Tag Archives: Myanmar

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!

Advertisements

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.

Report from our January meeting

15 Jan

WriteforRights2017.jpgEvery year, thousands of people in the UK write letters in solidarity with those suffering human rights abuses around the world as part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.

We were delighted to be able to host another Write for Rights event in December, by kind permission of St Mary’s Church, Taunton. Among the people we talked to we were happy to welcome the Mayor of Taunton Deane, Hazel Prior-Sankey and Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, who were both positive and supportive. We posted off some 60 cards and letters to Prisoners of Conscience and their supporters.

At our January meeting we heard members’ reports and discussed future initiatives. We spent some time considering international issues and the effects of Amnesty’s work. Our ‘I Welcome’ Exhibition on refugees was staged in Taunton Library for a week last autumn; it’s hoped it will be on show at The Brewhouse in spring, and at Blundells School, Tiverton.

Further disquieting reports flood out from Myanmar (Burma) about the horrific treatment of the Rohingya people; the UN’s Special Rapporteur has been banned from visiting the country.

Our next meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 13th February at The Friends’ Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton; visitors are always welcome.

Report from our September meeting

19 Sep

Palestine2For 50 years Israel has occupied Palestinian land, forcing Palestinians from their homes and illegally using that land to house Israeli settlers and to produce millions of pounds worth of products that are sold around the world, including in UK markets. We petitioned the Foreign Secretary to ban the sale of Israeli settlement products in the UK, and to stop UK companies operating in settlements or trading in settlement goods.

We discussed Amnesty’s “I Welcome” campaign for refugees. Amnesty has put together a photo exhibition covering refugees past and present. We plan to show this exhibition at a number of venues in the Taunton area in the next few weeks, including Taunton Library from 16th October. It is also available online, with a commentary by actress (and Amnesty’s UK Ambassador) Juliet Stevenson. We will have a stall, focussing on refugees, at the Tacchi Morris Centre on 27th September when they show Twist, a modern, refugee directed take on Dickens’ novel.

We signed letters for prisoners in Egypt (Mahmoud Abu Zeid, a photo journalist, part of a mass trial of 738 people, whose hearing had been adjourned for the 35th time) and for two Ukrainians condemned to death. The number of countries rejecting the death penalty has risen in the last few years from 16 to 104 – but in the Maldives it has been resumed.

We discussed again the extremely worrying state of affairs in Myanmar (Burma) where Muslim minority Rohingya have been persecuted and forced to flee in Rhakine state. Questions over the stance of leader Aung San Sui Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, remain of international concern.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 10th October at 7.30pm in the Friends’ Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. All welcome!

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!

Report from our April meeting

21 Apr

Burma AppealWe were delighted to discover that Burmese student activist Phyoe Phyoe Aung, who was to have been the subject of our April Monthly Action, had already been released as part of a more general prisoner amnesty.

The National League for Democracy, the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory earlier this year in Myanmar (Burma) and promised to release all prisoners of conscience as soon as possible.

Phyoe Phyoe Aung’s release sends an encouraging message about the new government’s intentions, and we urge them to keep to their promise and remember they hold that symbolic key to freedom.

Other members gave reports on actions on the Death Penalty, on prisoners such as Moroccan Ali Aaras who has featured in Amnesty’s Stop Torture campaign, and on campaigns planned for later this year.

The Amnesty Schools debate on Human Rights, organised by group member Ben Grant, was held at Taunton School on 14 March. Several teams took part, and the standard of debate was impressively high, with lively and articulate participants.

 Our next meeting will be on 10th May at 8pm in the Quaker Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton. All are welcome.

Postscript: since our April meeting took place, we heard the great news that the Unity 5 group of journalists imprisoned in Myanmar have been released.

Unity 5 released!

19 Apr

myanmar_smallerWe were delighted to hear that the Unity 5 journalists, for whom we started working in September 2015, were released on 17th April; they were among 83 political prisoners pardoned by Burma’s new President, Htin Kyaw, as part of the celebrations of the Burmese New Year.

Many thanks to everyone who has written letters and/or signed cards on their behalf.

%d bloggers like this: