Tag Archives: Myanmar

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!

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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.

Report from our October meeting

21 Oct

468x283_kenji_matsumoto_japanIn Japan, Matsumoto Kenji could be hanged any day now, and he does not know why. He has been on death row for over 20 years. He was sentenced to death in the early nineties for robberies and murders committed with his brother (who killed himself in detention). Matsumoto has had a mental disability and low IQ from birth, allegedly caused by mercury poisoning. Despite this, he was ruled mentally competent and his sentence confirmed in 2000.

We wrote to the Japanese Minister of Justice asking her to commute Matsumoto’s death sentence, to improve the treatment of death row prisoners and introduce a moratorium on the death penalty. You can send an email to the Japanese authorities asking them not to execute him by clicking here.

We have begun to work on behalf of our new Burmese Prisoners of Conscience, five journalists on the Unity newspaper, sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for ‘disclosing state secrets’ in an article on an alleged secret chemical weapons factory. Unity has been forced to close after the imprisonment of most of its staff; their sentencing has had a chilling, intimidating effect on journalists working in Burma.

We meet at 8pm on the second Tuesday of the month in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. All are welcome.

Burma: The Unity 5

4 Oct

xxxx_Unity5_web_01Following the release of peaceful activist Dr Tun Aung earlier this year, our group now has new prisoners of conscience in Burma that we will be campaigning to have released.

Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, Sithu Soe – reporters for the Unity newspaper – and Tint San, its chief executive officer, have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for “disclosing state secrets” as a result of their legitimate work as journalists, after Unity published an article about an alleged secret chemical weapons factory. They are prisoners of conscience, and their detention demonstrates the continued risks to media workers and restrictions on freedom of expression in Myanmar. The Unity newspaper has been forced to close following the imprisonment of most of its staff; their sentencing has had a chilling, intimidating effect on journalists working in the country.

If you would like to help us by writing letters on their behalf, please email: martin@crich.eclipse.co.uk who will send you our appeal sheet with details of the addresses to write to. Alternatively, visit our Burma page on our website here for all the details you need.

Thank you very much for your support.

Good news from Burma

21 Jan
Dr. Tun Aung

Dr. Tun Aung

We have received confirmation that our group’s ‘adopted’ prisoner of conscience in Burma, Dr Tun Aung, was released at about 10am GMT on Monday and is now with his family. Our group Chairman, Martin Shirley, said: ‘We are delighted to hear that Dr Tun Aung had been released from his unjust sentence, and hope that there will soon be no more prisoners of conscience left in Burma’s prisons. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has written on behalf of Dr Tun Aung since we took up his case just over two years ago. This is very much part of what Amnesty is all about.’

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