We are fortunate in Salisbury to have the support of the Cathedral which has a prisoner of conscience window and the Amnesty candle. They also allow us to put prisoner of conscience details for people to pick up and act on if they wish. This is changed once a month by group member Tony.
Signing in the Library passage on Saturday 15 December
We will be holding our annual card signing this Christmas in the Library passage in Salisbury starting at 9 am for around 3 hours. We will have four prisoners of conscience from around the world and we ask that people sign one or more of these. We will then post them to the prisoners.
Prisoners of conscience are people who are imprisoned for their beliefs or because they displease the powers in their country. They are not violent. Thousands are held in this way, often without being charged and without access to lawyers. Many countries which have signed up to uphold human rights standards do this, the most recent example is Turkey. But China has ten of thousands in prisons and in vast camps.
If you are in Salisbury this Saturday, please spend a minute or two to sign a card.
It sometimes seems like a forlorn battle being an Amnesty supporter. The tide of executions, arrests for peacefully protesting, torture and other state crimes seems inexorable. Despite countries signing solemn pledges in the UN, persecution by states of their own people and minorities continues on a grand scale around the world.
But a light sometimes does shine and in a recent report, Amnesty claims that 650 prisoners were released last year due in part to our
campaigning. Albert Woodfox was released from 44 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana, USA and he said:
Even when it feels like you are not going to win, when you grow disillusioned with politics which put geed before people’s human rights. when you don’t think you can make a difference – please remember that if you had not taken a stand and joined hundreds of thousands of activist around the world, I may not have been able to write this to you today.
On the Saturday before Christmas, we undertook a card signing in the Library passage in the centre of Salisbury. A total of 155 cards were signed and have now been posted to the 4 prisoners we highlighted.
Thanks to members who turned out to help with this and to those Salisbury people who gave up a few moments to sign a card or two.
We held a signing on Saturday morning and invited people to sign cards on behalf of four prisoners of conscience. It had been held over from Christmas because we had too many other things on so we were not confident of large numbers. Our other concern was the events in Paris which has hardened some peoples’ attitudes to terrorism in all its forms. Some people equate human rights with ‘supporting terrorists’ and there is the occasional remark along the lines that ‘they must have done something or they wouldn’t be arrested’.
We needn’t have been worried on either count and there was a steady stream of people to sign cards all morning. The cards are generalised greetings fashioned from Christmas cards but with anything religious removed. The only limiting factor in fact was that the table was too small to accommodate the numbers. We secured around 150 signatures and the cards will be posted in batches.
Thanks to all those in the local group who helped.