On Saturday October 28th, Amnesty York members held a silent demonstration in Kings Square in York against the Public Order Act and its chilling effect on protest - hence our white, glittery accessories! Protests must be seen and heard to be effective; however this act tries to put a lid on protests being seen and heard leading to the criminalisation of what formerly would be considered acceptable and normal forms of protest. As ever, we were up against the Kings Square fire-eater; nevertheless after the show, members of the public engaged with us in conversation and reading our pro-protest signs.
The Myanmar military’s decision to seize power on 1 February 2021 triggered a wave of resistance across the country. By the end of June, almost 5000 anti-coup demonstration events were reported in Myanmar. The military has responded with a campaign of violence and mass arrests. Despite the crackdown, anti-coup activists have continued to demonstrate, and some have armed themselves in self-defence. Noon, is a Ta’ang woman who has played an active role in nonviolent efforts using dialogue, discussion, social movement and advocacy to the leaders and the international community to resist the military junta's violence. She recently addressed a York Amnesty International meeting. These links provide more information.
Mohamed el Baker, a lawyer, was released from prison in Egypt on 20th July after a presidential pardon. He was arrested in September 2019 while attending prosecutors’ questioning of another prominent activist, Alaa Abdel-Fattah. He was accused of disseminating false news, misuse of social media and joining a terrorist group and was sentenced to four years in prison in 2021.
Some of us in Amnesty York had the pleasure of knowing him and his wife Neama, when he was a protected fellow at York University’s Centre for Applied Human Rights.
Amnesty has campaigned for Mohamed’s release through Urgent Actions, letters to the Egyptian authorities and the annual Write for Rights campaign based around each December 10th, Human Rights Day.
We continue to work for the release of Alaa Abdel-Fattah one of the most prominent activists in Egypt, who was sentenced to five years in prison on the same charges.
The theme of Refugee Week 2023 was Compassion. Linda Combi, York artist, set up this unmissable installation in the window of the Amnesty York bookshop to show how we can protect refugees - along with a myth-busting chart.
On Monday 19th June, Amnesty York members were present outside the bookshop to raise awareness of the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers in this country and around the world, and this theme was continued by displays and handouts in the bookshop."
Rishi Sunak's government has voted to remove vital protections for those fleeing persecution and exploitation. The cruel new immigration bill will turn its back on our responsibilities to protect the most vulnerable seeking safety, as well as many other disadvantaged people. Despite widespread criticism, the government continues to push this cruel bill, using lies and sowing division in our communities.
We had two actions, one around #protecttheprotest and showing support for Turkiye Pride events. And another for supporting two trans women in Paraguay which required signatures for the petition.
Residents and visitors in Kings Square in York filled two birthday cards with messages of support for Osman Kavala, in Turkey, for his 65th birthday in October. He is sentenced to life in prison on trumped up charges due to his opposition to the Turkish Before his incarceration, Osman Kavala’s main interest was setting up cultural centres around Turkey to promote artistic expression and access to art for all. In 2019, he received the European Archeological Heritage Prize for his work on protecting cultural heritage in danger in Turkey.
The team from York Unlocked visited the shop earlier this month and made this video: beautiful building, welcoming bookshop.
To find out opening hours and a whole lot more follow this link
PLEASE, NO MORE DROWNINGS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Amnesty York’s installation of the sea with a flotilla of origami boats (folded by Amnesty York, York for Europe and RAY) was displayed in the Minster’s South Piazza by the Roman column on Saturday October 23rd. This was in recognition of the thousands of people who try to cross the Mediterranean each year.
The display was the focus of many passers-by throughout the day. It was also an opportunity to make new Amnesty friends and meet up with established York group members. The Revd Canon Michael Smith joined us to express his support and undertook to remember those who perish in this way at evensong at the Minster.
Of those fleeing their homelands, some seek asylum, some flee poverty. This year, more than 700 (and counting) have drowned.
The stream of people will not stop until the world works together to solve the problems which send them on their journey. In the meantime, Amnesty International is pressing for:
— the creation of safe and legal routes to Europe for asylum-seekers (to put an end to people smuggling) along with a fair asylum assessment procedure.
- the end of the practice by FRONTEX, the EU border force, in cooperation with the Libyan coastguard of forcing people back to holding camps in Libya where they are forgotten, ill-treated and die.
- the end of prosecutions of people and organisations such as Médecins sans Frontières and Save The Children International for saving lives at sea (as is current, for example, in Italy).
* NB There are about 26 million refugees worldwide. In 2020, the UK had 35,770 asylum applications.
Amnesty International York are actively working on Human Rights
Our Amnesty York group meets monthly to plan campaigns, lobbying
and fundraising events. We are always looking to welcome new
members to the group. No prior knowledge required - just an
interest in protecting human rights!
Join us on the second Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm. Meetings are currently taking place via Zoom or at the Friends Meeting House, York. more details
Our group is made up of like minded people who want to do their
bit to protect humanity and human rights around the world.
We organise fundraisers such as: quizzes, ceilidhs and writing competitions.
We do letter writing to support prisoners of conscience. Our group enjoys links with local organisations such as York Pride and Refugee Action Week.
We often welcome specialist speakers to our meetings, who share their first hand experiences as human rights defenders around the world. Our aim is to spread awareness of the important work of Amnesty International and encourage active engagement in standing up for human rights.
Amnesty International is the world's largest grassroots human
rights organisation. It has more than 10 million members
worldwide. Amnesty works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
They investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilise the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world. Visit the Amnesty International Website to find out more.
is a small York based charity which aims to promote the social inclusion of LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees
You may have heard the recent heart breaking news that a further two Iranian men have been executed by the regime. Please do spread awareness amongst your networks - here are profiles of those executed so far and those awaiting their death sentence. Sunday (8 January) marked the third year anniversary of the shooting down of Ukrainian Passenger Flight PS752 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that caused the death of all 176 people on board - so far no one has been held accountable. There were rallies held in London and globally in support. Please do also read, sign and share this Woman, Life, Freedom Charter that has already gained the support of over 1600 people. It is only a draft and anyone signing can add their own suggestions.
We will be holding another rally in St Helen's Square on the 18 February 2023 from 11 am. Please join us! We will update you on further details and plans for the day, but invite you to share the date amongst your contacts and to share any ideas you have for making it a rally to remember!
We will also be seeking to organise events to mark International Women's Day (8 March 2023) and will again update you on further details.
The collective is a small group of individuals from York who care deeply about human rights and the revolution in Iran. We warmly invite you to join our discussions - we aim to meet every fortnight to discuss how we can show our solidarity with the people of Iran, and we also have a Whatsapp group where we share ideas. Please let me know if you wish to join us in person and / or on Whatsapp. You can also follow us on Instagram.
With best wishes and hope for the victory of the Iranian revolution in 2023, Woman Life Freedom Collective York
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness
This beautiful creation was made by thirty local groups and societies in 2011 to mark the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International. The groups were invited to design and make a square based around the Chinese proverb above. The quilt is over nine feet tall and is currently on display in the stairwell at Friargate (the Friends' Meeting House, York, where we hold our meetings) for you to come and see.
York artist Linda Combi has created beautiful cards to support the work of UNHCR current crisis. They’re A5 folded cards with designs on both sides, and include envelope.
York Amnesty member, Barbara Lodge reports:
This week the Russian government closed the The International Memorial Society, founded with the help of Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov during the last years of the Soviet Union; it remembered, often through prisoners' personal effects, the brutality of the Gulag. In 2003, I was one of the AIUK trainers running campaign workshops with Russian AI supporters in Moscow and Tomsk in Siberia. In Moscow, we used the museum area of the Memorial building - no space on the walls - all work done on easels and the floor! Display cases showed prisoners' belongings - and also "resistance" culture, e.g. here The Beatles.
An individual has a right to seek asylum anywhere in the world. In practice it is easier in some places than others....