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!
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.
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!
Students from the university gathered on Kings Parade to echo the calls of thousands of protesters worldwide, on Friday 22nd April, in support of the Truth For Giulio campaign.
The campaign aims to bring to light the true events surrounding the tragic death of Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found on the 3rd of February following his disappearance in Cairo on the 25th of January. Giulio’s murder was “This is a fight for academic freedom”, said Priscilla Mensah at the rally. The CUSU president emphasised the Student Union’s commitment to the campaign, offering their condolences to those who knew Giulio, noting too just how acutely the loss has been felt among the Cambridge community.
Cambridge students were not the only group represented at the rally. As well as CUAI, the Cambridge Amnesty City Group lent their support to the event, and as a result the march attracted people from all over Cambridge and even beyond. Within the university, Dr. Anne Alexander from the POLIS department – who had helped draft the letter, which was signed by over 4600 academics nationally, forcing the campaign even further into the spotlight– assisted in promoting an academic interest in the event. Dr. Glen Rangwala, an academic in the department where Giulio worked and one of his supervisors, delivered a more personal account of what Giulio was like, and urged those in attendance to continue to pursue the cause in his name. He dispelled any myth that what happened to Giulio might have been as a result of a lapse in caution: Giulio was well aware of the risks, exercised caution in every way expected of him, and yet was still a victim of this horrific crime.
Downing Bar recently joined the illustrious ranks of London, Paris, and Los Angeles in being host to a human rights concert, and can easily lay claim to being just as much of a success.
The masses poured in on Friday evening (the 29th April) and were treated to a enjoyably diverse range of live music and comedy. There were those who had never performed live before, and those who harbour hopes of a professional career, and everyone in between. The sizeable crowd were treated to both original material, and well-known covers, in an evening that catered for those who came especially for the music, and for those who wanted something a bit more casual. CUAI’s very own Tiffany Hui and Madeleine Lofchy put the rest of the exec to shame by turning in one of the stand out sets of the night!
All in all, £180 was raised on a wholly successful and entertaining evening. Our thanks go out to all the attendees, performers, and anyone else who helped out along the way!
As we start a fresh term in Cambridge and welcome a new Executive Committee, it seems appropriate to take a look back at what CUAI’s college reps and members have managed to achieve throughout the past year.
Number of Letters Written = 1 340
Money raised by CUAI reps for Calaid and CUCRAG (Michaelmas 2015): £388
Money raised by CUAI reps for SSSK and CHOP (Lent 2016): £692.24
Although it is easy to succumb to cynicism and become disillusioned with the state of human rights campaigning in today’s world, it is important to remember that we can make a difference.
Through the power of letter writing, Amnesty International has achieved some phenomenal success stories – achievements that CUAI college reps and members throughout the Cambridge have made a crucial contribution to. If the following good news stories seem familiar, this is because college reps throughout Cambridge have organised letter writing campaigns to address these issues. So, on behalf of CUAI’s ex-College Reps Coordinator, thank you and well done!
Cuba: Artist Danilo Maldonado was released on the 20th of October 2015 – He spent almost 10 months in prison without trial following accusations of “aggravated contempt” after being arrested on 25 December 2014 for transporting two pigs with the names “Raúl” and “Fidel” painted on them.
USA: Ernest Johnson Issued Stay of Execution – The United States Supreme Court issued a stay of execution in the case of Ernest Johnson shortly before he was due to be put to death in Missouri on the 3rd of November 2015.
Argentina: Relmu Ñamku was absolved on the 4th of November 2015 – This Indigenous leader was charged with attempted homicide on 26 October for hurting a policewoman in 2012, when her community resisted eviction from their ancestral land, in Argentina’s Neuquén Province.
Tunisia: Marwan Released – A Tunisian student jailed for engaging in homosexual relations was freed after his sentence was reduced on appeal on the 17th of December 2015.
USA: Albert Woodfox was released on the 19th of February 2016 – He had been in solitary confinement for 4 decades.
China: Peter Dahlin and Pan Jinling Released – A Swedish national who had been held in secret detention since the 3rd of January 2016 on suspicion of “endangering state security” has been released and deported to Sweden.His girlfriend has also been released, although she remains in China.
Singapore: Kho Jabing Issued Stay of Execution – He was not executed on the 6th of April 2016, as had been planned.
Greece: Refugees Allowed Access to Transit Camp– A large transit camp with facilities appropriate for cold weather at the Greek border with “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (Macedonia) is now working at its full capacity providing relief and emergency assistance to refugees arriving in the area with the aim of crossing the border.
If you ever wondered about the actual, tangible outcome of your letters, hopefully this encouraging list of success stories has managed to convince you of their value! Remember – the cause is always worth fighting for.
What have CUAI College Reps been up to in Michaelmas 2015?
On the 21st of December 2015, the number of migrants and refugees crossing the European border officially passed the symbolic one million mark. This, combined with the daily flood of shocking images and headlines, was yet another indicator that 2015 has seen the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Throughout Michaelmas 2015, CUAI College Reps devoted their energy to tackling this global problem head on. Through various events and fundraisers, they successfully raised awareness about the refugee crisis and raise funds for the Cambridge Calais Refugee Action Group (CUCRAG). By the end of the term, CUAI College reps had raised a total of £390 for CUCRAG, an organisation aiming to raise awareness about refugees living in Calais camps and collect donations of clothing and other items to help the refugees. Find out more about CUCRAG and get involved here.
CUAI College Reps came up with a range of original and creative ways to spread awareness and support CUCRAG. Here are a few examples of the successful events they organised throughout Michaelmas:
Gonville & Caius: Gofundmecampaign
College Reps Madeleine Loftchy and Tiffany Hui launched a Gofundmecampaign for CUCRAG and successfully raised £75!
Queens: QAmnesty Candle Club feat. BATS
On the 13th of November, QAmnesty teamed up with the Amateur Dramatics Society BATS and successfully resurrected the Queens’ tradition of ‘Candle Club’ – an evening of live musical and acting talent. Throughout the evening, guests were treated to a total of twenty acts, including performers from inside and outside college. The line-up of musical performers included Jonah Hauer-King, Zoe Lakota Baldwin, Clara Collingwood, Husna Rizvi, as well as some of our very own Queens’ students; Matilda Wickham, Dan Bulman, Joscelin Dent-Pooley, Anya Doherty, Ellie Coote, Helen Barker, Bobby He, Fin Williams, Tom Hiom, John Campbell, Lauren Downing, Caroline Thornham, Elizabeth Weir, and many more. Amongst the BATS stand-up comedians were Amber Dillon, Chris Turnbull and Callum Maney. With a jam-packed bar and high-class entertainment, QAmnesty managed to raise upwards of £200 for Calais refugee camps. The evening was so successful that QAmnesty organised a second Candle Club on 13th January 2016! To stay updated on this extremely dynamic Amnesty group’s activities and upcoming events, check out their Facebook page.
Emmanuel: Vintage Fashion Fair (with Cake Sale)
College Reps Laura Schubert and Sarah Roche decided to combine their concern for social and environmental issues by collecting donations for CUCRAG at Emmanuel’s Vintage Fashion Fair, organised on the 8th of November by Emma Green Ducks (Emma student green committee) in collaboration with the MCR Green officer (Moni Gupta). The theme of event was ‘reuse and reduce’, or as Laura put it, to present secondhand clothes as ‘an environmental and ethical solution to excess waste.’ Local charity shops kindly donated clothes, both for sale and modeling in an on-site photo booth at Emmanuel Bar. Laura and Sarah made the most of this event by hosting a cake sale at the same time, with proceeds going towards CUCRAG. As well as selling a third of their items and raising over £380 for the 13 participating charity shops, the cake sale successfully raised over £30 for CUCRAG.
Newnham: Fundraising at Newnham Smoker
College Rep Ruby Zajac seized the opportunity to support CUCRAG at the Newnham Smoker, a night of Feminist comedy organised on the 23rd October. The Smoker drew in a huge crowd of people keen to see performances by Callie Vandewiele, Mattie Weschler, Richard Perez Storey, Chris Wugh, and the stunning headliner, Grainne Mcguire. According to Ruby, the Smoker’s organisers ‘took every opportunity to mention that CUAI was fundraising for CUCRAG that evening and even let me jump on the stage with the mic and do some talking myself!’ As well as raising awareness about CUCRAG and the work they do, Ruby managed to raise £83.
Do not worry if you missed these wonderful fundraisers; with CUAI college reps already planning a host of events for 2016, Lent is shaping up to be just as exciting as Michaelmas! Look out for Sidney Sussex’s pidgeonhole surprise chocolate delivery, Corpus Christi’s chapel collections and Clare College’s collaboration with Clare Ents. If none of those options appeal to you, perhaps you might want to attend one of the film nights set at Downing, Kings’, Homerton, Murray Edwards, or Girton. If films aren’t your cup of tea, you might like to head over to one of the speaker events organized Fitzwilliam or Pembroke. And if actual tea is what your after, Kings and Girton have you covered with AmnesTea parties planned for the near future. With such a wide variety of events coming up, there will definitely be something for everyone!
If you would like to get more involved in CUAI or would be interested in becoming a CUAI College Rep do not hesitate to contact the CUAI College Reps Coordinator (Eleanor) at email@example.com.
In late 2015, CUAI launched a project to campaign to keep the Human Rights Act in response to government plans to change or scrap it. We decided to try to raise awareness of the articles included in the Human Rights Act through audio-visual media, and bring together student groups from across the country in a collaborative effort in the process. The finished projects will be released on social media when the government consultation on the HRA is announced in 2016.
So far, the project has been very successful with Amnesty International student groups from Durham University, the University of Sussex, the University of Sheffield and the University of Edinburgh all having joined the project. Everyone so far has made fabulous contributions through photo and video campaigns (still top secret!), and in Lent term 2016, we plan to put together a Quiz about the Human Rights Act in the hope of raising even more awareness and getting people talking about what the Human Rights Act really means!