Mid Wariwckshire Annual Report June 2011 to June 2012

Mid-Warwickshire Amnesty International Group

 

Annual Report

June 2011 to June 2012

 

            This is a brief overview of our activities; fuller details of these can be found on our website: https://www2.amnesty.org.uk/groups/mid-warwickshire . It has been another successful year financially enabling us both to campaign and to make healthy contributions to Amnesty International UK.

 

As a Group we have three general aims, which sometimes overlap:

*educating ourselves and the public in Mid-Warwickshire about Amnesty International and about Human Rights issues;

*organising specific campaigns on Human Rights abuses;

*fundraising on behalf of AIUK.

 

Talks and Discussions have included:

Rebecca Cordell on Care for victims of torture from Freedom from Torture.

Dr Jamal Abdulkarim on dictatorship and revolution in Libya.

We also discussed and recorded our unhappiness at the lack of transparency in the governance of the IEC of Amnesty International.

 

Three members have attended the annual Amnesty Conference including the National AGM . They were mandated by the group to support Conference motions, in particular that calling for better and more public support by Amnesty for Asylum Seekers.  They returned properly enthused about the importance of Amnesty in our troubled world. Thanks to John Payton in particular.

 

Regular Campaigns included the three regular Street Actions in Kenilworth and two in Leamington Spa. December’s two Greetings Card Campaigns, in Kenilworth and Leamington, ensured that over 300 Messages of Hope were sent to prisoners of conscience in 8 countries.

Thanks to Roger Frost and Helen Lord.

 

Peace Festival

Another fabulous effort celebrating Amnesty’s 50th Birthday. Several members took part in successful talks and a celebratory parade to large and appreciative crowds. Hundreds of people signed petitions, wrote cards and took part in ‘fun’ activities to highlight human rights issues across the five continents, giving AI campaigns the widest exposure. £139 was collected – more than last year. We had the excellent news that Aung San Syu Kyi had been properly recognised by the Burmese government. Hu Jia, our adopted Chinese prisoner of conscience had been released. Jo Hobbs and her team were warmly thanked for their efforts.

 

Fifty and still Formidable

We again celebrated Amnesty’s 50th Birthday with a wonderful and moving silent witness standing along both sides of the Parade in Leamington . We raised over 60 supporters, including Warwick University students, to carry the Amnesty banners portraying Prisoners of Conscience representing each year of Amnesty’s existence. We then listened to moving talks by Perico Rodriguez, formerly incarcerated by the Argentinian Junta, and Dan Jones Publicity Officer of AIUK. Congratulations in particular to Will Roberts for such a great event.

 

Working with Schools, colleges and universities

John Payton and Will Roberts have extended our influence in a new and most influential direction. They have given regular talks and workshops to hundreds of young people in our area. Their energy and inventiveness is taking the message of caring for Human Rights to a new and crucial generation. This is a truly wonderful initiative. Please, both of you, keep up this fantastic work on behalf of us all!

 

Letter Writing Evenings

 These are well attended and very productive.  We have sent over 600 letters and cards to Heads of State and Ministers and to prisoners of conscience and their families in some 20 countries. These include in particular the Horn and East Africa, the campaign on behalf of the Group’s adopted Prisoner of Conscience, Hu Jia and his wife Zeng Jinyan and Burma. We have also written persistently to our two local MPs and all MEPs drawing their attention to abuses and asking for their support; their response is generally positive. Particular thanks to Helen Lord, Marta Pittarello and all those who take turns to organise.

 

Fundraising Events

These included the Oriflamme Ensemble who performed yet another wonderful concert  in St Mary’s Church, Warwick. Again enormous thanks to Antoine Mitchell and the musicians and to Simon Lieberman and Denise Fowler for their organisation. Similarly the Amnesty part of the Christmas Charity Card sale in Kenilworth and Songlines’ carol singing contributed significantly – thanks to Roger Frost and to Steve and Sylvia.

 

Street Collections in Warwick, Kenilworth and Leamington enabled us again to raise significant funds. Special thanks to Barbara Jones for organising the Kenilworth collection, to Denise Fowler in Warwick, and to Helen Lord in Leamington.

 

Thanks to Denise as Vice Chair, to Simon as Secretary, James as treasurer and to Roger for taking the minutes. And certainly to Jo and Mike Hobbs who kindly offered us the hospitality of their home for our monthly meetings. A special thanks to Fiona for her work as Press officer.

 

And finally friends, THANK YOU….we have certainly worked very hard this year. I really cannot think how a local group could do more!

We now have over 100 local Friends of Amnesty who are happy to turn out to support many of our annual activities. As ever the task of organising and driving our work falls to a relatively small number of very committed activists to whom we owe an enormous debt.

 

May I suggest that our aim for the coming year is to encourage others to join this vital organising group without whom our laudable aims remain just  good intentions? 

 

Malcolm Hancock, Chairman, Mid- Warwickshire Amnesty Group

June 7 2012

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