Posts Tagged ‘Salisbury’


A further 15 men face imminent execution in Saudi Arabia

Only a few days ago, we highlighted the case of fourteen men who face imminent execution.  Today we publish a further urgent action as Saudi is about to execute another 15 individuals.  The families of the accused have just discovered that the higher court has upheld the lower court’s ruling without the prisoners themselves or their lawyers knowing about it.

They were accused of high treason together with other unrecognisable offences including ‘supporting protests’ and ‘spreading the Shi’a faith.’  They were held incommunicado for nearly three months and denied access to lawyers.  Their families were threatened with arrest if they did not sign confessions.

The system in Saudi is contrary to all international norms and shows no sign of improvement.  Yet despite this we continue to supply the country with arms on a huge scale.

The Foreign and Colonial Office has just published its 2o16 report on human rights and on Saudi it says the following (extract)

… We also remain deeply concerned about the application of the death penalty.  Amnesty International reported that 153 people had been executed in 2016, compared to 158 people in 2015.  This included the simultaneous execution of 47 people on 2 January 2016.  On 5 January, the then FCO Minister for the Middle East and Africa, Tobias Ellwood, made a statement to Parliament reiterating our clear position on the death penalty.  As the principle of the death penalty is enshrined in Saudi Arabia’s Sharia law, total abolition in the near future is unlikely.  We continued to ensure that the Saudi authorities are aware of our strong opposition to the death penalty at the most senior levels.

… In 2017, we will continue to work to limit the application of the death penalty; and to ensure that, if it is applied, it is carried out in line with international minimum standards.  We will continue to monitor closely cases which relate to freedom of expression and of religion or belief.  We will also look for opportunities to promote greater participation by civil society and by women in Saudi public life.  (p 49)

Fine words but somewhat undermined by continuing high level contact, visits by members of the Royal Family and government ministers keen to promote the continued sale of weapons.

If you do get time to write that would be appreciated.  Alternatively, if you go to our Twitter page on this and click ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ that would help.

Urgent Action (pdf)


If you live in the Salisbury area and would like to join then the simplest thing is to come to one of our events and make yourself known.  These can be found here, on our Twitter or Facebook pages – salisburyai.

 


Sport being used to whitewash unsavoury regimes

When we turn to our sports pages, we expect to read about who is beating Britain at cricket, the latest in the long-running saga of the English football team or Andy Murray’s latest exploits on the tennis courts.  We do not expect to read about human rights or to see quotes from organisations like Human Rights Watch or this one – Amnesty.  They are to be found on the news pages surely.

But on Tuesday 18 July, the Guardian in the UK devoted nearly two whole pages in its sports section to the sponsorship by Bahrain of a range of sporting activities and sportsmen in an effort to create a more favourable image for itself.

And it needs to.  The country has a quite appalling record of human rights abuses.  These include torture, in particular beatings and the use of electric shocks.  Freedom of assembly has been severely restricted and peaceful protests have been violently put down.  Nabeel Rajaab – a human rights defender is in prison.

Alan Hogarth, head of policy and government affairs for Amnesty said:

It seems pretty clear that the Bahraini authorities have stepped up efforts to associate the country with major sporting events as glitzy cover for an ever-worsening human rights crackdown.  For the most part, Bahrain’s harnessing of the glamour and prestige of sport has helped deflect attention from the arrests of peaceful critics, reports of tortured detainees, unfair trials and death sentences.

But you would not know this from the sports pages where all is glamour and excitement.  Pictured is the Olympic gold winner

Alistair Brownlee. Pic nztri.co.nz

Alistair Brownlee – featured in the Guardian article – promoting a Bahrain sponsored event.  Other sports include F1 motor racing, football with FIFA siting its conference in the country and cycling.  Spokesmen for the various organisations involved in laundering Bahrain’s image claim that they are not competent authorities to assess the human rights violations taking place there.  There are also claims that the sporting activities will help overcome the problems.  This might have a grain of truth if during coverage, human rights issued were raised by commentators.  Of that there has been no sign.

Bahrain cycling team colours. Photo; Bettini

Their promotional activities are not limited to sport as members of the UK’s Royal family have been pressed into service.  Her majesty the Queen herself welcomed King Hamad to the Royal Windsor horse show and there are pictures of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew with various members of the Bahraini royal family.

We do not have to look far for reasons for this rolling out of the red carpet for members of this royal family as it is our old friend arms sales which are behind it.  It led Theresa May to visit the country last year.  As CAAT reports we are keen to foster arms sales there including Typhoon jets and we have established a naval base at Mina Salman.  Defence clearly trumps human rights considerations.

At present, the sportsmen and women can collect their fees and promotional monies free in the knowledge that the majority of those reading of their sporting achievements probably do not concern themselves too much with goes on in the countries like Bahrain and how they treat their own citizens.  And only rarely do the stories touch on these matters since sport seems to exist in a kind of box as far the rest of coverage is concerned.  Sport, money and politics are now closely entwined.  Sports stars enjoy huge acclaim and some have a large fan base.  They have huge influence over the young who spend large sums on their merchandise.  This is a big responsibility.

But is it too much to ask that sporting people should have a conscience and should be concerned that their names and images are being used to hide serious abuses taking place?  Where a regime such as Bahrain is using sport to whitewash its reputation then sporting people should be aware of the role they are playing and the harm they are doing.  Should they not be concerned that they are being used by these regimes?


An Amnesty post on this topic

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook – @amnestyai

If you live in the Salisbury area and are interested in joining us we would be pleased to see you.  The best thing is to keep an eye on our events which are listed at the end of our minutes and make yourself known at one of them.  Or keep an eye on Twitter or Facebook.


Minutes of our July meeting are available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling them.  We discussed the death penalty report (see the full version here); North Korea; the forthcoming film evening; the summer BBQ and plans for a Celebration of Human Rights event in 2018 in partnership with the Cathedral.  This has come about because of the governments desire to take us out of the European Court of Justice and abolish the Human Rights Act.  Although it is doubtful if either will actually come about, it does reveal a mindset in the government which is very worrying for the future of human rights in the UK.  It also goes hand in hand with our increasing deals with dubious regimes abroad who are serial human rights offenders such as Saudi Arabia.

July minutes (pdf)

If you live in the Salisbury area and would like to join us, then the best thing is to come to one of our events and make yourself known.  At the end of the minutes you will see a list of planned events or you can keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook.


Films at the Arts Centre
lucy maz crop

Prof Lucy Mazdon.  Pic: Salisbury Amnesty

We were delighted to be part of a showing of films at the Arts Centre as part of the Salisbury Festival.  Two films were shown: War Witch and Incendie.  Both were rather sombre films yet managed to have a degree of hope.  War Witch was set in Africa and showed the plight of a young girl caught up in the war where she is abducted and becomes a child soldier.  Incendie is the story of twins who travel to the middle east in search of their mother and what happened to her.  Both films were introduced by Prof. Lucy Mazdon who is head of the Dept in film at Southampton University and we were grateful to her for taking the time to come over to do this.

 


Minutes of the last two meetings – May and June – are below and thanks to group members Andrew and Lesley for preparing them.  The next meeting is on 13 July at 7:30 pm in Victoria Road.

May minutes (Word)

June minutes (Word)


If you live in the Salisbury area and are interested in getting involved we would love to see you.  The local group is free to join although some join Amnesty International UK and there is a joining fee for that.  The best thing is to come along to one of our events and make yourself known.  You can see what’s on at the end of the minutes or by following us on twitter http://www.twitter.com/salisburyai.


The latest monthly death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  There is news of Reggie Clemons who has been on death row for 26 years now and we have heard from a family member.

Death penalty report (Word)

Reggie Clemons (picture Amnesty USA)


Two films to be shown at the Arts Centre
FRIDAY 9TH

As part of the Salisbury Arts Festival, the Arts Centre is showing two films with a human rights aspect to them: War Witch and Incendies Both films will be introduced by Prof Lucy Mazdon from Southampton University.

War Witch starts at 7pm and Incendies at 9pm.  You can of course go to either one or both.  Details of how to book are to be found by clicking on the Arts Festival link above or their phone number is 0845 241 961.

Trailer:


Five reasons to end the death penalty

We are attaching the recent post issued by RightsInfo which gives 5 reasons to end the death penalty.  There is a rising tide of executions around the world as the recent Amnesty report makes clear with China the country which leads the world (if ‘lead’ be the appropriate word) in executing the greatest number which it keeps a secret.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are also major executioners often in barbaric circumstances.

Our local group produces a monthly report and these can be found on this site.

Briefly, the Rights Info report, entitled: 5 Reasons the UK is Trying to Stamp Out the Death Penalty Worldwide, says that the death penalty:

  1. will often execute the innocent.  We have documented many instances on this site where for various reasons, the wrong person has been executed.  Once done, it cannot be undone
  2. is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and often involves people incarcerated for decades under threat of execution
  3. it has no effect on crime rates, indeed there are more murders in those states in the United States where capital punishment is used
  4. it damages international crime fighting because we cannot extradite individualswhere there is the risk of someone being executed

[we were unable to find a fifth in the report]

5 Reasons the UK is Trying to Stamp Out the Death Penalty Worldwide – RightsInfo copy (pdf)


Petition to the Governor Asa Hutchinson to stop the execution due this week

The rush to carry out executions in Arkansas, USA, continues apace with another one due tomorrow (Thursday 27th).  This is a petition (see below) to send to the Governor asking him to stop.  The panic to get the executions done is because the drugs being used are due to expire.  Adds a new meaning to ‘sell by date’ we see on our foodstuffs.

The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights, as it violates the right to life. It is also a cruel and inhumane punishment that may constitute torture.

Amnesty always oppose the death penalty in every case because it violates rights. The idea of lethal injection as a ‘humane’ form of execution is simply a myth. There have been numerous cases of ‘botched’ executions by lethal injection in the US in recent years, with prisoners failing to die quickly or ‘quietly’.  See our post on the process to be followed in California.

If you get time to send an urgent email that would be appreciated.

 

Petition to Arkansas

Slavery

Posted: April 25, 2017 in slavery
Tags: , , ,

Talk by Robert Key on Slavery

Robert Key. Picture: Cathedral School

Voyages to Hell: Pirates and Slaves is the title of an illustrated history the former MP for Salisbury Robert Key,  is giving on Friday 12 May.  Many people think that slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century with the end of the trade in slaves across the Atlantic.  It is however alive and well and is taking many different forms in the modern world.

The talk will take place in Stevenson Hall, Leaden Hall Campus, Salisbury Cathedral School, starting at 7:30 with a bar from 7:00.  Tickets are £10 each at the door, or to be sure of a seat, through Peter Lane 01264 771701 or phlane@btinternet.com.  Money raised will go to the Cathedral Choir Foundation.

Robert Key is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries


Anti Slavery International