York Amnesty will have its Write for Rights stall on Human Rights Day on Bishopthorpe Road near the corner of Scarcroft Road and the main parade of shops and cafés. We’ll be there from 10.30am to 2pm and, as every year, we will welcome Rachael Maskell MP in the morning to sign her cards.
Our cards and best wishes will go to:
Dorgelesse Nguessan in Cameroon, a hairdresser who was imprisoned in 2020 for attending her first protest about the state of the country’s economy.
Aleksandra Skochilenko in Russia, an artist and musician who is in prison for opposing the invasion of Ukraine.
Joanah Mamombe, Cecillia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova in Zimbabwe who were abducted, beaten and sexually assaulted by police for protesting against the government in 2020. They are now on trial on a charge of “faking their ordeal”.
Valid Afkari in Iran, who was tortured and is still in jail for protesting against the government in 2018.
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
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.
A stunning window display for York's Amnesty International bookshop by our resident artist, Linda Combi
She writes, "A new departure for me. I've really enjoyed doing this window display for our new Amnesty International bookshop on Micklgate, York.
I wanted to use recycled materials and was offered old unsellable books to paint - they reminded me of birds with their wings out."
The display is to highlight Amnesty's Write for Rights campaign, which runs until January.
You are asked to write a message of solidarity on a postcard to one of our prisoners of conscience. It's always a touching project ~ feels very direct. Stop by the shop if you're in York or take part in the national project. More info is on Amnesty UK's website
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....
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.
You can write your own letter/email or use/adapt the template at https://freealaa.net/take-action (You can go into the template to get the information without actually sending it.)
Alaa Abdel Fattah is a human rights campaigner with a huge following in Egypt and beyond. He was a prominent activist during the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt in 2011. He comes from a family of human rights activists (including his aunt, the novelist Ahdaf Soueif.) And a book of his own writings – largely smuggled out of prison – has also been published, in English translation, entitled You Have Not Yet Been Defeated.
Alaa has been detained, intermittently, for most of the past decade, because of his activism and criticism of the government. Indeed, he has been imprisoned under all regimes from that of Hosni Mubarak onwards. Amnesty International supports him as a ‘prisoner of conscience’. A peculiarity of Alaa’s case is that he is a dual national, with British as well as Egyptian citizenship (through his British-born mother).
Yet, the prison authorities have –scandalously! – refused to allow him any contact with the British Consul in Cairo. And, notwithstanding that on June 21st Liz Truss, as Foreign Secretary, publicly vowed to take the matter up with her Egyptian counterpart, this remains the case. Amnesty’s international campaign in support of Alaa has had some modest success so far.
He has recently been allowed out of solitary confinement, transferred to a ‘better’ prison, granted a mattress to sleep on, books to read, and daily exercise, for the first time in nearly three years. Nevertheless, the case is urgent. Alaa has been on hunger strike since the beginning of Ramadan, April 2nd. And he is now very weak.
Thanks for your commitment to Alaa
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
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.
Lovely prosecco and strawberry evening thanks to Judy and Dian: with added book sales, campaigns on Egypt, Turkey and Guantanamo’s 20th “ anniversary" and a tidy sum raised for Amnesty York’s human rights battle-chest.
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