Call for a Conflict Free Glasgow

February 27, 2014 in Blog, main by Ellen MacAskill

The Conflict Free Campus Initiative has been growing up gradually at Glasgow University since GU Amnesty International took on the campaign in 2012. So why are so many people still in the dark about the bloodshed that fuels our technology habit?

CFCI calls for regulation of minerals used by large Western technology manufacturers, bought from mines in the war-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. The war there has dominated the country’s landscape since the early 1990s. The International Rescue Committee estimated that 5.4 million fatalities have occurred as a result since 1996. Rape is used as a weapon of control over the population and children are involved in fighting from a young age. The statistics are staggering for a conflict which receives such little media coverage. We rely on these countries for minerals such as gold, tungsten, tantalum, and the ores that produce tin. Armed rebels groups, domestic and foreign, pillage the land’s natural resources then sell them on to large corporations.

A lack of transparency in the production line means that consumers of products such as phones and laptops remain ignorant.

At university we spend millions of pounds cumulatively on technology. By sourcing products from companies that check and regulate their supply chain, we can encourage other companies to do the same. But no one is asking Glasgow’s library to send its computers to the dump. CFCI calls for university policy to prioritise the increasing number of companies who have expressed concern over the matter, when buying products from now on. Intel and HP are leaders in this field and just recently Apple have resolved to investigate their supply chain for conflict-related atrocities.

GUAI started circulating a petition last year to David Newall, Secretary of Court, and Principal Anton Muscatelli, calling on them to make Glasgow conflict free. A motion has been passed through the SRC in support of the movement, however their power is limited and progress has been slow. To raise awareness of the campaign a video was filmed by members, with help from Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

A letter-writing action to Newall last semester has prompted another meeting to be planned with him and Jo Gallagher, Head of Procurement for the university. We are preparing for this opportunity to give the campaign the attention it deserves.

In March, in collaboration with the charity Earth Movies, we will be screening ‘Blood in the Mobile’. The documentary directed by Frank Piasecki Poulsen investigates the relation of mobile phone companies to the conflict in Congo. Following the screening will be a panel discussion, with speakers to be confirmed, plus a Q & A session. The joint publicity between GUAI and Earth Movies will reach out the event to a wide audience.

In February our members partook in the global #CongoPeace photo campaign. This social media campaign is designed to show our support for the women of Congo. The images will be collected and presented in a book to Special Envoys at a UN conference focussing on resource exploitation and sexual violence.

To give the Conflict Free Glasgow campaign a boost before the imminent meeting, we will be submitting informative articles to campus press such as the Glasgow Guardian newspaper.

Let’s make Glasgow a Conflict Free Campus!

http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/initiatives/conflict-minerals

BBC News – Gold market breaches ‘covered up’ (Newsnight Whistleblower Report)

February 26, 2014 in cfci, Human Rights News by Rob Hallam

A timely article given the latter part of today’s meeting on the front page of BBC News as part of a Newsnight report on conflict minerals failings in Dubai:

BBC News – Gold market breaches 'covered up'.

Dubai’s biggest gold refiner committed serious breaches of the rules designed to stop gold mined in conflict zones from entering the global supply chain, a whistleblower has revealed.

The article gives a good level of backgroun info as well as reporting on the Dubai situation. That someone had to resign and blow the whistle on the auditing practices goes to show quis custodiet ipsos custodes applies as much to the conflict mineral supply chain. There needs to be vigilance and pressure at all levels.

Ruth by Ruth

Malala Yousafzai backs campaign against FGM | Society | theguardian.com

February 25, 2014 in Human Rights News by Ruth

“I think it is very important that we make people aware of this issue because if no one knows, if no one wants to know, then we can never highlight it in front of responsible people and we can never find a solution” – Malala

 

Malala Yousafzai backs campaign against FGM | Society | theguardian.com.

Ruth by Ruth

Tuesday 25th February: Human Trafficking and Conflict Minerals

February 24, 2014 in information, main, meetings, newsletter by Ruth

Hello lovely people!

I really hope that those of you who came to the Secret Policeman’s Ball on Saturday had a great night and to everyone who helped out – THANK YOU SO MUCH. The night was a huge success and we have Debbie, the SPB sub-committee and many others to thank for doing an amazing job. We’ll have an announcement of the total funds raised soon, but in the meantime you can check out all the photos!

In order to make next year’s even better, there is an anonymous online survey that you can fill in to give your views: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D2K79F6

 

Next meeting: Tuesday 25th February, 5pm in the QMU

Human Trafficking in Russia

Duncan will be taking the first half of the meeting to talk about sex trafficking in Russia. We then have a letter-writing action as a follow-up to last week’s meeting by Euan from STOP THE TRAFFIK (Glasgow).

Conflict-Free Campus Initiative

There have been some developments in our efforts to get the University to support our conflict minerals campaign ! Well we have been invited to a meeting with David Newall (Secretary of Court) and Jo Gallagher (Head of Procurement), so that’s a start!

Conflict-what?

Last year we joined the global student movement for a ‘conflict-free’ campus. Read about the conflict-free campus initiative (CFCI) and what the campaign is all about.

I am aware that it has been quite a while since we discussed the campaign and we have quite a few new members so I will go over what the campaign is about as well as giving an update on some positive steps towards ‘conflict-free’ technologies.

 

GU International Women’s Week 3rd – 9th March

Tuesday 4th:

Women’s Rights 5pm

An Amnesty speaker will join us to talk about women’s rights.

Workshop 6pm: The role of the media in the socialisation on men and women and children

I will hold a workshop looking at how the media socialises women and men and children to think about women and womanhood.

Thursday 6th:

Rape Crisis Scotland Film Screening and Discussion

An event page with all the relevant details will be made soon, so save the dates!

GU Amnesty Climbs* Goatfell!! 29th-30th March

Maisie has been organising our trip to Arran and needs to know exact numbers, so if you haven’t decided if you are going, please do by tomorrow!

Join the event or email us to let us know you are coming.

*walks/crawls up slowly, taking lots of breaks and eating lots of chocolate

Other news:

Document: International Human Rights Film Festival

There is a call for submissions to the annual Document Film Festival, so take a look to see how you can enter! http://documentfilmfestival.org/12/

8th – 9th March: Scottish Students Conference

This year Edinburgh University are hosting the Scottish Students Conference on International Women’s Day. Everyone is welcome; here is the event for the agenda.

12th – 13th April: Amnesty International UK AGM

Only one week left to book your place! All members of AIUK can attend the AGM so let us know if you are interested and we can all go together.

NB: The AGM is hosted annually in different parts of the UK so it may not be back in Scotland for another few years!

See you all tomorrow!

Ruth

Duncan by Duncan

BBC News – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs anti-gay bill

February 24, 2014 in Human Rights News by Duncan

BBC News – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs anti-gay bill.

Jana by Jana

Arizona passes ‘anti-gay’ bill allowing business owners to refuse service on religious grounds – Americas – World – The Independent

February 22, 2014 in Human Rights News by Jana

Arizona passes ‘anti-gay’ bill allowing business owners to refuse service on religious grounds – Americas – World – The Independent.

Ruth by Ruth

Conservatives promise to scrap Human Rights Act after next election | Law | The Guardian

February 21, 2014 in Human Rights News, news by Ruth

Conservatives promise to scrap Human Rights Act after next election | Law | The Guardian.

A threat becomes a promise, and a very dangerous one at that.

Human Trafficking in the UK and Beyond

February 20, 2014 in Blog, main by Ellen MacAskill

Hear “trafficking” and of what do you think? Women being shipped around South East Asia for sex work? Crowded sweatshops in India?

These are undoubtedly huge issues but the extent of human trafficking today is more far-reaching than many realise. On Tuesday’s meeting we kicked off our new campaign with a visit from Euan of Stop the Traffik, who volunteers in the Glasgow branch of the international charity. The grassroots group raise awareness in communities to make it more difficult for traffickers to slip through the net.

Key points from the talk were as follows:

–          Trafficking should not be confused with an immigration problem.

–          Trafficking equals slavery.

–          Traffickers’ prerogative is the exploitation of vulnerability.

On the same day that we held our meeting, the National Crime Agency released a report which shows that the number of trafficked people in the UK has more than doubled in the past year. They stated that their estimate numbers will be far below the actual number, which remains hidden from view. Euan suggests that the increased statistics may be down to an improvement in detection processes. Apparently there are more slaves in the world today than there ever have been in the past.

Victims of trafficking can be lured by the promise of marriage or work. They can be forced into prostitution, unpaid labour, domestic slavery, or crime activity. Violence, rape and induced drug and alcohol addiction are all used as weapons of control. Psychological control is a less detectable but equally dangerous method.

Euan gave some specific examples of trafficking in the UK. One young Nigerian girl was promised marriage in the UK but found herself being forced to work in a brothel. When she became pregnant, she was forced into abortion, then later turned out onto the street. In another case four Czech men seeking work were enslaved in Birmingham and made to live in slum-like conditions.

The internet has put vulnerable victims within the reach of traffickers in ways that were not previously possible. The “business” is the second most profitable of all organised crime. When considering why the industry is catching up with drug-dealing in terms of money quanitites, Euan says: “You can sell a body again and again.” These chilling thoughts can go some way to explain why the problem continues to grow.

Stop the Traffik are focussing on two international campaigns at the moment, targeted at the cotton industry and the chocolate industry. Fairtrade branding only refers to the picking and harvesting of the cotton. The manufacturing stage goes un-policed and many Western clothing chains are oblivious to the fact that people in the factories they buy from have been trafficked or are being underpaid. Children, particularly in West Africa, are often used to collect cocoa beans for no payment. One Amnesty member from Ghana suggests that people there might give their children to family members to be worked on their farms for nothing, so the children themselves are not aware that they are being abused. Consumer awareness can put pressure on ignorant Western companies to decrease demand for cheap labour and tackle the problem.

In April, Stop the Traffik will be lobbying at the Scottish Parliament to push a proposed bill which addresses the issue. Amongst other things, it outlines a new victim support service and a single coherent definition of what human trafficking is. Unfortunately the Scottish Parliament have not yet backed the bill, instead turning attention to Westminster’s Modern Slavery bill, which is more focussed on crime rather than the implicated human rights abuses.

If you are in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games, look out for Stop the Traffik’s ‘Gift Boxes’ popping up on the streets, which lure in passers-by with an attractive exterior then reveal to them the realities of human trafficking on the inside.

Have a look on http://www.stopthetraffik.org/ for more information.

 

On a brighter note: SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALL!

Hopefully you have all got your tickets by now and are looking forward to an evening of jokes and merriment.

If not then get them for the reduced advanced price of £5/7 (with after-party) up until midnight on Friday by clicking here:

http://www.guamnesty.org.uk/spb-2014/

Also if you missed it and want a taster for the event, here’s an article that qmunicate let me write about why it will be so wonderful:

http://qmunicatemagazine.com/2014/02/11/secret-policemans-ball-stand-up-for-human-rights/

See you there folks.

#CongoPeace (Photos)

February 18, 2014 in main, photos by Rob Hallam

Thanks to everyone who took part in the #CongoPeace photo petition this evening. For those that missed what it’s about, I’ll give you the explanation Georgia sent:

We have an exciting action planned for the whole of Feb. Its a social-media photo campaign with the hashtag #CongoPeace. It is aimed to culminate on the 6th of March with a special conference at the UN focusing on resource exploitation and sexual violence, where our photos will be handed to to Special Envoys Feingold and Robinson, U.N. Special Representative Zainab Bangura and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power in a special book. Pretty incredible opportunity!!

If you didn’t get a chance to take part but would like to, you can email us the images or tweet us them @guamnesty — remember to include #CongoPeace!

Edit: Special thanks to Katie who did as suggested above took the effort to send us in the photo she took herself!

IMG_2511

Jana by Jana

The slaves who live and die on Thailand’s fishing boats | World News Blog | World News Blog

February 17, 2014 in Human Rights News by Jana

The slaves who live and die on Thailand’s fishing boats | World News Blog | World News Blog.