Monthly Archives: May 2010

Israel/OPT: Call for an international inquiry into activist killings

At least ten activists protesting the blockade on the Gaza strip have been killed by Israeli forces. The activists were on a flotilla of ships carrying aid to the Gaza strip in defiance of the blockade.

Israel says its forces acted in self-defence but the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed.

The Israeli authorities have the primary responsibility to investigate the use of lethal force by its forces but given the international nature of this incident, there is also a need for an immediate international investigation. We are calling on Israel to launch an immediate credible and independent investigation into these killings, and to allow the UN access to conduct an international inquiry.

Take action at

Malawi Pardons Jailed Gay Couple

We spent hours yesterday collecting letters from people at Birmingham Pride on the case the Malawian gay couple sentenced to 14 years hard labour in prison. It seems the Malawian authorities fearing the deluge of letters from Birmingham, UK changed their minds and have now pardoned them. In reality I think the visit of Ban Ki-Moon was the reason for the decision being made yesterday. However, external pressure played a role and our work as Amnesty activists has contributed to this (our work didn’t start yesterday). The BBC report can be seen at – I say in the spirit of Peter Bennenson who launched Amnesty 49 years ago on Friday lets raise a toast to freedom 🙂

Birmingham Pride 2010 Photo

Photo of Amnesty presence in Birmingham Pride Parade 2010.

Join Us At Birmingham Pride 2010 (tomorrow)

It’s not too late to join the Amnesty part the Birmingham Pride Parade tomorrow. For further details see

I Support Amnesty Because It’s Fun

Most people join Amnesty because they want to make a difference. However, being an Amnesty activist can also be fun too. Whether its meeting new people with a shared interest, being creative or organising amazing social events campaigning is often an enjoyable experience. In my time with the Central Birmingham Amnesty International I have met wonderful people, done things I never thought i’d be doing (such as TV interviews) and learnt so much about inspiring people in this amazing world we live in. From old to young the vibrancy of Amnesty campaigners and the smiles they have on their faces whilst working creatively and passionately to defend vulnerable people from the most appalling violations of their human rights never fails to amaze me. Its a serious business defending human rights but we can have fun at the same time.

Report 2010: Global justice gap condemns millions to abuse

Torture in 111 countries, free speech curbs in 96, unfair trials in 55

A global justice gap is being made worse by power politics despite a landmark year for international justice, said Amnesty International today in its annual assessment of human rights worldwide.

Launching Amnesty International Report 2010: State of the World’s Human Rights, a 420-page report documenting abuses in 159 countries, the organisation said that powerful governments are blocking advances in international justice by standing above the law on human rights, shielding allies from criticism and acting only when politically convenient.

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Photos of Cranbrook School Cookies – for more photos of Amnestea events see

It’s Amnesty’s birthday on Friday so why not use it as an opportunity to feel inspired.

Malawi: Two men sentened for engagement ceremony

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour after being convicted of ‘gross indecency’ and ‘unnatural acts’. This sentence is an outrage. These men are prisoners of conscience and we will continue to campaign for them to be freed.

Take action now at

LGBT Rights in the Spotlight

Last night I attended the Central Birmingham Amnesty International group meeting. The guest speaker at the meeting was Kim Manning-Cooper who is Amnesty International UK’s Campaign Manager for both LGBT Rights and the Death Penalty.

The three main countries that AIUK are taking action on currently are Lithuania, Malawi and Turkey. Kim explained why these three countries are important. Lithuania has been important because it has introduced section 28 style legislation relating to the promotion of homosexuality. It has also recently seen Baltic Pride which took place last weekend after overcoming a legal challenge to the march. Amnesty activists from around the world took part in order to show solidarity and a photo is shown above. Activists from the UK including Kim and AIUK Director, Kate Allen, took part.

Malawi is important because two men have been arrested for holding a traditional engagement ceremony. If convicted they face up to fourteen years imprisonment with hard labour. This made me realise how lucky we are to live in such a tolerant and open society in the UK. You can write a letter on this case at 

Finally we had another piece of good news from Turkey where a judge had ruled that the LGBT organisation Black Pink Triange good stay open. The judge said it was because LGBT people also have the right of association so ruled against the application to close it.

For more information on Amnesty’s work on LGBT rights see

Central Birmingham Amnesty International are currently preparing to take part in Birmingham Pride Parade and collect letters for the Malawi case in the LGBT trust community tent on Saturday 29th May. To find out more contact them at or visit their blog at – everyone welcome.

Inspired in Stratford

Last night I visted the Stratford-on-Avon Amnesty group to deliver a training session on Individuals at Risk. On arriving in Stratford their chair, Eileen cooked me a delicious meal of quiche, potatoes and vegetables followed by cake. The meeting began with group business and it seemed that they had been quite active with several events to report on. This included a fundraising literary event at the Chipping Campden Literature Festival where Vivien Heffernan gave her lecture ‘Shakespeare through Artists’ Eyes’.

The training session itself gave an overview of how Amnesty campaigns for Individuals at Risk including how it selects cases, how groups can find out about the cases they can take action on and how they can campaign for individuals. The group engaged with the workshop and were interested in the different ways they might get the public involved. The session ended with a roleplay session where the group members took on the roles of a member of the public and an activist on a stall. The stall holder had to persuade a reluctant member of the public as to why they should take action and why it makes a difference. Amnesty’s work on Individuals at Risk does make a difference and a third of Urgent Action cases result in a verifiable improvement for prisoners of conscience and others who are at risk.

To find out  more about how you can take action for Individuals at Risk visit

To find out more about Stratford-on-Avon Amnesty group see

If you are part of a local Amnesty group and would like a training session please email