Minutes of Group Meeting & AGM January 12th 2015
Attending: Liz, Paddy, Carolyn, Paul, Helen, Elizabeth, Beatrice, Claudia, Sarah, Carmel, Pearse
Apologies: Gee, Leo, Heiko
Minutes: Paul introduced minutes from November 2014 meeting. There were no comments.
The Secretary – Beatrice- advised there’d been 11 meetings in the year. Approx 300 cards & letters were written at these meetings. This was in addition to the 220 cards & 80 letters written during Write for Rights.
There are 218 people on the mailing list.
The group has signed up work on Amnesty Campaigns, Stop Torture & My Body, My Rights & to continue to work on existing campaigns on Afghan women & Zimbabwean Human Rights defenders The group’s IAR Rwandan Agnes Uwimana Nkusi was released in June & the group is now working on Jacqueline Montanez from the USA. The group has also signed up to do an action from the West African region every 3 months. The group will also write quarterly action for the Jayyus village in the West Bank & disappeared El Salvadorean sisters Ernestina & Erlinda Serrano Cruz
The Chair -Paul-reported a number of positive aspects to the Belfast Group's activities over the past two years, since the last AGM. These included: good attendance and participation at meetings; enhanced role sharing; an improved on line presence; newer and more diverse members; and good working together with the AI Regional Office (notably in anti-racist, 'Pride', May Day, trade union linking and other campaigning work). Recent 'high' spots, for example, included the very well-attended and lively evening in collaboration with AI students and other groups in the context of the 'My Body my Rights' campaigning; the engaged participation in the Write for Rights action in 2013 and 2014; and the interesting contributions from speakers such as those from/on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Palestine, Somalia and Sri Lanka and from the British Medical Association, on medics, AI and torture. As well as these, there was closer linking with other NGOs and their members, such as the South Belfast Round Table's Friendship Club and the Human Rights Consortium. The Chair noted that the Belfast Group did not only meet on a monthly basis, but participated regularly in other human rights activities such as the ones mentioned and alluded to above. In effect, a balance had been achieved between campaigning, letter writing, hearing from visiting speakers, taking part in AI's internal consultation exercise (on Moving Closer to the Ground), and participating in key human rights activities (such as Refugee Week and Human Rights Week). Notwithstanding the above, the Chair thought that the Belfast Group was by no means complacent, and suggested that future activities might well include more work on refugees and asylum seekers, AINI regional/local campaigning priorities, anti-racist initiatives, and Prisoners of Conscience adoption, with greater role sharing and fundraising to the fore.
Start of 2014 £2886.43
Income 2014 £531.71 – mostly from Carmel
Expenditure 2014 £1547.32 -£72 AI group affiliation fee,
£1000 donation to AI, £423 cards and postage for 2013 and 2014 Write for Rights, £42 speaker’s air fare shared with Mid-Down group, £10 misc. Leaving us with a balance of £1870.82
Paul, Beatrice & Pearse were re elected in their current roles. Paul recommended Claudia to become vice-chair. Seconded by Paddy. Claudia accepted.
West Africa actions contact
Helen agreed to become the contact for the group for the West Africa actions from the West Africa country co-ordinator team.
West Africa Action: Forced evictions on the Katanga province of the DRC. Letters signed & will be sent to the AI International Secretariat.
Carmel gave the group copies of an action for Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi.
Claudia advised the Governor of Illinois had until yesterday ( 11.01.15) to decide on the appeal for clemency. At the time of the meeting no decision had been announced. She had thanked AI for the cards & letters of support. Paul advised Tom from the Indianapolis group would like to work with the Belfast group on this case.
Carolyn advised Zimbabwe is not a top priority campaign for AIUK. The group will continue doing any actions there are on Zimbabwe. WOZA activists have often expressed their gratitude for support from AI.
Responses from MPs
Carolyn advised she’d received a detailed & supportive letter from Alastair McDonnell’s office in response to the Afghan women campaign. Liz advised she’d received a response from Naomi Long on this action also.
Syria & refugees
Paul advised of AIUK hopes to work with some local groups on refugee issues. Paul has been liaising with the office & is attending a meeting in London about this. More information to follow. Paul also suggested the group could set up a sub group to work on refugee issues. Paul will email the group about this.
Fund raising quiz
Helen has organised the event for Tuesday 10th March at the Sunflower café. Helen has also agreed to write the questions. More information to follow.
NI AI conference will be 24th January 9.30-3.30 at Clifton House, Clifton Street. The morning will be a panel discussion & workshops on the My Body, my Rights campaign. The afternoon will have talks from Patrick Corrigan NI Programme Director & Sarah O’Grady, Chair of AIUK board. Further info will be sent asap.
Protest against the Conscience Clause
Helen advised there will be a protest against the proposed Conscience Clause at 3pm 31.01.15 at the City Hall.