This year’s annual Amnesty International UK Conference and AGM will be on the 9th to 11th April at the University of Warwick with the booking deadline being 12th March. From past experience I have found it inspiring and informative with lots of opportunities to meet other activists from across the country. With it being held locally I would like to encourage as many activists to go as possible and would highlight the concessionary places available for local an student group members. Highlights this year include speakers from Brazil, South Africa & India as well as keynote speaker John Kampfner, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship. For me the best speeches are from those people who have been supported by Amnesty and they demonstrate to me the importance and effectiveness of our work. To find out more go to www.amnesty.org.uk/agm
Emin Abdullayev and Adnan Hajizade, two activist bloggers, have been imprisoned on fabricated charges after posting a satirical video about the government on YouTube. Take action to ensure they receive a fair hearing at http://bit.ly/avki1C
I support the same rights for everyone regardless of who they are. To discriminate in terms of arbitrary factors is wrong. Amnesty’s recent Stop Violence Against Women campaign has been one embodiment of this. Just because violence against women often occurs in private situations doesn’t make it acceptable and i’m proud that Amnesty have worked with others to ensure that human rights apply in all spheres of life.
Amnesty Hours is a new fundraising initiative in which you do good deeds in return for donations. Whether it’s babysitting, gardening or dog-walking, your time and skills can help support our vital human rights work. Find out more at http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=11763
Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Success #4
Amnesty International UK alone has received over 30,000 signatures showing solidarity with the women struggling for equality in Iran. To find out more and add your own signature go to http://bit.ly/oa9B
When campaigning it can help to get press coverage if you use celebrity endorsement. David Nicholl in his campaigning on Guantanamo Bay met Terry Waite (famous for being held hostage in Lebanon from 1987-91) and used the photo to help get additional media coverage. You don’t necessarily have to involve a national celebrity, a local one can achieve coverage in your local paper.
On Friday I read a piece by Birmingham Mail columnist, Maureen Messent, that made me feel truly disgusted. In it she supported the use of torture in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ – see http://bit.ly/aB1s1g
I believe torture is abhorrent, absolutely forbidden by international law and will in any case produce unreliable information at the cost of shattering lives forever. It additionally provides a perfect propaganda weapon for al-Qai’da and others. Guantanmo and practices such as rendition make it easy for both terrorists and despotic regimes to say that the US and its allies do not respect human rights. It is true that international terrorism remains a very real threat. But fighting it must never mean throwing away our own values and rights.
I feel Maureen Messent is misguided in her views and fails to stand up for our values of democracy, human rights and respect for both the rules and process of law. If you feel strongly about this issue why not write a letter to the Birmingham Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On 26 December 2009, two Malawian men, Steven Monjeza (26) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (20), were arrested allegedly for holding a traditional engagement ceremony (Chinkhoswe) in Blantyres township of Chirimba.
They have been charged with unnatural offences and indecent practices between males. If convicted, they face up to 14 years in prison with hard labour. The two men were beaten while in police custody.
Amnesty International considers both men prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for their perceived consensual same sex relationship, and has urged the Malawian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the two men.
To find out more see http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682
When I was at secondary school I was teased for having acne. This made me aware of the unfairness of arbitrary discrimination at an early age. As a result when I was made aware that people could be imprisoned or worse for something they could do nothing about i.e. colour of their skin, sexuality or faith, then I realised that I had to stand up for them.
This is the first of a series of personal posts about why I joined Amnesty International. It would be great to hear why others joined and how they relate to my motivations.
SVAW Success #3
On 4th November last year 200 Amnesty activists lobbied their MPs in support of an exemption to the ‘No Recourse To Public Funds’ rule in the case of domestic violence. Seventy-five MPs were lobbied and their was an overwhelmingly positive response. Since the lobby the government has announced a pilot which offers women 20 days of upfront funding to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Domestic Violence Rule, she may then have another 20 days funding for the government to make a decision on her status. This pilot which runs till the end of February is imperfect but a welcome step. To find out more see www.amnesty.org.uk/norecourse