Archive for December, 2016

Carol singing

Posted: December 26, 2016 in Group news
Tags: , ,

Farrant Singers sing carols in Salisbury

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Once again, the Farrant Singers entertained some of the residents in Salisbury with some beautifully sung carols on Monday 19 December.  They sang in and around Marlborough Rd; College St; Victoria Road; Albany and Belle Vue Rds.  Afterwards we enjoyed soup and cheese generously provided by Michael and Chantal washed down with vin chaud.

A successful evening and many residents came out to enjoy the singing.


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If you are reading this in the Salisbury area and are thinking of joining Amnesty there are several ways of doing so.  You can join Amnesty International itself for which there is a joining fee and you will receive their magazine.  Or you can just join our group which is free.  The level of your involvement is of course up to you.  Help with our campaigns in the street is always welcome or on the stall we run once a year.  You can come to the annual film we do in conjunction with the Arts Centre and stay on to help with the signing afterwards.  If you have a particular topic of interest – which might be a country you know about – then making that a focus of your activity is a possibility.  The best way is to come to one of our events which you will see here or on Twitter or Facebook (salisburyai), and make yourself known. 


URGENT ACTION

Salar Shadizadi has been sentenced to death for a second time and is now in solitary confinement.  He was 15 at the time he committed the crime and it is contrary to the Iran penal code to execute minors.  Please write if you can.

Urgent action (pdf)

 


We are pleased to attach the minutes of the December meeting thanks to group member Lesley for preparing them.

December minutes

Film – ‘Mustang’

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

It’s less than a week until the Arts Centre in Salisbury is showing the film Mustang set in Turkey.

Pic: weekendnotes.com

This 2015 internationally co-produced film is directed by Turkish-French film director Deniz Ergüven.  Set in a remote Turkish village it depicts the lives of five young orphaned sisters and challenges they face growing up as girls in a conservative society.  In a Turkish village, the orphaned sisters (Günes Sensoy, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan) live under strict rule while members of their family prepare their arranged marriages.  The event that triggers the family backlash against the five sisters at the beginning of the film is based on Ergüven’s personal life.

Starts at 7:30 and doors open at 6:45.  Tickets £8 with concessions.  It has a 15+ rating.

 

 


The following piece was published in the Salisbury Journal (8 December 2016)

Each year thousands of people in the UK write letters or send cards in solidarity with those suffering humans rights abuses around the world pas part off Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.

As a result, people have been freed after having been unfairly imprisoned, human rights defender who have been threatened and harassed by authorities have been able to live freely without intimidation and forced evictions have been halted.

Sending a message of support to those whose rights are being abused and also to the authorities on that person’s behalf is powerful.  Imagine drowning in thousands of letters of encouragement and solidarity – in fact, imaging the officials who will see and deliver thousands of cards to the victims and their families.  The effect on both is priceless.  It shows the authorities that that individual is not alone and that all over the world thousands of people are standing up for them.

People featured this year include:

  • Fomoseh Ivo Feh a young man in Cameroon who faces 20 years in prison for forwarding a sarcastic text message
  • a photojournalist from Egypt, named Shawkan who was beaten, arrested and then held without trial following a demonstration in Cairo
  • a British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was arrested in April at Tehran

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Picture: Iran Human Rights

    airport as she was about to board a return flight to London with her 22 month old daughter.

Salisbury Methodist Church is hosting a Write for Rights event from January 4th to 15th and people are invited to see the exhibition and send a message of support.  The church will be open from 10 am to noon.

We hope local readers will be able to support this initiative and come along at some time on those 2 days and sign something.


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The latest death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  Generally gloomy with several countries around the world reverting – or threatening to revert to – the penalty.

Death penalty report (Word)

No to the death penalty


Prime minister’s trip to Bahrain gives a hint to what will happen to human rights after Brexit

Picture: Express

The prime minister, Theresa May, is on an official to Bahrain amid controversy about the poor state of human rights in the kingdom.  It is really quite difficult to grasp quite what the Prime Minister means when she says the ‘UK must not turn our back on the human rights abuses of foreign countries’ as she prepares to sign various trade deals which does precisely that.  There is a growing hint of riddle like statements from her including the meaningless ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

There now seems to be a desperate urge to secure trade deals ahead of our departure from the EU and the Gulf states are fertile ground.  She is quoted in the Guardian (5 December 2016)

There will be some people in the UK who say we shouldn’t seek stronger trade and security ties with these countries because of their record on human rights.  But we don’t uphold our values and human rights by turning our back on this issue.  We achieve far more by stepping up, engaging with these countries and working with them.

So the argument is that Bahrain has a questionable human rights record and that by working with them, and doing business, we can exert some kind of influence to encourage them to stop torturing or otherwise mistreating their people.  Since we have been trading their for some time, we would expect that the country would be slowly improving as a result of our influence.  The problem is that it isn’t.  As Human Rights Watch and Amnesty have said:

Bahrain’s 2016 “reform” agenda has consisted of an assault on core elements of civil society and jailing or deporting government critics.  Last month, Amnesty International accused UK Ministers of acting like “overexcited cheerleaders for Bahrain’s woefully inadequate reforms.”

On December 4, Human Rights Watch and others wrote to Prime Minister May to complain about the British government’s ‘abject failure to exert any positive influence’ in Bahrain.  We didn’t call on the UK to end trade or security ties, but rather to use the UK’s influence to help put a stop to an orchestrated attack on rights that has badly undermined any prospect of the reform that the UK claims to support.

What exactly “working with” Bahrain to “encourage and support” reform amounts to, remains to be seen.  But one thing is clear – human rights will not be at the center of the UK’s relationship with Bahrain.

This is especially worrying in the context of the post Brexit world.  The UK will be in a tough position trying to develop trade outside the EU.  We will not be in a position to exert any kind of influence on countries like Bahrain if we want to continue to sell them weapons.  There will be lip service of course and meaningless phrases from the prime minister and other ministers to assure us that persuasion has been applied to improve human rights.  The reality is we will have to accept what’s on offer and be thankful for it.  In the context of the Gulf states for example, we export more to them than to China, a situation unlikely to change anytime soon.

Ministers cannot quite bring themselves to say that in reality, there is little they can do and often little they want to do.  We must remember also the ‘revolving door’ through which ministers, senior civil servants and top military brass, pass to secure lucrative directorships with the very companies doing the deals in countries like Bahrain.  There is little incentive to upset the apple cart.

See also College of Policing.


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