Newsletter 2014-12-01: Write For Rights and End of Term

December 1, 2014 in information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

And so, it’s upon us. The last meeting of term.

There’s a mixture of joy and sadness in this, as in all things. Joy, because we’ve done some great things these past few months; and sadness because there won’t be any more GU Amnesty meetings until January. Joy for the anticipation of Christmas and the holiday season, and sadness for the looming threat of exams.

Joy for the efforts of ours that make a difference:

“I am so grateful for everything that people are doing in the UK to help me. The letters I have received give me hope. When I hear about the level of support and everything that is being done for me by Amnesty International, it makes me the nappies man on Earth.”

Moses Akatugba, in prison in Nigeria for eight years facing execution (via Justine Ijeomah)

And sadness that there is still so very much to do in the world. Keep lighting those candles.

After such an awesome week last week with so many things on, this will be relatively short – and my apologies for being somewhat tardy – newsletter!

This Week: Write for Rights!

Tuesday 2nd December 2014 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

Write for Rights Banner

This week we’ll be taking part in Amnesty International’s ‘annual write-a-thon’, otherwise known as Write for Rights. The tagline goes write a letter, change a life (you might also see ‘save a life’); and the idea is that every December people around the world take an action (see links above) or write a personal message to one of 12 individuals or communities at risk.

We will be hearing a few presentations on some of those features in this year’s selection (again see first Amnesty UK link above), and then people can choose to write one or more messages for those or the others featured this year.

We’ll also be asking for some feedback on this semester in terms of campaigns and events. So if you feel something went well, or – just as importantly – if you were disappointed by something or felt it could have gone better, please come along and let us know. All feedback is welcome; and you can do it anonymously if you wish.

We’ll be heading down to Jim’s for an end-of-term social afterwards, and we’d love for you all to come along 🙂

Jamnesty – Success and Thanks!

Jamnesty & Flag Woo
(Difficult to pick just one photo out of all the amazing ones of people enjoying themselves, bands and the wonderful decorations so I went with this one)

Wow.

I think everyone who went would agree: Jamnesty was awesome! Firstly I’d like to say thank you to the artists and bands who provided us with some awesome sets:

and to the DJs for entertaining us in the afterparty:

*(Apologies if I got any of those links incorrect – there’s a couple of overlapping names!)

I’d also like to thank everyone on the Jamnesty subcommittee without whom Jamnesty would not have happened. Not only did a lot of effort go into making the venue look beautiful – I think you’ll agree! – on the night; but even more work went into the run-up in terms of flying, postering, seeking raffle prizes, making decorations and lots more besides. Big kudos for these guys.

And lastly, our thanks to Stereo for providing such an awesome venue, and to the local businesses who provided the raffle prizes (please support them!).

The bar has been set very high indeed for next year, and that’s a great thing.

My stamp still hasn’t quite faded

Reclaim the Night 2014

This year’s Reclaim the Night march was again extremely well-attended. Thanks to everyone who came along and took part, and to Ruth for taking most of the photos on the night. Violence against women still sadly happens in this day and age, here and around the world. It is a topic we can perhaps return to next semester.

Reclaim the Night 2014

One of Ruth’s excellent photos from Reclaim the Night 2014

Coming Up

GHRN & Amnesty UK Present: My Body My Rights

Monday 8th December 2014 2-5PM, Gannochy Seminar Room, Wolfson Medical School Building

MBMR El Salvador Infographic

This is a solidarity event with women and girls in El Salvador:

El Salvador has one of the world’s most punitive abortion laws, with abortion a crime even when a woman’s life is at risk. Every year, thousands of women and girls are being driven to the brink of death by the country’s absolute ban on abortion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 50 years for ‘aggravated homicide’.

Featuring keynote speaker, Morena Herrera, Director of Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto (Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) based in El Salvador. The event will be followed by a reception. If you would like to attend, please register on the Eventbrite site.

Amnesty International’s recent report On the brink of death: Violence against women and the abortion ban in El Salvador, documents how in some cases women who have had abortions or miscarriages have been prosecuted and jailed for up to 50 years for “homicide” or “aggravated homicide” after being reported to the police by their doctors.

This is also something that will work as a good intro to what we may be covering next semester, so I would encourage you to go along if you can!

Thanks for Reading

Since the kittens and puppies went down well last week, and since there’s still the stress of exams to look forward to, I thought I would up the ante by two this week:

rabbit-mouse-kitten-puppy

Lovely.

Alexander the Great came up in conversation (and on the radio) a few times this week, and so I thought I’d share a gif I found tracing his progress.

AlexandertheGreat

It doesn’t really do the incredible feat justice, but there you go. As an aside, when tracking it down I found that it’s much easier to find pictures of Colin Farrell than about one of history’s greatest military leaders. So there you go.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Food Banks and Poverty, Poverty and Food Banks

November 14, 2014 in Blog, information, main by Rob Hallam

Difficulties often come hand-in-hand, like poverty and the use of food banks. This week saw the kick-off of our food banks campaign, which is something we’ve not looked at in any detail in my many several some years with GU Amnesty. Way back in the campaigns meeting one of the reasons suggested in favour of choosing food banks as a campaigns was the locality of the issue: in 2009 there was one Trussel Trust food bank in Scotland; in 2013 there were 42, with another 17 in development (1). Recent public events in Glasgow have seen en-masse donations to food banks, underscoring a level of interest and appreciation of the issue from the public. At least, that’s the hope.

Food Banks in Scotland Infographic

In Scotland food banks and related services have expanded greatly even in the last few years.

The issue is both huge and uncomfortable. In the UK, mobdro free download estimates put the proportion of the population below the poverty line at 1 in 5. This is nearly 13 millions people, or nearly two-and-a-half times the population of Scotland. Those numbers are shocking, but can be hard to relate to; so let me put it a different way. Let’s say there were around thirty people at the meeting on Tuesday. If the group is representative of a national average (which I don’t think we are, but that’s not important here), it would be likely that one or two of the people you were sitting with at your group’s table is in poverty. Now, there’s admittedly a fair amount of hand-waving and inaccuracy in there, but the point is: one in five in poverty is huge.

Not quite as large but just as uncomfortable is the number of people using food banks in the UK. Sources put it at around 1 million, and we’re not alone: compare with 1.5 million in Germany. That’s a million people who most likely have a choice between a food bank, or going hungry. A choice between going hungry, and the potential social stigma associated with using a food bank- to be accused of being ‘too lazy to work’; ‘wanting something for free’; or the loss of pride felt at being unable to provide for themselves and their family. These aren’t choices any person anywhere should have to make, much less in the prosperous UK. It’s bad enough that the UK has been accused of violating the basic human right to food as a result.

Why have we gotten to this stage? One of the common definitions of poverty, includes those living at or below 60% of median household income (2). While this is both somewhat arbitrary and indirect, it would in itself point to a reason that an ever-higher proportion are in poverty: widening income disparity. But this still says next to nothing about the causes of poverty. There is a veritable laundry list of reasons put forward: disability, illness, racial discrimination, lone parent, or simply a person being born into poverty means it’s much more likely that they will remain in poverty. Tougher financial times will also have a significant impact on the standard of living, disproportionately so at the bottom end of the scale. One of the big reasons that came up in both videos we saw (Breadline Britain and Julie Webster discussing Maryhill Food Bank) was that benefit changes, reductions or even delays mean people are put in a situation where they may have to seek help with food.

Trussel Trust: Reasons for Food Bank Use

Stated reasons for accessing food banks vary

I could continue to quote statistics from the meeting we had on Tuesday – 4 million kids Mobdro Online TV living in deprivation; 2.5 in damp homes; 1.4 in homes that aren’t adequately heated; it goes on – but the case is clear enough. Fortunately, as ever with our campaigns, we can do something about this. This being a campaign with a very local focus, we can perhaps do even more than we could otherwise. It was extremely heartening to see both the generosity of food donated, and the enthusiasm for continuing to drive this forward. Breffni O’Connor voiced both her and the SRC’s support for widening the campaign for food donations; both she and others had some great ideas for how to go about this. There is potential for Glasgow University to come together and do something meaningful and of tremendous benefit to the community.

I really hope we do.

<

div class=”footnotes”>


  1. http://www.understandingglasgow.com/indicators/poverty/food_banks 
  2. http://www.poverty.ac.uk/definitions-poverty/income-threshold-approach 

Email / Newsletter Issues Update

November 9, 2014 in information by Rob Hallam

Update: We’ve moved to MailChimp. Hurray! You can see the email that was sent out here.

(Apologies for the cross post- not everyone’s on FB or Twitter so wanted to be sure as many people see this as possible)

Howdy folks, we’ve had an issue with the newsletter here on this lovely Sunday morning. Seems that there’s some network issues and just about every provider bounced the email.

Could anyone who sees this post who is subscribed reply below and let us know if they received the (email) newsletter? Given the number of delivery failures we’ll probably end up re-sending it and I don’t expect many replies, but thanks in advance!

Apologies for the inconvenience- your patience while we sort this little hiccough out is much appreciated! In the meantime, have a picture of a kitten to keep you going.

Kitten!

Newsletter 2014-11-08: Food Banks, Crafting Session and Upcoming Events

November 8, 2014 in information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Special Notice: Food Bank Collection

Special notice: We will be collecting food on Tuesday for Maryhill Food Bank as part of our food banks campaign. Please bring cans or packets of food to the meeting on Tuesday at 5PM. More info in This Week section. Thank you in advance.

Goodness gracious me, it’s the second meeting of November already. This semester is really flying in.

Human trafficking is a huge subject which we’ll hopefully get the chance to return to at some point, otherwise hopefully everyone has had a chance either in the meeting or thereafter to see The Dark Side of Chocolate which we screened on Tuesday. There’s more info available on the website on human trafficking which is well worth a read if you want to explore the subject further; which I would strongly encourage you to do.

Just a reminder or heads-up for those who weren’t at the meeting, there is a crafting / discussion session (provisionally) Sunday 9th November 5PM for a human trafficking demo / flashmob. This will likely be held in one of the committee rooms in the QMU. If you’re coming along please fill in the Doodle so we know how many to expect! Remember you can check our group for updates for these things- this is separate from our Facebook Page, so if you aren’t a member, please request to join.

Lastly, there’s been a couple of gradual trends in the last couple of months: newsletters getting longer, and meetings starting later. These are both totally on me. There’s a lot of information to keep people up to speed on, so the newsletter can balloon; and wanting to start the meeting when there’s enough people arrived.

I can appreciate that it’s frustrating if you arrive on time for 5 to have to wait for others to show up, so we will be starting meetings more sharply from now on. It’s still okay to show up a bit late, of course, if you’re out of a lecture/lab/tutorial late or delayed or whatnot, but the meeting will be kicking off! 🙂

I will also try to keep the newsletters as short as possible. The variables are what’s on in a given week, and upcoming events can be one or two one week, and five or six the next. I try to ‘front load’ the newsletters by putting the most important info early on, and I divide it into sections with headings and contents so you can see at a glance what the gist of it is. But there can be a lot to get through, so I will try and minimise that insofar as possible. For those of you reading this who are concerned- don’t worry, the end-of-newsletter ‘thanks for reading’ rewards will stay 😀

With that ironically-lengthy prelude out of the way, on with the show!

This Week: Food Banks – Collection and Intro

Tuesday 11th November 2014, 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

Maryhill Food Bank Banner

Facebook event: invite your friends for this one, we’re hoping to make the collection big!

As I mentioned way back at the start of the newsletter, we will be collecting for Maryhill Food Bank this week. Basically this means we will have boxes at the meeting, and we would like to encourage you to bring food along for donation- preferably cans, jars or dried packets please! Beverages and toiletries are also useful; please see Maryhill Food Bank’s donations page for a list of suggested items.

We will also be screening a documentary (Breadline Britain) to give an overview of poverty in the UK and how people can end up forced to rely on food banks. After that there will be a presentation from Rebecca and Seb on the subject. Breffni O’Connor will also be coming along to chat on food bank plans.

I am really excited for this campaign and the immediacy of what we can do; I hope you guys are too.

A Quick Post-Student Conference Update

As I mentioned in the meeting, Sarah and I popped down to London last weekend to attend the 2014 Student Conference. As all the talks, workshops, campaigning and news could fill another newsletter entirely, we will come up with a way to properly and succinctly debrief you all!

In the meantime, you can have a look at our Twitter feed for the copious live-tweeting that went on; or have a look at the #studentconf hashtag.

If I could convey only one thing though, it would be that it’s a fantastic weekend and I regret waiting so long to go!

Jamnesty Preview – With Games!

Sunday 16th November 2014, Scran @ QMU (TBC)

jamnesty-preview

So you’re all undoubtedly inviting your friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances and people on the street to Jamnesty 2014, telling them to buy tickets and spread the word further. But they’re not sure about the music, or how cool we are. Maybe they think it will be a night of proselytising? Well, you can allay their fears!

We have provisionally planned a preview acoustic set in Scran in the QMU next Sunday (16th November). There’s a bar, there’s music, and there might be one or two (very casual) games to get you in the Jamnesty mood!

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for an event and more details.

CFCI Meeting

Wednesday 12th November 4PM, Fraser Building

If you’re interested in CFCI, there is a meeting this week on Wednesday at 4 in the Fraser Building. On the agenda:

  1. Campaign strategy for Motion.
  2. Film screening with Earthmovies: ‘Blood in the Mobile’.
  3. Website launch.

Upcoming Events

Aside from Jamnesty 2014 (which you can buy tickets for!), there are a few things coming up in the next couple of weeks which may be of interest.

‘I Am A Leader’: Leadership Talks

Wednesday 12th November 7PM, GCU Campus

We got a message in about this event and it looks good- just a pity it’s not happening next semester as part of our work on International Women’s Week! Details:

As part of the ‘I Am A Leader’ campaign, Caledonian Women are running a series of talks on the topic of women in leadership. The speakers for our first event are as follows:

  • Claire Lightowler; Director of the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice.
  • Karyn McCluskey; Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit.
  • Mairi Damer; Ex-BBC radio producer and broadcast journalist turned communications trainer, media adviser & copywriter.
  • Adele Patrick; Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, Glasgow Women’s Library.

Our speakers have been given free reign over what they talk about but we have suggested a theme of “What I would tell my twenty-one year-old self”. Everyone is welcome to come along and listen to our wonderful guests.

We will be serving food and drink during the break. At this point, please feel free to mingle and have discussions with our speakers, members of Caledonian Women and any other interesting folk who you come across.

Or see the event page on iamaleader.co.uk for more info.

National Demonstration for Free Education

Wednesday 19th November 2014

This first one isn’t directly Amnesty-related, but the future of education is important so I am including it here for you all to make your own individual decision on. Breffni O’Connor, in her capacity as SRC President, asked us to mention this:

The SRC have decided to attend the National Demonstration for Free Education which is happening in London on November 19th. Free Education is something that we need to continue to obtain to ensure Universities are as accessible as possible for all. We will be marching with students across the country for a fair, free, and well-funded education system across the UK.

There will be a pre demo meeting to talk out the plan of action for the day and to prepare for the demo.

We can only go to London if we have a full bus

More information can be found here: https://boxoffice.src.gla.ac.uk/product/national-demonstration-free-education

While we don’t officially endorse this demonstration it is a sufficiently important issue that everyone should be aware of, and we know that you are all capable of coming to your own conclusions on the issue.

GHRN: Sakharov Prize 2014

Thursday 20th November 5.30PM, Room 916, Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow

Since this is coming up through the Glasgow Human Rights Network, I thought I’d mention it as it may be of interest to some to go along and hear about the nominees.

The European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded every year to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression. This year the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, who helps thousands of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Students on the MSc Human Rights & International Politics course will set out the case for each nominee for the Prize. This will be followed by a Q&A session, a public debate and vote.

The discussion will be followed by a wine reception. Everyone is welcome. If you would like to attend, please register on Eventbrite.

These events are a good way to meet other folks involved in human rights work and research; or network 🙂

Reminder: Reclaim the Night March

Thursday 27th November 2014, Starting at Botanic Gardens 6:15PM

I mentioned this in a previous newsletter, but it’s worth bearing in mind. There’s now a Facebook event too!

This year’s march will take place on Thursday 27th November (that’s the day after Jamnesty!) with assembly at 6:15 PM outside Botanic Gardens on Great Western Road (opposite Oran Mor).

You can see photos from last year’s march which we took part in after a Tuesday meeting.

Thanks for Reading

Given my desire to keep things short, I’d better draw things to a close there. But before you go, another Thanks For Reading bonus, this week from a set of photos I look of the fireworks on Glasgow Green:

Fireworks Glasgow Green 2014

This, along with the rest of the set, was taken from a car park just beside Strathclyde Distillery. And now you know.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr Marco Goldoni: A discussion on racial issues and the law

November 1, 2014 in Blog, information by Rebecca Corbett

Passing through a major station, wearing a back pack because you are on your way home, you are stopped and searched. No one else around you is searched or even appears to be considered. Why are you stopped? Is it because you have brown skin and fit a certain stereotype, you hope not. However sadly the police on duty has decided you fit the classic ‘terrorist’ description. Therefore your bag, instead of containing clothes and your reading for the evening, must be carrying some form of explosive.

A woman was stopped and searched, her husband was left unquestioned and when she asked; ‘why did you stop me?’ The police officer replied: ‘well, obviously because you are black.’ She took it to court, stating that it was a violation of Article 14 of the Spanish constitution. However her complaints were discharged saying that it was not an issue of racial discrimination, but instead based on factual evidence that had showed that certain ethnic groups were more likely to commit a crime.

Ethnic profiling is still used by both American and British police forces with no justification as is acts of prejudice within policing decisions, education and limited access for ethnic minorities. This breaks and breaches Article 14 of the American constitution and also the Humans Rights Act.

In a discussion led by Dr. Marco Goldoni at our meeting on Tuesday 28th October, he outlined a few major issues of racial prejudice in law cases. As well as the issue of ethnic profiling, he explained that in most cases of racial differentiation your “identity is externally determined by external forces.” He  used the example of slavery to explain this, as during this period African Americans were “assumed to be part of a certain work force” solely because of their racial identification. (Consider the situation in the film 12 Years a Slave).

Even though law has declared a removal of prejudice, on all grounds of race (as well as gender and sexuality) this does not mean that laws can be twisted and prejudices can exist outside of the law. One situation, Goldoni explained, falls down to urban development.

Take this an example: Imagine a high school is being built in a suburb to help with local education as there is a shortage of schools in the area. The school is built far enough away from the communities largely made up of ethnic minorities that it is not accessible by foot, instead you need to get a car or a taxi. How about if you cannot afford a car or a taxi? Public transport links happen to have been cut to this certain high school. With no available public transport, the new school, that is built in a leafy suburb, is only accessible to those with a certain level of income, as they either own a car or live in the surrounding area. This shows how public services can be limited by decisions based on prejudice in urban planning.

The issue of race, Goldoni explained, is that it is always going to be a plural term and it will always depend on a hierarchy. This hierarchy positions ‘white’ at the top of the ranking, as a ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ race, declaring all others ‘impure’. The fact that this is even a topic for discussion shows that while it is the 21st century and people can talk to each other on the other side of the world through a computer screen, the Western world socially still has a long way to go.

Maybe we should all just take a leaf our of Sweden’s book and remove the word race from our constitution? However, whether the word is used or not, Goldoni reminded us that unlike citizenship which can be tested for and given or in the case of Malta even sold, race is something “you will never be able to escape” as there will “never be a market for race.”

Newsletter 2014-10-26: PUB QUIZ, Ferguson and Beyond, Jamnesty Tickets

October 26, 2014 in information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam


Notwithstanding the egregious howler of a typo that started last week’s emailed newsletter, I bring you yet another missive full to overflowing with words for you to decipher.

Another round of thanks are in order this week. Firstly to Sarah and Alex for presenting on Tuesday. It was really handy to have an introduction to the history of race relations in the US as it set the context for what is happening in Ferguson (and elsewhere) succinctly. Well done to everyone who wrote a letter too- sending those off will surely have an impact; and the photos for #FergusonOctober show our solidarity. Have a look at Bex’s take on the Ferguson situation too, as it is definitely worth a read.

Thanks too to everyone who helped out with the bake sale on Friday- with all the informative events we put on it’s easy to overlook the fact that we need some money to operate; so well done to all involved.

This Week: Ferguson and Other Cases of Racial Discrimination

Tuesday 28th October 2014, 5PM, Committee Room 1 of the QMU

We are planning to build on the work we did on Ferguson last week, with a guest speaker* coming to talk about case studies on injustice and racial discrimination. After that we are going to have a group discussion about cases to come up with new some letter-writing templates, which we can add to our list of resources.

Given that we now know Ferguson is just one incident in a sea of many in the US and around the world which involves police brutality and racial discrimination, it’s important to shine a light on the others so that we can send a message that whoever it may happen it is not acceptable.

The session should be informative and also practical, as the group discussion should illuminate how the letters that we (and Amnesty at large) write are composed.

**subject to confirmation*

SUNDAY (TODAY): PUB QUIZ!

Sunday 26th October 2014, 8PM, Jim’s Bar (1st Floor of the QMU)

IMG_4480_v2

When: Sunday 26th October, 8PM
Where: Jim’s Bar, on the first floor of the QM Union
Entry: £3

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends!

Come to Jim’s and test your knowledge in our pub quiz. Show off your expertise in equestrian, your panache for performance art or just your magnificence at multiple choice.

Bring your reclusive genius mate to help you along, and your others as padding to laugh at when they miss a date by a couple odd centuries.

Prizes to be confirmed!

All proceeds from the night will go to Amnesty International UK.

£3 entry

It’ll be a great night!

Syrian Coalition / Week Update

Next meeting this Thursday 30th October 2014, 4PM Fraser Building

Syrian refugees

You may remember a previous update in a newsletter about the Coalition for Syrian Refugees. If not, then briefly it’s an inter-society coalition with aim of raising funds for and awareness of the plight of Syrian Refugees. GU Amnesty has been involved and none moreso than now. We’ve already had a meeting which included Oxfam, GRASS and UNICEF with the aim of organising and promoting a Syrian Week of events and information in January. The good news is that the SRC are considering officially endorsing the week!

There’s still lots to organise and although January seems miles off by now it’ll definitely come rushing up- particularly given there’s a whole bunch of exams in December! So if you’d like to get involved please feel free to come along to the meeting this Thursday at 4PM in the Fraser Building and contribute to the week!

Jamnesty Tickets On Sale This Week

With the groovy Jamnesty coming up in just under a month on Wednesday 26th November in Stereo, you might be wondering “where can I buy tickets for this awesome event?”. And the answer would be: right here! The ticketing system we used for the SPB is being redeployed to serve the needs of our gig night too. You’ll also be able to buy tickets from us in person, of course.

Watch this space! If you have any other questions, please email [jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk](mailto:jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk].

Reminder! Wednesday 29th October: Conference – ‘Conflict in the Congo: Responses from the International Community’

4-6PM, Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow

In case anyone missed it (again!) last week, this is coming up this Wednesday. Ruth is looking for a few volunteers – more CV material! – so if you’re interested please email mail@conflictfreeglasgow.org.uk and let her know.

With several interesting speakers, this conference co-hosted by CFCI Glasgow, GHRN and Global Security Network is a great opportunity to find out in a bit more detail what has been going on in the Congo and what the response has been.

The event will be free and open to everyone, including all students and staff at the University, members of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and the Global Security Network, and anyone outwith the University who may be interested. The hope is that this event will provide an education to those who have little or no understanding of the on-going conflict in the DRC, as well as giving people from campaigning/academic backgrounds with a focus on the DRC or human rights and conflicts the opportunity to engage with a range of speakers who can discuss various aspects of international interventions.

As I said last week it looks really great and I know that Ruth has put a lot of work into organising the event, so I would strongly recommend gong if you’re free at 4 on Wednesday 29th! You can always check out the CFCI Facebook page for more info and updates.

Have a look at the Facebook event for the conference and come along!

Student Conference Travel Plans

In case anyone is coming along to the student conference that we don’t know about yet, please get in touch and let us know if you would like to organise group travel with us. No obligation, but it would be nice to travel a group and if nothing else it’s good to know who is going!

A Recap In Photos

Maybe you’re one of the many people who have joined us in the last few weeks, or recently subscribed to the newsletter. I bet you’d love a recap of some of the things we’ve done so far, right? Even if you’ve been with us for years and years, everyone loves photos. So, since I got caught up with the last few weeks of photos this weekend, I can show you what has been happening since term’s start.

In reverse chronological order, ish:
– A recent meeting we had on Ferguson, MO: Photos and our contribution to the #FergusonOctober photo petition
– A meeting to elect new committee members and death penalty demo preparation
– Our #DemocracyNowHK solidarity photos
– Choosing our campaigns for the semester
– Our welcome meeting – standing room only!
– A few photos from our stall at the Freshers Fair
– A campaign – the Conflict Free Campus Initiative – that we started on a couple of years ago now has its own coalition and motion before the court- we showed our continued support by taking photos during Freshers Fair and our welcome meeting!

It’s great to see so many people taking part and enjoying themselves in the photos- keep it up guys 🙂

Thanks for Reading

This week’s ‘thanks for reading’ reward is something a little closer to home, an animated GIF I made from everyone who took a photo for the #FergusonOctober solidarity action:

FergusonOctober - animated

You guys continue to rock.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Ferguson: A dream for racial equality past, present and future

October 22, 2014 in Blog, information, main by Rebecca Corbett

On 26th August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) addressed Washington D.C. and said the iconic words, ‘I have a dream’. He called for the country that was called the United States to become a united nation; a country that would allow both black Americans and white Americans to sit side by side and show mutual respect.

On the 9th August 2014, 51 years after MLK said the iconic words, that dream is sadly still shown to be a pipe dream. While African Americans in terms of legality have a voice, in local government that voice is still that of a second class citizen, under-represented and not heard enough of.

The recent events in Ferguson in the aftermath of the shooting of teenager Michael Brown has brought this to light. In a community that is 67% black, in local government that representation does not equate; the city council has a mere 17% of black representatives, with a white mayor, and the police force is even lower at only 6%. Over here, such inequality would contravene the human rights act article 14, which demands that all human rights be’ exercised without discrimination’. I find it difficult to believe that African Americans simply just don’t want to be involved in local government.

It is sad to see that in a progressive and forward thinking country that prides itself on the American dream, that the dream of MLK has still not been held up and that racial prejudice is still widely seen.

The appointment of Barack Obama indeed shows how far the country has come, however due to the recent breaches of the First Amendment (which includes the right to peaceful assembly; here implemented in the human rights act under articles 10 and 11), it is apparent that the dream that MLK called for in Washington DC is still one that needs to be fought for.

Therefore it is important that we at Glasgow University Amnesty Society still stand with Ferguson and fight for fair sentencing of Police Officer Darren Wilson in January, greater racial equality and continue to hope for the dream that MLK outlined half a century ago.

With the human rights acts, it is not a case of picking and choosing for certain individuals, if someone is human then these are the acts and they should not be breached.

Newsletter 2014-10-19: Ferguson, PUB QUIZ THIS SUNDAY and some Reminders

October 19, 2014 in information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Hello again! With the passing of another week I would like to thank everyone who tended the shop while I was away in the south. You all kept things running smoothly! I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who came along to the screening of In Prison My Whole Life and to the debate with the Dialectics where we got some more photos for our #notodeathpenalty campaign. If you missed Bex’s writeup on the documentary it’s well worth a read, and it ties in nicely to what we’ll be doing in the week ahead.

All in all given how well the week went, I may have to go away more often…

This Week: Ferguson

Tuesday 14th October, 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

Ferguson protest in the street

From the death penalty we move on to our first choice of campaign for this year: Ferguson. This is the first time that we’ve covered something of this nature happening in the US, so it’s new ground for novel campaigning ideas!

Announcing: GU Amnesty’s Pub Quiz!

Sunday 26th October 2014, Jim’s Bar, 8PM

Pub quiz 2013 team

So you think you know your stuff? It’s that time of year again: time for another GU Amnesty Pub Quiz! Join us on Sunday 26th October (this coming Sunday, a week today) in Jim’s bar for several rounds of delightful brain-teasing questions. Entrance is £3 (thinking of the Raise-off already!) and there will be some great prizes to be won. So get those thinking caps on!

Click ‘going’ on the Facebook event page, you know you want to! And invite your friends too- the more people that go the higher the pot!

You can also have a look at the photos from last year’s Pub Quiz which should show what a great time we had.

SPB Poster Competition

Accepting entries now!

Do you think you heave what it takes to win an award from an award-winning show? If you have some creative flair and a knack for digital artistry you mays be interested in participating in our very own poster competition!

The competition has run for the last couple of years and produced some great results:

2013 Poster2014 Poster

…And yours could take their place amongst them! The details we need are:

GU Amnesty International
Date :February 21st
Title :The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Hosted by Billy Kirkwood
The Venue : Qudos, Queen Margaret Union
Price: £6 for comedy only £8 with afterparty in Jim’s Bar (£7/9 O.T.D.)
Doors: at 7.30pm

If it’s a format that translates well between large poster (A3) and flyer (A5) sizes so much the better, even if the two versions are slightly different.

The deadline is 31st October 2014 and the grand prize is two tickets to this year’s SPB. Plus the whole bunch of kudos and exposure of having your design plastered around the West End and online.

Please send your entries to spb@guamnesty.org.uk; and good luck to all entrants!

More info can be found in the Facebook event.

AIUK Student Conference – Reminder and Motions

November 1-2 2014, London (deadline for motions is Monday 23rd October)

Student conference

I’ll be reminding you again about the student conference (see below) but first we had a message in from Rachel Statham, the Scottish STAN rep about making policy proposals at the student conference:

The Student Conference AGM is the opportunity for students to have their say, and resolutions can be passed on pretty much any aspect of Amnesty policy, provided that the action you call for is to ask the STAN Committee to do something. For example previous resolutions have asked that the STAN Committee not fly within the UK (exempting Northern Ireland) when travelling to meetings, and have asked us to raise particular issues with the AIUK Board.

This is a brilliant chance for every student activist to engage in the governance of Amnesty, as you can also ask us to help facilitate bringing a motion to National AGM, on a campaign you would like to see Amnesty UK doing. Last year this is exactly what happened when a motion brought forward requesting a focus on Human Rights Abuses in Guatemala, was passed at the AGM in Edinburgh. This motion, stemming from a proposal from a student group at the student AGM, and is now a formal AIUK Campaign.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is Midday on 23rd October, so it’s very soon. Please consider bringing forward a motion, and engaging with the AGM. Don’t hesitate to contact us, by email or facebook, for any advice or more information.

Governance and policy are really important areas to get right, and it’s vital we all are able to have a say in how Amnesty International (and STAN, in this case) conducts its business. Please get in touch very soon if you have something you would like raised or would like more info on the process.

Don’t forget to register on the student conference page! Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Jamnesty Update: Venue confirmed!

Wednesday 26th November 2014

Thanks to the efforts of Domi, Joe and Milia we have confirmed Stereo as a venue for Jamnesty on 26th November. This will be an excellent place to host the great music we’ll be hearing over the course of the night and is a significant expansion over our previous venue of The Halt.

It should be a great night! Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements closer to the time.

Sleep Out Reminder!

Friday 24th October 2014

Last reminder this week I promise!

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!).

Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! The venue is still TBC at time of writing.

Update: Kit has confirmed that the sleep out will be held in the cloisters as he was able to secure permission for it to be held there.

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Thanks for Reading

This week’s newsletter had a generous portion of reminders of upcoming events and things of note. But sometimes they’re necessary (I do try and keep the newsletter short and also mark reminders clearly!); and some don’t mind them:

A pair of seagulls from Port Issac

Including this couple from Port Issac.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Just don’t say ‘less reminders’, please!

Newsletter 2014-10-12: Election Results, Upcoming Events and CFCI Update!

October 12, 2014 in cfci, information, main, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Another week has flown in! Congratulations to our three new committee members:

  • Fundraising Officer Joe Clerke
  • Ordinary Board Sarah Bacom
  • Ordinary Board Seb Hammani

And my deep regrets to those who stood but were not elected- please don’t be too disheartened, we definitely still very much want and appreciate your input over the coming months! The main AGM will take place in the second semester for those interested in standing then. I hope you will be just as keen!

Thanks to everyone who helped making the banners for the death penalty demo on Friday; and my apologies for the confusion over the crafting session- due to issues with room bookings we decided to use the banners we already had plus the two that were made on Tuesday. A big well done especially to those who braved the intermittent showers to get all the #notodeathpenalty photos on Friday!

If all the death penalty campaigning has piqued your interest and you have ideas or want to get involved give us an email at campaigns@guamnesty.org.uk.

Tuesday 14th October: Film Screening of In Prison My Whole Life

5PM, Boyd Orr Building Room 222

In Prison My Whole Life

Please note the venue! We’re over in the Boyd Orr Building for the meeting this Tuesday. We’ll be watching the film In Prison My Whole Life, which we saw the trailer for last week. If you missed it, you can see it here:

(link for those reading in email: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7K3pdnsWmM)

The film deals with the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in July 1982 of killing a police officer. The title comes from the day in December 1981 of Abu-Jamal’s arrest- the day Will Francome (creator of the documentary) was born. We’re lucky to have Will Francome joining us via teleconference after the screening too. It should be a very good watch! More information and join the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/721239527960240/.

Wednesday 15th October: Death Penalty Debate with Dialectics

6PM, Boyd Orr Building

Rounding off our look at the death penalty (for the time being) will be this debate conducted by the Dialectics society. Join us for a discussion of how the death penalty is used internationally in what promises to be a very informative look at some of the issues surrounding extrajudicial killings, war crimes and mob justice.

Get more info and join the event on Facebook!

Reminder: AIUK Student Conference

November 1-2 2014, London

Student conference

Another quick reminder about the student conference coming up soon. We’ve got a few folks confirmed as going, so do get in touch if you want to come along! It’s a two-day dive into what Amnesty International is all about: campaigns, actions… and meeting and socialising with other groups!

Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Places go quickly so don’t delay! More information and booking link are available on the student conference page; if you are travelling down please let me know and we can book something all together!

GU GRASS Info

GRASS header

Since there was interest in GRASS last week after Kit filled us in on some upcoming events (Thanks Kit!) I thought it would be worthwhile to give a few more details for those that might be interested in what’s happening and the great work that they do.

So first of all, from their about page:

At Glasgow University, we use our position as a university society to help asylum seekers and refugees in the best ways we can. As Glasgow is a distribution centre for refugees, a strong network of support for arriving refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow is really important. GRASS began in 1999 and has been working to improve the lives of refugees ever since.

You can find them on Facebook and their website is pretty informative for things like past and current projects. Also on Facebook is the event page for their Pub Quiz which Kit also mentioned.

Sleep-Out: Friday 24th October 2014

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!). Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! Despite this it will be going ahead in a couple of weeks, so dig out the sleeping bag and get sponsored!

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Jamnesty Update

Domi and Milia have been working hard to get things sorted out for Jamnesty in November, which is already shaping up to be a fantastic night! We’ve a number of options for venues, and the line up of acts is looking good. If you want to get involved there’s still time, just email jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk.

SPB Update

As mentioned last week the SPB organisation is truly getting underway. Billy is totally on board with the plans and also wants to make this year bigger and better than ever!

Duncan will be organising another meeting of the SPB subcommittee this week – likely to be Monday afternoon – for those coming on-board (such as those who signed up on Tuesday- thanks to you guys!), so keep an eye on Facebook for the details on that. If you want to be involved, either get in touch via FB or email spb@guamnesty.org.uk.

CFCI News!

CFCI banner

The Conflict-Free Campus Initiative has been a campaign GU Amnesty has been at the heart of for over two years. Briefly, it aims to change University purchasing policy to favour electronic items (PCs, laptops, tablets etc) which are produced in a ‘conflict free’ way. This means that, for example, the minerals such as gold, tin, tantalum and so forth are extracted and traded in a way that doesn’t result in millions of deaths. You can read more about the background of the CFCI, conflict minerals and what’s being asked asking for in our petition or the other information we have on it.

The CFCI is now an inter-society coalition, much like the fossil fuel divestment group was. And much like the fossil fuel divestment group had a very good result result in the uni senate recently so did the CFCI! The senate agreed to set up a working group (much like it did previously with the fossil fuels group) to examine the case for implementing the CFCI proposals. It’s a big step on the road, but there’s still a ways to go. On that note:

Wednesday 29th October: Conference

‘Conflict in the Congo: Responses from the International Community’

4-6PM, Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow

With several interesting speakers, this conference co-hosted by CFCI Glasgow, GHRN and Global Security Network is a great opportunity to find out in a bit more detail what has been going on in the Congo and what the response has been.

The event will be free and open to everyone, including all students and staff at the University, members of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and the Global Security Network, and anyone outwith the University who may be interested. The hope is that this event will provide an education to those who have little or no understanding of the on-going conflict in the DRC, as well as giving people from campaigning/academic backgrounds with a focus on the DRC or human rights and conflicts the opportunity to engage with a range of speakers who can discuss various aspects of international interventions.

It looks really great and I know that Ruth has put a lot of work into organising the event, so I would strongly recommend gong if you’re free at 4 on Wednesday 29th! You can always check out the CFCI Facebook page for more info and updates.

Glasgow West Comedy Night

Wednesday 22nd October, 7:30 PM, The Stand Woodlands Road, £7

Our friends at the wonderful Glasgow West Amnesty group are putting on their annual comedy night, which is coming up on the 22nd of October. I’ve been to these before and it’s a great laugh!

More info is available on the event listing page, and you might want to check out Glasgow West’s page as well.

Closing

This week the newsletter comes to you from Sandridge Barton, near Stoke Gabriel in Devon. Reflecting those environs, I will leave you simply with a photo facing down to the River Dart. Enjoy.

View down to River Dart
(Click for bigger size)

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Newsletter 2014-09-20: Welcome to GU Amnesty!

September 21, 2014 in cfci, information, main, meetings, newsletter by Rob Hallam

Wow, what a week! A most warm welcome to folks new to the newsletter and the group, and thanks to everyone who came by the Freshers’ stall and those who took part in the CFCI petition- it was very heartening to hear from so many keen people! Thanks to all the people who helped with the stall too, you rock.

On the Freshers’ Fair stall

So as a busy Freshers’ Week 2014 draws to a close, it’s time for me to make good on the promises made at the stall and to give details of the first meeting of 2014-15 and some information on what’s coming up in the next few weeks. I’ll try and keep this first newsletter of term short!

Tuesday 23 September: First Meeting (and Social) – Who are GU Amnesty?

5PM, QMU Committee Room 1 (3rd floor)

Our first meeting of the year! Come along at 5PM to the Queen Margaret Union on University Gardens (just at the bend), then take the lift or the stairs (both straight ahead of you as you come in the door) up to the third floor, turn left and enter the first room on the right and you’ll find us there. We are fairly laid back, so if you cannot make it for 5 or have to leave early that’s quite alright.

Just a heads up: we expect this meeting to be quite busy. Given the number of signups we had in the Fresher’s Fair we tried to book an extra room in the QM, but they were full. Please bear with us and if it is packed we do apologise; we will try to get another room for next week if this is the case.

We’ll be doing a proper introduction to GU Amnesty – who the committee are, what we do, and what’s coming up in the next few weeks. Because we’ll be chatting about who we are and what we do at the meeting I won’t go into much detail in this newsletter, so on Tuesday you don’t get a repeat of what I’ve said. If you can’t make the meeting, the presentation I’ll be showing will be uploaded so you can peruse it at your leisure. Since there will probably be some questions at the meeting I’ll try and address those on here too. In the meantime though, you can find a comment I wrote about what a ‘typical meeting’ is on the website if you want to get a heads-up.

If you aren’t sure of how to find where we’re meeting or have any other questions, please either email us or ask on Facebook or Twitter.

QMU Map

Welcome to GU Amnesty – First Social @ Old Schoolhouse!

Tuesday 23rd September, 6:30/7 PM, Old Schoolhouse, Woodlands Road

Following on from the first meeting will be our first social of the year. We’ll walk down after the meeting, but you are welcome to join us straight there if you can’t make the meeting. If you don’t know it, the Old Schoolhouse is on Woodlands Road just at the roundabout, across from the St Andrews building.

Come along for a bit and say hi! One of things our members talk about is how good it is to hang out with Amnesty folks, and this is a great opportunity to do it. It’s also good to know the folks who will be be turning up to meetings, demonstrations and events.

The Old Schoolhouse also does food if you’re feeling peckish by then!

OS Map

Upcoming Events and Information

Election of Ordinary Board Members

Tuesday 7th October

I’ll talk a bit more about this at the meeting, but we will be electing ordinary board members in a few weeks time on 7th October. Have a think about if you want to stand for a position (there are two OB positions available), as you’ll be expected to say briefly why people should vote for you. Don’t stress though, everyone is friendly!

It’s a position with a flexible role, meaning you can get out of it what you want from it; and it’s good way to be more closely involved in the minutia of actually running the society. If you’re considering it but not sure and it all seems a bit nebulous don’t worry, there are a couple of weeks in which to make up your mind and well get a previous ordinary board to explain what’s involved.

Activist Mixer (Tomorrow/Sunday)!

Sunday 21st September, 5PM onwards, Curler’s Rest Byres Road

Short notice and reminder! There is an activist mixer on Sunday 21st September in Curler’s Rest on Byres Road (by the subway). Invitations have gone out to a number of activist groups on campus, so there will be a mix of different groups doing good work. It’s a great opportunity to find out about what other societies are doing, and to network; we as a group tend to work with a number of familiar faces so it’s useful to meet these good folks. Come along for a bit if you’re passing and say hi.

Next Week (Tuesday 30th September)

After the introductions this week we’ll be looking at campaigns on 30th. This will involve chatting about campaign suggestions and voting on what ones we want to prioritise. More details in next week’s newsletter!

For those of you who made it this far, reward yourself by watching a video of some goats balancing on a wobbling sheet of metal:


(link for those reading this in email form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58-atNakMWw)

Goats are awesome.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.