Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Ricin the terror plot that never was

October 15, 2011

Ricin! A plot! A hoax! Or hyped by the Blair government to justify ever more draconian anti-terror legislation and the war with Iraq?

It was bizare, if fiction dismissed as not credible.

It was the aftermath of 911, the security services jittery, Tonly Blair trying to justify war with Iraq.

to be cont …..

Freedom for Sale

October 23, 2010
Freedom for Sale by John Kampfner

Freedom for Sale by John Kampfner

Usually I look forward to the Guildford Book Festival, but this year I found it to be a grave disappointment.

Amnesty International usually have an event worth going to and this year it was former editor of the New Statesman John Kampfner talking about his book Freedom for Sale.

Before though talking on his book, John Kampfner talked of his current work at Index on Censorship and our barbaric libel laws, laws that are in urgent need of reform as they are stifling free speech, and to their credit the coalition government are pledged to reform. He urged everyone to sign the on-line petition calling for libel reform.

It was unfortunate that John Kampfner read from a script as he clearly knew his stuff.

Freedom for Sale looks at eight countries as case studies. Why are people so willing to sell their freedom in return for wealth and a consumer lifestyle?

On a general principle of beggar thy neighbour a critical mass of people in each of the countries examined enter into an unofficial pact with their government. So long as they are ok then a blind eye can be turned.

The most interesting part of the evening was the question and answer session that followed his overview of the book.

At the end of the evening I walked with John Kampfner to the station. We agreed the cuts announced earlier in the week were going to hit the poor and the vulnerable the hardest, the people who could least afford them as they had no slack. I said I was quite impressed with Russia Today and John agreed (for those who have not seen it is a must watch TV station). John also recommended Al Jazeera (I have not seen but have heard good reports). We both agreed that French-style protests in response to the cuts were unlikely. The only area where we are seeing any form of direct action is on climate change by informal grass roots groups like Climate Camp and Climate Rush.

Now I have to read the book!

Earlier in the day I found Peace Oil, an Israeli extra virgin, cold-pressed, single estate olive oil, on sale in St Mary’s Church in Guildford. But all may not be as it seems.

Up coming event

Israeli Apartheid: Hosted by West Surrey Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid and campaign co-ordinator of A Just Peace for Palestine, will talk of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. 7-30pm Thursday 18 November 2010, St Nicolas Parish Centre, Guildford.

Also see

Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Eyewitness account of Tiananmen Square

The persecution of Hoder

Hurried Steps

November 27, 2009
Hurried Steps by Dacia Maraini

Hurried Steps by Dacia Maraini

“Our goal is clear: an end to these inexcusable crimes – whether it is the use of rape as a weapon of war, domestic violence, sex trafficking, so-called “honour” crimes or female genital mutilation/cutting. We must address the roots of this violence by eradicating discrimination and changing the mindsets that perpetuate it.” — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“With hurried steps these women flee from pain and discrimination. Inspired by real facts reported by Amnesty International, the text is a testimony, an accusation, a gesture of solidarity and acknowledgement of all those women who are still prisoners of a forced marriage, of a violent family, of a hustler, of tradition or of age-old discriminations which are so difficult to overcome.” — Dacia Maraini

Written by Dacia Maraini and directed by Nicolette Kay, Hurried Steps had its world premier at the Mill Studio in Guildford on Thursday evening.

The performance by New Shoes Theatre is based on eight Amnesty International cases of violence against women. As the director was to say after the performance, it matters not culture, class or country, the violence is the same. And so the little vignettes showed, whether it was cultural violence against women in Muslim or African countries, or violence against women in the West in a domestic situation, or violence against women who are trafficked as modern-day slaves, the violence is the same, whatever the situation, it is violence against women.

The performance was unusual. Instead of enacting the little scenes, the actors, three women and two men stood behind music stands, but this was to make the drama even more powerful. And powerful it was. It left one numb.

Dacia Maraini who wrote the play has been a feminist since the 1970s. She wished to bring to a wider audience violence against women, and this play was her means of doing so. She asks that a discussion takes place afterwards on the issues raised, and after a short break, a discussion took place led by the director Nicolette Kay, together with a lady from Amnesty International and a lady from a local support network.

I will not cite the figures here, but the statistics on violence against women is truly appalling. Equally appalling is that such violence is tolerated.

Hurried Steps is a very powerful and moving drama. If you get the chance to see the performance by New Shoes Theatre, please go as you will not regret it. New Shoes Theatre are currently on tour in the UK with Hurried Steps.

The performance was to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Amnesty International are running a Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

A couple of days before I saw Hurried Steps I had been notified by Paulo Coelho of the launch by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the tenth anniversary of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (24 November 2009) of the UN network of men leaders to combat violence against women. The network brings together politicians, activists, religious and community leaders. Members of the network include Brazilian writer and UN Messenger of Peace Paulo Coelho and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The next Amnesty event in Guildford will be a play on political prisoners at the Electric Theatre on Monday 14 December 2009.

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