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

Updates
  • 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
Actions
  • "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.)
Actions
  • "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. 

21 October 2020

Minutes for October 2020

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

NOTE:  Meeting conducted online via Jitsi 

Introductions

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. 

Minutes for April 2021 meeting

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 (via Zoom) In attendance: Jeff, Barbara, Bob, Bill, Frank, Tilo, Struan, Marsha Welcome and Introductions Updates B...