Slideshow shadow

Ferguson: A dream for racial equality past, present and future

October 22, 2014 in Blog, information, main by Rebecca Corbett

On 26th August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) addressed Washington D.C. and said the iconic words, ‘I have a dream’. He called for the country that was called the United States to become a united nation; a country that would allow both black Americans and white Americans to sit side by side and show mutual respect.

On the 9th August 2014, 51 years after MLK said the iconic words, that dream is sadly still shown to be a pipe dream. While African Americans in terms of legality have a voice, in local government that voice is still that of a second class citizen, under-represented and not heard enough of.

The recent events in Ferguson in the aftermath of the shooting of teenager Michael Brown has brought this to light. In a community that is 67% black, in local government that representation does not equate; the city council has a mere 17% of black representatives, with a white mayor, and the police force is even lower at only 6%. Over here, such inequality would contravene the human rights act article 14, which demands that all human rights be’ exercised without discrimination’. I find it difficult to believe that African Americans simply just don’t want to be involved in local government.

It is sad to see that in a progressive and forward thinking country that prides itself on the American dream, that the dream of MLK has still not been held up and that racial prejudice is still widely seen.

The appointment of Barack Obama indeed shows how far the country has come, however due to the recent breaches of the First Amendment (which includes the right to peaceful assembly; here implemented in the human rights act under articles 10 and 11), it is apparent that the dream that MLK called for in Washington DC is still one that needs to be fought for.

Therefore it is important that we at Glasgow University Amnesty Society still stand with Ferguson and fight for fair sentencing of Police Officer Darren Wilson in January, greater racial equality and continue to hope for the dream that MLK outlined half a century ago.

With the human rights acts, it is not a case of picking and choosing for certain individuals, if someone is human then these are the acts and they should not be breached.

Newsletter 2014-10-19: Ferguson, PUB QUIZ THIS SUNDAY and some Reminders

October 19, 2014 in information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Hello again! With the passing of another week I would like to thank everyone who tended the shop while I was away in the south. You all kept things running smoothly! I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who came along to the screening of In Prison My Whole Life and to the debate with the Dialectics where we got some more photos for our #notodeathpenalty campaign. If you missed Bex’s writeup on the documentary it’s well worth a read, and it ties in nicely to what we’ll be doing in the week ahead.

All in all given how well the week went, I may have to go away more often…

This Week: Ferguson

Tuesday 14th October, 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

Ferguson protest in the street

From the death penalty we move on to our first choice of campaign for this year: Ferguson. This is the first time that we’ve covered something of this nature happening in the US, so it’s new ground for novel campaigning ideas!

Announcing: GU Amnesty’s Pub Quiz!

Sunday 26th October 2014, Jim’s Bar, 8PM

Pub quiz 2013 team

So you think you know your stuff? It’s that time of year again: time for another GU Amnesty Pub Quiz! Join us on Sunday 26th October (this coming Sunday, a week today) in Jim’s bar for several rounds of delightful brain-teasing questions. Entrance is £3 (thinking of the Raise-off already!) and there will be some great prizes to be won. So get those thinking caps on!

Click ‘going’ on the Facebook event page, you know you want to! And invite your friends too- the more people that go the higher the pot!

You can also have a look at the photos from last year’s Pub Quiz which should show what a great time we had.

SPB Poster Competition

Accepting entries now!

Do you think you heave what it takes to win an award from an award-winning show? If you have some creative flair and a knack for digital artistry you mays be interested in participating in our very own poster competition!

The competition has run for the last couple of years and produced some great results:

2013 Poster2014 Poster

…And yours could take their place amongst them! The details we need are:

GU Amnesty International
Date :February 21st
Title :The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Hosted by Billy Kirkwood
The Venue : Qudos, Queen Margaret Union
Price: £6 for comedy only £8 with afterparty in Jim’s Bar (£7/9 O.T.D.)
Doors: at 7.30pm

If it’s a format that translates well between large poster (A3) and flyer (A5) sizes so much the better, even if the two versions are slightly different.

The deadline is 31st October 2014 and the grand prize is two tickets to this year’s SPB. Plus the whole bunch of kudos and exposure of having your design plastered around the West End and online.

Please send your entries to spb@guamnesty.org.uk; and good luck to all entrants!

More info can be found in the Facebook event.

AIUK Student Conference – Reminder and Motions

November 1-2 2014, London (deadline for motions is Monday 23rd October)

Student conference

I’ll be reminding you again about the student conference (see below) but first we had a message in from Rachel Statham, the Scottish STAN rep about making policy proposals at the student conference:

The Student Conference AGM is the opportunity for students to have their say, and resolutions can be passed on pretty much any aspect of Amnesty policy, provided that the action you call for is to ask the STAN Committee to do something. For example previous resolutions have asked that the STAN Committee not fly within the UK (exempting Northern Ireland) when travelling to meetings, and have asked us to raise particular issues with the AIUK Board.

This is a brilliant chance for every student activist to engage in the governance of Amnesty, as you can also ask us to help facilitate bringing a motion to National AGM, on a campaign you would like to see Amnesty UK doing. Last year this is exactly what happened when a motion brought forward requesting a focus on Human Rights Abuses in Guatemala, was passed at the AGM in Edinburgh. This motion, stemming from a proposal from a student group at the student AGM, and is now a formal AIUK Campaign.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is Midday on 23rd October, so it’s very soon. Please consider bringing forward a motion, and engaging with the AGM. Don’t hesitate to contact us, by email or facebook, for any advice or more information.

Governance and policy are really important areas to get right, and it’s vital we all are able to have a say in how Amnesty International (and STAN, in this case) conducts its business. Please get in touch very soon if you have something you would like raised or would like more info on the process.

Don’t forget to register on the student conference page! Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Jamnesty Update: Venue confirmed!

Wednesday 26th November 2014

Thanks to the efforts of Domi, Joe and Milia we have confirmed Stereo as a venue for Jamnesty on 26th November. This will be an excellent place to host the great music we’ll be hearing over the course of the night and is a significant expansion over our previous venue of The Halt.

It should be a great night! Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements closer to the time.

Sleep Out Reminder!

Friday 24th October 2014

Last reminder this week I promise!

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!).

Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! The venue is still TBC at time of writing.

Update: Kit has confirmed that the sleep out will be held in the cloisters as he was able to secure permission for it to be held there.

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Thanks for Reading

This week’s newsletter had a generous portion of reminders of upcoming events and things of note. But sometimes they’re necessary (I do try and keep the newsletter short and also mark reminders clearly!); and some don’t mind them:

A pair of seagulls from Port Issac

Including this couple from Port Issac.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Just don’t say ‘less reminders’, please!

Reporting on the Documentary: In Prison my Whole Life

October 14, 2014 in Blog, death penalty, main by Rebecca Corbett

Mumia Abu-Jamal was taken into police custody on 9th December, 1981 after being accused of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner with limited evidence. He has remained under police control ever since.

That is, at the time of writing (14th October 2014), 11,997.6 days (32 years, 10 months). Ten years more than my life time. He spent 11,008 days on death row waiting to die, until on 29th January 2012, after over a decade of public protest, his death sentence was repealed.

How you ask, can a government get away with keeping someone on death row in the 21st century without a fair trial? The answer, Abu-Jamal’s case like a number of others, relies upon a court decision with a jury that is fairly represented and a judge who is impartial.

Abu-Jamal had neither of these in his original court case.

The prosecutor in Abu-Jamal’s case, Joseph McGill, de-valued the role of the jury by saying that the case would be “appeal after appeal” and that he would not ever be executed.  This could have led to a less engaged jury. The jury was also not racially representative, with only three African Americans on the jury (25%), when the African American population at the time in Philadelphia was 44%.

At a period of severe racial hatred, racial representation was critical in a court of law. While he was not executed, he still spent 11,008 days waiting to die, something that can only be described as a slow tortured death.

Before the 'Mumia' law was passed that removed the possibility of taking photos of prisoners.

This photo was taken before the ‘Mumia’ law was passed in Pennsylvania which removed the possibility of taking photos or video footage of prisoners.

The lack of a fair trial also extends to the judge; Judge F.Sabo had a track record of sentencing people to death; he sentenced 33 people to execution in his career.  Overheard at the beginning of the trial saying “I’m going to help them fry the n*****”, he was openly corrupt and racist. This suggests that perhaps personal opinions influenced his court ruling, which resulted in the death of only two white people out of 33.

Another important point to add, is there is little concrete evidence to show that Abu-Jamal was guilty. From looking at photos taken by Pedro Polakoff at the scene, that came into public view in 2012, it is clear to see the murder weapon being held along-side Falkner’s police gun in another police officer’s un-gloved hand. This shows that no forensic investigation had taken place.

Later it appeared that  witness, Veronica Jones, a prostitute had been blackmailed by the police force to speak out against Abu-Jamal in return for a removal of her 10 year sentence which had meant that she would lose custody of her children. When she admitted her false testimony in 1996, Jones was called up on a five year old sentence for an unsigned cheque of $250 and arrested in the court room.

The corruption in the case surrounding the witnesses, also led only eye-witness who saw the whole event to remain silent. This was the brother of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Billy Cook, who Mumia had come to help as he was being assaulted by the deceased police officer.

Further corruption in the case is shown through the changing of statements from police officers, initially reported as having said ‘nothing’, this was changed a month later to Abu-Jamal screaming out and saying: “I shot the motherf**ker and I hope he dies.” As he was suffering from a punctured lung that was filling up with blood, medical evidence suggested that this would have not been possible for him to speak, let alone scream.

While corruption in the case is three-fold and required a re-trial time and time again it was rejected, and was only taken up on June 10th 1991, after Abu-Jamal had spent nine years and six months on death row.

Abu-Jamal is in an inescapable situation as he is still imprisoned for life without parole. However, he still manages to provide a “voice for the voiceless”, and keeps in touch with his former job as a radio journalist and newspaper journalist. Reporting on Ferguson and comparing it to Gaza two days ago on prison radio, he still fights for justice, even when justice has kept him behind bars.

His fighting for justice, also turned him into an author of seven books, with multiple best sellers. He also has a book coming out next year which shows that this prisoner, while he has lost his freedom of movement has definitely not lost his freedom of speech.

Abu Jamal, similar to the likes of Martin Luther King, fought for what he believed in. However, because it did not go against those who could be ‘demonised’, the good old police force, he instead was tarred with the brush of a ‘terrorist’ and removed from public view and contained within ‘a room the size of your bathroom’.

The issue of racial prejudice, has come back into the news recently with the outburst in Ferguson, St. Louis after the death of teenager Michael Brown. Similar to the case of Abu-Jamal, the police officer involved has not been tried in a court of law.

The major problem that has arisen from this is that popular belief is that if the young teenager had been white, there would have been greater repercussions. Or if it had been the police officer, as in the case of Abu-Jamal, Michael Brown would have been charged.

It appears that the police force, can only be the good guys. Even in the wake of Ferguson which has shone another light on racial prejudice, it is almost impossible to challenge the police force, even if it appears that they are breaching human rights. The police in Ferguson were shown to be using tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters.

 

Newsletter 2014-10-12: Election Results, Upcoming Events and CFCI Update!

October 12, 2014 in cfci, information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Another week has flown in! Congratulations to our three new committee members:

  • Fundraising Officer Joe Clerke
  • Ordinary Board Sarah Bacom
  • Ordinary Board Seb Hammani

And my deep regrets to those who stood but were not elected- please don’t be too disheartened, we definitely still very much want and appreciate your input over the coming months! The main AGM will take place in the second semester for those interested in standing then. I hope you will be just as keen!

Thanks to everyone who helped making the banners for the death penalty demo on Friday; and my apologies for the confusion over the crafting session- due to issues with room bookings we decided to use the banners we already had plus the two that were made on Tuesday. A big well done especially to those who braved the intermittent showers to get all the #notodeathpenalty photos on Friday!

If all the death penalty campaigning has piqued your interest and you have ideas or want to get involved give us an email at campaigns@guamnesty.org.uk.

Tuesday 14th October: Film Screening of In Prison My Whole Life

5PM, Boyd Orr Building Room 222

In Prison My Whole Life

Please note the venue! We’re over in the Boyd Orr Building for the meeting this Tuesday. We’ll be watching the film In Prison My Whole Life, which we saw the trailer for last week. If you missed it, you can see it here:

(link for those reading in email: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7K3pdnsWmM)

The film deals with the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in July 1982 of killing a police officer. The title comes from the day in December 1981 of Abu-Jamal’s arrest- the day Will Francome (creator of the documentary) was born. We’re lucky to have Will Francome joining us via teleconference after the screening too. It should be a very good watch! More information and join the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/721239527960240/.

Wednesday 15th October: Death Penalty Debate with Dialectics

6PM, Boyd Orr Building

Rounding off our look at the death penalty (for the time being) will be this debate conducted by the Dialectics society. Join us for a discussion of how the death penalty is used internationally in what promises to be a very informative look at some of the issues surrounding extrajudicial killings, war crimes and mob justice.

Get more info and join the event on Facebook!

Reminder: AIUK Student Conference

November 1-2 2014, London

Student conference

Another quick reminder about the student conference coming up soon. We’ve got a few folks confirmed as going, so do get in touch if you want to come along! It’s a two-day dive into what Amnesty International is all about: campaigns, actions… and meeting and socialising with other groups!

Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Places go quickly so don’t delay! More information and booking link are available on the student conference page; if you are travelling down please let me know and we can book something all together!

GU GRASS Info

GRASS header

Since there was interest in GRASS last week after Kit filled us in on some upcoming events (Thanks Kit!) I thought it would be worthwhile to give a few more details for those that might be interested in what’s happening and the great work that they do.

So first of all, from their about page:

At Glasgow University, we use our position as a university society to help asylum seekers and refugees in the best ways we can. As Glasgow is a distribution centre for refugees, a strong network of support for arriving refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow is really important. GRASS began in 1999 and has been working to improve the lives of refugees ever since.

You can find them on Facebook and their website is pretty informative for things like past and current projects. Also on Facebook is the event page for their Pub Quiz which Kit also mentioned.

Sleep-Out: Friday 24th October 2014

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!). Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! Despite this it will be going ahead in a couple of weeks, so dig out the sleeping bag and get sponsored!

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Jamnesty Update

Domi and Milia have been working hard to get things sorted out for Jamnesty in November, which is already shaping up to be a fantastic night! We’ve a number of options for venues, and the line up of acts is looking good. If you want to get involved there’s still time, just email jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk.

SPB Update

As mentioned last week the SPB organisation is truly getting underway. Billy is totally on board with the plans and also wants to make this year bigger and better than ever!

Duncan will be organising another meeting of the SPB subcommittee this week – likely to be Monday afternoon – for those coming on-board (such as those who signed up on Tuesday- thanks to you guys!), so keep an eye on Facebook for the details on that. If you want to be involved, either get in touch via FB or email spb@guamnesty.org.uk.

CFCI News!

CFCI banner

The Conflict-Free Campus Initiative has been a campaign GU Amnesty has been at the heart of for over two years. Briefly, it aims to change University purchasing policy to favour electronic items (PCs, laptops, tablets etc) which are produced in a ‘conflict free’ way. This means that, for example, the minerals such as gold, tin, tantalum and so forth are extracted and traded in a way that doesn’t result in millions of deaths. You can read more about the background of the CFCI, conflict minerals and what’s being asked asking for in our petition or the other information we have on it.

The CFCI is now an inter-society coalition, much like the fossil fuel divestment group was. And much like the fossil fuel divestment group had a very good result result in the uni senate recently so did the CFCI! The senate agreed to set up a working group (much like it did previously with the fossil fuels group) to examine the case for implementing the CFCI proposals. It’s a big step on the road, but there’s still a ways to go. On that note:

Wednesday 29th October: Conference

‘Conflict in the Congo: Responses from the International Community’

4-6PM, Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow

With several interesting speakers, this conference co-hosted by CFCI Glasgow, GHRN and Global Security Network is a great opportunity to find out in a bit more detail what has been going on in the Congo and what the response has been.

The event will be free and open to everyone, including all students and staff at the University, members of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and the Global Security Network, and anyone outwith the University who may be interested. The hope is that this event will provide an education to those who have little or no understanding of the on-going conflict in the DRC, as well as giving people from campaigning/academic backgrounds with a focus on the DRC or human rights and conflicts the opportunity to engage with a range of speakers who can discuss various aspects of international interventions.

It looks really great and I know that Ruth has put a lot of work into organising the event, so I would strongly recommend gong if you’re free at 4 on Wednesday 29th! You can always check out the CFCI Facebook page for more info and updates.

Glasgow West Comedy Night

Wednesday 22nd October, 7:30 PM, The Stand Woodlands Road, £7

Our friends at the wonderful Glasgow West Amnesty group are putting on their annual comedy night, which is coming up on the 22nd of October. I’ve been to these before and it’s a great laugh!

More info is available on the event listing page, and you might want to check out Glasgow West’s page as well.

Closing

This week the newsletter comes to you from Sandridge Barton, near Stoke Gabriel in Devon. Reflecting those environs, I will leave you simply with a photo facing down to the River Dart. Enjoy.

View down to River Dart
(Click for bigger size)

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Newsletter 2014-10-04: Important Announcement, Death Penalty and Many Events

October 4, 2014 in main, news, newsletter, spb by Rob Hallam

Hello again to everyone. Thanks to everyone who took part in the #DemocracyNowHK photo action last week. Those photos had a huge reach on Facebook and are being Tweeted out- showing that we stand in solidarity with those protesting and risking so much in Hong Kong. We’ve some important announcements in this week’s newsletter, so be sure to read at least those. It also means this week’s instalment is another lengthy bulletin; please bear with me!

** Important Elections Announcement! **

Tuesday 7th October

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been reminding you of the elections for 2x Ordinary Board member committee positions happening this Tuesday. In addition, our lovely Fundraising Officer Nikola has taken the difficult decision to step down as a committee member.

This means that the position of Fundraising Officer will also be available for election this Tuesday (7th October).

Nikola has been an enthusiastic member for the last couple years and did a great turn last year as Publicity Officer; and we are very sad to see such a talented person leave the committee. But we’re still happy as she will be coming along to weekly meetings!

Nikola

If you are interested in the positions available (OBM or Fundraising Officer), it may be of interest to read the position descriptions written for the AGM last year. This might help you decide if the role is for you. If you have ideas (and some of the folk I’ve talked to who seemed keen do) you can certainly go beyond the job description!

All the best to Nikola and good luck to anyone standing on Tuesday.

First Semester Campaigns

In other exciting news, we all discussed, debated and ultimately chose the campaigns we will be prioritising in the first part of the year. Up to Christmas (82 days at time of writing- start buying those presents now!) we will be focusing on:

  • Unrest situation in Ferguson, MO (starting in 2 weeks!)
  • Human Trafficking
  • Food Banks
  • and, if we have time, Human Rights in Russia

The voting was very close! It was really positive to both have suggestions from the group (as opposed to from the committee) and that they were taken on board to such a great extent. Please don’t be too disappointed if your preferred campaign(s) didn’t get selected- there is always next semester! We are also hoping to get a letter-writing lunchtime session up and running, as well as expanding how we do online actions. You’ll never be stuck for campaigning with GU Amnesty!

Drinking Bird Loves Campaigns

And so am I.

As a side note, we have plans to work on both Syria and Women’s Rights in the second semester, due to collaborations with the Coalition for Syrian Refugees and International Women’s Week. Stay tuned!

This Week: Elections and Death Penalty

Tuesday 7th October, 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

I’ve already covered elections in the special notice earlier in this newsletter; if you missed it please skip back a couple of paragraphs and read the info! We intend to kick things off with the elections first of all, as the prospect of speaking can make people somewhat nervous. Try not to stress too much about it though, we’re all friendly; and if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

12th Day Against the Death penalty

Thanks to the work of our Campaigns Officer Alex, we have a ready-to-go campaign for you all to get involved with before we start on our chosen campaign of Ferguson later on this month. Our first campaign is the worldwide abolition of the Death Penalty, a perennial favourite. We have a few events planned for this already!

Upcoming Events

Death Penalty-Related

Demo Against the Death Penalty

Friday 10th October, Library Hill

There will be a demo, probably on Library Hill on October 10th, International Day Against the Death Penalty. We have some decorations and such from our demo last year, but we’re always mad keen for banner-making!

Death Penalty Film Screening

Tuesday October 14th, 5PM, Venue TBA (Likely Boyd Orr Building)

We intend to screen a documentary or film as part of the death penalty campaign, which will happen a week on Tuesday. More details closer to the time.

Death Penalty Debate with Dialectics

Wednesday 15th October, Time/Venue TBA

This should be an interesting one. While the debate over the death penalty as an judicial option rages on, we and the Dialectics felt it had been overdone. So this debate will likely centre around extrajudicial uses of the death penalty- in times of war, in terms of mob/vigilante ‘justice’, and in the use of drones. These are all scenarios which have cropped up over again in recent times, and yet they don’t seem to provoke the same sort of response as killings carried out on the orders of judges.

Come along and join the debate.

Other Events

Academics at Risk Event (Reminder)

Monday 6th October, 3-6PM, Glasgow University Concert Hall

There is an event which may be of interest put on by GU Settlement to inform people about the work of CARA:

The University of Glasgow, with assistance from GU Settlement, is hosting a CARA (The Council for At-Risk Academics) awareness raising event.
The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) has provided protection and support to refugee and ‘at risk’ academics for over 80 years. The defence of academic freedom continues to underpin CARA’s work assisting academics who, for reasons of persecution and conflict, are unable to continue their research in their countries of origin.
The event will be chaired by Prof John Briggs (Vice Principal and GU Refugee Champion) and Prof Alison Phipps (GU CARA Rep/ GRAMNet).
A representative from GU Archives will discuss the historical role that the University has played in supporting dispossessed and displaced people and there will also be the opportunity for round table and informal discussion.

UK Premiere: Beneath the Blindfold

Thursday 9th October, 6-8PM, GFT 12 Rose St

We’re lucky as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival to be able to attend the UK premiere of this documentary giving accounts of torture:

Screened in partnership with Document, the International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, four torture survivors from around the globe courageously tell the stories of their mistreatment and their subsequent attempts to move beyond these horrifying experiences. The film follows them as they build new lives and, despite the continued psychological and physical fallout from their experience, become public advocates for an end to torture.

See the information page for more details.

Student Forum at Document 12

Friday 10th October, 12-3PM, CCA Glasgow on Sauchiehall Street

This may be of interest to some as part of the Document 12 film festival on in Glasgow from 9-12th October.

On Friday 10th October from 12-3pm we have a FREE Student Forum in the Club Room of the CCA (Sauchiehall St). Presented in conjunction with GRAMNet and the Glasgow Human Rights Network, the forum will screen two documentaries taking different perspectives on the contemporary experience of Palestinian children: Stone Cold Justice (Dir. Gabi Weber) looks at the contrasting legal rights enjoyed by young Israelis and Palestinians in the context of increasing arrests of Palestinian boys by the Israeli police force, while Since I Was Born (Dir. LAURA DELLE PIANE) tells the story of 11-year-old Tamer growing up in Dheisheh refugee camp, The West Bank. The screenings will be followed by a discussion led by Beth Pearson, Keith Hammond and Dr. Naomi Head all from Glasgow Uni.

See the facebook event for more details.

Amnesty UK Student Conference

London, 1-2 November

Student conferences are always a blast! In a little under a month the UK Student Conference will kick off at Amnesty UK’s HQ in London. It costs’s £20, and there are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Places go quickly so don’t delay!

Amneslunchtime Amnesletters

Weekly

I mentioned this at the meeting last week but in case anyone missed it, we’re intending to start up a weekly lunchtime letter-writing session in the Fraser Building. It’ll give us a chance to go a bit further in taking action on campaigns and harnessing the keenness of the group.

Details will follow once we’ve decided on a day. The intention is to tweet / say on FB when we are there and roughly where we’re seated.

Watch this space!

Secret Policeman’s Ball Update

21st February 2015!

It may only be the start of October, but we already have a date for all your diaries:

Saturday 21st February 2015 will be night we have our Secret Policeman’s Ball!

If you haven’t heard of the SPB before, the short version is that it’s a night of comedy (modelled on the ones put on by Amnesty international) and our biggest fundraiser of the year. It’s hosted by the ever-funny Billy Kirkwood, and we’ve won multiple awards for them over the years.

SPB 2014 LaunchSPB 2014SPB 2014 Afterparty

More details will come over the next few weeks and months, but there’s plenty to be doing in the meantime- publicity, decoration, organisation. If there’s any aspect of this huge event you’d like to get involved with – looks great on the CV, by the way – please let Duncan or me know. Duncan is heading up the organisation of the SPB this year, for which we’re all very thankful!

Well Done For Reading Reward

This week’s ‘thanks for reading’ bounty is one for fans of Rube Goldberg machines (that’s a Heath Robinson machine if you’re on this side of the Atlantic). Some of you may have seen this before, but it’s so delightfully done I could watch it again and again.

(link for those reading in email format: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w)

See you all on Tuesday for the elections and Death Penalty!

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

#DemocracyNowHK Solidarity Photos

September 30, 2014 in actions, main, photos by Rob Hallam

Thanks to everyone who took part, you guys rock. Since the situation in HK is so fluid right now I thought it would be best that these get sent out as soon as possible. They’re being tweeted, and Milia has said she will post them to Facebook.

Reminder: There will be supporting rallies tomorrow on Library Hill and George Square.

Keep an eye on #DemocracyNowHK, #OccupyCentral and #UmbrellaRevolution

Newsletter 2014-09-28: Campaigns Decisions, IOC Success and More

September 28, 2014 in main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the first week of term and the Freshers’ Flu is beginning to wear off. There’s a lot of exciting things that have been happening, are happening and will be happening, so read on!

Welcome to All Our New Members

Meeting 1

I’d like to start by saying thanks to everyone for coming along last week. It was great to see such a big crowd! It’s even more exciting that so many of the people I spoke to had specific areas or ideas that they were interested in. But whether you have a burning passion for a particular area, a general desire to help out or even if you weren’t able to make the first meeting it’s great to have you on board and there will be plenty going on to capture your imagination. I hope you all enjoy the ride.

It sounds like there was some good discussion too; and I’d like to say thanks to everyone who took part in the CFCI action. We’ll be sending off the photos along with the signatures when the petition goes off to court for consideration next month.

If you weren’t able to make it, no worries- feel free to have a look at the presentation for last week’s meeting (warning: speakers notes in the PDF may bear no relation to what I actually said) and do join us at 5PM this Tuesday!

This Week’s Meeting: Campaign Decisions

Tuesday 30th September, QMU Committee Room 1

This week we are going to be deciding what campaigns we want to prioritise. I’ve said before that collective decisions are a really important part of the group, and campaigns are a good example of this.

Campaigns are central to our work, they form the core of what we do. It’s important that members feel invested in what we’re focusing on, and that they are subjects that people are interested in – although I’m sure everyone would be interested in any human rights campaign!

So we all get an equal vote in the campaigns. If there are issues that you feel passionately about – from chatting to folk last week it seemed like a few were – it would be great if you shared your thoughts with us on Tuesday when we talk about the different options in groups.

Elections for Ordinary Board

Tuesday 7th October, QMU Committee Room 1

Remember remember, the… seventh of October. A week on Tuesday we’ll be holding elections for the position of two ordinary board members. This is a committee role which will really let you get your hands on organising things behind the scenes at GU Amnesty.

All you need to do in advance is have a short speech in mind; anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to tell us who you are, what you do and why you think you should get the position. We’re all friendly so don’t stress about speaking to us! Even if you are not elected onto the committee there may be other roles which would pique your interested, so don’t be disheartened- we’d still love to have your input :)

Campaign Success: LGBT Rights and the IOC

Olympic Rings

This week we got word that the IOC had updated its position on discrimination, which is excellent news! We’re proud to have played a part in this. From our hugely successful cross-union LGBT rights photo campaign to the pressure we also put on the Olympic sponsor Coca-cola in our poster which was part of our officially-supported and rather impressive Change.org petition, we stood up for these human rights.

It’s important to keep these victories in mind when choosing the campaigns this Tuesday and in the weeks beyond; we can make a difference. Never forget that :)

Raise Off Success

Last week I mentioned the Raise-Off, the UK student group competition to funraise and campaign for AIUK. Well, although Exeter won the prize for raising the most money overall – congratulations to them – once again our Secret Policeman’s Ball won the award for Best Fundraising Event! I’ve now lost count of the number of awards it’s won. It is a true reflection of the hard work and organisation put in by the SPB subcommittee, headed up by our VP Debbie White last year, the members and Billy Kirkwood. The night just wouldn’t happen otherwise- which would be a shame as it’s a damn fine event.

If you’re interested in getting involved this year, either contact us or mention it to me or Duncan or any of the rest of the committee at the meeting this week. We’ll get a group together and have a chat about what we’re going to do this year, and you can find out if it’s for you!

Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the SPB last year, you all deserve this award :)

Coalition for Syrian Refugees Update

Last week GU Amnesty and representatives from other groups (Oxfam, STAR (now GRASS), UNICEF) met to update and plan what we can do to raise funds for and awareness of the difficult situation that Syrian Refugees find themselves in. We have made tentative plans for a ‘Syrian Week’ of informational and fundraising events early in the second semester (January 26th – February 1st).

We plan to meet again, and so if you are interested in what is going on in Syria and/or would like to be involved please contact us and let us know so that we can get you up-to-speed and added to the Facebook group.

Because of the (understatement alert) complex nature of the situation in Syria, the coalition intends to remain apolitical; one of the main areas of focus for GU Amnesty last year was the human rights situation and this continues to be the case. If you have any questions or concerns relating to CSR, please do get in touch and we’ll try and clarify.

Other Events and Information

Academics at Risk

Monday 6th October, 3-6PM, Glasgow University Concert Hall

There is an event which may be of interest put on by GU Settlement to inform people about the work of CARA:

The University of Glasgow, with assistance from GU Settlement, is hosting a CARA (The Council for At-Risk Academics) awareness raising event.

The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) has provided protection and support to refugee and ‘at risk’ academics for over 80 years. The defence of academic freedom continues to underpin CARA’s work assisting academics who, for reasons of persecution and conflict, are unable to continue their research in their countries of origin.

The event will be chaired by Prof John Briggs (Vice Principal and GU Refugee Champion) and Prof Alison Phipps (GU CARA Rep/ GRAMNet).

A representative from GU Archives will discuss the historical role that the University has played in supporting dispossessed and displaced people and there will also be the opportunity for round table and informal discussion.

Cinema ho! GU Amnesty Goes to see Pride

Not an event as such but given our group interests, some of us were thinking going along to see the Film Pride at Cineworld on Thursday evening. It comes highly-regarded, so it should be a good trip and a chance for another informal social. Grab a bag of popcorn and come along.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/566709056790636/

Pride cinema trip!

Get in Touch

Prince Rupert's Drops

This newsletter’s ‘I read all the way though’ reward is a cool thing that came up in conversation this week: a Prince Rupert’s Drop. This are drops of glass with a thick end and a thin end: hammer on the thick end and you won’t do a thing. Snap a tiny bit of the thin end off and the glass explodes. I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking:

(link for those reading in email form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe-f4gokRBs#t=122)

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Week 1 Presentation: Welcome to GU Amnesty!

September 23, 2014 in presentations by Rob Hallam

Meeting 1 – Welcome to GU Amnesty

(PDF for now, a powerpoint might be uploaded if keynote can export a version that isn’t horribly mangled by Google Presentations)

Newsletter 2014-09-20: Welcome to GU Amnesty!

September 21, 2014 in cfci, information, main, meetings, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Wow, what a week! A most warm welcome to folks new to the newsletter and the group, and thanks to everyone who came by the Freshers’ stall and those who took part in the CFCI petition- it was very heartening to hear from so many keen people! Thanks to all the people who helped with the stall too, you rock.

On the Freshers’ Fair stall

So as a busy Freshers’ Week 2014 draws to a close, it’s time for me to make good on the promises made at the stall and to give details of the first meeting of 2014-15 and some information on what’s coming up in the next few weeks. I’ll try and keep this first newsletter of term short!

Tuesday 23 September: First Meeting (and Social) – Who are GU Amnesty?

5PM, QMU Committee Room 1 (3rd floor)

Our first meeting of the year! Come along at 5PM to the Queen Margaret Union on University Gardens (just at the bend), then take the lift or the stairs (both straight ahead of you as you come in the door) up to the third floor, turn left and enter the first room on the right and you’ll find us there. We are fairly laid back, so if you cannot make it for 5 or have to leave early that’s quite alright.

Just a heads up: we expect this meeting to be quite busy. Given the number of signups we had in the Fresher’s Fair we tried to book an extra room in the QM, but they were full. Please bear with us and if it is packed we do apologise; we will try to get another room for next week if this is the case.

We’ll be doing a proper introduction to GU Amnesty – who the committee are, what we do, and what’s coming up in the next few weeks. Because we’ll be chatting about who we are and what we do at the meeting I won’t go into much detail in this newsletter, so on Tuesday you don’t get a repeat of what I’ve said. If you can’t make the meeting, the presentation I’ll be showing will be uploaded so you can peruse it at your leisure. Since there will probably be some questions at the meeting I’ll try and address those on here too. In the meantime though, you can find a comment I wrote about what a ‘typical meeting’ is on the website if you want to get a heads-up.

If you aren’t sure of how to find where we’re meeting or have any other questions, please either email us or ask on Facebook or Twitter.

QMU Map

Welcome to GU Amnesty – First Social @ Old Schoolhouse!

Tuesday 23rd September, 6:30/7 PM, Old Schoolhouse, Woodlands Road

Following on from the first meeting will be our first social of the year. We’ll walk down after the meeting, but you are welcome to join us straight there if you can’t make the meeting. If you don’t know it, the Old Schoolhouse is on Woodlands Road just at the roundabout, across from the St Andrews building.

Come along for a bit and say hi! One of things our members talk about is how good it is to hang out with Amnesty folks, and this is a great opportunity to do it. It’s also good to know the folks who will be be turning up to meetings, demonstrations and events.

The Old Schoolhouse also does food if you’re feeling peckish by then!

OS Map

Upcoming Events and Information

Election of Ordinary Board Members

Tuesday 7th October

I’ll talk a bit more about this at the meeting, but we will be electing ordinary board members in a few weeks time on 7th October. Have a think about if you want to stand for a position (there are two OB positions available), as you’ll be expected to say briefly why people should vote for you. Don’t stress though, everyone is friendly!

It’s a position with a flexible role, meaning you can get out of it what you want from it; and it’s good way to be more closely involved in the minutia of actually running the society. If you’re considering it but not sure and it all seems a bit nebulous don’t worry, there are a couple of weeks in which to make up your mind and well get a previous ordinary board to explain what’s involved.

Activist Mixer (Tomorrow/Sunday)!

Sunday 21st September, 5PM onwards, Curler’s Rest Byres Road

Short notice and reminder! There is an activist mixer on Sunday 21st September in Curler’s Rest on Byres Road (by the subway). Invitations have gone out to a number of activist groups on campus, so there will be a mix of different groups doing good work. It’s a great opportunity to find out about what other societies are doing, and to network; we as a group tend to work with a number of familiar faces so it’s useful to meet these good folks. Come along for a bit if you’re passing and say hi.

Next Week (Tuesday 30th September)

After the introductions this week we’ll be looking at campaigns on 30th. This will involve chatting about campaign suggestions and voting on what ones we want to prioritise. More details in next week’s newsletter!

For those of you who made it this far, reward yourself by watching a video of some goats balancing on a wobbling sheet of metal:

(link for those reading this in email form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58-atNakMWw)

Goats are awesome.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Newsletter 2014-09-14: Freshers’ Week, First Meeting and Beyond!

September 14, 2014 in events, information, main, meetings, news, newsletter by Rob Hallam

We’re back! September has arrived and the new term is nearly upon us. This is a busy time for everyone and a really important time for us with new members and a whole bunch of events to kick off the new academic year.

Freshers’ Week

15-21 September 2014

Freshers’ week is one of the most important parts of the year for us- chances are high if you’re reading this that you’ve at least wandered by our stall during Freshers Week one September! If you’ve an hour to spare (or more), please come along- it’s a great way to meet the new faces who’ll be coming along this year and would really help us out. Get in touch with us either via email, Facebook or Twitter; or if you prefer you can fill in the Doodle: http://doodle.com/65zgchrx98mvgwun#table. Let us know, we’ll really appreciate it. If you don’t, well:

Stern Bird is judging you

But if you are able to lend a hand, then:

Happy Bird sez well done you

Avian persuasions aside1, if you can come along that would be great and we’d love to see you there.

The Freshers’ Fair Stall

16-17 September, 10-4, Randolph Hall

We have booked a stall which will be in Randolph Hall on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th September from 10 AM to 4PM. Wearing our best smiles we’ll be chatting to Freshers about what we do, our meetings and events, and generally looking like the society that everybody wants to join.

Collaboration with STAR & CB – ‘Journey to Safety’

Wednesday 17th September, 3-6 PM, Body Orr Building Room 213

One of the other things we’ll be helping with is a very exciting workshop on the asylum seeker process organised by STAR over the course of a few hours on Wednesday afternoon 3-6 in the Boyd Orr Building (room 213). It’s a really good way to get a quick feel for the process; it’s be done in previous years and extremely well-received. STAR Glasgow and Crossing Borders will be taking people through the stages.

If you’d like to come along and take part I’m certain you’d find it a useful and positive experience. Or if you’d like to help out we could use folks to take people from one station to another (no prep work needed- script you can read from provided!) that would be really helpful. Let us know as mentioned above.

Activist Mixer/Social

Sunday 21st September, Curler’s Rest, 5 PM onwards

Thanks again to Kit of STAR, there is an activist mixer on Sunday 21st September in Curler’s Rest on Byres Road (by the subway). Invitations have gone out to a number of activist groups on campus, so there will be a mix of different groups doing good work. It’s a great opportunity to find out about what other societies are doing, and to network; we as a group tend to work with a number of familiar faces so it’s useful to meet these good folks. Come along for a bit if you’re passing and say hi.

(Provisional) Activism Talk

Thursday 18th September, Afternoon

Although this is provisional, we are hoping to do a talk on activism on the afternoon of 18th of September. We’re discussing with the SRC what we can do, it would be good to see some familiar faces in the crowd if it does go ahead. Keep an eye on the website, Facebook or Twitter for updates on time and venue.

First Meeting of 2014-15!

Tuesday 23rd September, 5PM, QMU

Fun! Excitement! Presentations!

We’ll be kicking off the academic year with our first meeting on Tuesday 23rd September in the QMU at 5PM. We’ll be giving an overview of what we do for new members, introducing the committee and giving information about upcoming campaigns, events- which includes the election of two ordinary board members. This is a committee position which gives even greater opportunity to be involved in the planning and direction of GU Amnesty.

First Social of 2014-15

Tuesday 23rd September, 7PM onwards, The Old Schoolhouse, Woodlands Avenue

Following on from our first meeting we will be having our first social. This will be held at The Old Schoolhouse in Woodlands Road after the first meeting (roughly 7PM). If you don’t know where it is, don’t worry, it’s close by and we’ll walk you there. It’s a really good way to get to know folks – invariably the members of GU Amnesty are great folk to hang out with as well as outstanding campaigners!

Other Upcoming Events and Info

We already have a number of exciting things planned for Freshers’ Week and our first campaign, but there are plenty of other things going on which you might be interested in.

GHRN Events and Bulletin Information

If you haven’t heard of it, you should check out the Glasgow Human Rights Network.

The Glasgow Human Rights Network aims to bring together researchers, practitioners,
members of civil society organisations and policymakers who address human rights issues.

Their events can be very informative for those looking to go a bit deeper into human rights issues, especially those that see themselves either working, pursuing further education or researching in the field.

The latest bulletin had too many events to list here, but if you are interested you can find details on how to subscribe to their website, linked above. If there’s any difficulties finding the details, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you out.

I Am Troy Davis Community Book Club

21st September-10th October 2014

On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia put Troy Davis to death despite a compelling case of innocence. To mark the 3-year anniversary of this travest9thy of justice, and to deepen and widen the discourse about the human impact of the death penalty and criminal justice system, we invite you to participate in a worldwide Community Book Club between September 21 and October 10, World Day Against the Death Penalty. Through hundreds of intimate gatherings across the country and the world, Troy’s story will reach and impact thousands of new people.

The case of Troy Davis is one we’ve campaigned on in the past, and it continues to be a focal point in the case for the abolition of the death penalty. If you’re interested, please take the time to have a look at I Am Tro Davis and the Community Bookclub. The death penalty is a campaign we will return to in October. If you’re interested in more information or the book please contact our campaigns manager Alex or the good folks at I Am Troy Davis above.

Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

1-19 October 2014

There’s a film being screened on 9th October, the UK premiere of Beneath the Blindfold telling the stories of four torture survivors. As a heads-up, we have a death penalty-related event putatively pencilled in for the same day, but details will follow and it may be of interest.

Get in Touch

There’s lots on in the coming week or two, and even more beyond but this newsletter has to end somewhere! There will be more coming next week, and every week after that. Well done for making it to the end this time. Your picture rewards are the two birds included above.

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Photos taken in my back garden this week.