Music Broth whom we rented the mic and speaker from.

If you would like to find out more about how climate change is a human rights issue, check out the recording of the Scotland Online Activism Group's event on the subject. It features Chiara Liguori from Amnesty's International Secretariat and Amnesty youth activist Serena Jemmett in an enlightening and enjoyable discussion on climate change and human rights:

[Why Climate Change is a Human Rights issue: Amnesty & COP26 ]

Secretary's Report

Local Group Update

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

[November Local Groups Update]

Other Upcoming Events

Screening of Bringing Assad to Justice

We are planning to organise a film screening of this documentary. The documentary, Bringing Assad To Justice, is the remarkable story of efforts against the odds to make one of the worst regimes of our time accountable for heinous crimes without parallel since the Nazis. Visit the film's website for more information: https://www.bringingassadtojustice.com/ We will let you know when we have confirmed a date and venue.

Patrick Grady MP Visit

We look forward to hearing from Patrick Grady MP at our February meeting (10th). Save the date!

Ceilidh

We look forward to organising a ceilidh fundraiser in 2022! Get in touch if you would like to be involved with this.

Urgent Actions

Thank you to MR for sharing these urgent actions.

Libya: Activist missing after seizure by armed men

Armed men abducted Mansour Atti, a journalist, blogger and head of the Red Crescent Committee and of the Civil Society Commission in Ajdabiya, on 3 June 2021 near his workplace in Ajdabiya, in northeastern Libya. Since then, his family have received no information about his fate and whereabouts, amid credible reports that he is being held by an armed group in eastern Libya. Prior to his abduction, Mansour Attia had been subjected to repeated questioning about his activism by the Internal Security Agency-Ajdabiya, an armed group affiliated to the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), a powerful armed group in de facto control of eastern Libya.

[https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/activist-missing-after-seizure-armed-men]

Tunisia: LGBTI rights defender violently attacked

Badr Baabou, a human rights defender and LGBTI rights activist, was violently assaulted by police officers on the night of 21 October 2021 in downtown Tunis. Security forces have been targeting Badr Baabou for his work and activism in promoting the rights and freedoms of LGBTI people in Tunisia. This attack is the latest in a long series that spans several years. Several complaints have been filed but to no avail. The authorities must conduct an investigation into the attack, bringing those responsible to account.

[https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/lgbti-rights-defender-violently-attacked]

Indonesia: Human rights defenders accused of defamation

Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti face a criminal investigation following allegations of defamation by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs. The police report follows the upload of a YouTube video containing a dialogue between the two defenders about findings from a recent report outlining the alleged involvement of several military figures in the mining industry.

If the police decide to proceed with the report, Azhar and Maulidyanti could face up to six years in prison under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law simply for exercising their human right to freedom of expression.

[https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/human-rights-defenders-accused-defamation]

Singapore: Unlawful execution set for Malaysian national

The authorities of Singapore have set the execution of Malaysian national Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam for 10 November. In violation of international law and standards, he was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty after he was found guilty of transporting 42.72 grams of diamorphine in April 2009. Several medical experts have found him to have borderline intellectual functioning and cognitive deficits, which might have impacted his ability to assess risks and his accounts of the circumstances of the offence. You must take action before the 30th November.

[https://www.amnesty.org.uk/urgent-actions/unlawful-execution-set-malaysian-national]

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:

[Urgent Actions]

Next meeting

Thursday 9th December, 7pm

Our December meeting will be a little bit different! It's going to be hosted by the group secretary, Freya, in her flat in the southside of Glasgow.

Write for Rights is live this month so we'll be writing solidarity cards and appeal letters for the individuals in this year's caseload. They'll also be festive snacks and drinks. Importantly, it will give us a chance to reconnect after so many online meetings!

Please RSVP ([freya_lyte\@hotmail.co.uk]) to get the address and information on how to get there. When you RSVP, please let us know of any dietary requirements you may have. 🙂

As this event is inside, we ask that you take a lateral flow COVID test on the day. Thanks in advance.

There is a Facebook event for this meeting:

[https://fb.me/e/1s2rqAP2i]

Categories
minutes

September 2021 Minutes

Thanks to FL and MDS for these minutes. You can read them as a PDF here.

Welcome and Introductions

Attending: AH, CA, CL, KM, MDS

Apologies: MR, FL, JG

The group welcomed new member Anna.

The group to move the meetings to the third Thursday of the month for October and November.

Secretary's Report

Local Group Update

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

  • There will be a national Amnesty conference held in London on 13th November.

  • The monthly mailing includes an inspiring message of thanks sent by Vernon Gonsalves to a local Amnesty group in the UK. Vernon is part BK16 prisoners held in India.

Week of Action (10-17th October)

Many groups including Amnesty UK, Liberty, the British Institute of Human Rights, Freedom from Torture, the End Violence Against Women coalition (EVAW), Stonewall and Equally Ours alongside Quakers, Humanists and others are coming together to tell MPs to Stop the Rights Raid.

What we need to do:

  1. Reach out to our local MPs and ask them to meet in October. A draft email you can use to contact your MP was included in the last group email. There are also more detailed materials now available. Please email Freya for a copy ([freya_lyte\@hotmail.co.uk]). Let Freya know who you have emailed.

  2. Meet with our MPs (either online or in person) to discuss the Rights Raid with them. Amnesty have provided a briefing to help us with this. Again, see previous email or Freya. You can also request a written response from your MP instead.

Amnesty is running a series of online workshop to support activists with the Week of Action.

Influencing your MP and engaging local media session with top tips and support

Monday 27 September, 6 - 7.30pm Register here:

[via GoToWebinar]

Short session with Naomi McAuliffe (Amnesty Scotland) to understand the devolved context

Thursday 30 September 7-7.30pm. No registration. Join on Zoom here:

[Naomi McAuliffe short Zoom session]

Ask the experts: a panel to get you up to speed on the Bills

Monday 4 October, 6 - 7.30pm Register here - [hosted via GoToWebinar]

COP26

Online Events

Why Climate Change is a Human Rights issue: Amnesty and COP26

Wed, 22 September, 18:30 -- 20:00

An intro to why climate change is a human rights issue and what Amnesty International will be doing when COP26 comes to Glasgow in November.

Recording available here: https://youtu.be/2sXG-q1Efp8

Protecting human rights of environmental campaigners

We also understand that during COP, Amnesty International UK will be organising an online event focused on protecting the human rights of environmental campaigners around the world.

In Person Events

Amnesty Bloc in Global Day for Climate Justice March, Glasgow

Saturday 6th November

We aim to provide a friendly and safe environment for those joining the protest, while highlighting impact of climate change on human rights.

Vigil for environmental campaigners

We are also planning a vigil on Sunday 7th November in solidarity with persecuted environmental campaigners around the world.

Afghanistan Action

Please sign this petition calling on the Prime Minister to act urgently to help Afghan civilians at risk

[https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/urge_PM_help_Afghanistan_crisis]

Other Upcoming Events

Take One Action! Film Festival

Runs from the 22nd - 26th September with both online and in-cinema screenings. Check out the full programme here:
[https://www.takeoneaction.org.uk/]

Urgent Actions

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

AOB

John Gerrard has decided to move over the Glasgow Daytime Amnesty Group. John is the longest running member of Glasgow West Amnesty and has made a fantastic contribution over many years. We want to thank him for all his activism and wish him luck in all his continued human rights campaigning.

Next meeting

Thursday 21st October

Categories
minutes

May 2021 Minutes

Thanks again To MDS for these minutes. As ever they can be read as a PDF if that is your preference.

Glasgow West Amnesty Minutes

May Meeting - 13 May 2021

Attending: CA, MDS, JG, IJ, KM, MR, EY

  1. Introductions

    • Group Chair: Claire Crossan is standing down as group chair with the thanks of everyone for all her work as chair over the years. Mal and Freya have agreed to pick-up the role on an interim basis until we are back to in person meetings and can appoint a new chair.
  2. Long-term case – Women Human Rights Defenders in Saudi Arabia

    • This action is focused on women human rights defenders arrested in Saudi Arabia, including Loujain al-Hathloul, al-Hathloul, Nassima al-Sada and Samar Badawi. While Loujain has been released and Nassima and Samar are expected to be released in June they will not be free. Their sentences may have an element that has been suspended meaning that they are risk in any future crackdown. They and their families face travel bans. They face a ‘probationary’ period which will prevent them from speaking about the violations they have suffered and which will stop them from continuing their previous human rights work. They will face continued stigma because of the government’s smear campaign. The women should be unconditionally free from prison, travel bans and other forms of intimidation and threats that hinder their own safety, well-being and activism.

    • Those at the meetings were asked to write letters, tweet and email.

    • If you would like a copy of the most recent Saudi Arabia newsletter for more information, please get in touch with Christine - "christinealison@btinternet.com".

  3. Urgent actions

  4. Monthly mailing

    • Anoosheh Ashoori (Iran): Anoosheh was visiting his elderly mother in Tehran when he was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in August 2017 and arbitrarily detained in Evin prison. Online petition: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/help-get-retired-father-home-his-family. Re-tweet: https://twitter.com/AmnestyUK/status/1386986613750837252. If you want to send any messages of solidarity, you can send these to Amnesty and they will make sure to share these with his family: anoosheh-solidairty@amnesty.org.uk

    • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Iran): Earlier this week, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given a new jail sentence of one year for “propaganda against the system” and a ban on her leaving the country for a year after, following a hearing before an Iranian Revolutionary Court in Tehran last month. This is the news that we and her family feared the most and further proof of the incredible cruelty of the Iranian regime. Instead of spending the last five years with her young daughter, Nazanin has been unjustly and arbitrarily trapped in Iran. Re-tweet: https://twitter.com/AmnestyUK/status/1387000815622270976. Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmnestyUK/photos/a.398583814394/10159177802269395 You can send solidarity messages for her family to Nazanin-solidarity@amnesty.org.uk

    • Anoosheh and Nazanin (Iran) - Contact your MP: If you would like to take further action with your local MP, please email Amnesty (Nazanin.Anoosheh-MP-Action@amnesty.org.uk) and they will send you a briefing on how you can take action.

    • Elena Milashina (Russia): a reporter for Novaya Gazeta, reported the abduction, torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya, in the North Caucasus, is now facing death threats after her article exposing unlawful arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings there was published in March. Online petition: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/russia-chechnya-elena-milashina/

    • Hearts and Lives Broken: The Nightmare of Uyghur Families Separated by Repression: Call on China to allow reunion of Uyghur families. Some Uyghur parents have been separated from their children as a result of the unprecedented crackdown on ethnic populations in Xinjiang. With your voice, we can push China to end this separation. Letter action: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/hearts-and-lives-broken-nightmare-uyghur-families-separated-repression

    • Syria: New blog - On the Trauma of Advocacy by Mansour Omari: Mansour Omari is a Syrian human rights defender, working to hold the perpetrators of international crimes in Syria accountable. In 2012, Omar was detained and tortured by the Syrian government for 356 days for documenting its atrocities. In this new blog, he talks about the impact of reliving his trauma as part of his fight for justice. His words are powerful and incredibly brave. Please share widely. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/campaigns-blog/trauma-advocacy

    • Amnesty Group News: As Amnesty’s 60th anniversary approaches, we’re delighted to share with you the latest edition of Groups News, which is packed full of wonderful stories of activism from the last six decades, as well as examples of some of the great work you’ve been doing over the last six months. http://email.amnestyuk.org.uk/files/amf_amnesty/project_58/GNL_Spring_2021_for_web.pdf

  5. Future meetings/ events

    • Tuesday 18th May – Amnesty Scotland Online Activism group talk on human rights in China

    • Tuesday 18th May – Human Rights Act roadshow

    • Thursday 10th June – Group picnic.

    • Looking at options for return to in person meetings later in the summer.

  6. AOB

    • Treasurer report - £358.89 in the account

    • One of the former members has an archive of old group material that we might want to have a think about.

Categories
minutes

April 2021 Minutes

Many thanks to MDS for the minutes this month. As ever, they can be read as a PDF if you prefer: PDF of April minutes.

Glasgow West Amnesty -- Online Meeting -- 9 April 2021

Attending: MR, JG, KMcL, B, ML

Guests: CB, NIZ, AM, JA, SM

Women's Rights in South Asia

Cherry Bird, Nigina Istanakzai-zarifi and Ayesha Mehta are country coordinators in the Amnesty International UK South Asia team. They joined the call to provide a talk on women's rights in South Asia, covering Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal. Issues covered included the role of women within politics and peace talks, violence against women human rights defenders, the baad system of giving women to settle debts or disputes, virginity testing, the impact of colonialism on strengthening damaging gender stereotypes, sexual violence as a weapon in conflicts, honour killings, rape, and access to healthcare and education.

The group thanks Cherry, Nigina and Ayesha for the really informative talk they delivered.

Urgent Actions

MR highlighted four urgent actions that group members are encouraged to take action on.

Aleksei Navalny's health and life in danger

Prominent Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny was arbitrarily arrested on 17 January 2021 after recovering from being poisoned. He was subsequently sentenced to two and a half years in prison for "violating the terms of a suspended sentence". In prison, he is being ill-treated and denied adequate medical assistance despite serious deterioration of his health. In protest, he continues a hunger strike that began on 31 March. Aleksei Navalny's detention is unlawful and politically motivated. He must be immediately released.

Please write as soon as possible and copy in the ambassador to the UK (address included in the PDF on the Take action page).

Family members detained on fabricated charges

On 17 March, the NGO Russian LGBT Network reported that lawyers were finally allowed to visit Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev in a remand facility in Chechnya's capital Grozny. They complained about ill-treatment and multiple violations of fair trial guarantees. They are being prosecuted on spurious charges solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including in connection with their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, and must be immediately released. All charges against them must be dropped.

Take action

Four Ahwazi Arab men secretly executed

Ali Khasraji, Hossein Silawi, Jasem Heidary and Naser Khafajian, from Iran's Ahwazi Arab minority, were executed in secret in Sepidar prison on 28 February 2021. The Iranian authorities are concealing the full truth about their fate as well as the location of their graves and are refusing to return their bodies to their families, thereby committing the ongoing crime of enforced disappearance. Ahwazi Arab prisoners of conscience Mohammad Ali Amouri, Jaber Alboshokeh and Mokhtar Alboshokeh continue to be denied adequate health care. 

Take action

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, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan 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.

Take action

Finance & Fundraising

JG has paid this year's affiliation fee to AIUK.

The group currently has £358.89 in the bank.

Group members were reminded about the two current fundraising proposals. The litter pick which is now live and the auction of promises.

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. FL has made a free
    flyer on the website Canva to share with your neighbours as per
    CA'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 FL 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)

CA 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 May 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 May 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.

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 May or June.

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. 🙂

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 🙁

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

Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, 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 Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit 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 café -- 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 Boğaziçi 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 Boğaziçi 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 to Sunday 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

• 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... Saudi 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:

• Follow Paul and/or Middle East/Gulf team on Twitter

◦ \@pdawson_amnesty

◦ \@AIMidEastGulf

• Follow Middle East/Gulf team on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/AmnestyMEG.org.uk

• Website

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