Blogging the AGM 2008 #4 (Kate's speech)
9:22am I'm not being a crawler here, but Kate Allen has grown in stature and oratorical powers over the years since she became AIUK Director in 2000. I'm looking forward to hearing her speech.
She opens up her annual address to the members by reminding us of some of our successes over the last year. She focuses on individuals who needed our help and didn't find Amnesty members wanting. People like journalist Alan Johnston and death row prisoner Kenny Richey, both of whom regained their freedom this year, at least in part thanks to the efforts of Amnesty's membership in the UK and internationally.
Moving on to some of our Government's human rights shortcomings, she reminds the hall that the Government is forcing some asylum seekers into destitution and started off opposed to signing up to the European Convention Against Trafficking. But Government policy changes. 'What happens to change government minds?', asks Kate rhetorically. 'Amnesty happens', she responds.
The 'Still Human Still Here' coalition campaign will also succeed, she reckons. Grassroots pressure – sleepouts and local media work – opens the doors of dialogue with the Home Office and will lead to policy change, which will improve the lives of some of our country's most vulnerable people.
9:34am Kate reminds us (as do the banners at the front of the hall) that 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the UDHR and the year of the Beijing Olympics, both presenting opportunities for Amnesty to advance our vision of a world where everyone enjoys all their human rights.
We will celebrate the UDHR60 anniversary through a bigger and better reprise of the Secret Policeman's Ball. We will reach millions of people here and internationally with our vision for change through this and other activities.
The campaign on China is a tougher proposition. As we meet, Kate reminds us, other Amnesty campaigners are getting ready to line the streets of London to ensure that the passage of the Olympic torch through the capital is accompanied by a call for human rights change in China.
A powerful new Amnesty video – a 90 second advert in our Unsubscribe campaign – is previewed. Called 'The stuff of life', it demonstrates the agony of waterboarding. It is being rolled out through cinemas (including at this months' Belfast Film Festival) and distributed online. Here, Kate gives a shout out to the bloggers and other assorted techie nerds among us who are helping to bring the message to new audiences in new ways. Yey!
Moving on to Amnesty's policy on sexual and reproductive rights, Kate makes a request for reflection and respectful debate on this big, difficult issue and for members to get behind the internationally adopted policy.
She concludes with thanks to our members and a powerful plea to keep up the work and keep up the pressure on London, Beijing and Khartoum.
9:49am Kate sits down to strong applause.
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