by Emma

GU Amnesty Committee Minutes 27/04/08

April 29, 2008 in main by Emma

Minutes after the jump
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by Emma

AGM 08 – New Committee!

April 23, 2008 in events, minutes, news by Emma

So we had our AGM and amongst other things we elected our new committee! Click the jump to see who they are and read the minutes.

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by Rachel

Hundreds abducted in Central Africa

April 23, 2008 in actions by Rachel

Hey all this was posted on the website today, I thought I would put it up on the blog as recently the attention has been on china, therefore I think we should possibly get an urgent action going on this. Maybe a letter being sent??? Let me know what you all think? I totally understand how hectic the schedules are right now, but if we can we should.

Central African leaders and the UN have been urged to secure the release of more than 350 men, women and children thought to have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in recent weeks.

The abductions took place in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan while the LRA was ostensibly preparing to sign a peace agreement with the Ugandan government. The treaty was meant to end more than 20 years of a civil war beset by war crimes, including abductions and widespread unlawful killings and mutilation of non-combatants.

“As in Uganda, these people – including scores of women and children – are likely to be used as child combatants and sex slaves, and yet none of the governments in the region have done anything to try to secure their release,” said Amnesty International.
“The governments of Sudan, the CAR and the DRC – with the assistance of the UN – must join forces to secure the safety and release of those kidnapped immediately and bring those responsible to justice.”

Chinese Police Dressing As Monks

April 21, 2008 in campaigns, china, information by Rob Hallam

We were recently sent a number of images (shown after the jump) by someone close to what is going on in Tibet. I personally don’t want to identify them as it could potentially compromise their safety (whether this is likely or not is another debate, I dont think it’s worth the risk).  One of the images depicts what appears to be Chinese police (the People’s Armed Police – PAP) being distributed orange garbs. The text accompanying the pictures read:

Dear —-

In one picture you will see chinese young policemen with Tibetan monk’s robe in their hands. We heard chinese policemen are dressing themselves as Tibetan monks and Tibetan laymen and trying to create roits and voilence between Tibetans and Han chinese living in Tibet.

With love, —-.

Police dressing up as monks?

(click for larger version)

The insinuation is that there are Chinese servicemen who are mixing with the demonstrating monks who are then causing violence (which is subsequently seen around the world), so as to cast the demonstrators in a bad light. Read the rest of this entry →

Cabinet Split Over 42 Day Detention Limit

April 14, 2008 in information, news, unsubscribe by Rob Hallam

As part of their campiagn against the 42 day limit, Liberal Conspiracy<\/a> brings us the news that there is a split in the cabinet<\/a> over plans to extend the limit that terror suspects can be detained for without charge.<\/p>\n

The news comes after Home Secretary Jaqui Smith had stated that the terror threat to the UK was growing<\/a>. In a statement to the News of the World, she said:<\/p>\n



“We now face a threat level that is severe. It’s not getting any less, it’s actually growing. There are 2,000 individuals they are monitoring. There are 200 networks. There are 30 active plots. That has increased over the past two years. Since the beginning of 2007, 57 people have been convicted on terrorist plots. Nearly half of those pleaded guilty so this is not some figment of the imagination. It is a real risk and a real issue we need to respond to. We can’t wait for an attack to succeed and then rush in new powers. We’ve got to stay ahead.”<\/p><\/blockquote>\n

However, her views are at odds<\/a> with the Conservatives, Lib Dems, a growing number of unhappy backbenchers, former attorney-general Lord Goldsmith and the Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken McDonald. There have been arguments made that the new proposal will create ill-will in the Muslim community and actually cause the amount of intelligence supplied to drop. Lord Goldsmith also commented that it could be percieved as an attack on the Muslim community and used as a recruiting tool for terror organisations.<\/p>\n

However, Home Office minister Tony McNulty stated that he thought MPs ‘will buy<\/a>‘ the new limit.<\/p>\n

I find the language used by McNulty pretty scary:<\/p>\n



“This is a very, very serious thing and I think once people understand the bulk of the model and the temporary nature then people do buy it.”<\/p><\/blockquote>\n

It (and other statements from the proponents of the proposals) rings very much of “There are lots of threats against all of us, but let us have have this for now and we promise it won’t be used too much…”. The law has to be renewed after two months (“The new limit would only be available to police for two months unless it was renewed<\/em>“, source<\/a>), but if it is passed the bar will be lowered and it will end up being renewed.<\/p>\n

The proposals are a big step up from the (already too long) 28 days to a month and a half. These proposals have to be opposed. There is talk that if they are defeated it will be very damaging for Gordon Brown and so forth, but politics aside, they have to be defeated. The limit is too long already, and (without being alarmist) extension would be another blow against democracy in this country.<\/p>\n”Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

by Emma

GU Amnesty Committee Meeting 10/3/08

April 10, 2008 in minutes by Emma

Apologies for late posting.

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More Torch Troubles, And Why The Relay Is Fair Game For Protests

April 10, 2008 in campaigns, china, information, news by Rob Hallam

The Olympic torch saga continues, with the flame having a “secret parade” (a phrase which Libertyblog took exception to). Chinese officials recently declared that ‘no force‘ could stop the relay, and that any protests during the Tibet leg would face “severe punishment”.

The disruption and turmoil (well, protests and riots) surrounding the torch is causing the IOC much embarassment, though they say they will recover from it. The article also notes that Barack Obama has joined Hillary Clinton in calling for President Bush to boycott the games. The torches heads to Buenos Aires next.

I’m going to take a moment’s break from the news to deal with a question: Are the Olympic fair game for protest? I won’t do into too much detail as there have been others before me that have answered this eloquently. I did, however, happen to read a bit on Nearsighted Man’s blog that raised this particular question. There is one paragraph in particular:

I do hesitate to bring this up because my own personal knowledge of the Tibetan situation is limited, but when I see people trying to tackle the athlete carrying the torch and extinguish the flame I am left wondering how this helps the people of Tibet. How does preventing or boycotting the Olympics free Tibet? If anyone who happens to read this wants to offer insight, I’m all for it.

First, to answer the questions he asked.

It helps the people of Tibet by raising awareness. There are those that aren’t aware of how brutal China is being in Tibet against the protesters. Those people may see the protests and try and find out about them. Or perhaps they are aware there is something going on and are not sure what. When they see the protests they may be compelled to find out what is causing these people to feel so strongly that they have to riot. The question of how it frees Tibet is a bit leading – of course it doesn’t directly, but mindshare is a powerful thing. Ask any big brand or advertising agency. If the protesters cause people to find out more, or clarify what they know, or even debate (such as we’re having here) what is going on in Tibet, then they are doing a valid thing in getting people to realise what is going on. Heck, they might even get a few converts.

As for the games being an apolitical event – that is up for further debate! There is a long and varied history of protests of some form or another, which even the US participates in to this day.

And since we’re on opinions… I am of the opinion that by granting China the games, we are validating and acknowledging that they are worthy of hosting the biggest athletic competition. It is akin (but not exactly alike) to governments officially recognising other governments or countries. Of course, that may be a case of “we don’t like you but we have to deal with you”; whereas the Olympics is a prestigious and elite competition with history – should we really be sharing that honour with countries that have terrible human rights records? In the practical sense this point is moot, of course – China will host the Olympics. But we can certainly debate the validity of the decision.

To Nearsighted and others, does this offer you insight? Does it change any of your views? Do you agree, but for other reasons? Or do you agree with some of my points and disagree with others? Comments are – as always – welcome.

Update: It was in the linked BBC article (“Olympics to ‘rebound from crisis'”), but I thought I should make a couple of things explicit. Firstly, the US House of Representatives has recently passed a motion condemning China’s actions in Tibet. Secondly, the Dali Lama has stated that China has deserves to host the games, although people have a right to non-violent protest. The International Herald Tribune has more on this. He said that he supports (and always has supported) China having the Olympics, but they were using outdated methods to try and silence protesters in Tibet. he also said that nobody “has a right to tell them to shut up”.

He’s a sensible man. He’s supporting the games, but he’s still able to make a point about Tibet. What he says can be applied worldwide – the right to peaceful protest should be a basic human right.

Olympic Torch Sparks Protests

April 7, 2008 in campaigns, china, information, news by Rob Hallam

By now, the olympic flame has made its way through both London and Paris, garnering the attention of both protests and One China ‘anti-protests’ alike. As usual, the BBC has a good writeup of what happened in both London and Paris. Points of interest include:

  • accusations of heavy-handedness against the Met police
  • two attempts to extinguish torch
  • one attempt to steal torch from former Blue Peter presenter Connie Huq
  • deviation from planned route through Chinatown
  • 4 arrested in Paris, 37 arrested in London
  • no boycott from Gordon Brown

Also, in our previous post, we referred to a report by Amnesty International that claimed that China was clamping down on dissidents in the run-up to the Olympic games. It would appear this claim hhas some merit – the day after the report was published, Hu Jia, a prominent human rights activist was jailed for three and a half years for subversion.

With the Olympic flame due to travel to San Francisco next as part of its 20-country worldwide tour, and with the death toll from protests in Tibet ranging from 19 to dozens, what form will further protest take (if any) before it reaches Beijing?

by Emma

Human Rights in China getting worse, not better.

April 4, 2008 in actions, campaigns, china, events by Emma

BBC report

Amnesty report

So, Amnesty says that Chinese human rights are getting worse ahead of the games, because they are ‘clamping down on dissent in order to portray a stable and harmonious image’.

This is just one of many views wandering around the internet, along with plenty of others in the pubs and meeting halls of the country as the Olympics, and by extension China, come into focus now that the torch is on it’s way around the world. I am certain that there will be plenty of protests along the way, in fact Amnesty have one planned for London on Sunday. The Chinese Ambassador is rumoured to have pulled out of the London torch relay, although that isn’t confirmed. The same article mentions the Chinese students who will be counter-demonstrating in support of the games.

On the one hand, China have recently allowed the English BBC website through their filters, a decision which provoked much interest from Chinese internet users – read some of their thoughts here.

On the other hand, there are riots in Tibet, Nick Clegg urging Gordon Brown to boycott the games, and politicians asking George Bush to do the same (mentioned in the report linked at the top).

So, are the Games improving things or not? It seems to me that on the surface, things will get better, for a little while. There will be a few highly publicised ‘improvements’. And then, when the games are over and the spotlight is taken away, China will go straight back to ignoring human rights like always. It is up to Amnesty, HRW and everyone of a similar mind to make sure that spotlight stays there and encourages real, long term change.