Talk – The Work of Amnesty International Dec 2020

At our Rotary Zoom meeting on December 4th Robert Richwood spoke to us about Amnesty International who’s logo is a candle surrounded by barbed wire.

Founded by a UK lawyer, Peter Benenson in 1961, it initially publicised restrictions on freedom of speech throughout the world. AI grew rapidly, initially 15000, and then 200,000 in 1979. Now its membership stands at 7,000,000.

The International Secretariat is based in London and does in depth research and co-ordinates the work of individual national sections – e.g. UK, Chile, Canada, Morocco and South Korea. Their guiding  principles are ; Effective action for the individual victim, Global coverage, Impartiality, Independence and Universality.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights became incorporated into UK law by means of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1951 and has now been incorporated into the Constitution of over 90 countries.

Banbury has an AI group, it was known as Bloxham AI group until 2016. The meetings are now held monthly in Waitrose Supermarket Conference Room (lockdown willing). There are 30 core members and more linked members.

Banbury Amnesty’s 2020 campaigns involve Yilliyasijia Reheman and the Cattle Farmers in Angola. Yilliyasijia Reheman was deported from Egypt in 2017 to the Xinjiang Region of China and has not been heard of since. It is thought that he is detained in a “transformation through education centre” or is in prison. Concerning the Cattle Farmers in Angola, some 65,000 of them in the Gambos region of Angola have had two thirds of their grazing land taken by commercial ranchers which means that their communities are on the brink of starvation as they are now forced to survive on barren and drought ridden land.

Since his presentation to us Robert has sent Peter Wilkins details of Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni who is in jail because of his coverage  of the anti government Hirak protest movement. Peter has circulated the information about Khaled Drareni to the Club and Robert is hoping that some members may write a letter of support to him.