Matsumoto Kenji of Japan has been on death row since 1993 – twenty three years. Appeals on his behalf have been turned down; he could be executed at any time.
Prison conditions for those condemned to death in Japan are harsh: they are held in solitary confinement, visitors are infrequent, exercise is limited to two or three sessions a week, and they must remain seated in their cells. Little wonder that Matsumoto, now 65, has become delusional; he is now in a wheelchair. He has had from birth an intellectual disability, related to mercury poisoning, with an IQ of no more than 70.
We wrote on his behalf to the Minister of Justice, pleading for mercy and a moratorium on executions in Japan, and to the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare with concerns about his health.
We held a stall on Castle Green on 16 July, highlighting the issues of Female Genital Mutilation and Early Forced Marriage, with particular reference to Burkino Faso and Sierra Leone. The event was very successful, raising £178.90 in donations from the public; this has since been doubled by the UK government and so the sum of £357.80 has been sent to Amnesty International UK to support its work in this area. We are very grateful to everyone who made donations and also signed a petition concerning these issues.
Susan Mew of the Minehead Group will be speaking at our October meeting (11th October) on Amnesty’s Global Refugee Campaign. We meet at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at the Quaker Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton. Visitors are very welcome.