Newsletter December 4th 2015


Welcome to the latest news from your local Amnesty Group.
Our next meeting is Thursday, 10th December 2015 at 7.30pm at Moordown Community Centre, Bournemouth. As explained below, this meeting forms a big part of our involvement in the Write for Rights campaign. We also tend to share seasonal “nibbles” and have a stunning raffle, where members donate a variety of “amazing” prizes.

Write for Rights

Every year Amnesty International has encouraged and helped groups send greetings cards to prisoners of conscience around the world in December.

write for rights

write for rights in Boscombe

Traditionally there were just half a dozen names selected.  In recent years Amnesty has branded this as “Write for Rights” (W4R) and produced much more informative information leaflets, covering many more prisoners of conscience. We have always made this a mainstay of our December meeting, but over the past decade have also tried to hold a stall in Bournemouth.  Unfortunately “the Square” is now privately owned and charge £50 (now plus VAT) for the privilege.

Last year we got a pitch at Boscombe Market, which was relatively quiet, but we did get some interest (and cards signed) by the passing public – plus the local councillors. But thanks to the efforts (and persistence) of Ted, May and Genevieve we have got two prime positions:-

Saturday 5th December (TOMORROW), Bournemouth Arcade (outside Waterstones) 10.30 -3.30

Monday 21st December, Castlepoint (outside Marks & Spencers) 11.00 – 3.00

These events are very important  for “consciousness raising” as they are a great way to both educate people about Amnesty’s work and get them to take action. We have a rota of supporters to run the event tomorrow, but if you are in Bournemouth please pop by and sign a card and say hello. If you want to help with the stall at Castlepoint, please reply to this newsletter. But again, support by visiting the stall would be very welcome.

If you would like to participate in W4R yourself, the best opportunity is our meeting at Moordown on December 10th. This is probably the best “meeting” of the year to attend as we all bring along food and have an exciting raffle; plus spend a couple of hours sending Christmas cards. If your automatic thought is – “ugh, spend enough time doing this week anyway” – there is a big difference. You will be sending cards to someone who will actually read and cherish your message, and where card does form part of a wider campaign of highlighting that the wider world is aware of their predicament.

Late Autumn Fundraising

quiz at the queen mary

quiz at the queen mary

We held a successful quiz night at the Queen Mary Inn, Poole Friday 6th November. It was a relatively small turnout, but we raised £140 and an enjoyable night was had by all. Thanks to David and Sally for the quiz, Ted and May for the raffle.

But our quiz fundraising was surpassed by Fiona Sutherland.  She has recently returned to the area,  but has been an active member of Amnesty in different capacities and locations for many years.  To celebrate a “significant birthday” she held a couple of social events where she invited friends to donate to Amnesty International rather than give her presents. This raised £150! Many thanks to Fiona and her friends. Amnesty does promote the idea of “AmnesTEA” events, but as Fiona has shown, any social event can be turned into a fundraiser. And tea may not be the best lubricant if you are encouraging people to part with money! Just let us know if you want to borrow collecting tins…


Human Rights Act

human rights actLast month we said A.I.U.K. have briefed us to expect a Consultation document from the Government over the next few weeks. On Wednesday it was announced by Michael Gove that the Consultation has been put back until 2016. The delay, Gove indicated, was due to the

“possibility of “complex” constitutional changes involving the UK’s highest court which the prime minister had raised and requires serious thought.”

Our interpretation is that we still need to keep the pressure on the Government and continue to let our MPs know our concerns. Don’t forget, A.I.U.K. have encouraged us to participate in the “Human Rights Act Challenge“. More details of this and feedback from Howard Davis’s October talk on our blog.

Japan, don’t execute Matsumoto Kenji

kenji matsumotoNow 64 years old, Kenji has been imprisoned on death row for 21 years. He experiences delusions and episodes of psychosis. His impaired mental state means that Kenji has not been able to communicate coherently with his lawyer in relation to legal investigation around his sentence or his conviction, which his lawyers say has impacted on legal proceedings throughout his case.

Being confined in a solitary cell has taken its toll on Kenji. Physically frail, he now uses a wheelchair. In addition to his condition due to mercury poisoning, his irrational thought and delusions have significantly worsened over the 21 years he has spent isolated on death row.

Kenji’s legal team have submitted numerous appeals and requests for both pardon and retrial since the 1993 death penalty ruling. Every single one has been unsuccessful. Most recently, a request for a retrial was rejected by a District Court in January this year. His death sentence reconfirmed, Kenji could be executed any day.

Please read more about his case, and follow up the simple email action here.

Dr ‘Ali ‘Esa Mansoor al-‘Ekri, consultant surgeon, prisoner of conscience

Dr. Ali 'Esa Mansoor al-Ekri, Bahrain,Dr ‘Ali ‘Esa Mansoor al-‘Ekri, a consultant surgeon, is serving a five-year prison sentence in Jaw prison. He is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Dr ‘Ali al-‘Ekri was arrested on 17 March 2011 in an operating room at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama, Bahrain.
During interrogation he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated. In a testimony published in October 2011 he said:

“During this period I was subjected to all sorts of torture including: Beatings with metal rods, plastic hoses and wooden planks, kicking, punching and slapping with an emphasis on the head, ears and back. I was made to hear the screams of other people being tortured. I was threatened with police dogs being brought to my cell and they made me imitate the barking of dogs, they made me lick the floor, the soles of their boots and they forced me to eat faeces. I was also sexually molested and threatened with rape … I was deprived of sleep for a week and every time my eyes closed I was woken by loud shouts or cold water being poured on me …“I was forced to ’confess’ to possession of weapons, heading a militia and occupying the hospital. The next day the interrogation continued and a new interrogator was brought in who threatened to kill me with his gun.”

Dr ‘Ali al-‘Ekri initially was not able to meet his lawyer nor family, and then he only briefly met his lawyer on 6 June 2011 when he was brought to the National Safety Court of First Instance, a military court, and was transferred to Dry Dock Prison in Manama, where his torture and other ill-treatment continued. Dr ‘Ali al-‘Ekri is a consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, who trained at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He was among 48 health professionals arrested in March and April 2011 following widespread protests at the al-Farooq Junction in the capital, Manama.

Amnesty International believes that the real reason for targeting him was his vocal denunciation of the excessive force used by the armed forces against peaceful protesters during the February – March 2011 protests to the international media and exercised their rights to freedom of expression and association during marches and protests. Please send this email, with your name, to Bahrain Government officials.


jewelleryIn the past we held many stalls at Trade Union Conferences when they visited Bournemouth, plus we had our own Garden Party.  Times have changed, but as reported above, Ted and May still turn out at a variety of Fairs and Carnivals – such as in Winton, Boscombe.
So if you have any jewellery (even broken), scarves, handbags (particularly evening), books, bric-a-brac or other knick-knacks in any condition that you wish to donate, please let May Stevens know (01202) 510886. They can collect.