An open letter from Saidjakhon Zainabutdinov

Human rights activist Saidjakhon Zainabutdinov was released from prison in Uzbekistan in 2008. Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty was one of the groups that wrote letters on his behalf. Saidjakhon has sent a letter of thanks to an Amnesty member in Scotland.  He wants us to publicize his letter so that others who have
also written letters and cards and petitions on his behalf know how grateful he is for their support and what a difference it has made. What follows is an unofficial translation of the Russian letter.

Open letter to Mr Angus MacEwan living in Lochinver, Scotland

You are the hero, not me

Dear Angus, this is a letter from human rights defender Saidjakhon Zainabutdinov from Uzbekistan, the one who after the Andijan events in May 2005, was jailed for disseminating information about those events.

You wrote two letters of solidarity to me. Being in prison, I could not reply to you and now I am able to reply to your letters, which I am doing with gratitude.
Continue reading An open letter from Saidjakhon Zainabutdinov

Fire up! 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

10th December is Human Rights Day and 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the (UDHR). Amnesty International members from London gathered at City Hall on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary with banners representing the 30 articles of the UDHR. Each London local group made a banner displaying a single article and one case that exemplified an abuse of that article. Rosie Montford made a banner for Blackheath Amnesty for article 9: “No arbitrary detention or exile” and the case of Aster Fissehatsion, imprisoned in Eritrea since 2001.

Despite the cold weather, about 200 people showed up, from 18 of the local groups and 5 of the London student groups. The evening ended with everyone holding up glow sticks to form a giant Amnesty candle beside Tower Bridge. My photos are up on flickr and there’s more on

Ten year sentence for human rights journalist

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN is shocked to learn of the ten year prison sentence served against the independent journalist and human rights defender Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, on 10 October 2008. Aburakhmanov was arrested in early June 2008 on charges of possessing illegal drugs, charges widely considered to have been fabricated in retaliation for his human rights reporting. The WiPC considers his conviction to be a serious breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Source: International PEN

Amnesty International has background information about Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov’s case. Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty will have our monthly letter-writing evening at Greenwich Picturehouse next Tuesday. We’ll have letters, which you can sign, calling for Mr Abdurakhmanov’s release.

Update: I’ve drafted a letter calling for Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov’s release. There’s a copy to the Deputy Prosecutor General and another to the Minister of Internal Affairs. Feel free to download these and mail them on your own behalf. Alternatively, you can e-mail the Deputy Prosecutor General at and the Ministry of Internal Affairs at

Amnesty book sale, 15 Nov 2008

7th annual Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty clearance book sale
Saturday 15th November 2008
10am until 4pm
Church of the Ascension
Dartmouth Row
Blackheath SE10 8BF

20,000 new and used books at bargain prices. In June we raised a record-breaking £11,500 for Amnesty International UK but we still have thousands of books left to sell. We hope to raise a further £3,000 by selling the unsold books in November.

If you would like to help with preparing for the sale, or are interested in collecting unsold books at the end of the day, please leave a comment using the form below.

You can also find us on Upcoming and facebook. Flyers can be downloaded from flickr.


Amnesty book sale 2008, originally uploaded by eat your greens.

The total take from the Amnesty book sale is in and we raised £11,700! Our highest total ever. Many thanks to everyone who gave up their time, over the last five weeks, to get the sale together.

The leftover books, of which there were plenty, will go on sale again in November.

34th Annual Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty Book Sale

2008 Book Sale Leaflet, originally uploaded by eat your greens.

34th annual Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty book sale
Saturday 21st June 2008
9am until 5pm
Church of the Ascension
Dartmouth Row
Blackheath SE10 8BF

20,000 new and used books at bargain prices. Last year we raised a record-breaking £9,500 for Amnesty International UK. Can we beat our personal best this year?

This sale is dependent entirely on the hard work of a small team of volunteers and generous donations of books. Work starts around about Monday 19th May and continues up until the day of the sale.

If you would like to help with preparing for the sale, or would like to donate books, please leave a comment using the form below.

You can also find us on Upcoming and Facebook. Flyers can be downloaded from flickr.

PS. No <abbr> tags were harmed during the making of this blog post.

Olympic torch protest

Olympic torch protest, originally uploaded by eat your greens.

Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty turned out at the Millennium Dome yesterday to welcome the olympic torch to Greenwich. Thanks to everyone who showed up. I’ve posted some photos from the group on flickr.

I missed the protest. As secretary, I was representing the local group at the national AGM in Nottingham. It was a great conference. I met other London activists, heard some inspiring speakers from around the world, took part in an action in support of the Tiananmen mothers, and did a bit of dancing too.

Free the Word!, 11 – 13 April 2008

I’ve just heard about this writing festival, next weekend at the South Bank.

I am writing to tell you about an event which is being organised by International PEN, Free The Word! festival, taking place around the Southbank from 11-13 April.

International PEN is the worldwide writers association, which represents the conscience of world literature, defends freedom of expression and promotes the development of a community of writers across cultures and languages.

This weekend of events promises to engage with stories from all over the globe in unexpected and extraordinary encounters. Be part of an intimate conversation, a raucous debate, a provocative cabaret or just listen to dialogues between eminent and emerging writers as they discuss their role as creators, thinkers and interpreters in society.

The full programme is printed in the Free the Word! PDF brochure (1.1MB download).