Monthly Archives: May 2010

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

Build-up to Birmingham Pride

This Thursday (13th May) will see Kim Manning-Cooper who is the AIUK Campaign Manager who looks after LGBT Rights campaigning visit the Central Birmingham AI group meeting to discuss LGBT Rights around the world and the Pride marches she has taken part in for Amnesty including the recent Baltic Pride. The meeting on Thursday takes place at 7.30pm at Wragge and Co on Colmore Row in the centre of Birmingham. All are welcome to attend. If you wish to take part in the parade with the group on Saturday 29th May that starts at 12 midday (all must assemble at 11am) or help out on the stall on the Sunday then contact

Demand a bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty!

The People’s Arms Trade Treaty must be bullet-proof

Every minute, one person dies as a result of armed violence. Thousands more each day are injured, raped, brutally repressed, traumatised or forced to flee their homes. At the end of 2008, 26 million people were internally displaced due to armed conflict. Families are torn apart and millions of men, women and children live in fear.

Governments must stamp out the irresponsible arms trade

Weapons are the only products specifically designed to kill and injure. Treaties regulate global trade of many products, even bananas and dinosaur bones, but not guns and bullets.
Through the efforts of the Control Arms campaign, governments are finally starting negotiations in July 2010. Now is the time to show Governments what kind of treaty people need.

A bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty must:

  • stop arms getting into the hands of those likely to commit war crimes, grave human rights abuses, terrorist attacks, or use arms to exacerbate armed violence and crime, gender-based violence and poverty.
  • control all arms and ammunition and their parts, and all those involved in their export and import.
  • must end the secrecy and corruption in the global arms trade.
  • must be enforced and policed, and hold governments to account

Sign up to the People’s Arms Trade Treaty to show your government the key provisions we need – and expect – in the Treaty at

URGENT: Prevent forcible removal of Yosief Michael Kidane

Refused asylum seeker Yosief Michael Kidane faces forced removal from the United Kingdom (UK) to Eritrea, where he would be at risk of arrest, incommunicado detention and torture or other ill-treatment, for his political activity and for seeking asylum in the UK.

Yosief Michael Kidane is a member of a prominent Eritrean opposition political party and has participated in political activities in the UK, including attending demonstrations opposing actions by the Eritrean government. He is at serious risk of arrest on arrival, incommunicado detention, torture and other ill-treatment, for his political activism and for the act of claiming asylum abroad, which Eritrean authorities regard as a betrayal.

The UK authorities attempted to remove him from the UK on 4 May 2010, but were unable to do so. A further attempt to remove him could take place as early as 7 May (within 72 hours of the previous attempt). On the morning of 6 May, he was being held at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, pending his removal from the UK. Amnesty International has seen medical reports expressing concern that he may be unfit to fly, due to two deep vein thromboses.

Take action at

Walsall Amnesty launch blog

A new Walsall Amnesty International group blog has now gone live at – please take a look and leave your comments.