Minutes for 14 July 2022

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Minutes from the Lewes Amnesty Group meeting of 14 July 2022
at the White Hart Hotel in Lewes

News about Mohamed El Halabi

Adrian Briggs reported the latest news about Mohamed El Halabi, a Palestinian activist held in an Israeli prison for six years without a trial, and now found guilty without any evidence being presented. Our motion to the Amnesty UK Board, written by Adrian and Duncan Taylor and presented at the Amnesty UK AGM passed by 1069 votes to 53.  That means that Amnesty UK now call on Amnesty’s International Secretariat to speed their consideration of whether Mr. El Halabi qualifies as a prisoner of conscience.  You can read more about his case on Amnesty’s page.

There had been enthusiasm for pressing the issue and contacting the Secretariat as soon as possible to hear their plans, and for writing to Mr. El Halabi to show him our support.  But it was agreed we would wait a month, giving time to the Secretariat to consider the matter and so as to have concrete news to give Mr. Halabi about Amnesty’s support.

(We have since been in contact with Owen Collins, a member of the UK Board, who has said he will “do some digging”)

The group agreed that it would be good to have an Action File on Mohamed El Halabi, to make it as easy as possible for members to act on his behalf.  Sara Birch voiced a willingness to put one together, but she welcomes any help from members wanting to do some research, writing and/or publishing.

Guantanamo Vigil on 7th September in LondonThe Guantanamo Action Group, started by Sara Birch of our group, will hold a vigil for the 35 men still held at Guantanamo Bay. We will need as many volunteers as possible to wear orange jump suits and hoods to protest their continued imprisonment without trial. More details to follow, but please hold the date!

One of the “Forever Prisoners”, Khalid Ahmed Qasim, was cleared for release in the last week.  That is good news, but not great news until he is actually released.  For now, he joins ten other men who are “Cleared for Release”, but still imprisoned.  Mohamedou Salahi, for example, spent seven years in this limbo state.

So even when Guantanamo is one day closed, there will be work to do to make sure that those men who could not be convicted in a fair trial are released into real freedom in a country where they are not immediately persecuted all over again.  Lewes Amnesty Group has been leading the way on this, and the 7th of September is your chance to get involved.

Street Stall in Cliffe on 17th of SeptemberThe group agreed that we should set up a table in Cliffe on the Saturday the 17th of September to publicise Mr. Halabi’s case, Amnesty’s report from February accusing Israel of creating an apartheid state and our efforts to close Guantanamo Bay.  We will need between four people working together in two hour slots to man the table for the four hours of the Lewes Farmer’s Market.  Please contact info@amnestylewes.org or my phone: 07816 610380.

Treasury MattersAdrian Briggs gave the group an update of our finances, which are healthy despite having generated no new income in the last year.  We discussed the need for a fundraising day and the need for a card machine to take sponaneous payments at events.  Adrian has continued in his role as Treasurer because his previously arranged replacement has been unable to take up the role.  He has offered to continue until the end of the year.

Other Groups, other ActivitiesIt was agreed that we should make more effort to reach out to other groups who are involved with human rights issues, such as LOSRAS.  David Burke offered to look into upcoming events and actions.  It was also agreed that the group would benefit from printing a regular newsletter, as it had in the past.  Grace Annand, David Burke and Sara Birch expressed and interest in providing new content and sharing content and distribution with the group’s website.
Far-sighted Ian McClelland has booked the Friends Meeting Hall in School Hill, Lewes for this year’s Write for Rights on the 3rd of December 2022!

Next MeetingWe will meet again on Thursday the 8th of September, at 7pm at the White Hart Hotel.

Present

Grace Annand
Sara Birch
Adrian Briggs
David Burke
Lisa Hother
Judith Land
Derek Nichols
Nick Swabey

Apologies

Patrick Ballin
Duncan Taylor