Jana by Jana

North Korea: ‘You are brainwashed from the time you know how to talk’ | World news | theguardian.com

February 17, 2014 in Human Rights News by Jana

North Korea: ‘You are brainwashed from the time you know how to talk’ | World news | theguardian.com.

Ruth by Ruth

Tuesday 18th February: STOP THE TRAFFIK Presentation and the Secret Policeman’s Ball!

February 17, 2014 in main, meetings, news, newsletter by Ruth

Hi everyone,

Thanks to those of you who took part in the Guantanamo Bay demonstration last week – it was wet and drizzly but we still managed to get around campus a bit! Here are the photos and blog. There was actually an article in The Guardian last Tuesday about a legal challenge to the force-feeding of detainees, which many are being subjected to. Here is a short video that describes this brutal practice.

If you haven’t yet voted in the Rector election, here are some responses from candidates about their commitment to human rights.

http://www.guamnesty.org.uk/2014/02/rector-candidates-supporting-human-rights/

http://www.guamnesty.org.uk/2014/02/university-rector-elections-2014/

Next meeting: Tuesday 18th February, Committee Room 1, QMU

Human Trafficking

We are starting our next big campaign by having a discussion about recent cases of human trafficking  in the UK. A guest speaker from Stop the Traffik Glasgow is coming to give a presentation and we can discuss ideas for campaigning on this issue.

Visit https://www.stopthetraffik.org/uk for more information.

 

Saturday 22nd February: GU Amnesty’s 6th Annual Secret Policeman’s Ball + Afterparty hosted by Philanthrobeats!

 

IT’S HERE, IT’S FINALLY HERE!!

I hope you all have your tickets by now and are bringing along friends/neighbours/relatives. If not, get them online: https://www.guamnesty.org.uk/tickets/

Last Week of Publicity

We will be flyering all week so please give us a hand if you have time to spare, and take a bundle away with you from the meeting to hand out in all your classes. Remember that we are having a bake sale on Wednesday 11am – 4pm for further publicity, so please bring cakes and/or enthusiasm! https://www.facebook.com/events/1469560646588794/

We will also need people to help us set up on the night so if you are free beforehand then your help would be much appreciated!

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

Well we certainly tried last year but it was quite snowy…However, fingers crossed we’ll make it to the top this time!

This is a great trip and a great way to raise money. The walk isn’t too difficult so if you are keen but unsure then I would encourage you give it a try! Of course, if you have any questions then send us a message. Here’s the event page.

Don’t forget…

 

Action for Change, AIUK HQ London, 28th Feb – 1st March

Booking is now open and it’s FREE! Let us know if you are keen and we can help you to arrange travel to London.

See the event page and website for details of the agenda and the booking form.

 

Finally, one of our members is raising money by JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE, and all for a great cause. Louise would love some more sponsors, so have a look at why she’s doing it and chip in if you can.

 

Keep wrapped up in those ponchos,

Ruth

Ruth by Ruth

Guantánamo hunger strikers able to challenge force-feeding, court rules | World news | theguardian.com

February 17, 2014 in Human Rights News by Ruth

Guantánamo hunger strikers able to challenge force-feeding, court rules | World news | theguardian.com.

 

One of the men thought to be currently on hunger strike is Shaker Aamer, a British resident who remains in Guantánamo despite having been cleared for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations. In remarks he made to his lawyer in advance of the ruling, Aamer said:“This is one step towards justice … Instead of making matters worse here, they should treat us with respect, like human beings.”

Ruth by Ruth

Rector Candidates Supporting Human Rights!

February 16, 2014 in main, news by Ruth

As you can read from Dominyka’s post, all of the candidates have expressed a commitment to promote human rights on campus. However, we have received further information from  candidates Alan Bissett and Kelvin Holdsworth that show their interest in some of the big campaigns that we have supported as a society. Whilst we are not officially backing any candidate, we agreed to pass on this information that was sent to us.

[Voting will take place this Monday and Tuesday.]

Alan Bissett

‘…in 2013 my solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe was shortlisted for an Amnesty International award, and I also co-wrote a pamphlet for Scottish PEN entitled Freedom of Expression in the New Scotland, exploring issues of censorship and press freedom.

‘I will be running a campaign which stresses equality, focusing on gender imbalance at various levels in the University and the status of refugees and immigrants.  I have already tried to tackle the disappointingly all-male selection for Rector, but only being elected would fully enable me to do this.

‘I held a Q&A in the QMU last week, which was very productive, and I spoke to representatives from Crossing Borders and STAR about the problems facing asylum seekers and refugees at the university, such as them being treated simply as ‘foreign students’, regardless of their particular needs and vulnerabilities.

‘I do of course recognise the excellent work which has been done by Amnesty students on the CFCI initiative, and would hope to carry this forwards if elected Rector.  Indeed, I spoke about this very issue in my latest interview with Qmunnicate magazine.’

 

Kelvin Holdsworth

‘In recent months, the human rights issue that I’ve been most connected with is the campaign for Equal Marriage where I’ve been one of the consistent campaigners in favour of marriage equality since long before the major equality organisations got involved in Scotland and in a workplace which is directly homophobic, sexist and discriminatory. Fighting those issues within church circles has kept me fairly busy over the last few years and it is good to be able to celebrate successes – the passage of legislation to allow bishops to be elected in my church without regard to gender, the Equal Marriage legislation passing at last at Holyrood are very public joys. Alongside those I’ve been involved in advocating for gender equality in less public roles in the church as well as campaigning against religious voices who encourage discrimination in Africa that leads to both violence and a situation where HIV prevention work cannot take place.

‘In recent months, I’ve been outspoken about human rights abuses in Commonwealth countries ahead of the Commonwealth Games in the summer. My call for politicians to be challenged to raise human rights issues with overseas leaders coming to Glasgow this summer was covered on the front page of the Herald newspaper at Christmas as well as in a very helpful leader article – see here: http://kelvin-holdsworth.co.uk/human-rights-and-the-commonwealth-games/

I’ve invited Peter Tatchell to my church in July to give a public human rights lecture and look forward to using that even to raise the profile of human rights just when the Games are beginning.’

 

It’s great that candidates are taking human rights seriously and I hope you find this information useful.

Jana by Jana

Segregation Coming For All Gay People In Kansas | The New Civil Rights Movement

February 16, 2014 in Human Rights News by Jana

A step back for gay rights in America as Kansas, Idaho and Tennesse seek or have passed bills allowing for any business owner or public service to refuse to assist gay couples if it offends their deeply held religious beliefs. In Kansas the bill also allows police officers, nurses, doctors and firemen to refuse to provide any service to a gay couple even in the case of an emergency.

Segregation Coming For All Gay People In Kansas | The New Civil Rights Movement.

Photos from Guantanamo Bay Demonstration

February 14, 2014 in main, photos by Rob Hallam

IMG_7369_v1The orange jumpsuits finally arrived! We paraded around campus one quiet Wednesday afternoon to raise awareness of what’s going on: see Ellen’s recent post for more info. Click for larger versions.

Some more photos of setup, traipsing around:

It was also great to see the LGBT flag flying at the flagpole:

 

Guantanamo Bay: 12 Years of Shame

February 13, 2014 in main by Ellen MacAskill

Shaker Aamer is the last UK prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The 14th February marks the twelfth anniversary of the beginning of his ordeal there. His wife and four children await his return. The youngest of his children has never met him. He has been approved for release twice, but US legislation controlling the transfer of Guantanamo detainees has kept him imprisoned without charge. In a statement received by his lawyer, Aamer said:

“At best, we are numbers. I worry that when I come home that my children will call for ‘Daddy’, and I will sit unmoving. I am 239. I even refer to myself as 239 these days. I am not sure when I will ever be anything else. It is much easier to deny human rights to those who are not deemed to be ‘human’.”

The US Detention Camp was established post-9/11 in January 2002, when George Bush declared the “war on terror” and required a place for “highly dangerous” prisoners from Iraq and Afghanistan. The camp’s location renders it effectively exempt from US and international law. The prisoners detained there over the past twelve years have been “suspected” terrorists and Muslim militants, largely innocent civilians with a right to prisoner of war status. The US government has dodged this charge by labelling the prisoners “enemy combatants” so they are outside the rulings of the Geneva Convention. The Convention, created to establish humanitarian treatment in war, outlines the prohibition of:

“Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture”

And “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”.

Guantanamo has a track record of using torture and degradation as a tool. Practices include water-boarding (pouring water onto a cloth covering the face to simulate suffocation), sleep deprivation, and leaving prisoners hand-cuffed in the scorching sun with their heads covered.

Force-feeding is used as a reaction to inmates’ hunger strikes. It has recently been estimated by lawyers that 34 detainees are currently on hunger strike and 17 are being force-fed. Aamer is one these numbers. The process involves the person being strapped to a chair and having a tube inserted through their nose to pass liquid nutrition to their stomach to keep them alive.

A Washington court ruling this week means that the practice of force-feeding will be allowed to be challenged in federal court by inmates. However the judges declined to put an end to force-feeding immediately.

In 2014, 155 people remain in Guantanamo, 77 of which have been cleared for release.

Research for this post has been depressing. Information and statistics were circulated around 2008, when Barack Obama pledged to make the closing of Guantanamo a priority as soon as he took office. Well into his second term as President, it remains open. The US are struggling to deal with the hangover from their rash, unjust, anti-extremist actions and cannot find safe countries for many detainees to return to. In his State of the Union speech at the end of January, Obama said:

“This needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.”

On Wednesday, a group of us took to campus in orange jumpsuits and signs reading “12 YEARS OF SHAME” and “CLOSE GUANTANAMO”. One of the interesting things about demonstrations is the bemused expressions of passers-by. But the fact that so many are unaware of the symbol and the neglected human rights atrocities of Guantanamo shows that the US are succeeding in sweeping their mistakes under the rug. Real action is long overdue.

Here are some links to more information:

http://saveshaker.org/

http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/security-and-human-rights/guantanamo

http://www.theguardian.com/world/guantanamo-bay

University Rector Elections

February 13, 2014 in information, main by Dominyka

candidates_final

As many of you know, Monday and Tuesday next week will see the Rectorial Election in our university. While Amnesty remains apolitical and does not back one specific candidate, this is something that will affect each of us as students, and therefore the decision should be a well-informed one. For that reason, we decided to look into how every candidate would address human rights issues within and possibly outside the campus, if elected. As the hustings took place last night, I asked about it and am now reporting you what I have been told (with a little bit of context, too)!

Graeme Obree has promoting diversity as one of the aims in his manifesto. Regarding human rights, he said the best thing he could do was showing his own example. He is, after all, an openly gay athlete – and a cycling legend!

A representative of the famous whistle-blower Edward Snowden expressed her view that their campaign is all about human rights and opposing mass surveillance – just like Snowden himself. Having him as Rector, even inactive, would be a great political statement.

Kelvin Holdsworth disagreed somewhat with two previous speakers and said that “we can do more than that”. Also openly gay, he has previously campaigned for gender equality and equal marriage in and beyond the Church, where he serves as Rector and Provost. He said he would raise human rights issues. As an example of what he would do, Holdsworth mentioned refusing to meet representatives from oppressive countries during the Commonwealth games.

Alan Bissett agreed with Holdsworth that Rector should use their voice to fight for human rights. He is passionate about gender equality, and had initially planned to step down from the election as there were no female candidates. He would also work to guarantee that asylum seekers and refugees have access to education and are given support with integration. Bisset is a promoter of the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative as well.

If you want to learn more about the candidates, read their manifestos on the SRC page. Hope this helped a bit with making up your mind!

See you soon,

Dominyka

Washington State Governor Suspends Death Penalty

February 11, 2014 in Human Rights News by Rob Hallam

From USA Today:

“[Governor] Inslee’s moratorium means that if a death penalty case comes to his desk, he will issue a reprieve, which isn’t a pardon and doesn’t commute the sentences of those condemned to death.”

See Amnesty USA’s response, and tweet your support of this decision!

To Russia With Love

February 11, 2014 in information, petitions by Rob Hallam

While our very own Coca-Cola petition is doing swimmingly, there’s another one that the folks over At AI Norway have come up with that you might be interested in: To Russia With Love.

Each signature is marked as a dot on the picture above, and the goal is to fill the entire map of Russia with these dots.

All they’re asking for is age, gender and country. At time of writing the maps of Russia is just under 30% filled with the expanding heart- let’s help fill it further 🙂