Minutes from the Group Meeting in October 2013

MAYFAIR AND SOHO AMNESTY GROUP
 
Minutes of meeting held on 17 October 2013
 
 
Present:, Roger Bruneau (chair), Amy Cadle, Sally Carne, Christie Coho, Nicholas Hodgson, Elizabeth Lowe, Daphne Marciel, Justin Quinton, Gillian Shaw, Shahin Shahablou, Hedley Sutton  
 
Apologies: Richard Cohen, Jenny Davies, Rebecca Warren
 
Richard now has a course on Thursdays so won't be able to come to meetings till next spring.
 
Fundraising
As we hadn't yet sent the agreed cheque for £500 to AIUK and had now received the money from the street collection it was agreed to send £1000.
Dave Brown of Footprints had said that he would be happy to do another fundraising walk for us next year and Christie would be meeting him to discuss.
Arrangements were made for the Soul Night at the Market House in Brixton on Friday 22 November. Volunteers are needed to man the door (please see e-mail of 15 October). It was thought that numbers would not be a problem but it was the first time the Market House had had a (voluntary) charge. However, because they were no longer able to give us a separate room they had agreed to donate £200 to us.
Nick reported on a successful street collection on Saturday 12 October. We had been fortunate with the weather and raised £408, only the second time we have exceeded £400 in the last 10 years. Huge congratulations to Gillian and Elizabeth, each of whom raised over £100. With other members sending cheques and others their loose change tins over the year, the total so far is over £620.
The sponsored Act of Witness will take place as our December meeting as usual, followed by a party.
 
Greetings Card Campaign
We hope to have letter-writing and card-signing sessions at Marylebone and Finsbury libraries in December and January again, as part of the Write for Rights/Greetings Card campaign. The likely dates are 14 December at Finsbury Library and 11 January at Marylebone Library.
 
Monthly group action
Members signed letters to the Foreign Secretary and the Commonwealth Secretary-General as the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting is about to take place in Sri Lanka, calling on the Commonwealth not to allow Sri Lanka to become next chair of the Commonwealth and asking that they put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to ensure justice for the victims of war crimes.
 
Campaign updates
Amy reported the good news that promoting women's human rights in Afghanistan is to be one of the priorities for the Department for International Development. While welcoming this, Amnesty will be keen to see it put into practice. In a creative action members decorated squares for a patchwork quilt with messages of support for women activists for human rights there. We also signed a letter to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in support of a proposed action on 26 October by women in Saudi Arabia defying the ban on/convention against women driving. 
 
Justin has taken over from Anne in looking after the case file for the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, Members of the Peace Community will be in the UK next month and Amnesty groups working for them have been asked if they could meet the representatives on Monday 18 or Tuesday 19 November: Roger, Daphne and Gillian may be able to do so. There is also to be a public meeting with them at Middle Temple at 6.00 on the Tuesday. 
At our November meeting we will have a speaker from Caravana, a lawyers' organisation supporting human rights in Colombia. Justin will invite members from the Islington and Hackney group and the Blackheath and Greenwich Group
There was also an urgent action for the Peace Community, following an abduction there by paramilitaries.
 
On Central America Nick would circulate an urgent action about the detention of an indigenous people's leader in Honduras.
 
There were no new death penalty actions this month but Hedley mentioned the case of a botched hanging in Iran. Shahin, who has just been granted asylum here, added his experience of the way in which the Iranian authorities treat gay people. Daphne mentioned a report that untested drugs were being used in executions in the USA.
 
London Region
Roger confirmed that the London Region conference would be on Saturday 1 February at the HRAC focussing on LGBT rights. He is looking for help in asking well-known people like Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell to speak. There will also be an art exhibition at nearby Richmix on this and other human rights themes, which opens on 22 January.
The Islington and Hackney Group have asked if we would join them in putting on an exhibition about torture (one of Amnesty’s main forthcoming campaigns) in December or January.
Roger reminded the group that the Human Rights Action Centre was available (for nothing) for groups' events and that we should consider putting something on next year.
 
Group’s website etc
Amy would welcome ideas for Amnesty tweets.
It was agreed that we should include an edited version of the minutes on the group’s website.
 
Good news
Charles Taylor had lost his appeal against his ICC conviction for war crimes
a Spanish judge wants to interrogate Chinese leaders over human rights abuses against a Tibetan now living in Spain
 
Other business
The monthly report from the chair of AIUK says that the restructuring of the section’s organisation has finally begun. It now looked as if there would not be many compulsory redundancies, but several very good people were leaving voluntarily.   

Date and place of next meetingThursday 21 November at 7.00 – Central YMCA, 112 Great Russell Street, WC1
 
Actions: Peace Community letter, Honduras letter
 
Nicholas Hodgson, secretary, 26 Finsen Road, SE5 9AX; 020 7274 8120 (home), 020 7276 0199 (work); nick.hodgson@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

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