We shall be doing a Write for Rights this Sunday (5th December) in the Cathedral cloisters
For many years, we have done a signing at Christmas time, usually in the Market Square. We moved to the Cloisters the year before last and were more successful in getting people to sign. So we shall be there from 11:00 until 14:00 and anyone in Salisbury is welcome to come along and sign. It would also be a good opportunity for you to make yourself known to us if you were thinking of joining the group.
We shall be holding our Write for Rights signings in two locations this year: the first time we have done this. The first will be 5th December in the Cathedral Cloisters and the second on 11th in St Thomas’s. We do not have the times yet so keep an eye out on this site – or Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr – for more details once known. Almost certainly in the mornings. We hope you can come along and sign.
For people abroad, feel free to send us your desire to be listed and we will copy your name in.
Update: 14 March. Ben Rogers has kindly sent us the text of his talk which is attached at the bottom of this post.
The Salisbury group is grateful to the Cathedral for holding an Evensong once a year marking the work of Amnesty International and enabling us to nominate a speaker during the course of the service. About 60 attended last nights service. For many years the Cathedral has provided space for the group to display each month an appeal for a Prisoner of Conscience. This month it is Ahmed Mansoor a human rights defender and POC who is in prison in Abu Dhabi. The Cathedral has a window dedicated to the work of Amnesty.
We were delighted to invite Benedict Rogers (pictured) to speak who, among other things, has a particular interest
in North Korea. Ben is East Asia Team Leader of CSW, a Christian charity which promotes religious freedom around the world.
He said that the UN regards North Korea to be in a category all of its own as far as human rights are concerned. It violates every single human right. As a member of CSW, they were the first to call for a commission of enquiry and two years later in 2014, the UN did so.
The gravity, scale and nature of abuses has no parallel in the modern world he said. The report found that:
North Korea had committed crimes against humanity and manifestly failed to uphold its responsibility to protect. These crimes entail “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation. Source, Wikipedia
In 2007, CSW produced a report A Case to Answer. A Call to Act which concluded that the human rights situation in North Korea was a crime against humanity. Although things seem bleak, he said there were some glimmers of light. In a recent report, Movies, Markets and Mass Surveillance, it was noted that North Koreans were getting more information about the outside world. They were beginning to realise that life south of the border was better. There was anecdotal evidence that prison guards did realise the world was watching.
The regime saw Christianity as a particular threat. Anyone caught practising it faced severe punishment or could be executed. If a carol was allowed it would only be ‘We three Kims of Orient are!’
Those who did manage to escape to China were sent back to face severe punishment in the prison camps. There were around 200,000 thousand people in the prison camps he said. He ended with the famous quotation mistakenly attributed to Edmund Burke:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
Cathedral Evensong takes place this evening (Thursday 12th) at 5:30. We are delighted to welcome Ben Rogers to give the address. There will be an opportunity for participants to sign a petition on leaving if they wish.
If you were thinking of joining the group, this would be an opportunity to make yourself known even if you do not wish to take part in the service itself (Amnesty is not a religious group). Several members will be around to great you.
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.
The minutes of the February group meeting are available thanks to group member Lesley for preparing them. They contain details of our activities and forthcoming events. These are listed towards the end and are a good opportunity for someone thinking of joining to come along and make yourself known.
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.
On Monday 22 November we had the annual evensong for Amnesty International. We are delighted to work with Salisbury Cathedral on this event, which has been running for a number of years now, especially as it ends in the Trinity Chapel where the Amnesty candle is situated and under the Prisoner of Conscience window.
All the celebrants are given a candle and carry these through at the end of the service to the chapel. Canon Robert Titley spoke during the service and he said:
This evening we hear one of the uglier Christmas stories. When the wise men visit local ruler Derod, they say the are looking for ‘the King of the Jews’, and he realises that they don’t mean him. Herod judges – rightly – that Jesus, the child they seek, is a threat to his kingdom and to his way of doing power. And so, says Mathew the gospel writer, Herod begins some targeted slaughter to neutralise this potential source of rebellion, and Jesus and his family must escape as refugees.
Herod’s way of doing power is of course still alive and kicking. Mathew would find present day Syria – where innocents are killed as a means of neutralising so-called ‘rebels’ – very familiar. He does not describe the experience of being a refugee, though it is unlikely that things were so different then:
the indifference of some of the native population in the land you come to
their understandable caution
their fear of the threat you might pose, especially if there are a lot of you – a ‘swarm’ perhaps
a tendency to talk about you as part of a lump, a collectivity, an issue, a problem, not a person with a story.
He then went on to talk about Amnesty today;
Throughout its 55 years, Amnesty – to the vexation of the Herods of this world – has tirelessly brought into the light the stories of people whose rights are abused, people like a teacher in Indonesia who we are supporting with our prayers during this month.
Groups like Amnesty International patiently and persistently bring to the minds of rulers and their representatives the stories of people they would rather forget. And now, as our continent faces the severest displacement of people since Second World War, refuges are at the top of Amnesty’s concerns.
On Amnesty’s website you will find a short film called A Powerful Experiment. According to the psychologist Arthur Aron, four minutes of eye contact is enough to bring people close together, even to fall in love. And so, in a bare factory space, a group of native Europeans – women, men, and one girl – each sit with a refugee for four minutes.
In that space and time the ‘issue’ acquires a human face: Samira from Syria and Danuta from Poland and Fatima from Somalia: they open their eyes and at first just look at each other. Soon the are smiles – warm or perhaps shy – some tears, then words ‘nice moustache. I’m sixty-five. Are you new in Berlin? Eight months. And are you alone here or with your family? Alone. And finally, touch – a handshake, a hug, a game of It, and that word ‘refugee’ is made flesh.
In just four weeks’ time, we shall proclaim again the good news of the word of God made flesh and the birth of Jesus. The Christmas stories will remind us how glorious is the full ness of God: how infinitely treasured is each human life, made in the image of God.
And tonight we give thanks to God for Amnesty, for the patient, persistent work of its staff and volunteers in reminding the powerful of this treasure and how blasphemous it is to deny it; and reminding us all that the refugee glimpsed on a screen or news page is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, that each one, like each of us, has their story to tell.
Around 80 people attended which is fewer than usual but the bad weather would have deterred many. Our thanks to Cathedral staff for their help with this event.
This is the fourth batch of pictures of the tapestry which is in the entrance lobby to the Chapter House in Salisbury Cathedral.
Article 16: Men and women have the right to marry and found a family. No on should be forced to marry. This panel by Carol Corke on behalf of the Isle of Wight group.
Article 17: Everyone has the right to own property. This panel is also by the Isle of Wight group, this time made by Sue Logan.
Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. And this panel is from our very own Salisbury group made by Fiona Donovan.
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes sharing ideas with people from other countries. Another panel from the Mid Gloucester group, this time by June Styles.
Article 20: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This panel was made not by an Amnesty group but by the Harbour Project in Swindon.
The Harbour Project welcomes and supports refugees and asylum seekers in Swindon. To those who’ve risked their lives, families and homes fleeing war and persecution, they provide friendship and hope for a future. They have been working tirelessly since the Kosovo crisis in 2000. Today, they are aiding people from across the world.
This is the third set of detailed pictures from the tapestry currently on display at Salisbury Cathedral at the entrance to the Chapter House where a copy of Magna Carta is displayed. It illustrates the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A picture of the whole thing is on an earlier blog with a short video.
Article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This panel prepared by Rona Keene of the Bristol group.
Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor attacks upon their honour and reputation. Another panel by Cari a member of the Frome group.
Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement. Prepared by the Farringdon group.
Article 14: Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. People lose this right if they do not respect what is written here. Another panel from the Southampton City group.
Article 15: Everyone has the right to a nationality. Another panel from the Bristol group this time prepared by Sarah Heath.
Any errors or if you want to add a name please let us know .