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2022 Group AGM

2021 has continued to deliver challenges to us all in many spheres of life as the pandemic has persisted throughout the world. We continued to meet during the year online with the occasional in person meeting. 2021 was again a quiet year in terms of our Group campaigning wise, as our group continues to remain small with limited new members participating. Attracting new members has been hampered by the restrictions of the pandemic but has been the same in previous years and we have reached a critical stage and need new members to survive as a group.

The Amnesty organisation has undergone a lot of change in the last year with Kate Allen announcing her retirement in March 2021 after 21 years leading the UK Section. Kate attended one of our anniversary events and we thank her for her leadership during our time as a Group and we wish her all the best for her retirement. Dr Agnes Callamard joined as the new Secretary General. Sacha Deshmukh was announced as interim CEO.

The organisation itself took up a lot of news space during the year, with a lot of focus looking inward at the movement, how it works and the culture for employees and volunteers. A resignation of a Board member triggered the start of significant review of practices within the Amnesty organisation, following also a media report alleging racism at the International Section and Amnesty UK workplace; this led to significant changes in the leadership teams and a focus on being an actively anti-racist organisation. An independent inquiry is being undertaken into institutional racism at AIUK, which is expected to report in May 2022. The intent is to in future model more closely the behaviours internally that the movement demands of others externally, of being a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant, accountable and anti-racist movement.

The AIUK AGM voted to endorse the AIUK Strategic Plan for 2022-2030 and also voted for some key milestones in terms of making the movement even more youth-led. For the first time, a young activist was elected to the reserved Board seat, and this year, there will be an additional reserved seat for a member under the age of 18.

2021  marked the 60th year of Amnesty International – many groups led anniversary events to mark the occasion.

The Policing Bill went through the Parliament and some of the worst elements were thankfully rejected by the House of Lords but we will need to continue the fight. The House of Lords also pushed back on elements of the Overseas Operations Bill, which was drafted to provide protection from prosecution for crimes committed overseas by British military personnel.

 

Some notable moments in 2021:-

Sadly Nazanin Zagari- Ratcliffe was not released this year despite her 5 year sentence having been completed. She was rearrested and charged with further offences in April 2021 of “propaganda against the system” and remains under house arrest in Iran for a further year. The campaign to free Nazanin will continue and her story again continues to act as a powerful reminder of the need and purpose of our activities. We also supported the campaigns for Anoosheh Ashari held also in Iran.

A few of us met in my garden in July for the Summer Garden Party as well as dialling into the virtual London Regional Conference to listen to some speakers and latest updates.

Despite the first attempt of our annual Sponsored Walk being thwarted by traffic flocking to Ruislip Lido due to glorious weather in June, we reconvened in October with a small group walking round the Lido and raising some funds for the cause.

We have struggled to revive the website and social media channels due to issues with access – it is likely we need to restart fully with this and need someone with the appropriate skills to volunteer to take it on.

We participated as usual in the AIUK Write for Rights campaign at an in-person meeting in November at my house, with seasonal goodies and the very welcome appearance of Alfred, our founding member, who joined us in our card writing for the global cases presented.

A major milestone was reached at New Year with Alfred turning 100 – we are so pleased Alfred remains a part of the group and wish him many happy returns in this remarkable year.

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