17 June 2020

Minutes for June 2020

Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 17 June 2020
In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Tilo, Bill, Laura Galeano (AIUSA program associate with individuals at risk program), Brian (new), Frank (new), Struan, April, Brendan, Marsha

NOTE: June meeting conducted online via Zoom 

Welcome and Introductions

Discussion of AIUSA's use of Zoom

"Zoom censors video talks on Hong Kong and Tiananmen, drawing criticism," Washington Post, 11 June 2020
Laura says there is some discussion at AIUSA  about this
The AIUSA person to contact with your questions/thoughts on this topic is Thomas Bozzell (AIUSA natiional director of information technology) at tbozzell@aiusa.com


  • Asylum Seekers Allowed to Disembark (Malta): UA 87.20
  • Defender Receives Additional Protection (Mexico): UA 58.20
  • Attacks Against Indigenous Communities Investigated (Colombia): UA 70.20

  • Minutes (Marsha): all minutes are up to date
  • Treasurer (Tilo): No change in our funds
  • Social Media Director (Barb): FB, Twitter, Tumblr announcements this month
  • Coordinator (Jeff): Jeff and Barbara attended Zoom meeting of about 50 area coordinators all over the country
    • Group in Bellingham, WA, very involved in Cameroon; interested in collaborating with us, will attend one of our future meetings

New Business
  • Problems with Zoom: company actions contradict Amnesty policies/goals (see Washington Post article linked above)
    • Barb did research on two alternatives: Jitsi and Blue Jeans
    • Jeff inclined to get one-year subscription to Blue Jeans
  • Death penalty update (Brendan): Last night Supreme Court stayed execution of man in Texas

  • Protect Transgender and Intersex People’s Rights (Hungary): UA 92.20
  • Evictions of Vulnerable People (Peru): UA 90.20
  • Blogger Prosecuted for Humorous Post (Tunisia): UA 91.20
More New Business: Discussion of BLM events during the last month
  • Local protests (Malvern, West Chester, Media, Warrington); scene in TN (Bill) and FL (April)
  • Just Mercy
    • free to watch (on multiple platforms) until the end of June
    • we will start the July meeting a half-hour earlier for anyone who wants to discuss this movie
  • April: let's share suggestions for books, films, etc.
  • Some books/documents mentioned:

Upcoming Events
  • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 7:30 p.m.
  • PRE-MEETING discussion of Just Mercy starts at 7 p.m.

20 May 2020

Minutes for May 2020

Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 20 May 2020
In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Tilo, Struan, Bill, April, Marsha

NOTE: May meeting conducted online via Zoom and Blue Jeans

Welcome and Introductions

  • Supporters of Former Child Soldier Released Early (Myanmar): UA 30.20
  • Minutes (Marsha): all minutes are up to date
  • Treasurer (Tilo): No change in our funds
  • Social Media Director (Barb): outreach for May meeting brought April Z to us!
    • Independent Booksellers Tortured by Police (Viet Nam): UA 78.20
    • Arbitrary Detainee Held Incommunicado (Venezuela): UA 81.20
    • Activists Facing Harassment and Intimidation (Angola): UA 71.20
    • Political Leader Imprisoned for Speech (Algeria): UA 48.20
    • Uyghur Jailed for 15 Years in Secret Trial (China): UA 79.20 
    • Whistleblower Doctor Facing Reprisals (Russian Federation): UA 77.20
    • Rakhine Journalist Remains in Hiding (Myanmar): UA 87.19
    • Ill-treated Prisoner Risks Total Paralysis (Iran): UA 72.20
    Old Business
    • Jeff asked Laura Galeano (Programs Associate at AIUSA) why our case file, Fomusoh Ivo Feh, was selected to be an Amnesty case file (because there are lots of people in prison in Cameroon) --> Laura told Jeff that Fomusoh Ivo Feh is a representative case 
    • Discussion about looking for a new meeting place.
      • Jeff talked to a few churches in Downingtown
      • Messiah Lutheran said yes!
      • We will check them out further when in-person meetings are possible
    Upcoming Events
    • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 17 June 2020, 7:30 p.m., via AIUSA Zoom account (but may switch to another app if connection is poor)

    15 April 2020

    Minutes for April 2020

    Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 15 April 2020
    In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Tilo, Struan, Bill, Kara, Marsha, Arielle (new regional organizer)

    NOTE: April meeting conducted via Zoom, March meeting canceled because of pandemic

    Welcome and Introductions

    • "Russian Jehovah's Witness Released" (Belarus): UA 47.20
    • "Journalist Given Suspended Sentence" (Niger): UA 32.20
    • "Musician Released on Probation" (Egypt): UA 27.19
    • Minutes (Marsha): No minutes for March 2020 because the meeting was a canceled; all minutes are now up to date
    • Treasurer (Tilo): No change in our funds
    • Social Media Director (Barb)
      • No outreach recently because of uncertainty over meetings
      • Maybe look at doing something with the AI video connecting human rights with COVID-19
    • Group Coordinator (Jeff): Will meet with Arielle and Barbara on April 17
    • Fundraising Committee (Jeff): Maybe disband committee; member who was especially interested in leading this effort is no longer active with the group. 
      Old Business
      • Discussion about looking for a new meeting place.
        • Want to be able to do video calls, watch movies, and host speakers.
        • After February meeting, Marsha sent Jeff a list of four locations to consider. However, each has some shortcoming: Chester County library allows room reservations only three months ahead, Hankin Library and Marsh Creek Church may be too far for most members, Abraham Fetters-White House does not have wifi
        • Tilo will look into the Unitarian church in West Chester
        • For next month: everyone asked to find info on other possible locations
      • We may be meeting virtually for a while
        • Arielle has set up a Zoom room for us to use whenever we want
        • Struan and Tilo can also host virtual meetings if needed
        • Tilo asked about some sort of "Robert's Rules of Order" for online meetings; Arielle says AI has a guide and will send it to us
      • Domoina Ranabosoa Temporarily Released (Madagascar): UA 41.20
      • Prisoners' Release Law Must not Discriminate (Turkey): UA 43.20
      • Detained Rights Defender Must Be Released (Russian Federation): UA 150.19
      New Business
      • Struan asked about using Slack for communication within the group.
      • Arielle will send us the AI guide for using communication tools
      Upcoming Events
      • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 20 May 2020, 7:30 p.m., location TBD (likely to be Zoom, but might be Wegmans cafe in Malvern)

      19 February 2020

      Minutes for February 2020

      Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 19 February 2020
      In attendance: Barbara, Jeff, Tilo, Marsha, Struan (via Skype), Bill (via Skype)

      Welcome and Introductions


      • Vietnam: release from prison of someone who had been accused of "propaganda agains the state"
      • Uzbekistan: release of a blogger who covers protests and who had been picked up and taken to a mental hospital
      • Honduras: case of indigenous people whose land has been taken-->the government is appointing a group to investigate


      • Treasurer (Tilo): no change in our funds
      • Social Media Director (Barb)
        • Without ads on Patch (which cost about $20), we are reaching 30–50 people
        • Patch has changed management and won't run Barb's essays—says that the essays are "too promotional" and that Patch wants to focus on more local stuff; Barb is appealing and requesting clarification

      • Activist Still Held in Detention (Senegal): UA 171.19
      • Journalist Sentenced for "Harassment" (Benin): UA 8.20
      • Prisoner of Conscience's Life at Grave Risk (Venezuela): UA 4.20
      • Kurdish Iranian Man at Risk of Execution (Iran): UA 116.18
      Old Business

      • Discussion about looking for a new meeting place that will make it easier for us to use Skype calls, watch movies, and host speakers. For next time, each person is asked to investigate one possible meeting place.

      New Business

      • Discussion about fundraising for local Cameroonian refugees. We feel moved to help them, but there are concerns about whether this falls under the purview of our group. 
      • Bill will investigate to see if there are groups in the USA already involved with Cameroon.
      • NEXT MONTH: Discuss whether we want to do anything about fundraising.

      Upcoming Events

      • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 18 March 2020, 7:30 p.m., Wegmans cafe in Malvern

      15 January 2020

      Minutes for January 2020

      Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 15 January 2020
      In attendance: Barbara, Jeff

      Welcome and Introductions

      We welcomed a visitor, born in Albania but now a US citizen, who was referred by friends to AIUSA. In 1997, visitor and his family attempted to flee by ship to Italy with other Albanians to escape violence and chaos of civil war. An Italian ship is alleged to have intentionally crashed into the refugee ship in the Strait of Otranto, and many passengers perished, including visitor's wife and son. The case was litigated in the Italian courts and referred to international courts. However, survivors have yet to receive any compensation. (See: https://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/31/world/albania-envoy-accuses-italy-in-sinking-of-refugee-boat.html.) Visitor is seeking an attorney to continue pursuing his case. We referred him to the Nationalities Service Center and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) PA in Philadelphia. 

      New Business
      Brief discussion about possible fundraising on behalf of refugees from Cameroon.


      • Communities in Boyaja, Choco (western Colombia) threatened by armed groups (Colombia): UA 169/19
      • Three journalists arbitrarily detained (Egypt): UA 175/19
      • Kurdish activist needs urgent medical care (Iran): UA 176/19
      • 2019 Write for Rights cards and letters (final batch)

      Upcoming Events
      • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 7:30 p.m., Wegmans cafe in Malvern

      20 November 2019

      Minutes for November 2019

      Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 20 November 2019
      In attendance: Barbara, Bob, Jeff, Gina, Tilo, Struan, Marsha

      Welcome and Introductions


      • Minutes (Marsha)
      • Treasurer (Tilo)
      • Social media director (Barbara)
      • Group 342 coordinator (Jeff): Update on the new Amnesty International Main Line Group
        • Planned for September launch, but Edwin didn't send out invitations to local AIUSA members, so decided to wait
        • October (launch meeting): 1300 invitations sent, 1 person showed up
        • November (second meeting): 2600 invitations sent, meeting was canceled but there was 1 walk-in

      Special Report on AIUSA Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference (Bob and Barb)

      • Held in downtown Richmond, VA
      • Bob's report
        • Session on what to say (and not to say) when being interviewed as a representative of Amnesty International
        • Session called "Stop State-Sanctionoed Killing in the US"
        • PLAN method: proportionality, legality, accountability, necessity
        • several states considering legistration on what police can and can't do
        • Session on climate change
        • Local group caucus (Prachi has left AI; Angelina C is now our new area rep) 
        •  "What would Eleanor Roosevelt say? Are human rights universal?"
        • In July 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo started a new commission on human rights (to distinguish between the universal declaration and ad hoc right)
        • Human Rights First sent a letter to Pompeo on 23 July 2019 to express concern about the commission elevating religion and trying to redefine some "inalienable" right in the Declaration as ad hoc
      • Barb's report
        • Session on women's human rights activists in Saudi Arabia: ask the U.S. Senate to support S.Res.73 in support of them
        • Session on detainment of children in Homestead, Florida (AI wants to close that center)
      New Business
      Should we consider a new meeting site?

      2019 Write for Rights cards and letters, part 1 (prepared by Bob and Barbara)

      Upcoming Events

      • Fundraising committee meeting: Sunday, 24 November 2019, 9:30 a.m. Green Street Grill in Downingtown
      • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 18 December 2019, 7:30 p.m., Wegmans cafe in Malvern

      16 October 2019

      Minutes for October 2019

      Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 16 October 2019

      Welcome and Introductions


      Jeff reported on victories in Hungary and Myanmar!

      Jeff reported on efforts to start a new Main Line AIUSA group:
      • Held at the Radnor Library
      • One of the attendees was a Presbyterian minister with a Ph.D. in liturgical studies
      Jeff reported on Sunday meeting with the fundraising committee:
      • Ashley to make list of local festivals (blues, restaurants, etc.)
      • Edwin Gur to make suggestions
      • Dee to contact 10,000 Villages stores to see if willing to sponsor an event
      • Jeff to contact 10,000 Villages headquarters regarding local store fundraising

      AIUSA Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference will be November 16 in Richmond, Virginia.

      Next meeting: Wednesday, 20 November 2019, 7:30 p.m., Wegmans cafe in Malvern

      Minutes for June 2020

      Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 17 June 2020 In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Tilo, Bill, Laura Galeano (AIUSA program associate with indi...