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. 

19 May 2021

Minutes for May 2021 Meeting

Wednesday, 19 May 2021 (via Zoom)

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

Welcome and Introductions

  • Jeff and Marksen reported on their ongoing work with attorneys and AIUSA area experts on behalf of prisoners of conscience from Kabylia (historical region in what is today the northern area of Algeria).
  • Barbara gave a brief presentation on the history of AI with biographical information on AIUSA's new executive director, Paul O’Brien. In his book Power Switch: How We Can Reverse Extreme Inequality (Winchester, UK; Washington, D.C.: Changemaker Books, 2021), O’Brien notes that international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) “no longer sit exclusively in Europe and the U.S., but all over the world. Even the globally networked organizations [such as Oxfam] with deep roots in the North, increasingly have their headquarters in the South (p. 17).” Countries of the global South have been steadily taking charge of their own development. This “power shift” can also be noted in the priorities and leadership of AI during the last 10 to 15 years.
  • Jeff recommended the podcast Throughline (www.npr.org/podcasts/510333/throughline), which provides historical perspectives on current events.
  • "Family Members Detained on Fabricated Charges" (Russia: UA 20/21)
  • "Farmers Face Trial Amid Environmental Work" (Indonesia: UA 23/21)
  • "Critical Chance to Decriminalize Abortion" (Dominican Republic: UA 36/21)
  • "Indigenous Peoples Face Dispossession" (Malaysia: UA 23/20)
  • "Activists May Face 100+ Years in Prison" (Thailand: UA 134/20)

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

21 April 2021

Minutes for April 2021 meeting

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 (via Zoom)

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

Welcome and Introductions

  • Barb gave a report on AIUSA's April 19 webinar on the recent release of its annual report "Death Sentences and Executions 2020" (report overview; complete report)
    • Worldwide executions were down 26% (483 in 2020 versus 657 in 2019) during the pandemic
    • The five countries that execute the most people are (in descending over) China, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia
    • At the end of 2020, over 28,000 people were known to be on death row globally
    • The USA is the only country in the Americas to carry out executions in 2020
  • AIUSA will soon be launching a campaign for clemency for Rocky Myers
    • He has been on death row in Alabama for 26 years
    • He is a Black man who was convicted by an all-white jury of the murder of a white woman
    • The jury handed down a sentence of life in prison, but the judge overrode them (an action that is no longer allowed by state law)
    • [NOTE: AIUSA has not yet published information about this online. Additional details are available from the ACLU page on this case.]
Film Recommendations
  • Jeff: Nasrin, a 2020 documentary film about Nasrin Sotoudeh.
    • From the IMDB listing: "An immersive portrait of one of the world's most courageous human rights activists and political prisoners, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and of Iran's remarkably resilient women's rights movement."
    • Currently streaking (for a fee) at https://www.nasrinfilm.com/. 
  • Barbara and Bob: The Mauritanian, a 2021 film about Mohamedou Ould Slahi
    • Based on Slahi's 2015 memoir Guantánamo Diary
    • Slahi was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay by the U.S. government for 14 years without charge
  • "Journalists Must Be Released Immediately" (Iraq: UA 28/21)
  • "Assistant Judge Risks Double Prosecution" (Iraq: UA 10/20)
  • "Four Bahraini Minors Tried as Adults" (Bahrain: UA 30/21)
  • "Health of Death Row Prisoner in Sharp Decline" (Pakistan: UA 27/21)-->There are updates to this case; Bill will send out a new letter.
  • "Activist Detained for Reporting Torture" (China: UA 31/21)
Other News
  • Hoping for an update from Marksen next time
    • He was going to meet with the AIUSA area expert on Algeria
    • Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK)
    • Amnesty does not usually get involved in self-determination cases except where there are freedom of speech issues
  • Thoughts about the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder case

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

17 March 2021

Minutes for March 2021

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 (via Zoom)

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

Welcome and Introductions

Communications Updates
Film Recommendations
  • Taxi, a 2015 film by Jafar Panahi.
    • From the IMDB listing: "Jafar Panahi is banned from making movies by the Iranian government, he poses as a taxi driver and makes a movie about social challenges in Iran."
    • Currently streaming (for a fee) at https://www.filmatique.com/ and on YouTube.
  • Nasrin, a 2020 documentary film about Nasrin Sotoudeh.
    • From the IMDB listing: "An immersive portrait of one of the world's most courageous human rights activists and political prisoners, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and of Iran's remarkably resilient women's rights movement."
    • Currently streaking (for a fee) at https://www.nasrinfilm.com/. 
Activism Updates
  • 2021 AGM update from Bob (who attended with Barbara)
    • "Dangers of the Death Penalty": Featured story of a Black woman who was accused of murdering an infant who'd died of natural causes and is now a member of Witness to Innocence (exonerated death row prisoners)
  • Reminder from Bill: 2021 Nowruz is NOW (Amnesty's 2021 Nowruz actions are at https://www.amnestyusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Nowruz-action-2021.pdf.)
  • "Prisoner of Conscience's Health at Risk" (Iran: UA 12/21)
  • "Drop Charges Against Journalist" (USA: UA 14/21)
  • "Aleksei Navalny's Health and Life in Danger" (Russian Federation: UA 6/21)
  • "Trial Delay for Detailed Australian-Chinese Writer" (China: UA 98.20)
  • "Ailing Professor Arrested after Cancelation of Bail" (Pakistan: UA 148/19)
  • "End For-Profit Detention Facilities": online letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas

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

04 January 2021

AIUSA recognition of Group 342

AIUSA has issued this certificate to Amnesty International Group 342 in recognition of our chapter's participation in the 2020 Write for Rights campaign. Congratulations, everyone! (And keep your pens and keyboards handy—there will no doubt be plenty of letters to write in 2021.)


16 December 2020

Minutes for December 2020

Wednesday, 16 December 2020 (via Zoom)

In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Kathleen (our area coordinator), Kara, Brendan, Frank, Marsha

Welcome and Introductions

2020 Write for Rights (part 2)

Next month

See if our group might want to adopt the death penalty as a special focus of our group.

Next meeting (online): Wednesday, 20 January 2020, 7:30 p.m. 

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. 

Minutes for June 2021 Meeting

  Wednesday, 16 June 2021 (via Zoom) In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Frank, Heather, Tilo, April, Marsha Welcome and Introductions Update...