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Croydon Amnesty International-Report of Year-February 2023/January 2024

Amnesty Croydon had stall at Croydon Mela

In February, James Farndon of Amnesty International UK spoke to us about the Rights Removal Bill.  In April Garry Ettle, the Israel Palestine country coordinator at Amnesty International UK spoke about Amnesty’s new report Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity. In May Thea Iannou of the Community Organising team at Amnesty International UK attended our meeting.  In June Graham Minter spoke about the creation of the Amnesty International Kent Network designed to strengthen activism throughout Kent and in October Holly Harrison –Mullane of Amnesty International UK spoke about the curtailment of trade union rights in the UK.


We had a number of stalls during the year in an attempt to attract new members. We had a stall at the Faiths Together in Croydon picnic at Parkhill Park in May and connected with a number of faith groups.  We had a stall at Pride in July and collected 78 signatures for the case of a Paraguayan Trans activist.  The next day we had a stall at the Croydon Mela and collected 27 signatures on letters to the Indian ambassador. We had a stall at the Jazz and Blues Festival at Ruskin House in July and in November had a stall at the Croydon Central Library to promote the Write for Rights campaign.  The co-op bank asked us to have a stall at their branch in central Croydon in December to also promote the above campaign with materials that the bank produced.


In June to mark Refugee Week we presented, with Olive Branch Arts, an exhibition of 71 photographs taken in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria by young people at the Clocktower cafe. The exhibition was opened by the civic mayor and several other councillors also attended. An article about the exhibition, written by Rosemary, was featured in Inside Croydon. Staff at the café said that there was a good footfall. One councillor said that she was previously unaware of   the situation and that she would raise it with her colleagues. The exhibition did a great deal to publicise the plight of the Sahrawi people.


In July we had our Amnestea and bring and buy sale in Joan’s garden.  The weather stayed dry and 25 people attended.  We raised £191.50.


In November we held a Lindy Hop dance ably organised by Chris.  There was a taster session and delicious Turkish food. We promoted cases where people’s freedom of movement had been curtailed at the event-Mordachi Vanunu in Israel and Chaima Issa in Tunisia. We raised, after expenses, £305.75.  A good time was had by all.


We raised £201.80 from carol singing at East Croydon station in the cold just before Christmas.   Wherever we were we had a collecting tin available.


We have sent hundreds of letters, emails and cards for scores of actions all over the world. 



Joan attended a lobby of the Egyptian embassy in January to campaign for the release of Alla Abdul Fattah and justice for murdered Gulio Regini  and several of us over the year attended the regular vigils opposite parliament and outside the US embassy, demanding that Guantanamo be closed, organised by the Lewes group.


We had meals out at the Clinc at Highdown Prison in June and at Ponte Nuovo after carol singing in December. We also had a picnic under the Cedar of Lebanon tree which we planted for a released Syrian prisoner back in the 1990’s


We are slowly developing our social media presence on Facebook.  We attracted new participants for carol singing through this forum and now have an Instagram page.


We contributed to an Act of Witness organised by the Soho and Mayfair group on 12th December, where cases we have worked on in the past were read out.


Bea did a window display at her church about Amnesty


Beyond our Amnesty involvement we are all friends and do our best to be supportive of each other.


I would like to convey my thanks to Rachel and Joan for looking after our finances.  Thanks also go to Peter for sending out emails, keeping a watchful eye on group correspondence and for looking after our blog and to Ingrid and in her absence Joan, for being our minute secretaries. Thanks also go to Sarah and Ingrid, for relaying Amnesty’s monthly actions to us; to Rosemary for being our press officer and to you all for your involvement in the group.


I would like to finish by reading to you part of Ali Aarrass’s speech which he gave at the National conference.  We worked on Ali’s case for many years.

“I was arrested on April 1st 2008 and released on April 1st 2020. I was held in eight Spanish prisons and three Moroccan prisons, including the notorious Temara centre, where I was tortured.

In Salé 2 prison, where I was taken after my twelve days in Temara, I immediately illustrated my torture and Amnesty published my drawings.

Most of the time during my imprisonment I was ill-treated and kept in total isolation. Today I still bear the after-effects. If I am here with you today, it is thanks to you, thanks to Amnesty, thanks to the many supporters and committees in Belgium, Great Britain, Morocco and Spain. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done.

Since 2009, you have created a protective environment around me. Amnesty International Spain took action against the risk of my extradition to Morocco.

In 2014, I became one of the faces of Amnesty's international campaign against torture, and no fewer than 216,500 people signed the petition for my release. These signatures were officially handed over to the Moroccan Minister of Justice and Freedoms.

Writing to a prisoner creates a real protection around the prisoner. They realise that they are not alone, that they exist, that they are part of the world, part of the human society from which they have been excluded. For the authorities, it's a sign that they can't afford to do just anything. The letters are a barrier against ill-treatment and arbitrary processes.

I ask you to continue to write to the prisoners. Rest assured that for them you make the difference between life and death”.

Thank you to you all for all that you do and for providing protection and hope to some many people each year.


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