We are proud to announce that Cambridge University Amnesty International will be supporting the Women’s Environmental Network.
Here at Cambridge University Amnesty International we would like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who voted in our poll to decide which charitable organisation we will be supporting in Easter Term 2017. The Women’s Environmental Network are the only UK organisation that consistently link the right’s of women, and women’s wellbeing with environmental issues such as global warming, and production practices. They work for ‘environmental justice through feminist principles’, and consider how not only are women more affected by environmental issues, but are less involved in creating solutions for environmental solutions.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in Downing Bar to sew together the calico petitions we collected during the Cage Campaign!
We collaborated with Aydua, an amazing group of Cambridge students who sell incredible embroidered clothing, and create protest art. We’ll now send this amazing petition to 10 Downing Street, asking Teresa May to condemn the use of torture, and condemn Donald Trump’s open support for torture. We estimated that we collected approximately 600-700 signatures, although there are so many it is difficult to count!
During the month of November, CUAI held a daily social media campaign to raise money for Syria Relief.
Syria Relief is a charity providing emergency medical care, food aid and education for those 7.6 million internally displaced by the conflict, thus helping to reduce the mass migration from Syria. Overall, we raised 125.55 pounds.
Every day, we would post a statistic about the refugee crisis, which the UN has determined is the largest since WWII, followed by a link to our fundraising page. These statistics were contributed each by a different member of the university-wide group, and the donations by both members and supporters of the cause. The participation from the entire university, as well as the awareness-raising from those who follow us on social media world-wide, is part of what makes Amnesty an effective organization-by encouraging participation, and through education, we are able to influence opinion and bring light to the issues featured.
The campaign culminated in a candlelight vigil, where members of Amnesty got together and led a procession around Cambridge town center, a visible demonstration of solidarity making use of the well-known Amnesty candle logo. The procession ended at Clare College Chapel, where we were met by musicians and hot drinks. Each participant was invited to read out a statistic to be put in a video (forthcoming) of the entire campaign, a lasting product to commemorate CUAI’s efforts, but more importantly, a permanent artifact to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.
One in five people in Lebanon are refugees.
2 million asylum applications were processed worldwide this year, with Germany receiving the most applications.
Yusra Mardini is a Syrian refugee who swam for 3 hours to push a sinking boat to safety, saving innocent lives. This summer, she competed as a swimmer at the Rio Olympics!
Newnham had a film night at 7pm in the JCR watching Casablanca. This was in line with our awareness raising campaign this term for refugees as the film is centred around the plight of refugees in ww2. Many of the actors in the film were refugees at the time. Eleanor Turnbull, college rep for Newnham, made a brief speech about the film and it’s relevance to amnesty’s campaign, and said where funds raised would be going. We watched the film and people made voluntary donations. At Emma they organised a pub quiz in Emma bar and raised £43. They organised it with the Emma Access Officer during the CUSU shadowing scheme so the shadows got to play for free and see how relaxed/approachable Emma is. Everyone else paid £1 each to participate. The quiz was a mix of Human Rights rounds and more fun rounds like a picture round, a music round, etc.. The general feedback was that everyone really enjoyed themselves and people stuck around for a drink afterwards so it was generally very chilled out. In total the reps have raised £53.01 this term for our chosen charities!
I was lucky enough to attend the second day of the 2016 Amnesty Student Conference, which took place at the Human Rights Action Centre, in Shoreditch. Despite the searing rain and cold without, the atmosphere inside was electric. Student groups had gathered from across the country, not only to network, but to discuss the most pressing human rights issues and the best ways of tackling them. There were boards along the walls where you could write what you felt strongly about, but before I had time to write much the first part of the day was announced: ‘good news session’. This was an opportunity for the groups to share some of their greatest successes over the past year, and by the end of the session everyone was more enthusiastic than ever. Afterwards there was a plenary (‘creating rights-respecting communities’) led by the Human Rights Education Team, and then a choice of workshop (I went to the ‘Creative Campaigning workshop’) led by the renowned Dan Jones. The rest of the morning was filled with more networking, STAN elections, and activities.
I found the plenary on human rights in the UK the most inspiring event: Laura Trevelyan spoke brilliantly about Amnesty’s most major key projects of the moment, giving insider knowledge about the Against Hate and Human Rights Act Campaign. She was acerbic and precise: she gave a lot of advice on how best to argue for the two campaigns with respect to their most disputed elements, as well as how to deal with ebullient aggressors in a more general sense. She didn’t spout clichéd abstractions that we’ve all heard a hundred times before – she was pertinent. I came away with a much more concrete understanding not only of the Against Hate and Human Rights Act Campaign, but also how to deal constructively with people against those acts. The day ended with the STAN elections, and I left exhausted but very, very hopeful: the students, speakers, and campaigners there had showed me that all our writing letters, calling MPs, and going on marches, is working.
At the beginning of November, just before the American election, we decided that it was time to address some of the crucial human rights debates currently going on in the USA. Such a diverse topic requires a diverse range of experiences and mediums, so we were very pleased to be able to host a whole range of people with different perspectives on the issues of human rights in the US. This is why our multimedia event used poetry, comedy and discussion to try and deal with some of the complex issues surround human rights in the US
Blaire Andres, from Reprieve, gave a very important first hand account of Reprieve’s work for individuals on death row and how inhumane some of the execution methods are. Kate Dunbar followed this with a very insightful discussion of the problems of the US justice system, especially in relation to the war on drugs and how this linked to racism.
The term ‘networking’, in Cambridge, immediately conjures up mental images of milling around in business-wear eating canapes and swigging prosecco, provided by some huge multinational in return for that last remaining bit of your soul once you graduate. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
At CUAI’s NGO Networking event on the evening of the 17th of November, representatives from many Cambridge-based charities and campaign groups gathered to exchange contact details, discuss campaigning methods and plan future collaborations. The turnout was impressive, and a wide range of organisations were represented, from both Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Universities and also the local area. Discussion focussed on what the best methods of encouraging active participation from broadly sympathetic bystanders might be, with demands on the time of busy students often a problem that limits the person-power of student activist groups. Overall, great connections were made and it is hopefully an event that will be repeated in the future.
CUAI returned to Downing Bar on the 21st October to host its now renowned ‘Jamnesty’ open mic night.
Word had obviously spread since the last event, as we were inundated with requests to play from some really talented musicians across Cambridge’s student body.
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh got things off to an impressive start with a set of his own material, whilst Jade Cuttle’s delicate voice left everyone enraptured. Returning favourites Zac Evans and Emily Myles both pulled large crowds through the door, and Holly Musgrave left such an impression on the hosts that she has since been invited back to perform at Downing Bar! Clara Collingwood brought a nice change of tone, and we were even treated to a number from CUAI’s very own Tiffany Hui. Time was left at the end for some impromptu performances, with a rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ being particularly memorable.
One of the best things about ‘Jamnesty’ is its ability to attract people who had just dropped into the bar and might not otherwise have come into contact with Amnesty International. Not only were stickers given out and petitions signed, but a total of £285 was raised. Thank you to all the performers and here’s hoping the next event will be equally successful!
On the beautifully sunny afternoon of the 15th of June, CUAI hosted its annual AmnesTea Party on Jesus Green. Surrounded by Amnesty bunting, balloons, stickers and badges, guests enjoyed the glorious weather and chatted about upcoming CUAI projects.
As well as the summertime beverage par excellence (ie. Pimm’s), AmnesTea Party goers were treated to a variety of delectable savoury goods donated generously by Cambridge student favourites – Nanna Mexico and Gardies – and the delicious Bridges Cafe. However, the selection of sweet treats was even more impressive, consisting of scrumptious donations from Krispy Kreme, Patisserie Valerie, Chocolat Chocolat, Savino’s Caffè Bar Italiano, Fudge Kitchen, and Mr. Simms’ Old Sweet Shoppe.