The first meeting of 2014: an occasion to look forward to new plans and initiatives, and maybe, even, in hope.
One for whom we hope, and on whom we are still concentrating as the New Year begins, is Dr. Tun Aung, the Group’s adopted Prisoner of Conscience in Burma. He has been sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment after an unfair trial, having been arrested following riots between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Maungdaw, a town in western Burma, in June 2012. Independent eyewitnesses confirm that Dr Aung actively tried to calm the crowd during the rioting and played no role in the violence. Nevertheless, he was convicted of inciting riots and various other criminal offences.
Speaking in London in July 2013, Burma’s President Thein Sein gave his guarantee that all prisoners of conscience would be freed from his country’s jails by the end of the year; we continue to press him for Dr Tun Aung’s release.
We heard reports on the Death Penalty (possibly some improvement in China, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, but more, and more brutal, in Iran) and signed a plea for a prisoner in Iraq. One of Amnesty’s main campaigns for 2014 is for victims of torture.
The group’s AGM will be held in February; in March Ann Marcus will speak on the Middle East and North Africa. All are welcome at our meetings, 8pm the second Tuesday of the month at the Silver Street Baptist Church.