Monthly Archives: April 2010

Planning for Birmingham Pride

The Central Birmingham Amnesty International group is coordinating Amnesty’s presence at Birmingham Pride. Birmingham Pride which takes place over the weekend of 28th-29th May will see us take part in the parade on the Saturday (11am for 12 noon start) and have a stall on the Sunday. The proposed theme from a recent planning meeting is prisoners with identification of countries that imprison people on the basis of their sexuality. All are welcome to take part in our presence at Birmingham Pride. The next planning meeting will be Thursday 6th May at 7.30pm at the Birmingham Midland Institute, Margaret Street. For further information please email

Malvern Hills AGM – Change of Speaker – The Challenge of Human Rights in Ethiopia

Change of speaker: 

We regret to tell you that we have had to cancel the planned talk on The Life and Times of a UN Weapons Inspector as the speaker, Brian Johnson-Thomas, is stranded abroad due to the air traffic disruption caused by the volcanic eruption, and is unlikely to be able to return home in time. We hope it may be possible to reschedule this talk for a later date.

 However, we are more than pleased to have instead a talk by Dr Trevor Trueman on The Challenge to Human Rights in Ethiopia. Trevor is an expert on this subject, has a specialist knowledge of the Oromo people of Ethiopia, and has acted as an expert witness in many UK immigration tribunals involving Ethiopian refugees.

As before, the talk will start at 8pm, immediately following the AGM of Amnesty International Malvern Hills Group at 7.30pm, on Thursday 29 April at Malvern Baptist Church Hall, Abbey Road, Malvern  WR14 3HG


Amnesty Run Event At The Chipping Campden Literature Festival

On Saturday, 8 May the Stratford-upon-Avon Amnesty Group are running an event on the Fringe of the Chipping Campden Literature Festival. It will be held in the Upper Room of The Old Town Hall  in Chipping Campden from 2.30-3.30 pm. Vivien Heffernan will be giving her lecture ‘Shakespeare through Artists’ Eyes’. It is an illustrated talk and includes recordings of well known actors reading extracts from the plays under discussion. Vivien lectures widely for Nadfas both in this country and abroad. From what I understand from the local group this talk comes highly recommended. 

Tickets £5.00     Telephone 01789 268700 or 01608 682205

Pride Planning Meeting – Wed 21st April

Charlotte from Central Birmingham AI is holding a Birmingham Pride Planning meeting this Wednesday the 21st, 7:30pm at the British Midlands Institute. This is a big old red brick building on Margaret St, which is between Wragge & Co and the library, map below.

Best to wait for everyone to assemble in the reception area as it’s harder to find your room than it is to find the actual building!

If you can’t make the meeting but still want to be involved let Charlotte know:

Bring pen, paper and diaries.

Talk by Peter Pack, Chair of the International Executive Committee

Announcement here from Chris Bird, secretary of the Telford Amnesty group:

The Telford Amnesty group are proud to announce that Peter Pack the Chair of the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International has agreed to give a talk to the group entitled Amnesty – What in the world is it doing ?. This special meeting will take place at the Old Wrekin Tap at the Cock Hotel in Wellington on April 27th starting at 19.30. Admission is open to both members and non members and there is no admission charge. For more details call Chris Bird on 07971284975

The location is easily found for those with GPS it is TF1 2DL. For those with other interests it was the CAMRAS West Midlands Pub of the year in 2009, and you can be picked up at Telford railway station, by prior arrangement.

Amnesty on the General Election

See more at – do let me have any feedback at

If you’ve already written or met your candidates or if you have any general tips do leave comments below.

The Life and Times Of a UN Weapons Inspector

Conference Leaves Me Inspired, Exhausted and Re-energised

The title to this post may be confusing. However, i’m confident most delegates who attended left the AIUK conference feeling exhausted from the non-stop meetings and socialising over the weekend. But from my conversations with others and personal experience I know that they are all fired up with ideas, passion and revitalised with enthusiasm and energy to campaign for human rights. Today had three main parts. The first was completing the debate and voting on resolutions. Then came a panel discussion on engaging with the new global powers with panel members with expertise on Russia, South Africa and India. The key point is for Amnesty to be creative, to be aware of local context and use different strategies in each country. To hear about the successes from each country and the challenges was inspiring. There has been quite a lot of success in terms of civil and political rights in South Africa but more work to be done on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The last part of the day was the celebration of what activists have achieved through the infamous Dan Jones awards for outstanding activism. These were presented by Lady Godiva (an impersonator anyway). There were examples of my former University of York Amnesty group campaigning on Shell, Dover Grammar school organising a Santa run for Troy Davis, Buxton AI group going to Paris to the Laos embassy there (not one in UK) regarding a political prisoner and fantastic fundraising by Leeds AI group through music events. My highlight though was the Solihull Amnesty International group winning an award for their innovative fundraising through a milking competition at the Knowle Festival (in their absence I collected an award on their behalf). Congratulations to them for their success.

One thing I’d like to get across to local members who haven’t been to a National Conference and AGM is that the experience is truly inspiring. To meet hundreds of ordinary people who undertake such amazing activism like many Amnesty group and individual members here in the West Midlands just makes me energised to want to do more and gives me a sense of collective pride in what we all do. I do hope those who haven’t been before will consider attending in future as it is well worth it.

PS. Also met members from Worcester and Wolverhampton today and aware that there were members present from Mid-Warwicks too.

A Day Full of Inspiration #aiagm

Yesterday I had a wonderfully inspiring day at conference. I’ve met members of local groups from the region including Malvern Hills, Telford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bournville, Central Birmingham and Wythall. The day started with Way Min from Burma lighting the Amnesty candle and a round-up of the past year from Tom Hedley, Chair of AIUK and Kate Allen, the AIUK Director. Kate Allen said ‘The moral courage of Amnesty’s activists here and elsewhere keep the candle burning for human rights’ and the determination, enthusiasm and passion of our members at the AGM certainly backs this up.

The day moved on with sessions including working parties on the various resolutions and discussion and voting on some. Andy from Bournville was impassioned in support of his motion on LGBT Rights saying we shouldn’t shy away from holding the Catholic Church to account on their record because they are powerful and we might upset them. I also attended a session on Amnesty at 50 with the anniversary being next May (2011).

The key note speaker was John Kampfner, Chief Executive of the organisation, Index on Censorship who discussed how in many countries people appear to accept the loss of freedoms in exchange for prosperity and security. He questioned how effective this was and why people succumb to authoritarianism. To find out more on Index on Censorship see

The action for the day ended with an action on Shell where through our passionate calls for Shell to Put out the Flares both in English and Ebo (I assume the native tongue in the Niger Delta region) we put out the flares in Warwick. I would anticipate photos and video of this action on the AIUK website in the coming days. We then relaxed and socialised. Looking forward to what today has to offer.

Putting Human Rights On The Politcal Agenda #aiagm

Been to a workshop about getting human rights on the politcal agenda in the run-up to the General Election. It is important with an average of 350-400 Amnesty members in each constituency that we use them to our advantage. Amnesty International UK is encouraging us all to use them as a chance to influence, gather intelligence and develop relationships with the candidates standing.

We had an interesting session sharing our tips and ideas on how to do this. Being polite and persistent in your communication was highlighted as being important. Finding out their individual interests and playing to them was mentioned. Also discussed was making sure to thank them when they support you, sending handwritten letters and encouraging other constituents to contact them on human rights issues too. Social media can be useful too.

If you want to take part in putting human rights on the politcal agenda please visit and of course leave any comments below.

PS I’ve used the hashtag above so other delegates can see this post on Twitter.