Fundraising ideas

Bake sale

Pub quiz

Abseil

Pool competition

Wine tasting

Bag packing

Carol singing

Selling hot drinks/toast after cheesy – barbecue?

Car boot sale

Film nights

Public letter writing/ christmas card event

‘Duck race’ – orange ducks? Guantanaducks? Child soldier ducks?

‘Friends of Amnesty’

Sponsored silence

Sorry for the lateness guys, but discuss!

GU Amnesty Committee Meeting 4/5/08

Behind the jump as ever.
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Lethal injection ‘okay’

So, does anyone remember last year when the US Supreme Court were reviewing claims that the lethal injection, which is supposed to induce a painless death by using sodium thiopental as an anaesthetic, was actually causing a lot of painful deaths? The argument, put forward by Amnesty, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7027305.stm) is that the sodium thiopental does not always work, and as the injection also includes a chemical which causes muscle paralysis, the victims cannot express their pain. This is apparently an “unconstitutionally cruel” punishment.

So, the Supreme Court considered this (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7013333.stm), and executions were put on hold.

Well, they’re back. Three weeks ago the Supreme Court ended the halt in lethal injections, and according to this article in the International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/03/america/execute.php) the US is, and I quote, “moving to clear the backlog of executions”.

Does this horrify anyone else? The Supreme Court had a chance to change the American stance on the death penalty, to bring the US out of its barbaric customs and into the present with the rest of the so-called developed world, and it just … didn’t.

“The Supreme Court essentially blessed their way of doing things,” said Douglas Berman, a professor of law and a sentencing expert at Ohio State University. “So in some sense, they’re back from vacation and ready to go to work.”

Quite.

Some welcome the end of the moratorium.

“We’ll start playing a little bit of catch-up,” said William Hubbarth, a spokesman for Justice for All, a Houston-based victims rights group.

“It’s not like we have a cheering section for the death penalty.” Hubbarth, an Austin lawyer, said. But he added: “The capital murderers set to be executed should be executed post-haste. It’s not about killing the inmate. It’s about imposing the penalty that 12 of his peers have assessed.”

Yes. You don’t sound morbidly enthusiastic at all.

This at a time when “a recent wave of exonerations after DNA tests proved wrongful conviction.”. They didn’t do it! We have no idea how many people have been wrongfully executed and are set to be wrongfully executed, and this in the US of A, home of the brave, land of the free, supposedly one of the civilised countries.

Go and read that article in the IHT. And then, scroll down this page a bit and look at rachie’s post on China’s human rights situations. Read about the problems there. Sound familiar at all?

We need to realise that in many ways, the USA is no better than China. To all of those in the US who are expressing outrage over the offences in China – look to your own country. Look to Texas where there are 360 men and 9 women on death row – more of a ‘death compound’ as the IHT article jokes. You know what? I don’t think it’s funny. This has to stop, and not in twenty, thirty, fifty years, but now.

GU Amnesty Committee Minutes 27/04/08

Minutes after the jump
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AGM 08 – New Committee!

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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GU Amnesty Committee Meeting 10/3/08

Apologies for late posting.

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Human Rights in China getting worse, not better.

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.

Gaza Situation ‘worse since 1967’

According to Al-Jazeera news:

A new report has said that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is at its worst since Israel seized the territory in 1967.

The study released on Thursday was conducted by a coalition of eight British-based human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Save the Children.

Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty international said:

“Israel has the right and obligation to protect its citizens, but as the occupying power in Gaza it also has a legal duty to ensure that Gazans have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care.

“Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible. The current situation is man-made and must be reversed.”

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D5E2E344-E9E7-42E3-8CEB-71EBC35152BC.htm

Arab broadcast charter

Reuters

DUBAI, March 3 (Reuters) – Outspoken Arab broadcasters said they would not cave in to a charter designed to force them to self-censor their programmes or risk going off air.

The satellite broadcasting charter, endorsed at a meeting of Arab information ministers in Cairo last month, will entrench state control over broadcasts and curtail political expression on the airwaves in a region of some 300 million.

Analysts said the obvious targets of the document, led by U.S. allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel and Lebanon’s al-Manar TV owned by the Shi’ite Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group.

Al Jazeera are of course the channel renowned for broadcasting al Qaeda videos.

I found this interesting. Some are praising it, some are not. Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) are condemning it as a restriction of free speech. (http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/26/mena18153.htm)

Personally I think I’d like to see what it says before making a judgement. It could be a good thing, especially where Al Jazeera are concerned. It might be a restriction of freedom of speech, which of course is to be avoided.

I also find this quote from HRW interesting:

The document, intended as guidelines that carry no legal obligations, recommends that the regulatory bodies of Arab League members states confiscate equipment, impose fines, and suspend, refuse to renew or withdraw licenses from satellite channels that authorities deem to have violated those “principles.”

So they’re just guidelines, not obligations, but there are to be sanctions imposed. I wonder how far this will go?

What are your thoughts, anyone?

GU Amnesty Committee Meeting 21/2/08 – Minutes

Click here:
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