Archive for the ‘Group news’ Category

Summer BBQ

Posted: August 1, 2019 in Event, Group news, Uncategorized
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We regret to say that the BBQ has been called off.  Several people could not make it, two more have sent apologies and one is uncertain so it seemed rather pointless to continue.  But: we shall be meeting for a pub lunch at the New Inn in New Street from 12:30 on Sunday.

If you were thinking of joining the group we would like to see you.

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Programme of forthcoming group events

We have a number of events planned in the period between now and Christmas so these are listed below.  Please note that some are yet to be fully confirmed and dates may change for one or two so please check here or on our Facebook or Twitter pages for updates.

7 September   Coffee morning at St Thomas’s church in Salisbury.  After an absence of several years we are pleased to be able to host this event again in this church.  It would be a good time to make yourself known if wish to join us.  We hope to show a looped film.

8 October   [provisional]  Author and journalist Paul Mason is coming to speak at the Salisbury Methodist church starting at 7:30.  Paul has written a book Clear Bright Future and the issue of human rights in the modern age is discussed.   We are awaiting confirmation from his agent over the date.  Note this event is postponed from June hence the link text saying it was ‘cancelled’.

10 October  World Day Against the Death Penalty.  Details of any event nearer the time.  See our latest DP report.

24 October   As part of schools Citizenship programme, we shall be giving a presentation at Bishops Wordsworth.  We rather regret few schools take part in this so if any teacher in the Salisbury area is reading this and would like a presentation in their school, please get in touch.

December   Evensong at the Cathedral.  Date to be agreed.  All welcome.  Photo shows the Amnesty candle in the Cathedral.

13 November   Film at the Arts Centre.  The film is Nae Pasaran about a group of Scottish workers refusing to repair aircraft engines destined for the Chilean government after the coup which took place there.

17 December   Our annual carol singing event in the Victoria Road, College Street, Marlborough Road area with members of the Farrant Singers.  This is a popular event and several families come into the street to listen to a selection of carols properly sung by this choir.

We look forward to seeing you at one or more of these events.

 

Carol singing in 2018


The minutes of the July meeting are attached thanks to group member Lesley for writing them.  It was a full meeting again with a number of matters discussed and with several activities planned in the near future and in the autumn.

As ever, if you live in the Salisbury area – including Amesbury, Downton or around Tisbury – you would be welcome to join the group.  The simplest thing is to keep an eye on this site and when an event is posted, come along and make yourself known.

July Minutes (Word)


GM MinutesThe minutes of the group’s meeting on June 13th 2019 are attached thanks to group member Lesley for compiling them.

June minutes (Word)

Paul Mason talk

Posted: June 10, 2019 in Group news, Uncategorized
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CANCELLATION

We very much regret to announce that the talk planned by Paul mason on 24th June has had to be cancelled.  We have heard from Paul’s agent that he will be indisposed on that date.


We held our annual market stall in Salisbury yesterday and managed to sell over £200 of stuff.  We had plenty to sell, including lots of CDs, good quality clothes and a lot of nice jewellery.  We couldn’t help but notice however that spending was subdued despite the low prices.  Perhaps the effects of austerity really are being felt.

Many thanks to all those who gave us things to sell and also to those who spent the morning on the stall.  It was enjoyable.  The promised rain held off although it threatened at various times.

 

 

 


UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.  We have been informed today that Paul will be indisposed on this day and regretfully and unavoidably, he has had to cancel

Leading author and journalist coming to Salisburyclear bright future

We are delighted to announce that the famous journalist and author Paul Mason (pictured) will be speaking in Salisbury on 24 June at 7:30.  This is a free event but we do ask people to contribute to a parting collection to help with our costs.

Paul will be speaking about his new book Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being.  The book is about the triple threat we face: the rise of authoritarian politicians and the destruction of verifiable truth; the rise of intelligent machines which will threaten the human claim to agency, and a rising sense of fatalism and irrationality which has led many to become susceptible to the mythologies of the new right.

The book is an argument for a defence of the human being against the creation of the ‘neoliberal self’ in the past three decades or so.  To resist this Mason argues, means fighting for universal rights and for human centric institutions.

Paul Mason

Picture: C Juergen-Bauer

Paul will be speaking at the Salisbury Methodist Church starting at 7:30 pm and the event is free.  We are asking for a parting contribution please.


The evening will be a good opportunity for you to join us if you wish.  The issue of the power of the tech giants and the effect this has on our freedoms is an issue we are likely as a group to pay more attention to in the future.  This may be a topic of interest to you in which case we would like to hear from you.  It is free to join us locally.


The minutes of the group’s May meeting are attached and thanks to group member Fiona for preparing them.  There is a full programme of activities.

May minutes (Word)


Amnesty International South-West Regional Conference in Exeter 11 May 2019

These are some notes of the recent regional conference made by Salisbury group member Fiona. They are not an official record.

The keynote speaker was Emel Kurma, a Human Rights defender from Turkey, currently hosted by the University of York’s Protective Fellowship Scheme. She outlined for us how a Citizens’ Assembly works. Inspired by the Helsinki Final Act, these are low-profile bodies (no smart headquarters or logos) that aim to stimulate social and political discussion towards a peaceful and inclusive society, valuing democratic and environmental principles. The best response to a state’s limitation of individual freedom is to strengthen civil society at all levels, allowing ethical thinking to penetrate even closed structures. For example a liberal academic offered an opportunity to go to a conference abroad might instead hand it to a member of a state institution in order to broaden that individual’s understanding of human rights as practised beyond their country’s borders.

Emel Kurma is a brave individual and her stoical acceptance of probable interrogation and possible imprisonment on her return to Turkey is both shocking and inspiring.

Israel Palestine 

Two other reports (also by women) focused on Palestine and Eastern Europe respectively.
Penny Wilcox has for several years worked with the intriguingly-titled Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and the Occupied Territories.  Again in an unobtrusive fashion, they accompany vulnerable Palestinians at checkpoints (adults going to work, children to school, traders etc.) and, simply by acting as protective witnesses, aim to reduce the levels of conflict or anxiety so often experienced by this oppressed population.  This approach is also practised by various Israeli humanitarian groups who wish to offer support to trapped and threatened Palestinian communities.  Even simply to witness and record the bulldozing of ‘illegal” Palestinian structures (cow byres, olive trees) is an act of silent protest and solidarity.  One of the many ironies of this absurd and tragic occupation is that when sometimes belligerent Israeli settlers have gone into Palestinian villages to cause trouble, the Israeli army itself has been called in to defend the Palestinians residents.

The third report came from Central Europe co-ordinator Ulricke Schmidt, who traced worrying trends in the rise of racism and anti-Semitism in Hungary and, to a lesser degree, in Poland.

Hungary

In Hungary the usual targets are the Roma, but the influx of refugees has now made them the focus of anger.  This in spite of the warm reception originally given to those fleeing war, who were perceived as ‘passing through’ Hungary and in manageable numbers.  However attitudes have hardened and Ulriche quoted an acquaintance who got 6 months imprisonment for giving a lift to a refugee while NGOs risk being criminalised for helping them.  Additionally, resentment against global capitalism has contributed to a revival of anti-Semitism.  Huge posters crudely stereo-type George Soros as ‘an enemy of the people’ with his ‘army of leftist terrorists’.

Ulricke defines some of the underlying causes of xenophobia as relating to globalisation – seen as benefiting the few – and to a drift to the cities which has left a frustrated and impoverished rural population to grasp at the promises of the Right to restore Hungary’s romanticised past (sounds familiar, does it not?).

Poland 

Poland reflects some of these trends, but fortunately to a lesser degree. Some liberal teachers have been disciplined and protesters have had their personal data published.  But Poland has had a more recent history of resistance to authoritarian rule.  When an outright ban was placed on abortion thousands of women marched in protest to overturn it.  When a recent Independence Day march was joined by racist demonstrators, fourteen brave women entered the throng and unfurled a Stop Fascism banner.  They were beaten by some marchers, and subsequently charged and fined by the courts for ‘disrupting a lawful demonstration.’  But a recently published video has now prompted an Appeal Court investigation into the attack..

The European Union has triggered Article 7 against Hungary for imperilling European values and has also expressed concern that the judiciary in Poland is being politicised.  On a more positive note, 26 EU countries have recently seen powerful demonstrations against fascism, racism and anti-Semitism.

Death penalty

The Death Penalty workshop confirmed that our group is very well informed on relevant data thanks to the regular updates from group member Lesley. The new network now has two and a half thousand members.  An interesting recent survey estimated that it was actually more expensive to execute a prisoner than to simply keep them in prison.  The campaign is currently now focusing on Singapore and Iran, the latter for its practice of deferring punishment until a sentenced juvenile is old enough to receive the death penalty.  On a positive note – more and more countries are abolishing the death penalty – 106 in total by the end of 2018.

Many thanks to the regional representative Chris Ramsay for organising this meeting.


The next monthly meeting is on May 9th at Victoria Road as usual starting at 7:30.  Supporters are very welcome to attend.