Ruth by Ruth

AGM 2014-15 Results!

March 26, 2014 in information, main by Ruth

We had our AGM tonight and have elected the new committee!

President – Rob Hallam
Vice President – Duncan McNab
Secretary – Domi Bacanskaite
Treasurer – Jana Sweeney
Campaigns Coordinator – Alex Pancheva
Fundraising Officer – Nikola Cabanova
Publicity Officer – Milia Hau
Press Officer – Rebecca Corbett
Website Manager – Siuan Poirteir

Two ordinary board members will be elected at the beginning of the academic year.

Congrats to everyone! 🙂

Update: Call For a Conflict-Free Glasgow

March 24, 2014 in Blog by Ellen MacAskill

On Friday 14th, four of us from the committee attended a meeting with David Newall, Secretary of Court for the University, and Jo Gallagher, Head of Procurement. As Ruth has pointed out it was frustratingly similar to the meeting she had with him on the subject this time last year. I took notes throughout the meeting and thought it would be worth updating you all on what happened. From here we can plan our next steps so that the new committee can continue the fight into the next academic year.

Unfortunately it seemed that Gallagher had not been fully briefed on the campaign at hand; not realising that it only focussed on the procurement of technology. She emphasised that the university does not take full responsibility for the sourcing of materials. Instead this goes through a framework of guidelines decided by the umbrella group APUC. This is governed by EU regulations. She said that she would enquire whether the APUC currently have a system of due diligence and corporate responsibility.

Newall’s two issues seemed to be as follows: that the university must not discriminate unfairly against companies or breach contractual obligations in its procurement policy; and that the university cannot make political statements as an institution. His excuse for unresponsiveness was that conflict minerals are “not important enough” from the university’s perspective.

He justified the political undertones of GU’s divestment from the tobacco industry by saying that it should promote healthy living and that extensive research here goes into the prevention of cancer. This is indisputable. More closely linked to CFCI is the movement calling for the divestment of fossil fuels. The issue is yet to be brought to university court. It struck us that this campaign is being viewed in terms of ethical and sustainable development – as should CFCI. (Personally I find it difficult to see why the university is comfortable to tacitly support genocide via its consumerism, but uncomfortable with making a political statement against it.)

Both Newall and Gallagher iterated implicitly that a top-down approach is the only way to push the university towards change. Clearly they feel out of their depth discussing Congo. It is understandable to want to avoid making bold statements which they are unable to follow up with action. However, Ruth requested that Newall send on an official response explaining why the university is not participating in the movement.

We discussed the progress that support for Congo has made worldwide in the last year. More companies, including Apple, are investigating their supply chains and recognising the conflict. The EU will vote on bringing in guidance for responsible companies relating to conflict minerals later this year*. The success that certain campuses in the USA have seen was mentioned, but dismissed as being allowed under very different systems of policy and procurement.

To close the meeting Ruth handed over the petition, which has been circulated on campus and collected over 400 signatures.

Newall pushed the importance of the SRC’s support as he thinks that having the issue taken to court is the first feasible step. Since the meeting we have discovered that the motion which was sent to the SRC was not in fact passed, as we had believed. This accounts for the lack of movement from them and will hopefully be rectified soon.

Breffni O’Connor, the new SRC president, is enthusiastic to help us get the motion passed at the next council meeting in April. In an email she said: “[The meeting] is also the last of the year. So it will need to be passed at this one. I think the best way to do it is to send us the motion but also to prepare a presentation to our council. It was done this was by Climate Action and I think it went down a lot better, if there’s no presentation people might not concentrate in full. And our council will fire you lots of questions, these discussions usually last a while.”

There is also talk of forming an inter-society coalition. This has been very effective for other events and campaigns, such as the Coalition for Syrian Refugees which Amnesty took part in earlier this year. Many NGOs and charities on campus are likely to be interested in supporting us. This will hopefully start up in the next academic year, as at the moment many societies are having AGMs and changing their committees. The increase in exposure that CFCI would get from broadening its audience in Glasgow is vital to progress.

To sign the petition, or read the motion in full, click here: www.guamnesty.org.uk/2013/02/petition-for-a-conflict-free-glasgow/

If you missed my last blog summarising the campaign, read it here: http://www.guamnesty.org.uk/2014/02/call-for-a-conflict-free-glasgow/

*Draft legislation proposed by the European Commission on 5th March 2014 http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/march/tradoc_152227.pdf

Ruth by Ruth

Tuesday 25th March: AGM and End of Term Social!

March 23, 2014 in main, meetings, newsletter by Ruth

Afternoon all,

Tuesday was our last society meeting of the year, and I hope you enjoyed the presentation by Jillian from Aberlour’s Guardianship Service. Thank you everyone for your feedback, I am excited to say that ‘Amneslunch’ was voted a great idea so we will organise this for during the exam period! See below for more information.

Although we are having an end of term social, we still have other events and fundraisers planned for May so don’t think this is the last you will hear from us!

Next meeting: Tuesday 25th March – AGM and End of Term Social!

5pm, QMU – AGM

Earlier this week I published the committee positions with a short description of the roles, written by the current committee. If you are thinking or running at the AGM, have a look at the different roles and feel free to contact us for any more information.

Even if you are not standing for election, please come and vote!

Meeting format:

I will begin by going over our constitution as we have updated some important bits. The society needs to vote on these before we can make these changes.

Next, I will talk about all the wonderful things we have achieved this year, as part of the end of year review, and then our Treasurer, Duncan, will talk us through the financial report for this academic session.

Then the elections will start! Everyone who is running for a place will be invited to speak – the way we do it is by asking all candidates to leave the room and enter one at a time and give a short speech (2 mins max) on why they would like to be elected. It’s entirely up to you how you want to prepare, but it can be useful to write down a few things to guide yourself.

7pm, Lansdowne Bar & Kitchen – Social

Join the event to let us know that you are coming!

Straight after the elections, we will head out for some food and drinks to celebrate the fantastic year that we have had. Absolutely everyone is welcome, including those who aren’t coming to the AGM or who never made it to a meeting but want to join next year. The event page has a map for those of you joining us later, otherwise we will all head together from the QMU.

May: Amneslunch!

During exam period we do not have society meetings, but we felt that it would be extreme to have no Amnesty contact throughout this incredibly stressful time. So, we are going to organise a lunch club, based in the Fraser Building most likely, where you can drop by, have some lunch, let of some steam and there will also be resources for writing letters. This has been quite a neglected campaigning action this year, so it would be great to follow up some of our campaigns with a little pen action.

When we have decided the dates and times, we will make an event and keep you updated.

End of Term Fundraisers

We still have some fundraisers coming up, including the ceilidh which had to be postponed and Amnestea in the Park (we really can’t get enough puns). So for those of you who will be here mid-late May, we hope to see you at these events!

Also, if you would like to sponsor us for climbing Goatfell next weekend, that would be much appreciated. Here is our JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Glasgow-University-Amnesty-International

Other events:

Wednesday 26th March: Unite the Fight Clubnight, The Buff Club

This clubnight will be raising money for Glasgow Women’s Aid, and it’s only £3 entry. Here’s the event page and here’s more about the charity.

I will keep the newsletters going until the end of term, so if you know of any events that we can promote then please let me know. I will mainly be sending out information about Amnesty’s campaigns with petition links for some easy online activism and revision procrastination.

Hope to see you all on Tuesday,

Ruth

 

Jana by Jana

Another stolen generation: how Australia still wrecks Aboriginal families | John Pilger | Comment is free | The Guardian

March 22, 2014 in Human Rights News by Jana

Another stolen generation: how Australia still wrecks Aboriginal families | John Pilger | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Ruth by Ruth

BBC News – FGM: UK’s first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced

March 21, 2014 in Human Rights News by Ruth

BBC News – FGM: UK’s first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced.

Ruth by Ruth

Committee Elections 2014-2015

March 20, 2014 in main, news by Ruth

Tuesday 25th March is our AGM and the following positions will be elected:

President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Campaigns Coordinator
Fundraising Officer
Publicity Officer
Press Officer
Website Manager

**2 x Ordinary Board Members will be elected at the beginning of the academic year.**

The current committee have given a short description of their role in the hope of giving you a good idea of what each entails, however, there is always the opportunity for committee members to expand the roles if that person has other ideas and/or new projects arise.

If you want more information, please drop us an email! mail@guamnesty.org.uk

President (Ruth Brown)
The president has overall responsibility for the activities of the group and chairs the weekly committee meetings. Much time is dedicated to supporting each committee member in their role so it is necessary to have a good knowledge and interest in all aspects of how the society is organised and operates. The President facilitates the society meetings but all committee members play an important role in organising and running these meetings. Each week a newsletter must be written and sent to the membership detailing the group’s upcoming activities as well as promoting relevant events. It is also up to the President to take responsibility for all the resources (awards, materials, banners etc) that are passed on to each new committee.

This year has been so successful that it’s hard to choose one event that I enjoyed the most. For the campaigns, I liked hearing from all of our guest speakers, and also taking part in the various photo actions. As for the fundraisers, I thought Jamnesty was fantastic!

 

Vice-President (Debbie White)
As Vice-President, I support the President, feed in ideas and generally help with the organising of meetings and events. In the first few weeks I helped to lead meetings as we had so many people we had a splinter group in Committee Room 2.

This year, I took particular responsibility for organising the Secret Policeman’s Ball and managing the SPB sub-committee, which was great fun! (It isn’t always the VP’s responsibility; last year, our Vice President organised the Scottish Students’ Conference instead)

 

Secretary (Jana Sweeney)
Secretary mainly does a lot of the behind the scenes organisation. You’ll be in control of the email account, checking and responding to emails, making sure people are aware of various events and checking their own emails. If there is letter writing, you’ll be the one to post the letters, so you’ll creep out your local post office by constantly posting letters to various Heads of States! Also have to take minutes at all the committee meetings! During the summer, you’ll be dealing with all the affiliation documents and over the year you’ll be checking our post cubby in the SRC. You also have to assist any other member of the society with admin tasks they need doing and just generally running a lot of small tasks throughout the year!

My favourite thing this year was running the Pub Quiz with Duncan!

 

Treasurer (Duncan McNab)
The role of treasurer involves managing the group’s finances, collecting and depositing money that has been fundraised, and keeping an accurate record of expenses and the like. It generally more technical/practical stuff. The majority of my  in the role is away from meetings in terms of counting money going to the bank and so on. Beyond that you’re kind of free to help however you can in the group.

My favourite amnesty thing I was involved with this year was probably writing and hosting the pub quiz with Jana. It was good fun. Also counting money is quite therapeutic.

 

Campaigns Coordinator (Ali Cooper)
Campaigns Coordinator has responsibility for investigating and planning our various campaigns that run throughout the year.  Keeping on top of emails and researching changes and updates in the relevant areas is crucial.  Coming up with interesting ways to promote campaigns and (importantly) thinking of specific ways GU Amnesty can confront these issue is key. Providing a support role to other committee members in research/investigation is also important.

I really enjoyed the challenge of organising the panel discussion “Syria: I can still see hope”.  I got to meet some fantastic speakers and whilst getting them initially involved was challenging it paid off and the event was a great success.  *** Dom needs a mention here! – I only took on the role from him recently from him and I had big shoes to fill: Coca-cola petition on Change.org, Jamnesty etc!

 

Fundraising Officer (Maisie Peebles)
The role of fundraiser involves the managing of events that raise money for Amnesty International UK. This person must organise fun and exciting events that bring people along and are a financial success. Therefore, it includes liaising with the unions and various managers of venues and bands in order to find the best possible places and people to take part in our many fundraisers. It involves a lot of emailing and researching in order to draw together the most effective plan for the event. This year we have had a pub quiz, Jamnesty, carol singing, Secret Policeman’s Ball, cake stalls, sponsored hillwalk on Arran and there is still a ceilidh and Amnestea in the Park to come!

I enjoyed the Love is a Human Right Gig Night the most as it was the best way to chill after the stress of organising it.

 

Publicity Officer (Nikola Cabanova)
Publicity Officer promotes the activities of the society.This person takes care of the Facebook page, Twitter and Tumblr (posting updates about meetings, Amnesty activities, photos from the events, creating events). Although some of the tasks are often shared between the members (if someone is busy) it is publicity officer who is required to make some of the promoting material such as making the poster, flyers and sharing these on social media.

E-mailing is a big part of each of the committee member’s role. The Publicity Officer uses it to communicate with other university societies, student bodies and institutions about possible ways of promoting Amnesty events and causes. A big part of this role is also all the crafts. This consists of storing the material, buying new one (paint, brushes, cards etc.), organizing the banner and poster making part of the meetings and making sure the material is used well, is not wasted and nothing gets lost.

I would say that my favourite part was going to the Art store, where we got most of our craft material from, seeing people getting their hands all dirty and climbing on the tables while painting banners and carrying our massive LGBTQ+ posters around the campus to give it to each respective student body who supported our campaign while it was extremely windy. One piece of advice: no task is ‘done’ until it is really done. If you get a task at the beginning of the year which is not extremely urgent it does not mean you can push it down or even out of your ‘to do’ list.

 

Press Officer (Ellen MacAskill)
This role involves writing about all the great stuff we do every week. The blog on our website is the most regular task. It’s anything between 500-1000 words about what we did at the meeting, or any other campaigns and events. It is also up to the press officer to get our news out and about in other publications. This could be by going along to pitch meetings for Qmunicate and the Glasgow Guardian, or by emailing press releases about our events to wider outlets. Starting this year, there will be a GU Amnesty magazine which the Press Officer will help put together and more recently, there has been an opportunity to get involved with Subcity Radio.

Basically you’ll be the one scribbling away furiously during talks, then finding an appropriate use for said notes later on. The role is relatively new so there is all sorts that you could do with it. There are some press-related guidelines from Amnesty UK which I’m happy to pass on when necessary.

 

Website Manager (Rob Hallam)
I am responsible for keeping the website up and running- from posting photos (that I take mostly!), to emailing newsletters, to online ticket sales. The aim is to ensure the website contains an up-to-date record of all the great things we’re doing through the year!

One of my personal highlights – you could pick any part of the year and it would qualify – would be getting the brand-new ticketing system up and running. Not only was this one automated more than the previous system, generating and sending the tickets without intervention; it gave us proportionally more money. Bonus! Not to mention it got me a mention – complete with an unforgettable ‘Captain Website’ slide – at the SPB.

 

[To be elected in October 2014]

Ordinary Board Member (Alex Pancheva)
As one of the Ordinary Board Members, I had the chance to do many small things such as researching campaigns, emailing speakers, publicizing events, and arranging meetings. Your main responsibility will be to help the other committee members but at the same time you can take the tasks that you would enjoy the most. This position will give you insight of how the society functions, and you will get an idea which position would be suitable for you in the future.

This year has been amazing, and we’ve done a lot, so it’s difficult to choose one favourite moment or event. In terms of campaigning, I enjoyed the demos (for example, going around the campus in an orange jumpsuit is a must). As for the fundraisers, I enjoyed both Jamnesty and the SPB.

 

Ordinary Board Member (Domi Bacanskaite)
Initially as an ordinary board member I wasn’t sure what my responsibilities were, but now that I think of it, one of the best things about this position is that you can help out with many different things and see what it is you enjoy doing most – and what you are best at! It’s a good place to start with the committee and later on you know what other positions you’re interested in. I was the Amnesty representative in the International Women Week’s committee, and organised two events: a talk by our previous member and a qualified Amnesty speaker Elena Soper about women’s rights in Afghanistan, together with a workshop by our president Ruth about the socialisation of young people and the media; and ‘Consent’ film screening with a guest from Rape Crisis Scotland.

My favourite moments must have been those of Jamnesty though – I was stressing out beforehand, but everything went well and we ended up listening to a lot of great music (and raising money at the same time!).

 

Secret Policeman’s Ball 2014 – Response to Feedback

March 18, 2014 in main by Debbie White

I’d like to start by thanking everyone who came to the Secret Policeman’s Ball 2014 and helped us to raise so much money for such a good cause. It’s the biggest event in the GU Amnesty calendar and we’re always very happy to see it so well attended.
One thing we did a little differently this year was that after the event, we released an online survey form to get your feedback on how you feel it went. A huge thank you to everyone who filled this in; we’ve now compiled and gone through the responses and as a result of this, we wanted to let you all know our responses to some of the criticisms levied at the event. If you have further responses to make, or didn’t get a chance to fill in the survey, please contact us on spb@guamnesty.org.uk and we’d be happy to discuss any feedback (both negative and positive) further.
We’re really glad that the majority of attendees who gave us feedback enjoyed the event; most of the acts were well received, the merchandise and snacks stall appreciated (so appreciated, in fact, that we ran out of popcorn after the first act!) and the decorations admired. The photo petition was well engaged with – thank you to everyone who took part and to our photographers!
Despite this, no event is perfect and we feel it would be wrong of us to neglect some of the criticisms that emerged from the feedback, and we wanted to address these as transparently as possible.
Many people pointed out the issues with microphones; this particularly affected some of the sketches, and we apologise that some attendees were unable to hear and fully enjoy the comedy as a result. We did look into hiring individual mikes for our performers due to this same issue arising last year. However, the cost we were quoted for this was prohibitive; we wanted to ensure that as much money was raised for Amnesty International as possible and thus decided against this extra expense. This will be something we consider again next year, perhaps looking into cheaper ways of sourcing the necessary equipment.
We were asked whether it would be possible to provide a line up list so that the audience were aware of what acts were coming up. We appreciate that, particularly due to the length of the show, knowing what acts are coming next would be helpful for some people and so this is something we would like to consider for next year, with the caveat that often last minute line-up changes occur making this difficult! For example, this year, the running order was changed just half an hour before doors opened.
The major issue that came out of the feedback, and something that we as the organising committee felt, was that the content of some of the acts was inappropriate and, at times, offensive. We apologise unreservedly to those of you who raised issues with the style of some of the humour and would like to make absolutely clear that we do not tolerate racism, sexism, ableism or homophobia, and that ‘comedy’ which employs these elements is not fitting for an Amnesty event. We shall be passing the feedback onto our compere and discussing ways to approach the line up next year, with an assurance that those comedians responsible for the offensive content will not be invited back. We hope you understand the difficulties involved in vetting a line-up, particularly when acts have performed at the Secret Policeman’s Ball in previous years without including such inappropriate content. That being said, there is no excuse for racist, sexist, ableist or homophobic jokes and we will be addressing these issues for next year. We would like to express our wholehearted disappointment that this occurred as we believe that Amnesty’s values of equality are not furthered by this style of comedy.
Again, we would like to thank you all for coming and hope to see you again next year – please e-mail us about any concerns you have and we will work hard to make sure that the seventh Secret Policeman’s Ball is a huge success!

GU Amnesty

Ruth by Ruth

Tuesday 18th March: Aberlour Guardianship Service and AI Consultation on Sex Work

March 15, 2014 in main, meetings, newsletter by Ruth

Howdy folks,

It was great to see so many people attend the film screening on Tuesday of ‘Free China: The Courage to Believe’. We welcomed back Yuyu for the 6th year, and I have to say that I am equally inspired every time I hear her talk about something so horrific and yet so rarely exposed. We were also joined by a guest speaker who came to share her experiences of persecution, forced labour and torture as a Falun Gong practitioner.

Read about it and see the photos, here.

The film: http://freechina.ntdtv.org/

 

3 years on, #withSyria

Sadly, today marks the 3rd anniversary of the conflict in Syria.

Amnesty International has launched the #withSyria campaign alongside a coalition of NGOs and civil society organisations campaigning to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and rally global support. Watch and share the latest campaign video featuring Banksy and Elbow – http://withsyria.com/. You can also sign the petition to stop the starvation of civilians.

There is an event on the 19th March by the Bulgarian Society to raise money for Syrian child refugees in Bulgaria. Check out the event.

 ‘Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.’

We are #withSyria

 

Next Meeting: Tuesday 18th March, 5pm, QMU

Guest Speaker – The Guardianship Service

There will be a presentation by Jillian McBride from the Aberlour’s Guardianship Programme, a project in Glasgow supporting young people and children who are victims of human trafficking.

Amnesty International Global Consultation on Sex Work

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, Amnesty are looking for responses to their consultation on sex work. We are going to take this opportunity to discuss the policy proposal that Amnesty have sent us and we can give our feedback too.

End of term evaluation and plans for after Easter

This will be the last meeting before the AGM, so I will be asking for your feedback as I did last semester. This will be really useful for the committee next year, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. We are also going to talk about our plans for after Easter, as there have been some great ideas on ways that we can all keep up with Amnesty but without taking up 2 hours on a Tuesday evening.

Tuesday 25th March: AGM and End of Year Social

Our AGM will be our last official Tuesday meeting of the year, and there are 9 positions up for grabs:

President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Campaigns Coordinator
Fundraising Officer
Publicity Officer
Press Officer
Website Manager

(2 x Ordinary Board Members to be elected at the start of the academic year)

I will have more information on each position at the meeting, but if you are interested in running for a committee position and want to know more, you can email me president@guamnesty.org.uk or the relevant committee member.

TBC (date may change) Thursday 27th March: Film Screening – ‘Blood in the Mobile’

‘Blood in the Mobile’ documents the filmmaker’s journey from Nokia HQ, Finland all the way to the mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo to discover the truth about the link between our mobile phones and worst conflict in the world today.

29th March: Trip to Arran – Please Sponsor us!

If you are not coming with us, we would love you to sponsor us. It’s not every day we climb mountains (that don’t lead to the GU library). Donate via our JustGiving page!

Other events

SRC Volunteer Clubs and Societies Awards 2014

Nominations are open for the VCS awards! There are many categories and you can nominate either GU Amnesty as a group, or a particular individual. So if there is something that you feel we/an individual deserve/s recognition for, then please complete a nomination form before 21st March!

Sunday 23rd March: Glasgow West Amnesty International Concert Fundraiser

3pm at Wellington Church, 77 Southpark Avenue (off University Avenue), Glasgow G12 8LE. Free entry, donations at the end.

Sandie Bishop, Lamond Gillespie, violins
Flora Tzanetaki, piano

Leclair Sonata for 2 violins
Mozart Violin Sonata KV 454
Prokofiev Sonata for 2 violins
Handel Trio Sonata in G minor

 

Keep it up, the deadlines are nearly over.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Ruth

Organ Harvesting & the Battle Between China and Falun Gong

March 14, 2014 in Blog by Ellen MacAskill

“There is enough circumstantial evidence to the alert the international community to what amounts to genocide.” – European Parliament Vice President on reports of Falun Gong practitioners being killed so their organs can be sold for transplants.

Falun Gong, otherwise known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practised based on a combination of ancient oriental philosophies including Buddhism and Taoism. Truthfulness, kindness and tolerance are its three pinnacles of belief. It has no formal organisation or leader. Practitioners focus on meditation to find harmony between the mind and body and look inside themselves for spiritual fulfilment. It can benefit physical as well as mental health.

Since July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party has been condemning the practice as an “evil cult.” It was branded illegal. The millions of people who had found solace in the practice since the early 1990s were persecuted. Slanderous propaganda was circulated to schools and the public, and a process of “re-education” was announced by the CCP. These terrifying Orwellian tactics continue to this day.

A growing body of evidence shows that China are using prisoners of the Falun Gong practice to fatally harvest organs from, which are sold on for profit. China does not have a formal transplantation system, so the huge amount of organs that they provide to national and international patients each year is unaccounted for. In the past they have harvested organs from executed prisoners, however the total is kept a secret.

Apparently, many of those arrested for practising Falun Gong refuse to give their real names to the police. These people then fall off the record so if they are killed it is undetectable. At a press conference in 2013, China’s Vice Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, described the current organ procurement system as “profit-driven, unethical, and violating human rights.” He also admitted that the number of transplants performed yearly grew from several hundred in 1999 to over 10,000 in 2008. MEP Edward McMillan-Scott has stated that: “It is clear that Falun Gong is to the communist regime what the Jews were to the Gestapo.”

This week we were visited by Yuyu, who returned to Amnesty to raise awareness of this issue. She screened a film entitled “Free China: The Courage to Believe” which details the stories of two campaigners who are fighting against the punishment of their spiritual practice.

Jennifer Zeng is a former Communist Party member who went through a year of testing before being allowed to join the Party. She was convinced that it would give her a leg up in society. After the birth of her first child, she was forced to abort her second due to the one-child policy. Her health suffered. When she found Falun Gong, however, she felt transformed – she says learned to stop trying to control other people and to only control herself.

Then the CCP which Jen was loyal to, who actively promoted the practice initially, turned against it in a drastic move. Falun Gong practitioners at that point outnumbered Party members. The widespread dedication to it went against state values of Marxism and atheism, first enforced by Mao in 1949. What was once such a positive thing for China lost its influence in a heartbeat. The CCP essentially run a totalitarian regime which does not tolerate anything which will pose an ideological threat to its motives. People found and benefited from spirituality in a country which prioritised consumerism and commercial gain in the 20th century.

Jennifer was arrested for attending a Falun Gong gathering in 2000 and sentenced to one year in a forced labour camp. Police used force and electrocution and humiliation to control her, and she was denied an appeal. In the camps, prisoners work for hours each day making consumer goods such as hand-knitted sweaters. Jen even made toy rabbits for the Nestle chocolate company. All were exported to the West.

Charles Lee is an American-Chinese businessman who practised Falun Gong. When he heard about the prosecutions, and the way that the internet and media were being used to survey the “crime”, he felt compelled to return to his native country from America. Charles attempted to intercept TV channels and broadcast pro-Falun Gong information. However, he was forced to flee the country after a near miss with the police. When he returned to China a year on, he was arrested at the airport. In jail he went on near-fatal hunger strike. His case became a study for the US Congress as they began to address the issue.

Those held in labour camps for their spiritual practices are forced to display reform before they are released. Jen did this so that she could continue the fight outside. It was an extremely difficult thing to do, particularly when she was held up an as example to others who shared her beliefs.

After release, Charles and Jen were eventually reunited with their families in different parts of the world, and continue the fight for the protection of Falun Gong practitioners.

Joining Yuyu was lawyer Mrs Grace Xu, who spoke to us first-hand about her experience. She found the healing properties of Falun Gong through a roommate at university, well into the 2000s and years after the CCP launched their attack. After a decade of practising Falun Gong, Grace was arrested on her doorstep one morning. She tried to relate to us how brutal life was in the camp she was sent to, and how difficult it is for us to imagine, living in a free democratic country like the UK. She was transferred to a camp reserved for Falun Gong practitioners. Now seeking asylum in the UK, Grace has not seen her daughter for two years.

Yuyu expressed her happiness at the turnout to the event, saying that growing up in China she was faithful to the CCP and shielded from human rights issues. Only when she left did she become aware of what is hidden.

GUAI member Milia Hau, who grew up in Hong Kong, was shocked to learn the truth about Falun Gong. She says: “In Hong Kong the CCP’s influence is not as strong as in China; there are always campaigns about human rights like lawyers disappearing, political prisoners etc. But because Falun Gong is a non-mainstream religious group that most people avoid and ignore in Hong Kong, the fact that Falun Gong practitioners were tortured in China was ignored, despite loads of constant campaign booths in the city’s shopping areas. I personally think it is equally unfair torturing this group, just because their view opposed the party’s view, as torturing other groups inside China.”

Zoom out of the personal pictures, and what is being done globally? The internet has been a big hurdle in the battle between the CCP and campaigners. China censors everything online; however, people out of surveillance’s eye have managed to intercept the “Great Firewall” to provide safe and true information about Falun Gong, available without trace to Chinese internet users.

Ethan Guttman, a human rights investigator and China analyst, gave a talk at Amnesty’s annual Student Conference in Edinburgh this month, which committee members Ali and Maisie attended. He is currently completing a history of the clash between Falun Gong and the CCP. He estimates that approximately 65,000 Falun Gong adherents may have been killed for their organs between 2000 and 2008.

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting started a petition to the UN last year, urging them to “call upon the Chinese government to immediately end the brutal persecution of Falun Gong, which is the root cause for the forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.” It received over 1.5 million signatures in less than 5 months. The European Parliament also passed a motion last year condemning the practice. As Yuyu said, these steps are all positive, but the bureaucracy that must be broken down before real change is made means that campaigning is still as vital as ever.

Find out more about Falun Gong: http://en.falundafa.org/

Sign DAFOH’s petition to the UN: https://www.dafoh.org/petition-to-the-united-nations/

Watch the film for free: http://freechina.ntdtv.org/

Read recent article from EP Vice President: http://fofg.org/2014/01/we-recall-the-holocaust-we-should-recognize-genocide-in-china-today/ (this website also has information about how Falun Gong has been banned in Russia).

 

answering questions (2)AI student (2)ai members (2)

Ruth by Ruth

Tuesday 11th March: Film Screening ‘Free China: The Courage to Believe’ and AGM Announcement

March 9, 2014 in main, newsletter by Ruth

Hellooooo,

Well what an incredible week for GU’s first International Women’s Week! Thank you to Domi for organising our events, I think we covered just about all the most important reasons why International Women’s Day exists. We are also very grateful to Eileen from Rape Crisis Scotland for coming along to screen ‘Consent’. If you missed any of the events, here’s what happened.

We’ve had a very busy year, and I can safely say that even in the last few weeks, we are not slowing down!

**TUESDAY 25TH MARCH: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) see below for more details**

Tuesday 11th March: Film Screening ‘Free China: The Courage to Believe’

5pm, Boyd Orr, Lecture Theatre 222

A film about organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China, with guest speaker Mrs. Xu who is coming to share her experiences of imprisonment and brainwashing before coming to the UK to seek asylum.

Event page

Tuesday 18th March: Guest Speaker – Young People and Trafficking

5pm, QMU

There will be a presentation by Jillian McBride from the Aberlour’s Guardianship Programme, a project in Glasgow supporting young people and children who are victims of human trafficking.

Tuesday 25th March: AGM and Ceilidh, QMU

Our AGM will be our last official Tuesday meeting of the year, but afterwards we will be having our annual ceilidh with GU Red Cross and STAR Glasgow to cheer us up and celebrate the newly elected committee!

The positions up for election will be:

President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Campaigns Coordinator
Fundraising Officer
Publicity Officer
Press Officer
Website Manager

2 x Ordinary Board Members will be elected at the beginning of term next year. This is to allow new members the opportunity to get involved, although these positions are open to all members, not just those who are new to the society.

If you are interested in running for a committee position, we will be putting together a detailed description of each role in advance of the AGM but if you have any specific questions, you can email me president@guamnesty.org.uk or the relevant committee member.

Thursday 27th March: Film Screening – ‘Blood in the Mobile’

 

6.30pm, Boyd Orr, Lecture Theatre 203

‘Blood in the Mobile’ documents the filmmaker’s journey from Nokia HQ, Finland all the way to the mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo to discover the truth about the link between our mobile phones and worst conflict in the world today.

Other events

Wednesday 12th – Saturday 15th March: Citizens Theatre – ‘Refugee Boy’ and ‘Belong’

12th – 15th Main stage production – ‘Refugee Boy
Post-show discussion following the performance on Wednesday 12 March.
15th March – ‘Belong’
‘Since January we’ve been working with the Citizens Theatre Learning Department on bringing together refugees, asylum seekers and local people to explore ‘belonging’ through poetry, song and storytelling. These workshops will culminate in an event called Belong next Saturday, 15 March, 4.30-6.30pm at the Citizens Theatre, prior to the Citizens main stage production Refugee Boy by Lemn Sissay. There will be food, fashion, music, singing, poetry, storytelling.’

Tickets are free – if you would like to go along book online or call 0141 429 0022. http://citz.co.uk/

Friday 14th March: LUSH Event

Lynn from LUSH Sauchiehall Street:

We’re holding a campaign in store next week regarding the ongoing conflict in Colombia. Our particular interest is in the Peace Community of San Jose, who we financially support through their provisions of cocoa butter for a number of our products in store. They are a self-declared neutral peace community, taking no part in the conflict between the government and rebels. Despite assassinations, intimidation and conflict they uphold the highest values of justice and peace. It would be wonderful if any of your representatives were available and would be willing to come in-store, between 1pm and 3pm, and help us to raise awareness of these human rights issues.

We will have a petition in store which we will be urging people to sign which will be presented to the Colombian government. The petition will also be available to sign online at lushpetitions.co.uk which we would be grateful if you could publicise to your social network community, in an urge to make more people aware.

Saturday 15th March: A Campaign Day with Campaign Against Arms Trade

10.30am-5pm, Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HZ
What’s the link between Edinburgh and drones, or Ayrshire and the teargas turned on democracy protesters in the Middle East? What does Dundee have to do with the repression in Bahrain? Find out at an info and skills-sharing day in Glasgow on 15 March.

Sunday 23rd March: Glasgow West Amnesty International Concert Fundraiser

3pm at Wellington Church, 77 Southpark Avenue (off University Avenue), Glasgow G12 8LE. Free entry, donations at the end.

Sandie Bishop, Lamond Gillespie, violins
Flora Tzanetaki, piano

Leclair Sonata for 2 violins
Mozart Violin Sonata KV 454
Prokofiev Sonata for 2 violins
Handel Trio Sonata in G minor

See you in the BOYD ORR on Tuesday,

Ruth