About this group
Welcome to the Mayfair and Soho website of Amnesty International. We are one of almost 300 local groups that operate in the UK and contribute to Amnesty International's work to defend human rights around the world.
We are a friendly and energetic group of local people that:
- Raise local awareness about human rights
- Organise events and stalls
- Campaign with letter writing and lobbying
Where and when we meet
The group meets at 7.00 on the third Thursday of every month at Central YMCA, 112 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NQ (nearest tube station, Tottenham Court Road).
What we do
We are working in support of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado in Colombia, ordinary civilian people caught between the warring factions in that country. We are involved in work in two world regions, Central America and South Asia. We do death penalty work. We take part in all Amnesty’s major campaigns, currently the Refugee Campaign, with the human rights defenders campaign to come shortly. We’ve recently joined the LGBTI Network. And there is the annual Write for Rights Campaign. We are also part of the London Region and take part in London Region events.
A bit of history
The Mayfair Group - AI Group No 171 - was founded in 1977 by members of the William Temple Association, a group concerned with issues of social justice. A number of members have been in the group since the late 1970s and early 1980s. Like most groups we have always had a hard core of members attending most group meetings, with a larger number on the fringe. Numbers have gone up and down over the year, but the commitment of a small number of people continues to inspire us in our work for human rights. :Letter-writing is still the heart of the group's work, but we are seeking to do more campaigning work, putting on more events and raising funds through Soul Nights, pub quizzes, guided walks, the annual Street Collection and our own annual sponsored Act of Witness. As a central London group we've also benefited from having members from other countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, the USA, Australia, South Africa, Singapore, Lebanon, Uganda and Sierra Leone. It's been a reminder that Amnesty really is a world-wide movement.
We have always been committed to working for individual prisoners. For most of our history there has been at least one person with whom we have been particularly concerned: Pepito Lopez (Philippines), Abdellatif Zrikem (Morocco), Josif Noll (Romania), Klaus Perl (German Democratic Republic), Konstantinos Lazarides (Greece), Pham Duc Nhuan (Vietnam), Ngalula Mpandanjila (Zaire), Mustafa Erraji (Morocco), Oleg Lepin (Russia), Choi Yen Dan (North Korea) and Fuad Ali Mohsen Al-Shahari (Yemen). Some were released early, some at the end of their sentence. Fuad Ali Mohsen Al-Shahari, alas, was executed just when our campaign for him seemed to be making progress. Some cases have been frustrating, with no replies from the authorities ever being received, but in others we've been able to correspond with our prisoner. One member even managed to send a slice of her wedding cake to Abdellatif Zrikem in Morocco.
Our annual sponsored Act of Witness, when we remember by name hundreds of people, past and present, for whom Amnesty has worked has been both an important fundraising activity and a moving occasion as well. Other successful activities have been a public meeting at the House of Commons, an event in Trafalgar Square for the Control Arms Campaign, a survey of jewellers in Hatton Garden about conflict diamonds, a significant contribution to the No Recourse to Public Funds campaign, a presence at the Carnaval del Pueblo and Croissant Neuf festivals and a speaker and discussion event at the HRAC for the I Welcome Campaign.
Individual members have played a part in the wider movement, for example as Board members, London Region representatives and country co-ordinators, and the group has been represented at AIUK's AGM every year for over 20 years.
We look forward to doing more in the future and becoming more effective in our work for the victims of human rights abuses throughout the world.