04 January 2022

2021 Write for Rights follow-up

 AIUSA Group 342 has been recognized by AIUSA for our participation in the 2021 Write for Rights campaign!

15 December 2021

Minutes for December 2021 meeting

December 15, 2021

AIUSA Group 342 meeting (via Zoom)

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS [Jeff Singleton]: Jeff, Barbara. Bob, Bill, Tilo, Marsha

REPORTS [5 minutes each]

  • Minutes (Marsha): November minutes were posted right before this meeting
  • Treasurer’s report (Tilo): No change
  • Social Media Director’s Report (Barbara): Jeff wondered if we should have a monthly budget for social media posts? Barb says she’s not feeling so good about Facebook these days; other social media is free; she posts meeting info on our website
  • Group 342 Coordinator’s Report [Jeff Singleton]:  Jeff is enjoying planning meetings with Barb and Bob
  • Amnesty News [Barbara Quintiliano]


  • Gun Violence [Bob Rodini]
    • Should call it “gun violence prevention”
    • Bob and Jeff attended a Sandy Hook commemoration event on December 5; Josh Maxwell talked about his experience with domestic violence while he was mayor of Downingtown
    • Gun violence prevention (GVP) organizations: Every Town for Gun Safety, Ceasefire PA, Moms Demand Action, GunSenseUs, Unitarian Universalists Seeking Justice for All
    • Bob has not seen relevant updates on the AIUSA website
  • Free People From ICE Detention [Bill Schomp]
    • info from AIUSA website “our work” “free people from ICE detention” (amnestyusa.org/campaigns/freethemnow/)
    • AIUSA seems really spread out; Bill will try to find out who at AIUSA is the “czar” for this topic
    • As of October 8: 22292 people detained, many of whom got COVID; AIUSA doesn’t say where those people should go if released
    • actions on the website
    • have any questions? Bill will do the research, will also research if anyone in Congress is trying to do work on this
  • Refugee & Migrant Rights [beginning 01/22]: [Jeff: Does anyone have special interest in this subject?]

UPDATES [5 minutes each]

  • Kabylia Update [Marksen Harouz]—not present tonight
  • Death Penalty Update [Brendan Hickey]—not present tonight


REVIEWS [5 minutes each]

  • Jeff: watched first three episodes of the documentary miniseries Struan recommended (“Can’t Get You Out of My Head”) about how governments infiltrate protest movements
  • Bob: HBO released the documentary The Forever Prisoner about Abu Zubaydah in Guantanamo; he is now insane and will probably be there forever


Online petitions and letters prepped by Barbara and Bob (distributed to our e-mail list before this meeting)

Visit write.amnestyusa.org/good-news/ to see Write for Rights success stories

17 November 2021

Minutes for November 2021 meeting

Wednesday, 17 November 2021 (in person and via Zoom)

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

Greetings and Personal Updates

Treasurer's Report (Tilo): Wells Fargo almost closed our account because of inactivity, but Tilo fixed it. Some discussion about what to do with the money we have in there. Decided to keep using it for postage, stationery, event supplies/fees.

Amnesty News (Barbara): Discussion of new (published last month) book Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth, by Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie, and Geraldine Van Bueren.

Coordinator's Report (Jeff): Our group's monthly meetings are now planned by committee (Jeff, Barbara, and Bob). Agenda will include time limits for each topic to help us stay on track, as well as a section called "Priority Campaigns and Issues" with topics that we are following throughout the year.

Priority Campaigns and Issues
  • Gun violence (Bob): There are lots of regional/state groups focusing on gun violence. Maybe we can build alliances with them? Attend their protests/events?
  • Refugee and migrant rights (Jeff): (Jeff will start this next month.)
  • Free people from ICE detention: (We need someone to be in charge of this topic.)
Updates: Planned to get Kabylia update from Marksen and dealth penalty update from Brendan, but neither is at this month's meeting.

Reviews: Bitter Lake documentary (directed by Adam Curtis) about why the USA got involved in Afghanistan
  • Jeff watched this recently (based on Struan's recommendation)
  • Connections to Wahabism in Saudi Arabia
  • Lots of old documentary/video footage
  • Struan: all of Adam Curtis's stuff is on YouTube; also check out his six-part BBC series on protest
Write for Rights: Tonight we signed cards and letters on behalf of five of the case files (Belarus, Thailand, Guatemala, Ukraine, Israel)

Next meeting: 15 December 2021, 7:30 p.m., via Zoom

15 September 2021

Minutes for September 2021 meeting

 Wednesday, 15 September 2021 (via Zoom)

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, April, Struan, Bill, Brendan, Heather

Greetings and Personal Updates

Members gave updates on their activities since last meeting.

We continued to discuss format and venues of future meetings. We agreed that there is value in continued to meet via Zoom every other month, as it allows members who live at a distance to continue to participate in our group activities.

Public meetings will be announced on our social media accounts.

Jeff suggested that each month a member volunteer to summarize a major AIUSA campaign. Bob volunteered to speak about the Ending Gun Violence campaign at the October meeting. Jeff also suggested that members review a film, podcast, magazine article, etc., at our meetings. 

Barbara spoke briefly about Banned Books Week actions (September 21 to October 2). During this period, Amnesty International draws attention to people around the world who have been imprisoned, threatened, or murdered because of their writing, art, or other published work. AIUSA is highlighting the cases of six authors and has provided online petitions for each of them: https://www.amnestyusa.org/banned-books-2021/

  • "Release All Peaceful Protestors" (Cuba: UA 88.21)
  • "Activist Jailed for Anti-President T-Shirts" (Nigeria: UA 89.21)
  • "Human Rights Defenders Remain in Detention" (Belarus: UA 85.21)
  • "Opposition Politicians Tried by Special Court" (Egypt: UA 107.19)
  • "Peaceful Activists Released on Bail" (Democratic Republic of Congo: UA 74.21)
Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 20 October 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

18 August 2021

Minutes for August 2021 meeting

Wednesday, 18 August 2021 (via Zoom)

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

Greetings and Personal Updates

Discussion of format and venues of future meetings. Public meetings will be announced on social media.

Discussion of convictions based on false confessions (Brendan)
  • See the Innocence Project regarding large number of innocent persons convicted because they gave wrongful confessions (e.g., the Central Park Five): https://innocenceproject.org/what-is-cognitive-bias-how-it-contributes-to-wrongful-conviction/
  • Video by Professor James Duane, Regent University School of Law: During police interrogation, suspects very often confess to crimes they did not commit (Don’t Talk to the Police, https://youtu.be/d-7o9xYp7eE)
  • Urgent online petition on behalf of Sri Lankan lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah ("Release Muslim Lawyer in Sri Lanka")
  • "Twelve Men Risk Execution After Unfair Trial" (Egypt: UA 77.21)
  • "Human Rights Defender Abducted without Trace" (Pakistan: UA 79.21)
  • "Women Influencers Jailed for 'Indecency'" (Egypt: UA 78.21)
  • "Three Moluccans Arbitrarily Arrested and Detained" (Indonesia: UA 82.21)
  • Comments regarding AIUSA Executive Director Paul O’Brien’s email of 8/16 urging members to contact President Biden demanding that he take immediate action to ensure the evacuation of thousands of Afghans facing Taliban reprisals ("Tell Biden: Evacuate Afghans Now")
Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 15 September 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

21 July 2021

Minutes for July 2021 meeting

Wednesday, 21 July 2021 (via Zoom)

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Frank, Bill

Greetings and Personal Updates

Jeff initiated a discussion regarding the format of our monthly meetings post-COVID. 
  • We observed that, although it would be very enjoyable to meet in person again, online meetings have allowed members who live at a distance to participate. 
  • We discussed the possibility of continuing to meet online most months of the year while interspersing two or three in-person meetings. Jeff was open to hosting. We would be able to watch a film together and have other activities. 
  • We will continue this discussion at our next meeting.
On July 20, Barbara attended an online presentation entitled "Falun Gong Human Rights Crisis in China: Updates, Global Impacts, and Next Actions."
  • Presenters included a Falun Gong practitioner who had been brutally tortured in China but now lives in the US. The speakers described 22 years of persecution of Falun Gong members by the Chinese Communist Party. The persecution continues, as does the forced harvesting of organs of imprisoned practitioners. 
  • Speakers encouraged attendees to write to their senators and representatives urging them to cosponsor a bill currently before both the U.S. Senate and the House: “Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2021.” In the House it is H.R. 1592 (cosponsored by Brian Fitzpatrick, R-PA)  and in the Senate, S. 602 (cosponsored by Chris Coons, D-DE). 
  • "Viktar Paluau May Have Been Executed" (Belarus: UA 168.19)
  • "Human Rights Defender Arbitrarily Detained" (Vietnam: UA 44.21)
  • "Activist Spends a Year in Prison Unjustly" (Egypt: UA 139.20)
  • "Tibetan Monk Jailed for Online Messages" (China: UA 72.21)

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 18 August 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

16 June 2021

Minutes for June 2021 Meeting

 Wednesday, 16 June 2021 (via Zoom)

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Frank, Heather, Tilo, April, Marsha

Welcome and Introductions

  • Marsha sent an e-mail to our list earlier today about an AmnestyLA event this weekend
    • virtual film screening and discussion panel of The Last Passenger
    • Sunday, June 20, noon PDT
    • more details and registration at this link 
  • Discussion about when/how to start meeting in person again
    • Jeff: possibility of meeting at MessiahLutheran in Downingtown (he had talked to them about this before the COVID shutdown)
    • Discussion of tech logistics of running a "hybrid" meeting (some people in person, others joining by Zoom).
    • Possibility of reaching out to local churches to see if we can "take over" their services one week (with Jeff's musical friends helping out).
    • Maybe do monthly meetings online, with quarterly in-person meetings? (like for Write for Rights, Nowruz, film viewings, etc.)
  • Barbara will be attending a rally in Pottsdown this weekend about fair funding for schools in PA (details here)
    • PA is 2nd or 3rd from the bottom in equality of public school funding
    • There's a formula that's supposed to give equal money to all schools in the state, but that doesn't happen. Schools that are primarily African American get less money.
    • In September, a lawsuit about this is going to the PA Commonwealth Court (details here)
  • Algeria update (from Jeff): Marksen has had great success connecting with Amnesty-related people who have some knowledge of N.Africa / Algeria. Amnesty can't get anyone into Algeria, so Marksen and his colleagues are working to gather information (with encouragement from the U.S. Department of State). 
  • Juneteeth celebration at the Melton Center this weekend (from Barbara): Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m. (details here)
  • "Sahrawi Activist at Risk of Further Assault" (Morocco: UA 33.21)
  • "Journalist Facing Torture After Abduction" (Belarus: UA 57.21)
  • "Artist Named Prisoner of Conscience" (Cuba: UA 55.21)
  • "Activist and Lawyer Held in Cruel Conditions" (Egypt: UA 132.19)
  • "Activists May Face 100+ Years in Prison" (Thailand: UA 134.20)
  • "Protestors Tortured and Unjustly Detained" (Iran: UA 66.21)

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 21 July 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

2021 Write for Rights follow-up

 AIUSA Group 342 has been recognized by AIUSA for our participation in the 2021 Write for Rights campaign!