Report from our May meeting

14 May

IMG_4276_crop.jpgA Human Rights Defender is a person who individually or with others acts to defend and promote human rights at local, national or international levels, using non-violent means. Someone like Sakris Kupila, a medical student in Finland who is a transgender activist, who has been denied legal gender recognition. “I dream of the day when I can truly feel that this world is for people like me, too. I’ll stop when this fight is over.” We focussed on Sakris’s case at our May meeting.

Amnesty is calling for Sakris Kupila to be legally recognised as male by the Finnish state, without the required diagnosis of mental disorder and an irreversible sterilisation. We wrote to the Prime Minister of Finland, and to Sakris himself, and shared on social media a photo of the group symbolically sending our love and heartfelt solidarity to him.

We were updated by group members on Burma, the Middle East and North Africa. One member had written to holiday group Kuoni raising the issue of ethical tourism in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Egypt, and had received a reply from them, arguing the benefits of tourism.

We wrote to the County Gazette on the death penalty and our relationship with countries such as Saudi Arabia who are enthusiastic exponents of the death penalty.

Taunton Amnesty is organising a Seventies-music themed picnic for the Great Get Together – Long Run Meadow, 5pm on 23 June. Do join us!

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton; visitors are always welcome.

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Next Taunton Amnesty meeting: Tues 8th May

1 May

DCXzJucXUAAPVk6Our next meeting is on Tuesday 8th May at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton from 7.30-9.30pm (nearby parking behind Boots). Join us for news about Amnesty International’s campaigns, letter signing and more. There will be an action for Sakris Kupila, a transgender rights defender from Finland.

We hope to see you there!

Report from our April meeting

18 Apr

DRfQwnLX4AAYiqW.jpgOrdinary people, extraordinary achievements: Susan Mew of the Minehead Group came to talk to us about Amnesty’s BRAVE campaign. Launched last year, this aims to strengthen the recognition and protection of human rights defenders around the world. Who are they? A Human Rights Defender is a person who individually or with others acts to defend and promote human rights at local, national or international levels, using non-violent means.

People like lawyer Azza Soliman who defends victims of torture, arbitrary detention, domestic abuse and rape in Egypt, and is now facing three trumped up charges, carrying a possible sentence of 25 years.

People like Tep Vanny of Cambodia, a housing rights activist, jailed in 2016 for supporting people at risk of forced eviction.

Or people like Sakris Kupila, a medical student in Finland who is a transgender activist, denied legal recognition. “I dream of the day when I can truly feel that this world is for people like me, too. I’ll stop when this fight is over.”

We heard reports from Poland about how women’s rights are being affected by increasingly restrictive abortion laws; from Myanmar (Burma) on the continuing dire straights of the Rohingya people, and about action on behalf of Ali Arras and photo journalist Shawkam of Egypt.

Amnesty’s “I Welcome” Photo Exhibition is to be displayed at Richard Huish College in the near future, and a Great Get Together picnic, with a Seventies theme, is planned for 23 June at 5pm in Long Run Meadow, Taunton. Save the date!

Our next meeeting is on Tuesday 8th May at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton – all are welcome.

Taunton Amnesty meeting and BRAVE campaign workshop

5 Apr

25d5bf2fffcbca5e91ebe0287bc26ef2-sldOur next meeting is on Tuesday 10th April at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton from 7.30-9.30pm (nearby parking behind Boots). We are pleased to welcome Amnesty trainer Susan Mew to talk about the BRAVE campaign for Human Rights Defenders.

We hope to see you there!

Report from our March meeting

22 Mar

238240-rodrigo-mundaca-e1495496664358-1600x800.jpgWater theft? A phrase that seems incredible in the UK, but which is a real and pressing threat in some parts of the world. In an arid region of central Chile, Rodrigo Mundaca is defending community access to water and exposing its illegal extraction by politicians and businesses. He and his colleagues have received death threats, been physically attacked, and taken to court.

To mark World Water Day (22nd March), we sent a message of solidarity to Rodrigo, and wrote to the Chilean Embassy in the UK urging them to use their influence to allow Rodrigo and his organisation, MODATIMO, to be able to continue their human rights work on land, territory and environment issues.

We discussed AI Urgent Action cases in North Africa and in North Korea, and signed letters to the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State Security on behalf of Koo Jeong-hwa, arrested with her four year old son when returned from illegally crossing into China to find work – something considered treasonous in North Korea.

We were updated on the desperate situation of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State, Myanmar (Burma). What has been described as a ‘military land grab’ is taking place in the territory from which the Rohingya have fled. AI’s Crisis Response Director, Tirana Hassan, has written ‘What we are seeing in Rhakine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale. New bases are being erected to house the very same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against the Rohingya’.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. At our April meeting Susan Mew of the Minehead Group will be speaking about AI’s Human Rights Defenders BRAVE campaign.  All are welcome!

Next Taunton Amnesty meeting: Tues 13th March

7 Mar

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Our next meeting is on Tuesday 13th March at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton from 7.30-9.30pm (nearby parking behind Boots). Join us for news about Amnesty International’s campaigns, letter signing and more.

We hope to see you there!

Report from our February meeting

19 Feb

We held our AGM this month; reports and an account of the year’s activities were given. We ended 2017 with the Write for Rights morning in St Mary’s Church, Taunton. Our social media presence has grown, with a wider audience using our WordPress, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Sponsors of Syrian family, Toronto Canada, July 2017The Monthly Action again concerns refugees. Refugee families, separated by war and persecution, are being kept apart by restrictive UK rules on family reunion. On Friday 16 March 2018, MPs will debate an important bill to improve these rules and reunite refugee families. We need at least 100 MPs to turn up and vote on 16 March to change these unfair rules that keep refugees in UK apart from those they love. To win this vote we need MPs’ constituents (YOU) to tell them you support refugee family reunion. Currently child refugees in the UK have no family reunion rights so they can’t bring their parents to join them here. This must change. Find out more and email your MP here.

We heard again the miserable story of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma), and the efforts of the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, to bring the UK’s influence to bear on the problem. Amnesty are working on the case of two Reuters journalists imprisoned for reporting from Rakhine State; they have been denied bail and are facing a predicted 14 years in jail.

In a future meeting we hope to hold a workshop on Amnesty’s BRAVE Campaign for Human Rights Defenders. We will let you know the date once confirmed. Our next meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 13th March at the Friends’ Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton. Visitors are always welcome.

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