Semester One: October-December 2014
After the vote on 30th September, we have our campaigns! Here is a bit more information on what we’re going to be looking at, what we’re planning on doing and how you can get involved.
Our first campaign of the year is looking at the Death Penalty.
This is a continuous issue that breaches human rights all over the world. While in the UK, we are celebrating 50 years since the removal of the death penalty, all over the world it is still a majorly contested issue.
In 2013, there was an increase of 15% in the amount of people executed, with the number at 778 people across 22 countries. With countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq not providing secure evidence it is hard to know that there were not more than stated. Other countries, who have previously not had the death penalty have reinstated it such as: Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Vietnam. This shows that while it is a long contested issue, it is one that still requires fighting.
Across the pond in America, it is also still an issue with 39 people executed in the last year. Some states only decide not to use the death penalty because of financial reasons rather than it being a breach of human rights. This shows how the death penalty is still not seen as a breach of human rights.
The problems with a lack of fair trials and being placed on death row are prevalent all over the world. Recently a nurse in Kenya was sentenced to the death penalty for having an abortion. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29370405
However, campaigning can result in action and freedom from death row, for example Meriam Ibrahim from Sudan was freed from death row in Sudan in July. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-28596412
Campaign actions we are thinking of are a film screening, a debate co-ordinated with the Glasgow University Dialectics Society and also some smaller campaign actions at the meetings.
If you have any suggestions, as ever, please feel free to let us know.
Our second campaign is looking at Ferguson.
On August 9th, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot by a member of the police force in Ferguson, Missouri. As a result mass protests arose in Ferguson, these peaceful protesters were met by tear gas, sound canons and rubber bullets. This event has been a catalyst for a continuing problem with racial persecution in the United States. Amnesty USA is using this as an opportunity to explore further the details of Michael Brown’s death and looking into the accusations of racial prejudice against American police officers.
This weekend, 10th October – 12th October, Amnesty USA is having a Weekend of Resistance and asking people to stand in solidarity with what has happened in Ferguson.
The first legal motion against the policing tactic in Ferguson was passed on Monday. This marked the first successful legal movement against police.
At Amnesty in Glasgow, it is important to make yourself aware that Western countries are as prone to corruption as any other.
We will be discussing the issue after a presentation by FIND OUT WHO and will be looking into racial crimes and prejudice as a breach of Article 14 of the Human Right’s Act which states that there will be no discrimination based on sex, race, colour, language, religion, political stance, national or social origin, property, birth or any other orientation (e.g. sexuality or marital status).
While Ferguson have cleared away the gas canisters, it is apparent that the overarching issue of racial crimes in the USA is still continuing.
An article from the New York Times discusses the struggle of Ferguson after the cleaning up has been done:
Second on the list is looking at human trafficking; a big issue both in the UK and around the world.
While looking at the ongoing unrest in Ferguson will be a brand-new campaign for GU Amnesty, human trafficking is definitely something we’ve looked at before. Human trafficking has been described as ‘modern-day slavery‘ by the FBI among others and the case for examining the issue couldn’t be clearer.
Here in the UK, the statistics aren’t pretty; a recent BBC news article reported:
Across the UK, it is estimated that 2,744 people, including 602 children, were potential victims of trafficking last year.
These victims can find themselves exploited for labour, or coerced into criminal or sexual activity. Criminal gangs like the Mexican cartels have found trafficking extremely lucrative – right behind drug trafficking – and the situation is similar in the UK. Victims may find themselves tattooed or branded to identify ownership, age and value.
How can such things happen in a country where slavery has been outlawed for so long? Victims are often brought from overseas, where they may be desperate to escape persecution or have dire need to improve the quality of their life. They are often told lies about the process; promised jobs or marriage; that once they are in the country they have huge, insurmountable debts to repay (tens of thousands of pounds) and coerced by threats of being turned over to authorities for arrest, prison and/or deportation, or controlled through violence, food, drink, drugs- or a combination of these.
Although legislation in Scotland was announced earlier in the year and an updated UK-Irish strategy was agreed recently there is still a long way to go in the process of making the country (and the world) human traffick-free.
For more info see Stop the Traffik’s website, and you can read a past blog on a visit from Euan, one of the volunteers with the Glasgow branch.
Our third campaign is also close to home and will examine the rise in the use of food banks in and around the UK.
Poverty and the lack of access to financial support is an issue that has led to an increase in the use of food banks. Coming up to the festive season people are more inclined to donate to such causes, it is important to remember that these people are living below the line throughout the year.
Living below the line is a project that runs every year in April – look at the link to try and live of £1 a day – https://www.livebelowtheline.com/) In 2014 it raised a total of £920,000 for anti-poverty projects across the world.
Working alongside Maryhill Food Bank, we will be looking to collect tinned goods and food for the local food bank. As a more active campaign, we will also be hoping to get in contact with The Big Issue who are based in Glasgow, on Bath St.
Homelessness is a serious problem in the UK and the stigma of it being self- inflicted is one of the largest problems that people who are homeless face.
A lot of other charities work in order to help the homeless, one being GUSH (Glasgow University’s Service to the Homeless) who run a soup kitchen on a Saturday and Wednesday night and are co-ordinated by the SRC.
There are also two new cafés that have opened in the city centre earlier this year called Social Bite which aims to help train homeless people; 1 in 4 of their work force were previously homeless. They also have a programme called ‘Suspended Coffee’ where you can buy a cup of coffee, cake or lunch (or all three) for a homeless person to pick up later on in the day. If you’re looking for a good deed for the day, there is a worse way to go about it.
Check them out online at: http://www.social-bite.co.uk/
Hard-talker, food critic Jay Rayner, speaks out about food banks in an article in The Guardian last year, showing that this is a problem that still has not gone away and still needs to be tackled head on:
Coming Up: Semester Two
Our campaigns for the second semester are still to be decided! Check this page again later in the year for more information.