Category Archives: Activism

Life sentence for Woodburn killer unlikely

PhilipENDE
https://www.change.org/p/scottish-lord-advocate-justiceforshaunwoodburn

The family of Shaun Woodburn will meet Crown Office lawyers today to talk about the sentence for the male teenager who punched the ex-footballer, resulting in his death.

A petition,”Justice for Shaun“, has been created in an attempt to win a longer sentence for the killer, who has been sentenced to four years behind bars. The petition has been signed by more than 63,000 people. His father Kevin created the campaign on the petition website change.org after the death of his son.

Edinburgh Napier University Law lecturer Kenneth Dale-Risk thinks that the campaign can turn the verdict: “It is absolutely possible for the Crown, the prosecution to return to Court if they consider that the sentence that was handed out was too lenient. It happens very regularly. So, yes, the petition by the father of the dead man could possibly lead to the Crown making such an application.”

Although Dale-Risk thinks that the Crown will go for it because of the public interest, he does not think that the sentenced teenager will face a life sentence: “Strictly speaking, culpable homicide could attract a life sentence. It is possible for that sentence to be awarded. I do not think that it is conceivable, even if the Appeal Court decide that the sentence was too lenient, that anything like that would be awarded. I would be surprised if it is increased at all.”

MSP Ben Macpherson is one of the thousands who support the petition. He tweeted that the sentence which was given was “too lenient”.

Macpherson said: “I have also signed the petition and would encourage others to do so too.” The MSP attached his copies of letters he wrote to the Crown Office & Procurator fiscal service and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

Shaun Woodburn died this year from a head injury. A 17-year-old teenager had punched him on New Year’s Eve 2016 after disturbances outside Gladstone’s Bar. The attack on Woodburn was not the only one from teenager in this night. He admitted to assaulting five other people during the night.

The High Court in Glasgow sentenced the teenager for four years. Furthermore, the 17-year-old will be supervised after his release for another 18 months.

The judge was serious after the verdict and told him: “Shaun Woodburn’s family will never be the same again – perhaps most poignantly a young daughter who has been deprived of her father. You have to live the rest of your life with the knowledge of this young man’s death.”

Fundraising appeal to save Leith community centre #backdrbells

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At the launch of the fundraising appeal to #backdrbells

Dr. Bell’s Family Centre launches an appeal to raise £25,000 by April 2017, following a 50% reduction in external funding last year.

Speaking at the launch on Monday, January 23rd, Sarah Gunn, Chair of the Board said:

“Dr. Bell’s Family Centre is a vital community hub which has supported over a thousand struggling families in Leith over the last ten years.

“We are unique in offering family support in the same location as a crèche and community cafe, meaning we provide a wide range of support: from counselling, to helping parents into employment, low cost childcare to English language skills, and offer a place to make friends and build up confidence.

“We want to do more, but to do that we need to be here, this year and in the long term.

We are calling on the local community, businesses and partners to come together to back Dr Bell’s and support our campaign.”

Former Leith MSP and Board member Malcolm Chisholm remarked on the significance of the launch by noting that there was “not many events with three MSPs” attending. He also added:

“Although the reduced services we currently provide are targeted at those who need them the most, there is a high demand for family support in Leith which we believe is not currently being met.

“Raising these funds will put us back on a secure footing to continue delivering vital support services to the local community”

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Ben Macpherson also spoke at the launch:

“For over 10 years Dr Bell’s Family Centre has supported hundreds of local children and many local families, often at difficult times. Their services provide significant, and sometimes critical, support for the local community.

“I will continue to do all that I can, working with local councillors, NHS Lothian and others, to help keep this excellent centre open for Leith.”

 

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Miles Briggs, MSP for Lothian Conservative; Sarah Gunn, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Ben MacPherson, local MSP for Leith; Malcolm Chisholm, former MSP for North East Edinburgh and Minister for Health, now a Board Member; Alison Johnstone, MSP Scottish Green Party

The cause has drawn attention and support from across the political spectrum. Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, said:

“The Family Centre provides some incredibly effective resources through the family support work, counselling and employability services provided by the centre and also provides crèche facilities for hundreds of children, many of which come from some of the most deprived parts of our city, providing them with a better start to life.

“I wholeheartedly support the efforts of all the staff and volunteers at Dr Bell’s Family Centre in the fundraising campaign and will continue to support the centre whenever and however I can.”

The centre was set up as a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian and the local community in 2006 in response to a recognised need within the community for family support.

Leith Councillor, Adam McVey commented:

“Dr Bells has been there for people who needed their services, now Leithers are needed to help secure those services for the future”

Rachel King from Mental Health and Wellbeing department of NHS Lothian expressed her interest in helping students help Dr Bell’s:

“Family based support such as that available at Dr Bell’s Centre is very positive for parents mental health and wellbeing, and the centre offers a welcoming space, great food and staff who can work with the whole family.

“I would be very interested in hearing from university groups that could be involved in the fundraising for this unique family support centre”

Donate here and spread the word using #backdrbells.

Public opinion in Edinburgh divided on Trump Petition

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By Laurenci Dow

Edinburgh locals show a clear divide in opinion on the petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK, while the petition continues to gain over half a million signatures.

Petitions with more than 100,000 signatures will be considered for debate in parliament and the Petitions Committee is expected to discuss this one on the 5th of January 2016.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour home affairs spokesman Jack Dromey have both backed the petition to ban Trump from entering the country under the ‘unacceptable behaviours or extremism policy.’

However, the petition, which is the most signed currently hosted  on the Parliament website, does not express the opinions of some of the locals from the Scottish capital.

Elijah Jones, an Edinburgh local businessman said he felt that Trump’s comments were ‘bold’ although he did not agree with them.

Mr Jones felt that it was contradictory for the UK to call for a ban on a person who themselves wants to ban people from their own country.

Mr Jones said: ‘I don’t think the petition is the best course of action, in my opinion it’s quite contradictory.’

A local Costa Coffee manager, Casper Van Eeden agreed with opinions expressed by Mr Jones saying he felt that the petition was an infringement on Trump’s freedom of speech.

Mr Van Eeden said: ‘I feel that people should be able to say what they want, I don’t agree with banning people for expressing an opinion.’

Jane Thompson, a student from Edinburgh Napier University said she agreed with Robert Gordon University stripping Trump of his honorary degree as she felt this showed the UK’s stance towards his ‘racist’ comments.

However, she said she would not sign the petition as she felt that it was another way for Trump to gain more attention.

Renay Clerk, a student from Edinburgh Heriot-Watt University said she agreed with the petition as she would not want someone who expresses ‘radical opinions’ in the UK.

She said Trump would have a ‘negative effect on the UK’  if he was to visit the country.

Suzanne Kelly, the Aberdeen woman who started the petition says: ‘The signatories will not show any support for Trump’s unacceptable behaviour.’

Saudi women to cast first ever vote

Saudi Arabia

By Koldo Sandoval

Women will vote on Saturday 12 December in Saudi Arabia for the first time in history. The municipal elections take place across Saudi Arabia where women are expected to vote for the first time. Many people are optimistic that women’s voices will finally be heard in Saudi politics – even if only at a local level.

The president of Muslim Women Association in Edinburgh, Tasneem Ali, said: ‘Every woman should have the right to vote. It’s a matter of democracy. Realistically is how it should be.’

Women were previously barred from voting or being elected to political office, but in 2011 King Abdullah declared that women would be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections, as well as be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.

The first two female registered candidates were Jamal Al-Saadi in Medina and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat in Mecca, the Saudi Gazette reported. An estimated 70 women are planning to register as candidates and an additional 80 as campaign managers, according to local media in Saudi Arabia.

Neither male nor female candidates will be allowed to use pictures of themselves in campaign advertising and on election day there will be separate polling centers for men and women.

Women’s rights activists had long fought for the right to vote in the oil-rich gulf kingdom.

‘Female participation in December’s elections is an important step towards creating greater inclusion within society’, said Nouf al-Sadiq, Saudi citizen and graduated student in Middle East studies at George Washington University.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are limited in comparison to many of its neighbors in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most restrictive countries for women by the International Community. The World Economic Forum in 2013 ranked Saudi Arabia 127th out of 136 countries for gender parity.

Many women has been registered across the country, especially in the capital Riyadh. The government also requires voters to have personal ID cards, and many Saudi women do not.

Ali supports the advances that Saudi Arabia women are getting, she insisted that it’s a democratic matter separated that it not just a problem for Islamic states, she said: ‘Islamically women have the right to vote but when a country prohibits it, it’s not about Islamism. This is how every society can go forward’.

Saudi women still have to contend with limits on their freedom of movement, and since it is illegal for them to drive, many of them will have to rely on male members of their family to take them to register and vote. Male relatives who oppose female voting rights could also be a barrier.

Despite the right to vote suppose an advanced for women in the Middle East, international media such as CNN have reported that ‘public political dissent is illegal in Arabia Saudi’. According to Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties; Saudi Arabia is a mainstay of the 10 worst countries in the world for women’s civil rights. Citizens that even hint that political and human rights should be expanded are considered as a terrorist action by the monarchy.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Yaz Duncan

A Transgender Day of Remembrance event will take place in Glasgow tomorrow to commemorate those who have lost their lives due to hate motivated violence.

The event will be held at the University of Strathclyde Student Association and is being organised by the LGBTQI+ societies of Strathclyde University, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Glasgow.

One of the organisers of the event, Leonie Siebert, said: “There is still a huge amount of transphobia and hate trans people face every day.

“This is often overlooked and ignored in the media, and paying our respects to the trans people who lost their lives during the past year also gives them the recognition they deserve.

“Their deaths, most of which are a product a culture that did not recognise them as the gender they were, need to be remembered – but also, they show that there is still a long way to go for society in the recognition and acceptance of trans people.”

According to Transgender Europe, in 2015 alone there have been 80 reported murders of trans and gender diverse people globally.

The event is inviting people who identify as transgender or who are questioning their gender identity to speak at the event.

Camryn Mowatt, who will be speaking at the event, said: “I think it is very important to remember and reflect on the people who have lost their lives because of their gender status, either through being attacked or feeling that there is no option but to take their own lives.

“It is a day of remembrance but also a celebration of people’s lives and what we can achieve by working together.”

Kay Logan, who is trans, has also volunteered to speak. She said: “I think event like this are important because people need to be made aware that trans people still suffer at the hands of their families and communities.”

A study by Transgender Alliance found that over 37 per cent of transgender people have experienced physical threat while 19 per cent have been assaulted for being transgender.

Although everyone is welcome, the organisers have asked that only people who identify as transgender speak at the event.

Organiser Leonie Siebert said: “People at this event are encouraged to listen and reflect on these experiences, with the final aim to get a better understanding of what it is like to identify as trans and to live within a very transphobic society.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance movement started after transgender advocate, Gwendolyn Ann Smith held a vigil to honour murdered trans woman Rita Hester in 1998.

Cat Smith MP, Labour’s shadow Women’s and Equality Minister said: “Transgender day of Remembrance reminds us all of the huge challenges and discrimination that trans people face in their day to day lives.

“Recent cases in the criminal justice system show how far we still need to go.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gandhi’s grandson calls for end to punishment

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson has called on the world to abandon punishment at a lecture in Edinburgh.

The non-violence activist spoke of the “passive violence” that plagues society, arguing that restorative justice rather than imprisonment was the best way to reform criminals.

The New York-based campaigner travels the world to preach his message of non-violence, with the belief that only a global effort will achieve that aim.

Speaking at the lecture, organised by Scottish community justice organisation SACRO, he said: “Justice should not mean punishment, it should mean transforming the individual.”

He went on to speak of how all actions are rooted in violence, be they “physical” or “passive”, adding, in relation to justice: “Would I be hurt by it or helped by it?”

The socio-political activist added his belief that most crime is rooted in inequality. He said: “People who are marginalised are angry.

“By calling them criminals, we de-humanise them; they are human beings.”

He added that he did not believe in the abolition of prisons, but that they should be redefined as places for rehabilitation.

Mr Gandhi cited much of his upbringing as being the root of his belief. He recounted that his parents would inflict punishment on themselves should he misbehave as a child, notably by not eating, while he would eat in front of them.

He said that a “non-punishing culture starts at home”.

Tom Halpin, Chief Executive of SACRO said: “It was a privilege to hear [Arun’s] message; the real inspiration lies in the stories.

“It allows people to become ‘peace-farmers’ and to take that message in to the future.”

He added that Mr Gandhi’s ideas were “not about being soft on crime” but “allowing people to transform and move on”.

 

SNP Criticises Relocation of Nuclear-powered Submarines to Scotland

THE SNP today called for only conventional vessels to be based at Faslane after the MoD announced plans to relocate two nuclear-powered submarines to the Scottish naval base.

The statement came after plans were announced to relocate a further two nuclear-powered submarines to Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde. Adding further nuclear material to the base in direct opposition to The SNP’s aim of a nuclear-free Scotland.

The expected economic benefits of transferring the vessels have been played down by the SNP today in conjunction with the benefits of the new £4 billion contract to construct 26 new Frigates on the Clyde.

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) decision to move two nuclear powered Trafalgar-class submarines, from their current home in Plymouth to Faslane in the West of Scotland, has been directly criticised by the SNP’s Westminster party spokesperson on defence and foreign affairs Angus Robertson.

He said:  “The MoD shifting two submarines nearing the end of their lifespan on the Clyde won’t disguise the lack of serious defence investment in Scotland from successive UK Governments. The fact they are happy to move nuclear submarines but not a single major surface vessel North speaks volumes.
“The fact is that Scotland’s service personnel have been poorly served by Westminster for too long by a Westminster establishment obsessed with wasting billions on nuclear weapons while stripping Scotland of military assets and cutting 11,000 defence jobs in Scotland over  the last decade. The best future for Faslane is as a full conventional naval base.”
The two submarines,  HMS Talent and HMS Triumph, will have been fully relocated from Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport to Scotland by 2020, making Faslane the home of The UK’s entire submarine fleet.
Other two Royal Navy craft, HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant, are to remain at their current home in Devonport until they are decommissioned in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Defense secretary Michael Fallon said: “This decision balances the Royal Navy’s operational requirements with giving more clarity to our servicemen and women to plan their family lives.
“HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant crews and their families now have certainty that Devonport will be their home port until the boats decommission. We expect that local communities will welcome HMS Talent and HMS Triumph and their crews and families when they arrive in Scotland later this decade.

“Our commitment to Faslane becoming home to all Royal Navy submarines from 2020 will bring hundreds of jobs and investment to the West of Scotland.”

The two submarines will eventually be replaced by Astute-class vessels, making the transfer permanent until their eventual decommission.