Behind the Fringe

Shi Tao

The debate couldn’t be more apt at a festival that’s all about freedom of expression, of course, which is what makes Edinburgh an important place for Amnesty to be. I’m getting excited about going up to Edinburgh for a couple of weeks to help promote our Stand Up for Freedom comedy shows, and our appeal for Chinese journalist Shi Tao (pictured). I might catch the odd show too, so my blog posts might even include some reviews in the coming weeks. Maybe I should try to get a ticket for Jihad the Musical…

There’s lots in the news today about another subject at the very core of Amnesty – locking people up without giving them a fair trial. There’s good news from parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, seeing sense and opposing proposals to allow police to lock people up for 56 days without charging them with any offence. Duncan Campbell in the Guardian harks back to the case of the Guildford Four, and warns not only of the prospect of people making ‘confessions’ under duress if held for long periods without charge, but of the dangers of a climate in which ever-harsher measures are demanded as a panacea to the counter the threat of terrorism.

The cases of Bisher al-Rawi and his friend Jamil al Banna have also been getting much-need publicity, following interviews that Mr al-Rawi has given to the Observer and to this evening’s Channel 4 News. It’s a shocking insight into the reality behind a word that has slipped into everyday news parlance – rendition – without many of us really thinking about what it actually entails. The motivation behind his interviews is clear – to help secure the release of his friend Jamil al Banna, who is still held without charge by the US at Guantanamo Bay. We’re appealing for his release, and that of other UK residents still held in Guantanamo.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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