End the horror in Syrian prisons: we emailed the Russian and US governments asking them to do everything in their power to stop the mass deaths and torture. AI have a recent report out documenting the thousands who, since 2011, have been executed at Saydnaya Military Prison. Mass hangings are carried out there at night and in the utmost secrecy. Many other detainees at Saydnaya have been killed after being repeatedly tortured and systematically deprived of food, water, medicine and medical care. These and many other atrocities carried out in furtherance of state policy amount to crimes against humanity.
In Turkey lawyer Eren Kesken, an outspoken defender of human rights for over 30 years (during which time she has been subjected to death threats, physical attacks and sustained judicial harassment) is now facing charges including ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ which could bring her a life sentence. We wrote on her behalf to the Turkish Minister of Justice, and sent her a solidarity card.
Our Death Penalty co-ordinator told us of her cases: we signed a birthday card to Chiou Ho-Shun, Taiwan’s longest serving death penalty prisoner, and signed letters pleading for Syrians Mah’moud Tale’ Nayef and Taleb Tale’ Nayef , both sentenced to death.
We discussed ways in which the Group could reach out to other sections of the community in Taunton, and heard reports from our members. On 19th March Tesco Taunton were kind enough to allow us to collect for Amnesty outside their store, and we raised £214.
We meet at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month in the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton. Come and hear about our work – visitors are always welcome.
Help turn the lights back on in Syria and bring its people out of darkness!
For the fourth anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict Amnesty International, along with many other international NGOs, is pressing to prioritise a political solution with human rights at its heart. For our March Monthly Action, we’ve been asked to plan a light-filled vigil to mark the occasion. Find out more about this campaign at www.withsyria.com.
This month Amnesty member Nicky Saunter, CEO of Transform, gave a thought-provoking talk about their work. Transform is a charitable think tank that campaigns for the legal regulation of drugs both in the UK and internationally; currently drugs are criminalised, but there is no system of regulation. The human rights implications are considerable. Prohibition cannot be judged a success on any front. Handing control of the drug trade to organised criminals has had disastrous consequences across the globe. Transform therefore works to get drugs under control by advocating for strict regulation of all aspects of the trade.
We also signed letters on behalf of our Mansoor University cases in Egypt; Death Penalty letters to Florida for a case where key testimony has been retracted; the long-running case of Hakamada Iwao in Japan, who could be put back on Death Row; and on behalf of Liu Ping in China, who was imprisoned for campaigning for senior officials to reveal the sources of their wealth.
Members of the Group recently met with Rachel Gilmour, prospective Taunton parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats, to hear her views, especially on issues that concern Amnesty; we’ve already met Conservative and Labour candidates.
Our next meeting is Tuesday 14th April at 8pm in the Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton. We’re always delighted to welcome newcomers.
Where is Syrian human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq?
A human rights lawyer for many years, he’s defended hundreds of political prisoners. He disappeared on his way to work in October 2012 and has not been seen since. At July’s meeting of Taunton Amnesty International Group, we remembered Khalil Ma’touq and joined many others in pressing for news of what has happened to him.
Susan Mew of the Minehead Group came to talk to us on the Human Rights in the UK. The European Convention on Human Rights was mainly drafted by British lawyers and civil servants and was fully supported by the Conservative government of the time. It expresses core British values and beliefs and diminishing UK rights will affect our ability to argue for them elsewhere.
Over the past month, group members have continued campaigning for prisoners of conscience in the Middle East and North Africa, for Dr Tun Aung of Burma, for those condemned to death in the US, China and Iran, and for the plight of protesters in Brazil.
Our next meeting, on Tuesday 12th August at 8pm, will be an informal meeting held at the Racehorse Inn, East Reach, TA1 3HT.
“The world’s worst humanitarian crisis”. March 15th 2014 marks the third anniversary of the Syrian uprising.
Amnesty, along with other humanitarian organisations such as Oxfam, Save the Children & Christian Aid, plans to highlight the plight of over 250,000 civilians trapped in besieged areas of Syria with little food, water or medicine. We are pressing for humanitarian aid to be delivered to Syria, shining a light these people’s plight.
We signed letters and emails to the Syrian Government and the main Opposition parties, urging them to deal with this appalling situation.
Our speaker this month was Ann Marcus of Amnesty International UK, who is the Country Co-ordinator for Egypt and spoke most interestingly and with great authority on the affairs of that troubled country.
After a period of hope for Egypt’s future after the events of the Arab Spring, and the election of Mohamid Morsi as the new President, a familiar pattern of repression has been re-asserted. There is, sadly, plenty of work for Amnesty to do.
We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at the Silver Street Baptist church; all are welcome.