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Minutes of Group Meeting July 4th 2016

Attending: Carolyn, Paul, Paddy, Beatrice, Phyllis, Heiko, Claudia, Stephen, Liz, Leo

Apologies: Grainne

Welcome & minutes: Carolyn welcomed the group & asked if any comments on June minutes.  No comments.

Good News: Carolyn reported on the release of Atena Farghadani in Iran, the group had worked on her case. She also advise that a petition was delivered by AI to the UK Prime Minister about on arms sale to Saudi Arabia. A discussion ensued about UK’s involvement in the arms trade. Paul stated that there would be a demonstration in London at that weekend.  

Feedback on the screening of “This is Exiles: Diaries of Child Refugees”: Carolyn expressed appreciation for both the film and the debate that followed. At least 40 people reportedly attended. Carolyn thanked Heiko for organising the event, Paul added that it was good to have the film included in the programme for Refugee Week and a discussion panel with other associations, not connected to AI.

Carolyn advised that an email came from the organisers of Refugee Week asking for feedback and asked who in the group wanted to give it. Heiko suggested she forwards it to the mailing list.

Feedback on Rally for Choice: None of the attendees at the meeting could go to the rally. Carolyn read the group an email from Grainne who commented that there was a generally good turnout, but a really low AI attendance.

Screening of “The Penalty”: Claudia advised that the USA country coordinator emailed stating that, for copyrights reasons linked to the release of the film in the USA, the film cannot be screened in the UK before 2017.

Johan Teterissa: Paul read a press release on Sri Lanka, advising that people are not allowed to travel from there to Indonesia. He also said that AI published a public statement on Johan Teterissa, stating that we stand with him and the other 21 prisoners. He gave the group some background information on his case. AI is trying to get people relocated back to their hometown, and reassured Johan that we are still trying to get him released, this is an interim action. Paul also received an email from the IS asking people to join the Twitter campaign for their relocation. He referred to Philip Karma’s blog and how it was of support during his imprisonment. Paul recommended the group to be part of the Twitter action.

Moreover, Paul informed the group that he did not manage to go to the meeting in London.

Liz enquired on the most strategic request: relocation or release? Paul answered that there is a lot of work being done, going slowly seems to be getting progress, and added that we will be getting guidance from the IS.

Jacqueline Montanez: Claudia advised the group that the photos for Jacqueline’s birthday were sent to her lawyer and the USA country coordinator. Both replied thanking the group for our action. Carolyn advised that she forwarded the action also to Farshid, and that it had a high profile.

Finance: Carolyn acknowledged that Pearse was not in attendance at the meeting. We will keep the point on the agenda until he is.

Publicity and marketing: Carolyn asked Beatrice to add a disclaimer to the mails circulated among the mailing list asking recipients to let us know if they want to opt out from it. Beatrice advised that she had not received many protest emails so far, to which Carolyn enquired how people are added to the mailing list. Beatrice replied that she cannot just add new addresses to the list, people have to register themselves to it, but not many people do, therefore she just copies them to it.

On Heiko’s request, Carolyn asked whether another person wants to be the administrator of the group’s Facebook page. Phyllis advised that neither Facebook nor Twitter are disabled-friendly. Heiko stated that we could revive the website. Carolyn volunteered as second administrator.

Paul said that we should continue using Facebook, and post material out to Paddy. Heiko suggested Beatrice sends the link to the website to the mailing list, he publishes the meeting’s minutes on it. Paul commended the practice as a very transparent one.

Summit on Refugees: Carolyn explained that it will be held Friday and Saturday 8 and 9 July, and two members of the group will be attending. Paul advised that Patrick Corrigan had asked him to go, to which he suggested we ask for funding do that Heiko could join him too, on account of his ongoing work on refugees. The summit is to be attended by other Belfast-based associations working on the issue, and by individuals known by the group. Paul had compiled a summary of the group’s work on refugees, and hopes that the networking opportunities there will lead to some new kind of work. Paul asked the group to have a look at the summary and get back to him if anything is missing.

Beatrice advised that the country coordinators for Ethiopia and Eritrea offered to come and speak at the meeting in August.

Heiko said that the Rights Centre at Queen’s agreed to do some work with the group. He stated that AI could do work on detention centres, maybe after the launch of the campaign in October.

Carolyn asked Paul and Heiko to get back to the group after the summit to let us know what we can do.

Picture on the Independent: Carolyn brought a copy of the newspaper for the group to see: it showed a picture of Beatrice at May Day parade, holding an AI placard, mistakenly used by the paper for an article on reproductive rights.

Certificate: Carolyn showed the group the award that we got at the AGM for the work we did last year. She will ask the office for permission to put it on the wall.

Forthcoming events: Carolyn spotted a mistake in the agenda: Pride Lecture is on Tuesday, 2nd August at 7.30pm at The MAC, preceded by a public meeting at 6.15 on the Love Equality campaign. Pride week will take place from 29th July to 6th August.


AOB: Paul advised of the launch of the “Stop Racism” campaign following the results of the referendum. He added that a member of the group, Mohammed, was abused in a local club. A motion has gone to Belfast City Council to look at Brexit, it welcomed migrants and expressed the Council’s intention to act to prevent hate crime. Paul suggested we ask Mohammed to come and speak to the group. A discussion on racism in Northern Ireland and UK ensued. Carolyn suggested we write to the club where the verbal attack had happened, Benedict’s, to ask for it to be officially condemned. She asked Paul to check with Patrick Corrigan , he accepted and invited the group to sign the online petition on it. Heiko suggested people contact Benedict’s individually to make a higher impact, Beatrice to circulate the idea in the mailing list. The group officially offered our solidarity to Mohammed.

Leo advised that Brexit was also a leadership context. Theresa May wanted the UK to leave the Coincil of Europe, which has slipped off the radar. Carolyn thanked him for this clarification and suggested we keep our eyes on this.

Action of the month: The group signed letters to the Gambian authorities, Beatrice distributed actions for the group members to write individually. Beatrice is to send a solidarity card to the member of the opposition.


Upcoming events:

Pride Festival: 29th July – 6th August

Pride Parade: 6th August, 1pm - Meet at the Albert Clock 12:15- 12:40pm to help with placards and banners  

Launch of 'Activism and Aid' book on Timor Leste: Monday 22 August, 5.30pm, No Alibis Bookshop

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