Group Newsletter 23 March 2017


Welcome our the latest newsletter. Again a bit earlier than usual as you editor is about to go away (again!). Also its to remind you that the Spring Quiz is just two weeks from Friday (see below).
The next meeting  is on Thursday 13th April  2017, 7.30 at Moordown Community Centre. As well as working on our Case Files and continued planning, we will discuss proposed changes to our constitution and membership. If you intend coming and would like to see these documents, please reply to this newsletter.
Spring Quiz
This is now organised for Friday April 7th, 7.30 for 8.00 prompt  at the Brunswick Hotel, 199 Malmesbury Park Road, Charminster, Bournemouth BH8 8PX.
For those unfamiliar, our quizzes are informal but competitive! Our last Spring Quiz was very popular, to the point it was overcrowded. We are now obliged to limit total numbers to 50 via a “virtual ticket” system. Please go to our event page for more information and to reserve your tickets.
Teams of up to 6, entrance £5 a person. David Brown will return as quizmaster, so we look forward to an enjoyable evening.
Feeding the Darkness
This is an early notification that the Journeyman Theatre are performing their critically acclaimed play “Feeding the Darkness” at the Friends Meeting House, 16 Warncliffe Road, Boscombe, BH5 1AH.
This 65 minute performance is a result of extensive research into the dark world of state-sanctioned torture and its stark impact on victims, perpetrators, families and those who collude in the ‘process’. Our Group have been invited to have a stall and will feature some case and campaign that revolve around torture (sadly there are far to many of them).
Its on Sunday 25th June, at 1.15pm. The day was chosen as the following day is the United Nations, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Syria: Human Slaughterhouse​​​​​​​
A shocking new Amnesty International report, Slaughterhouse: mass hanging & extermination in Syrian prisons  published on 7th February has exposed the cold-blooded killing of thousands of defenceless prisoners in a notorious Syrian government jail. It finds that up to 13,000 people have been hanged in the past five years, and mass hangings of up to 50 people at a time occur every week, sometimes even twice a week. These mass hangings took place at Saydnaya military prison near Damascus between 2011 and 2015 – and there are clear indications that they are ongoing as part of an extermination strategy pursued by Assad’s forces.
Take action by sending an e-mail and tell Russia and the USA to use their global influence to ensure that independent prison monitors are allowed in to investigate conditions in Syria’s torture prisons.
South America Newsletter
The March edition of the South America Regional Newsletter is now on the blog. Our group has focused on South America since its inception, which is also reflected in our two case files – see below. The 3 volunteers who run the network for AIUK – and produce the newsletter – do a huge amount of work on our behalf. This newsletter has links to Amnesty’s annual report, and links to the specific countries in this region.
Leopoldo Lopez
The group are working on two case files at present; these are AI actions that focus on one individual or situation. This long term narrow focus ensures a constant pressure on authorities to take action.
Leopoldo Lopez – a 45 year old, a charismatic former mayor, he was labelled a “maverick” opposition leader in a BBC article. A long time thorn in the side of the Venezuelan Government, they referred to him as a coup leader and he was jailed for nearly 14 years for inciting violence during mass protests in 2014.  He claims he was simply calling on his followers to protest against government policies.
Amnesty International was able to review all evidence presented by the Public Prosecutor’s office and there was no evidence to substantiate the charges that the Public Prosecutor’s office had filed against Leopoldo and on which he was subsequently sentenced. He has been declared a prisoner of conscience.
Leopoldo was also featured as part of the W4R campaign. We also had a petition which we have sent to AIUK. This will be presented to the Venezuelan Ambassador on 17th February. At the meeting this week we will send more letters and copy in the Ambassador, to ensure they don’t think the heat is off now W4R has finished. Unfortunately, the South American Newsletter (see below) reports Venezuelan authorties have cracked down even more on opposition parties.
We have sample letters for both of our Case Files here.
Jorge Lázaro Samba Nunes dos Santos
We have been writing to authorities in Bahia State, Brazil on behalf of Jorge Lázaro, our second case file,  for about 18 months now.
Two of his seven children have been murdered. Jorge Lázaro has been under huge pressure since the first murder in 2008 : he is seeking justice for the killings of his sons, trying to keep himself and his family safe, and providing necessary minimum living conditions such as a home and food.
To add to the tragedy of two murdered sons, on July 10th 2016 Jorge’s youngest son, Denilson was shot whilst walking home.  Luckily Denilson survived and is currently recovering.
There are downloadable letters you can adapt on our “take action” page.There is also a link so you can send him a message of support via AIUK.
Christchurch Street Collection 2017
This is booked for May 13th. Hopefully it will be a bit warmer that last year!