Archive for December, 2017


The ‘I Welcome’ exhibition which has been running through most of December in Salisbury Library, ended today.  We have no means of knowing how many people attended but a number of people signed the visitors book and some of their comments are shared below.

We do not know how lucky we are in the UK.  We moan about the silliest of things.  Just think!  We could have been born on a rubbish tip, then we would know we had problems!

Love not hate, be thankful for what we have.

I am ashamed of us Europeans leaving people freezing on the streets who are refugees from wars we started or sold arms for.  Hundreds of children sleep under hedges at Calais now.

Excellent exhibition and shaming.

Well done Salisbury Amnesty, excellent exhibition.

Excellent exhibition very well done.

Amnesty International – what a brilliant exhibition of photos and words.  We need more of this.  How we react to other’s needs is what defines us and our ‘civilised’ society.

Excellent exhibition but shaming to ‘civilised’ states – what has changed?  Keep up the good work AI!

Required viewing by all (including politicians).  All going on while we ‘want, want, want’ on our mobiles.  We’re asleep.

Well done AI Salisbury Group – excellent exhibition of photos and thought provoking commentary.

Powerful images that shame the world, and us in our comfortable city.  Thank you Amnesty International for putting this on.

Thank you Salisbury Amnesty group for raising awareness and for [the] call to action.  Shocking statistics on your host map.

Our thanks to all those who took the trouble to comment.  All comments were favourable.


If you would like to join the local group you would be very welcome.  The best thing is to come along to an event and make yourself known.  Details of what is happening will be posted here or on Facebook and Twitter if you prefer those platforms. It is free to join the local group.  For further details see our latest minutes.

 

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Seasons greetings

Posted: December 23, 2017 in China, Group news, Uncategorized

Seasons greetings to all our followers.


Underneath the lamppost …

Once again, we joined forces with the Farrant Singers and toured some streets in Salisbury singing carols.  We were blessed with dry weather.  We collected money for our funds and it was a very successful evening.  Thanks to the Farrants, to the collectors and our hosts for the evening, Michael and Chantal who provided the vittles both before and after.  An enjoyable evening and many residents came out and listened to the singing.

The Farrants with spectators

 


The December group minutes are now available thanks to group member Lesley for preparing them.  Busy meeting and we touched on forthcoming events, the death penalty report in particular.

December minutes (Word)

I Welcome exhibition

Reggie Clemons

Posted: December 17, 2017 in Death penalty
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Message from Reggie’s mother

Followers of this blog will know that one of the cases we have been supporting is that of Reggie Clemons who has been on death row for 19 years now.  He is awaiting a hearing in January and our group sent a message of support recently.  We have just received the following message from his mother Vera:

Thanking you and the group for your support.  It has meant so much for Reggie.  Thank you for the Christmas greeting.  Reggie trial is scheduled for January.  January 8th jury selection will start.  Trial may start the week of the 15th.  Will keep you posted.  We have fought a long hard fight for Justice and thank you for being there with us in the fight.
Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

Read our latest death penalty report

 


UPDATE: 22 February

Reported in the Salisbury Journal that Reza in ‘in a really bad place’ physically and mentally.  See the Journal article.

 

A Salisbury refugee has been arrested and is under threat of deportation

A refugee who has been living in Salisbury for 2 years was back in the news this week following his arrest in Melksham.  He was scheduled to be deported back to Afghanistan, the second most dangerous country in the world according to the FCO.

Reza Magsoudi fled Afghanistan in 2004 when he was 13 and travelled alone to the UK.  Early in November 2017 he was summoned to Melksham police station for the routine procedure of declaring his whereabouts in the UK, whereupon he was arrested.  He was taken to Tinsley House in Gatwick from where he was due to be deported.

He was granted leave to remain in 2008 and has applied for asylum but for the most part without legal assistance.  His English is said to be poor.  There is now to be a judicial review.  A Change.org petition has achieved 73,000 signatures.

He has been supported during his stay in Salisbury by Derri Southwood who has had considerable difficulty in making contact since his incarceration in Gatwick.  BBC Wiltshire had several pieces on this topic on their morning show this week and a reporter has gained access to Tinsley House but was unable to tape an interview with him.

Issues

The case raises a number of issues concerning asylum policy in the UK and highlights the country’s poor record in offering a home to those fleeing war-torn countries.  The UK does however contribute a great deal of aid to those countries who have high levels of refugees but is reluctant to help those who come here.

Part of the reason is the myth that large numbers of people are ‘flooding’ into the country.  The facts do not support this myth.  Countries such as Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan have a much, much higher numbers in their countries out of a world wide population of around 14 million refugees.  By contrast, in quarter 2 of this year for example, there were 6,172 applications for asylum of which 65% were refused.  This sort of statistic is fairly constant quarter by quarter (Source: Refugee Council).  This is a tiny number of people in view of the world wide figure yet the impression created by some sections of the media is that we are somehow the principal port of call for refugees.

The UK no longer has a welcoming attitude to refugees and successive policies have sought to make it tougher and tougher to achieve leave to remain.  An analysis of statistics and policy by four newspapers (Guardian; Le monde; Der Spiegel and El Pais) found that:

The analysis found that Britain takes fewer refugees, offers less generous financial support, provides housing that is often substandard, does not give asylum seekers the right to work, has been known to punish those who volunteer and routinely forces people into destitution and even homelessness when they are granted refugee status due to bureaucratic delays.

This was worse than any other country except Italy.

What is often overlooked in these debates is that the reason why there is conflict and a country riven by war is partly the result of our colonial and imperial activities in the past.  Most obviously the Israeli and Palestinian conflict; the division of lands in the middle east after the fall of the Ottoman Empire following the Great War; the Yemen conflict today where we continue to sell arms to the Saudis causing enormous hardship to the people there, and our invasion of Libya which has led to instability, violence and also allowed people smugglers to prosper.  So we had a major historical impact and continue to do so by supplying arms which increases the level of conflict.

Looking at the below the line comments in the Salisbury Journal article, one gets a taste of the vitriol that the whole question of refugees generates.  Someone who calls him or herself ‘art91e’ says:

He has no right to be here, he serves no useful purpose, he’s illiterate after 13 years here, so he certainly did not do an apprenticeship … that is a lie!  Send him home asap.

The great majority of comments were sympathetic however.

Mr Glen, the Salisbury MP, has become involved and has promised to make contact with the minister’s office and to do what he can.  The problem – not unique to MPs like Mr Glen – is that the Home Office is carrying out government policy which has been supported by him.  It illustrates the problem of myths in the media being left unchallenged but which have a huge influence on how people think.  This drives policy and has created a harsh environment for asylum seekers.  They have become a problem best solved by keeping them out in the first place and then throwing them out if at all possible if they do make it here.

We await developments.


Don’t forget to visit our refugee photo exhibition in the Library which is running until the end of December.  Please sign or comment in the visitor’s book if you do go.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, Salisburyai.

We shall be card signing in the Library passage on Saturday morning 16th between 10 and noon.


The monthly death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for her hard work on this.  Discusses USA; India; Egypt among other countries.  China remains the world’s largest executioner of its own citizens but information is regarded as a state secret.

Nov – Dec report (Word)

No to the death penalty

Libya

Posted: December 12, 2017 in Libya
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Amnesty report alleges complicity by EU governments in torture

An Amnesty International report alleges that EU governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of refugees and asylum seekers in Libya.  The cause of the problem seems to be the payment of funds to authorities who are working with local militias and people smugglers.

The situation in Libya is chaotic as an Amnesty report describes.  There is widespread lawlessness and the country is deeply divided.  We may return to this story as it unfolds.  Amnesty say they have enough evidence to take governments to court.

Sources: Euronews; BBC; Guardian


Card signing this Saturday in the market.  Don’t forget to visit the refugee exhibition in the Library running during December.

Meeting

Posted: December 12, 2017 in Group news
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Monthly meeting takes place this Thursday 14th at Attwood Road Salisbury starting at 7:30 and all supporters are welcome.


The ‘I Welcome’ exhibition is now open in the Salisbury Library and will last until the end of December.  It focuses on the plight of refugees and consists of a series of 30 powerful photographs from the Magnum agency.  Refugees get a poor reception in the UK and the numbers we take in is a tiny proportion of the total.  Rich countries generally take in a very small proportion.  The exhibition is free and visitors are invited to make any comments in the book provided.