We return to a film event after an absence of three years
We’re delighted to invite you to join us at the matinee screening of the BAFTA award-winning film Limbo, a wryly touching story of a refugee centre in the Outer Hebrides, showing at Salisbury Arts Centre White Room on Sunday 29 May at 2.30pm.
The Arts Centre are giving Salisbury Amnesty a short introductory slot to update the audience on the subject of refugees and we expect to have a relevant petition for audience members to sign.
It would be lovely if as many of you as possible could support this matinee screening, especially as it has been some time since our last public collaboration with the Arts Centre and we would like this to continue into the future.
Tickets are £9 and the film lasts I hour 44 minutes. There is a lift to the White Room Studio. Masks are encouraged but no longer obligatory and you will be sitting next to other people as this isn’t a socially distanced performance.
We hope you are all well and we look forward very much to seeing you at this witty and moving film.
If you come here following the film Just Mercy shown at Playhouse, welcome and the case we referred to can be accessed from this link. It concerns a singer in Nigeria who is at risk of execution. As was explained, Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. It is not a deterrent and mistakes which are many, cannot be rectified once someone has been executed.
The group produces a monthly report on cases and issues surrounding the penalty around the world and the most recent can be found here. We have also published a review of a discussion organised by Amnesty concerning the World Day Against the Death Penalty, (which Amnesty themselves have used), and this can be found here.
There are concerns that there is a desire to resume the death penalty in the UK and some politicians have said so but in the case of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, she has said she no longer supports that position.
You may have heard of Reprieve and the work of Clive Stafford Smith in USA. Clive represents many people on death row some of whom were convicted on flimsy or circumstantial evidence. Unlike in the UK, police in many US States are under no obligation to reveal evidence which points to the suspect’s innocence. Clive’s fascinating book Injustice is reviewed on this page.
The Salisbury group is not just concerned with the death penalty but with human rights issue generally. We are concerned at the government’s desire to abolish the Human Rights Act especially when we leave the EU and we shall be campaigning on this if it comes to fruition.
We are not doing any face to face activities at present for obvious reasons but new members are welcome and following this site or Facebook or Twitter @salisburyai is something you can do. When normal times resume, we hope to get back to campaigning work.
We hope to show this film at the Arts Centre in November but it will depend of course on lockdown restrictions being lifted. It has been discussed in a recent Independent article. It is particularly apposite at the present time as it highlights the unequal status of black people in the US both with the police and the justice system as a whole. It also relates to our last post concerning the release of Walter Ogrod after many years on death row for a crime he did not commit.
Some of the forthcoming events the group is planning.
These are always subject to change so please look here or on Facebook or Twitter for the up to date position before coming along.
Evensong An event largely organised by the Cathedral which we have held every year now for quite some time. 12 March starting at 5:30 pm. Free to come
Thrill of Love This is a play at the Studio Theatre in Butts Road concerning Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK. We hope to hand out leaflets at the event (subject to permission from the theatre). We have abolished the penalty in the UK but from time to time, a desire to reinstate it emerges especially after some terrible crime or terrorist attack. Amnesty is opposed to the penalty in all circumstances. We publish a monthly report on the subject. 23 – 28 March
Citizenship day Schools event 30 June. If anyone from one of the local schools is reading this and would like us to do our presentation in your school, please get in touch.
Market stall In Salisbury market place morning of 11 July starting early. Goods to sell would be welcome and we can collect if needed. No electrical items (we cannot sell them untested) or VHS tapes please.
Film, Just Mercy Brilliant film concerning the racially segregated south of America and a black man sentenced to death for the murder of a white girl, a crime he did not commit. Not shown in Salisbury. Showing at the Arts Centre4 November.
These are the things we have planned at present. If you are thinking of joining us you would be most welcome and introducing yourself at one of the above would be the easiest thing to do.
We are keeping a watching brief on human rights issues in the UK because several ministers and politicians would like to see the Human Rights Act abolished.
There will be a short introduction by a member of our group. If you are interested in joining the group we shall be around before and after the showing so it would be a good time to make yourself known.
Minutes of the January meeting are now available thanks to group member Lesley for preparing them. The group discussed recent actions and future activities. These include the film The Breadwinner on 8 March; the market stall on 8 June; Refugee week from 17 – 23 June and the photo exhibition currently on at the Methodist Church (Free).
If you would like to join the group you would be very welcome. Best thing is to come to an event we are running and make yourself known.
Film reveals terrible state of Chinese justice system
UPDATE: if you have arrived here having picked up a leaflet at the Poetika event in Salisbury this evening – welcome!
A small audience at the Arts Centre watched a documentary film hosted by the Salisbury group called Hooligan Sparrow set in China. The story concerns the attempts by a lawyer Ye Haiyan to get a college principal and his assistant prosecuted for spending the night in a hotel with 6 underage girls. They were likely to have escaped punishment because of the endemic corruption of the Chinese police and communist party. Subsequently they gave $2000 dollars to the girls which made them prostitutes and thus made them the criminals under the Chinese system.
Ye was determined to bring them to justice and started with a simple protest outside the school. The film then charts the subsequent events of harassment, violence and intimidation by the police, secret police and hired thugs. Remarkably, much of this is filmed and we can see and hear the activities of the police engaged in the intimidation. Ye ends up homeless having been evicted from flats and hotels. Finally, she returns to her home village to live in some quite basic accommodation. A most telling and sad scene shows her and her daughter sat on the roadside with all their possessions piled up unable to find anywhere to live. This exact scene is recreated in an exhibition in Brooklyn Museum in New York.
The exhibition was of work by Ai WeiWei, an artist who has also been intimidated, arrested and interrogated by the police on more than one occasion. He has a degree of fame outside China which gives him a modest level of protection. During one of his imprisonments, he was subject to close surveillance 24 hours a day, every day, including when going to the toilet. This was recreated in an exhibition at the Royal Academy three years ago (pictured)
Ye certainly lived a colourful life and at one time worked in a brothel which is where she acquired the nickname ‘sparrow’. In order to raise awareness for HIV prevention, Ye lived the illegal life of a sex worker, distributing free condoms while claiming that they were government subsidies.
Much of the footage was shaky as the filming took place under extreme duress. We hear threats to kill her or break her legs. It is nonetheless riveting work and vividly brings to life the dire state of human rights in China. The list of infringements of human rights in the country are too many to list here as this report from Amnesty shows:
The government continued to draft and enact new laws under the guise of “national security” that presented serious threats to human rights. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died in custody. Activists and human rights defenders were detained, prosecuted and sentenced on the basis of vague and overbroad charges such as “subverting state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Police detained human rights defenders outside formal detention facilities, sometimes incommunicado, for long periods, which posed additional risk of torture and other ill-treatment to the detainees. Controls on the internet were strengthened. Repression of religious activities outside state-sanctioned churches increased. Repression conducted under “anti-separatism” or “counter-terrorism” campaigns remained particularly severe in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibetan-populated areas. Freedom of expression in Hong Kong came under attack as the government used vague and overbroad charges to prosecute pro-democracy activists. [extract] Amnesty Report 2017/18
Much western coverage of China speaks of its economic progress and remarkable growth. It is the world’s second most powerful nation and its activities in the South China Sea is causing real concern. Western politicians fawn over President Xi Jing Ping in the hope of business. But this film shows a lonely woman seeking justice on behalf of six young girls, being subjected to violence, intimidation and threats by a range of state agents. China does its best to shield its citizens from outside influence shutting out foreign web sites behind the ‘Great Firewall of China‘. One is reminded of other countries which behaved like this notably, Soviet Russia, East Germany and Rumania. Each crumbled and it was the activity of a single person which often started the collapse – the priest in Rumania for example. It can be like a stone chipping a windscreen.
The question is therefore, quite how powerful is the communist party in China that it feels the need to intimidate and mistreat any who question it?
The film was made by Nanfu Wang. Our thanks to group member Fiona for organising this event.
If you would like to join the local group you would be very welcome. We are holding a stall in the market place on 23 June so come along and make yourself known.
A reminder that the film Hooligan Sparrow will be shown next Thursday 14 June at 7:30 pm. This is FREE but there is a parting collection to help cover our rental and other costs. It’s at the Salisbury Arts Centre in the White Room upstairs. Tickets can be obtained from the front desk.