Beeston has a very strong and active Amnesty International group: you’ve probably seen them collecting signatures for campaigns in town now and again. It recently merged with the Nottingham branch, but is still active here. We ran a fundraiser for them at The Beestonian Film Club at Cafe Roya last year, and it was encouraging to see such passion, such determination to address the injustices of the world one nudge at a time. For those who believe pressure groups never change anything, and tyranny will continue whatever, then take a look at Amnesty and how they have continually had successes in getting the forgotten, the dissident, the repressed into the public eye, leading to results, releases, reprieves. A thankless task? Tell that to the illegally imprisoned political prisoner who, instead of languishing in jail, finds that the world is fighting for their release, shining a bright light upon the injustices being heaped upon them.
Tonight, the Beeston group will be grouping in Nottingham at 6pm by the Brian Clough statue to mark the fourth year of the war in Syria. This is a part of a global vigil, including Save the Children, Oxfam, Christian Aid and many other humanitarian groups. Their aim is not to take sides: the complexities of the conflict are immense and far from black-hats vs white-hats; but to call for a humanitarian response from governments:
*Boost the humanitarian response – fully fund the aid response and ensure refugees seeking safety find asylum, including through increased resettlement for the most vulnerable (with millions of Syrians now refugees Amnesty has called for the UK to take several thousand of the most vulnerable refugees)
*Stop attacks on civilians – send an unequivocal message to parties to the conflict that attacks on civilians and blocks to aid will not be tolerated
*Prioritise a political solution with human rights at the heart, recognising that an end to the suffering can only be achieved if negotiations – whether local or international – include safeguards to ensure respect for international humanitarian and human rights law
On a more local level: this is a blog about Beeston, after all, then you can make a difference by joining our local group immediately: they meet at the White Lion on the first Thursday of the month (next one therefore on 2nd April), or you can contact them via http://www.amnesty.org.uk/groups/nottingham. It could also be worth asking our MP if she would give support for Amnesty’s aims: while I disagree with many things about Soubry, she has a quite progressive view when it comes to international issues, which I salute.