Tag Archives: group

Report from our July meeting

19 Jul

Taner Kilic

We wrote as a matter of urgency to the Turkish Minister of Justice about the arbitrary detention of Taner Kilic, a human rights lawyer who is also the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey. Since the attempted coup in Turkey a year ago there have been sweeping arrests and dismissals of journalists, academics and public sector employees.

Amnesty International has called on the Turkish authorities to cease their assault on freedom of expression and dissident voices, and allow media and civil society workers to carry out their legitimate work in peace and without fear of reprisal. Since we wrote about Taner Kilic, Amnesty’s Director in Turkey, Idil Eser, has also been arrested and imprisoned.

Amnesty has written: “It is truly absurd that [such people] are under investigation for membership of an armed terrorist organisation. They should not have spent a moment behind bars. For them to be entering a second week in police cells is a shocking indictment of the ruthless treatment of those who attempt to stand up for human rights in Turkey.”

We discussed letters written by our members on people imprisoned in the Middle East, North Africa and Burma, and those facing the death penalty. We are planning to put on a photographic exhibition this autumn on refugees on the theme of ‘I Welcome’.

Our Book of the Month is Sapiens – a History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari; its theme is the fictions that we have evolved to bind us together.

There is no meeting in August but we will be back at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton on Tuesday 12th September at 7.30pm; all welcome! 

Report from our June meeting

5 Jul

16401681618_d1940c57a4_bAt our meeting in June, we took action to draw attention to the plight of British-Iranian citizens Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi imprisoned in Iran on trumped up charges. Both are missing out on family life: Nazanin has a young daughter, and Kamal, in his seventies has children and grandchildren he cannot see. Both are now in poor health. We made origami tulips inscribed with family memories to underline what they are missing. These are to be sent to their families, and to our own MPs to enlist their help.

We discussed Amnesty’s current national campaigns on refugees and human rights; we are hoping to mount a photo exhibition for human rights.

Letters were written to the authorities on behalf of prisoners in Libya and Morocco.

Discussing the Death Penalty, we heard that in 2016 there were 37% fewer executions than in 2015, but this excludes China (about which there is little information) and the full extent of executions in Syria. We wrote on behalf of cases in Bahrain and Malaysia.

At the end of May, Martin Peters organised a Disco for Amnesty at the Lawns Social Club which raised a welcome sum of money.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 11th July at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton from 7.30-9.30pm (there is nearby parking behind Boots). We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Report from our April meeting

2 May

548x331_nazanin_daughter_4Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: her story goes straight to the heart. Arrested a year ago as she and her small daughter were about to leave Iran for England after visiting her parents, this UK-Iranian charity worker was then jailed for 5 years for ‘membership of an illegal group’, and accused of being married to a British spy. Her daughter’s British passport has been confiscated and impossible conditions imposed upon her seeing her mother. Her appeal has been dismissed and her sentence confirmed. Her health is deteriorating. We wrote to the Iranian authorities on Nazanin’s behalf. Meanwhile her husband Richard is working unsparingly for her. His campaign is accessible on social media.

Our second Monthly Action was for Noori, a 21 year old Syrian refugee kept unlawfully for over 5 months in Greek police detention awaiting a decision on whether he’ll be returned to the unsafe location of Turkey. In Syria he was studying to be a nurse, but had to halt his education because of the war; he would like to continue his studies in Europe. Meantime he is ill and stressed. We wrote to the Greek authorities on his behalf.

We heard reports from members; our collection at Tesco’s in March raised over £200; this will go to Amnesty UK. A letter was written for Ali Aarrass of Morocco, asking that his detention in solitary confinement should end.

Advance publicity: Disco for Amnesty on Saturday 27th May at the Lawns Social Club, St Mary’s Street from 8pm-1am, entry £4.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 9th May from 7.30pm at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. Hope to see you there!

Report from our February meeting

20 Feb

Resettled Syrian family in NorwayChild refugees in the UK are alone in being denied the right to family reunion, something which provides a safe and legal route allowing those fleeing persecution to avoid dangerous journeys and people smugglers. How can it be that this is denied to unaccompanied refugee children who have already legally been through the asylum process and have suffered so much?

We wrote to ask the Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families and the Minister of State for Immigration to continue to work together on this, and to look again at this crucial issue.

235792_refugees_freezing_in_moria-468_0We wrote too to President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission asking for his intervention in the desperate plight of refugees stuck in freezing conditions on the Greek islands. You can also take action here.

We held our AGM this month, reviewing what has been achieved in the past year: Ben Grant organised a schools debate, held at Taunton School, on the Human Rights Act, and in December organised a donation of books on human rights to Taunton Public Library. Lorna Brown and Pat Jefferson organised a stall on Castle Green on the issue of FGM and early forced marriage; this provoked much interest. Our last event was our Write for Rights morning, hosted at the Coffee Morning at St Mary’s Church, Hammet Street.

Our next event will be a collection in aid of Amnesty International UK at the Tesco Superstore, Castle Street, Taunton on Sunday 19th March between 10am and 4pm. See you there!

We also heard reports on our various country campaigns and on the death penalty and other issues. Worrying reports are still reaching us about the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma).  A group of Nobel Prize winners have written in protest about this to their fellow laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the leaders in the Myanmar Government.

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. Do join us!

Report from our January meeting

18 Jan

548x331solidarity_with_refugees_march_in_london_12_september_2015Taunton Welcomes Refugees! This message underpinned the talk given by Chris Waddilove of Citizens UK. He spoke about his organisation, and then went on to talk of refugees in Taunton. The town is currently hosting four Syrian Refugee families, helping them through a joint collaboration, funded by a UNHCR resettlement scheme.

The families have been settled in privately rented accommodation, and are helped on the same footing as the Troubled Families Project, backed up by local volunteers: EFL teachers, general language support work, and help with such day to day things as transport, DIY  and, most importantly, friendship.

We discussed our Write for Rights day, held on 10 December, Human Rights Day, in St Mary’s Church, Taunton. We were welcomed by the Vicar and Churchwardens at their Coffee Morning, and encouraged those passing through to sign cards for Prisoners of Conscience. On the same day we formally handed over a donation of books on Human Rights issues to the Public Library in Paul Street.

We heard reports from members working on the Death Penalty and on Women’s Human Rights – International Women’s Day is on 8 March. We wrote letters of support to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,  jailed for 5 years in Iran with no valid trial. We received worrying reports about the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar (Burma). A group of Nobel Prize winners have written in protest about this to their fellow laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a leader in the Myanmar Government.

Our next meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 14th February at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place. All are welcome!

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