17 May 2012

Meeting minutes for May 2012

Amnesty International Group 342
Meeting Minutes for 16 May 2012

In attendance: Colin Evans, Marsha Brofka-Berends, Barbara Quintiliano, Struan Grant, April Zappaterrini


The minutes from the April meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s Report
The treasurer was not present, so there was no report. (Presumably the group's finances remain unchanged from the last report: $534 in our account and $174 in cash.

Group 342 Coordinator's Report
The group coordinator was not present, so there was no report.

Area Coordinator's Report
The quarterly phone conferences on immigration issues are going well. If anyone would like to participate in these, please contact April.

The 2012 Get on the Bus For Human Rights event took place in NYC and Washington DC on 27 April. Organizers have expressed some disappointment by the lower-than-expected turnout. Struan and Marsha both said they might have been able to participate had they known about the event in advance, and there was some discussion about getting notifications. April said the event is held each April, with the date usually being set in February or so. The Get on the Bus website has an e-mail signup option people can use to
get early notification of next year's event.

Planning is underway for a Philadelphia-region conference/event on immigration issues. Details are still being worked out, but it will likely be held in early October in Center City. Speakers will include local activists and academics.


CASE FILE—Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa of Saudi Arabia
No update.

CASE FILE—Mohammad Sadiq Kabuduad of Iran
We signed letters to six Iranian officials, urging them to read "On the Margins: Arrest, Imprisonment, and Execution of Kurdish Activists in Iran Today," a seventy-page report released on 11 April 2012 by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.

We discussed our participation (as a group) in the Reckoning with Torture project. The organization has created a 40+ page set of readings culled from over 130,000 pages of formerly secret documents that have been made available to the public thanks to efforts by the ACLU and related groups. The readings are short and require one to three readers. Volunteers read them on camera, and the short films are then uploaded to the project
website, where they will be part of a larger movie.

We decided the Wednesday, 13 June, would be our target date for filming our segments. This is one week before our next regular meeting, and a few days before the Father's Day holiday weekend (which kicks of the summer travel/vacation season for many people). It is also during NRCAT's Torture Awareness Month. Barbara and Colin are making inquiries at their respective churches to see if either will let us use its space for filming on that day. Marsha will ask Tilo to see if the Unitarian church in West Chester might be a possible location as well.

Once the date, time, and location are set, the plan is to invite other Chester County groups (particularly area Quaker and Unitarian churches) to participate. In the meantime, everyone is urged to look at the Reckoning with Torture website—particularly the trailer (which includes footage of several readings)—to learn more about this project.

April presented an Amnesty Urgent Action letter on Haiti.

Struan discussed the current situation in Syria. There are rampant human rights abuses (and children are being intentionally targeted by government forces) and a total lack of international intervention.

President al-Assad of Syria is a doctor who, by harming other people, is in direct violation of his Hippocratic oath. Struan wonders if a focused letter-writing campaign by doctors, pointing out this violation to al-Assad, might be a sort of peer-pressure thing that could have a positive effect. He is going to contact the main Amnesty office about this possible campaign.

We had an extended discussion on the effectiveness of Amnesty's multiple-campaign approach versus its historical focus on prisoners of conscience and letter-writing efforts. The new approach was enacted to more fully encompass the issues in the Declaration of Human Rights, particularly those pertaining to non-political, day-to-day living issues of key importance in less industrialized and Southern Hemisphere countries. It has been in place for about a decade, so it's still too early to know its impact.

There was also discussion about why Amnesty groups in the USA are exempt from Amnesty's usual policy on not directing actions toward one's own country.

Our next meeting is Wednesday, 20 June 2012, at 7:30 p.m. at Wegman’s Market Cafe in Malvern.

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