18 November 2020

Minutes for November 2020

Wednesday, 18 November 2020 (via Zoom)

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Bill, Tilo, April, Marsha

Welcome and Introductions

Barbara: notes on the 2020 Activism Conference held last weekend

Campaign (set for particular time) versus program (ongoing effort)
Amnesty International has over 5 million supporters worldwide (215,000 in the USA)
Discussion of racial inequality and the death penalty. Before today's meeting, Barb sent to the group e-mail list some supplementary information: 
Session on using Facebook for publicity
Local group caucus
  • 69 attendees
  • Edwin Gur and Jennifer Estrada moderated
  • Results of local group survey: 95 groups responded, 75% of them meet monthly
  • Many groups attracted more people by doing book discussions
Coming soon to AIUSA members website
  • Suite of resources on member recruitment and retention, digital lobbying
  • Kudo board (groups post about things they’ve done)

2020 Write for Rights (part 1)

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 16 December 2020, 7:30 p.m. 

21 October 2020

Minutes for October 2020

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Frank, Brendan, Bill, Tilo, Marsha

NOTE:  Meeting conducted online via Jitsi 


Jeff: Summary of the letters that Bill prepared and sent to the group e-mail list
  • Pipka Refugee Shelter Faces Imminent Closure (Greece): UA 152.20 
  • Free Families Kept in Immigration Detention (USA): UA 116.20
  • Forced Eviction Leaves 3,000 People Homeless (Kenya): UA 151.20
  • UPDATED 15 OCT: LGBT+ Activist Victoria Biran Released (Belarus): UA 150.20
  • 300 Returning Migrant Workers Arrested (Bangladesh): UA 131.20
Barbara: Last week's Amnesty call about how Trump signed Savannah's Act into law: reforms protocols about missing and murdered Native American women

Jeff: Write for Rights!
  • quotes from previous Write for Rights cases that 
  • In 2020, only seven Write for Rights cases: We'll do half in November and half in December
Bob: Instead of annual regional meeting, will have a virtual meeting instead November 13-15 

Jeff: What have you had on your mind lately?
  • Jeff: book The Righteous Mind (Jonathan Haidt), film The Social Dilemma (Netflix)
  • Marsha: Vote Forward 
  • Bill: film The Torture Letters (NYT article about this)
  • Tilo: state of current U.S. Supreme Court (Jeff: We the People by Erwin Chemerminsky)
  • Barbara: book Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad)
  • Bob: teaching online
  • Frank: current political scene
Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 18 November 2020, 7:30 p.m. 

16 September 2020

Minutes for September 2020

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Tilo, Frank, Struan, Marsha

NOTE:  Meeting conducted online via Jitsi 

Barbara: presentation on Banned Books Week (see https://www.amnestyusa.org/banned-books-2020/)
  • Banned Books Week started in 1982, organized by American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee
  • Since 1990 Amnesty International has partnered with the ALA and other groups to promote Banned Book Week: the ALA focuses on banned books, and Amnesty focuses on journalists/writers who are persecuted
AIUSA's actions in support of Banned Book Week 2020 (can be submitted online or printed and send via snail-mail)
Jeff: discussion of AI report on police brutality in the USA (The World Is Watching)
  • All 50 states out of compliance with international law re: policing
  • “Amnesty International documented 125 separate incidents of police violence against protesters in 40 states and the District of Columbia between 26 May and 5 June 2020. These acts of excessive force were committed by members of state and local police departments, as well as by National Guard troops and security force personnel from several federal agencies. Among the abuses documented were beatings, the misuse of tear gas and pepper spray, and the inappropriate and at times indiscriminate firing of 'less lethal' projectiles, such as sponge rounds and rubber bullets."
Actions related to this report:

Group discussion of U.S. gun laws, police use of guns and other weapons, upcoming elections

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 7:30 p.m. 

19 August 2020

Minutes for August 2020

 Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 19 August 2020

In attendance: Jeff, Tilo, Brendan, Frank, Struan, April, Marsha

NOTE:  Meeting conducted online via Zoom 

No fixed agenda. Instead, we had a discussion about race issues in the USA today and what Amnesty International should focus on.

AIUSA has usually focused on issues in other countries. Is it time to turn the lens on ourselves?

Struan recently participated in focus group (with Edwin Gur) of members. Lots of people joined AI because of U2, but together there aren't big-name celebrity endorsements (not like U2's in the past). Older AI members in focus group were reminiscing about "old days" when AI focused on prisoners of conscience and death penalty.

Should AI broaden its issues?
  • April thinks AI as a whole isn't dealing with its diversity problem—our group could become more diverse (including age) if we worked on more USA stuff.
  • Brendan says he has to look elsewhere (AI Australia, other organizations) to find actions/letters; AI struggling to cover core stuff.
  • Tilo thinks AI has lost its historical focus and is spread out too thin.
  • April thinks AI should focus on civil and political human rights—focus on prisoners and death penalty, but include the USA.

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 16 September 2020, 7:30 p.m. 

15 July 2020

Minutes for July 2020

Meeting minutes for Wednesday, 15 July 2020
In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Tilo, Bill, Frank, Struan, April, Terrie Rodello (guest), Milt Krieger (guest)

NOTE: July meeting conducted online via Zoom 

Discussion of the film Just Mercy

Attendees shared their impressions of the film. Terrie Rodello (AIUSA Oregon death penalty abolition coordinator) contributed information about injustices inherent in the application of death penalty and about its inhumaneness. 

Discussion of conditions in Cameroon

Terrie Rodello (AIUSA’s Central Africa country coordination group chair, Central Africa Activist Network coordinator, Republic of Congo country specialist, longtime Amnesty International member volunteer, and current member of AIUSA Group 48 in Portland, Oregon. She has an MS in management information systems and serves as the AIUSA Oregon death penalty abolition coordinator)

  • Terrie spoke of how she became interested in doing human rights work, citing her educational background and especially her Jesuit instructors, who inspired her with a passion for Catholic social justice teachings. Terrie believes in AI’s role as a voice for the voiceless and for those without connections or money.
  • Terrie will try to get more information from the Central African Coordination Group about the situation in Cameroon and will try to establish a working relationship between Group 48 and our group.

Milton Krieger (member of AIUSA Group 207 in Bellingham, WA)

  • Milt spoke about the current political situation in Cameroon. As one of the country’s former colonial rulers, France has little interest in promoting more egalitarian relations between the English speakers and the French speakers and does not encourage sharing the rich resources in the French-speaking part of the country.
  • Milt cited the leadership of Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. He hopes that the momentum in Congress will shift after the next election and that Congress will take a greater interest in helping promote human rights in Cameroon.
  • Milt also mentioned the work of Dr. Susan Dicklitch, professor of government at Franklin and Marshall College, who has organized a group of students there to do asylum work. 

  • Human Rights Defenders under Attack (Afghanistan): UA 118.20
  • Political Activist Arbitrarily Detained (Egypt): UA 116.19
  • Young Activist Given 24-Year Jail Sentence (Iran): UA 158.19
  • Journalist Arrested over Defamation Charges (Niger): UA 117.20
  • Protect Human Rights Defender at Risk (Colombia): UA 67.20

Upcoming Events
  • Next group meeting: Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 7:30 p.m.

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)

    Minutes for November 2020

    Wednesday, 18 November 2020 (via Zoom) In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Bill, Tilo, April, Marsha Welcome and Introductions Barbara: notes...