Neil Guild, prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for Taunton, was our speaker this month (Rebecca Pow, Conservative Parliamentary candidate, spoke in May). In a very interesting talk he sketched in his life so far: University, Army, service in Iraq, Civil Service, and then moved on to how these experiences had shaped his current concerns, with particular reference to those issues that concern Amnesty.
This month’s Action is a call for Asylum Support rates to be increased; currently asylum seekers (who are not allowed to work) receive 50% of Income Support – about £7 a day for all living expenses outside accommodation. This is not enough to live on, and those left thus stranded may resort to illegal work, prostitution and begging.
Asylum seekers get a terrible press in the UK. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not entitled to council housing. An increase in support rates in other countries has not led to an increase in applicants there. The UK is only fourth in popularity among asylum seekers – Germany, France and Sweden all receive higher numbers of applicants.
We were asked to write to our MPs on the issue.
We now have prisoners of conscience in Egypt: 3 Egyptian women from Mansoor University, imprisoned for peaceful protest. We signed letters to President el-Sisi on their behalf, as we did for a number on Death Row in the US and other countries.
There is no further news about Dr Tun Aung, our prisoner of conscience in Burma; 3000 prisoners were released in Burma last week (in advance of the ASEAN conference), but only 3 of them were political prisoners.
We meet on the second Tuesday of the month in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. Do join us there, and follow us on our website: amnestytaunton.wordpress.com