Amnesty International UK East Anglia Regional Conference 2017

Speak Out!: Defending Human Rights Defenders

10am to 4pm Saturday 23rd September
Chelmsford, Essex

Doors open at 9.30am

Hurry! Booking closes on Thursday 21st September


Facebook event: Speak Out!

Welcome to AI UK’s regional conference for East Anglia, taking place on Saturday 23rd September in Chelmsford, Essex. Your hosts are the Chelmsford local group, and you will find all the information you need to take part on this page.

Everyone is welcome to attend – you do not need to be a member of Amnesty.

AI UK’s new campaign BRAVE: Defending Human Rights Defenders
Today, people across the world are taking enormous risks to stand up for our rights. They could be teachers, students, political opponents, factory workers, journalists, lawyers or so many others. They could be you, your friend or your relatives.
But they’re being harassed, tortured, jailed and even killed – just for daring to speak out for what’s right. Without their courage, our world would be less fair, less just and less equal. We must stand with human rights defenders worldwide – and do all we can to keep them safe from harm.
We can find the spark of courage in all of us to speak out for what’s right. We can tweet. We can protest. We can write letters. We can be a witness. And together we can act as one alongside human rights defenders, to fight injustice and build a fairer world.

Join us to hear inspiring stories of those who are working in the field of human rights, about injustices yet to be righted and learn about practical activities to support the work of human rights defenders.

Venue: Trinity Methodist Church
Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, CM1 2XB

Transport links:
• Free car-parking opposite Trinity Methodist Church.
• 5 minutes walk from Chelmsford train station, 35/40 minutes journey from London Liverpool St, 30 minutes journey from Colchester.
• 3 minutes walk from the bus station.

Registration: open from 9.30am – if you can arrive early please do! Conference starts at 10.00am

All spaces are fully wheelchair accessible – let us know on the booking form if you have specific access requirements.

Refreshments: Tea and coffee available during registration and morning break, and soft drinks with lunch. Please bring your own water bottle for the day.

Speakers and workshop leaders:

Kerim Balci Our keynote speaker is the Editor in Chief of Turkish Review and Project Coordinator at the Turkey Institute. Kerim is a former columnist with Zaman Daily, a newspaper closed down by the Turkish government. He currently volunteers for Turkey Institute’s London Advocacy Group, a group trying to raise awareness about human rights violations in Turkey.

Rebecca Dallison – Urgent Actions coordinator in the Individuals at Risk progamme for Amnesty International UK, and a member of the AI team leading the BRAVE campaign.

Cristina Gavrilovic – Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator for Kent and Essex Police. Cristina was born in Romania and has used her language skills in practical ways in her work against modern day slavery. She has become an expert in the ways in which people are trafficked across Europe.

Jan Jananayagam, a British Tamil Human Rights activist. Jan is a co-founder and Director of the British NGO, Together Against Genocide. She stood as an independent candidate in the 2009 European elections on a platform that included an ethical foreign policy including more robust accountability for mass atrocity crimes.

Although Asoomii Jay is Canadian, she sees herself as a global citizen. She was raised in a Spanish/Palestinian household and has lived in North America, the Middle East, and Europe. The genocide in Palestine that her family witnessed firsthand, a cancer diagnosis  and personal witness of the war in Libya prompted her to speak about Islamophobia and social injustices.  Asoomii’s Blind Trust project (Hug a Muslim project) trended globally, encouraging activists to spread her message of coexistence and unity. She uses social media to raise awareness of social injustices and she believes that education and knowledge are the keys to combating Islamophobia and extremism.

David Rey – Trustee of Side by Side with Refugees charity is a teacher who works in his spare time(!) to provide practical assistance to refugees in Northern France and Belgium. His activism includes consciousness raising, fund raising, and loading his car with necessities and taking them to where they are needed.

James Savage, Fund for Global Human Rights. James Savage leads the Fund’s program on the Enabling Environment for human rights defenders. Prior to joining the Fund, James worked for seventeen years at AI UK, managing the Individuals at Risk and Human Rights Defenders Programmes, conducting research, advocacy, campaigning and direct protection interventions in support of individuals / HRDs at risk and fostering enabling environments for HRDs. In 1994, James became involved in human rights activism with Peace Brigades International in a variety of roles and from 2002 – 2003 as a field volunteer for PBI in Colombia, he supported human rights defenders at risk from intimidation, stigmatisation and attack.

Liesbeth ten Ham is the voluntary Regional Representative for East Anglia at Amnesty International UK.  Liesbeth was born in The Netherlands but has lived in the UK for 20 years. She is Group Chair for Amnesty International Cambridge Group and supports other groups in the Eastern region through training, encouragement and her great enthusiasm for human rights activism.

Clare Walden is an activist currently working with Jubilee Debt Campaign. Clare grew up in Chelmsford and came early to political awareness supporting the town’s own Fairtrade Campaign.

Sophie Weaver – Disability rights campaigner and a member of BANGG (Bradwell Against New Nuclear Group). Sophie was part of the disability access group for Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service. She is a member of BANGG which is campaigning against the development of a new nuclear reactor in Bradwell, Essex.


9.30 – 10.00

Registration, tea and coffee

10.00 – 10.45

Introduction to the BRAVE campaign with Rebecca Dallison, followed by a panel discussion

10.45 – 11.10

Meet the human rights defenders, with David Rey and Sophie Weaver

11.10 – 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 – 12.15

Keynote speaker: The deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Turkey, with Kerim Balci

12.15 – 1.00

  1. Modern slavery on our doorstep, with Cristina Gavrilovic

  2. Opposing the global crackdown on civil society, with James Savage

  3. Women human rights defenders at the forefront, with Jan Jananayagan and Asoomii Jay

1.00 – 2.00

Lunch, networking and time to browse the stalls and displays

2.00 – 2.45

  1. Active campaigning, with David Rey, Liesbeth ten Ham and Sophie Weaver

  2. Something a bit different! Crafts, drama and networking

  3. Using the media to spread your message, with Clare Walden

2.45 – 3.00

Photo opportunities

3.00 – 4.00
Closing session

What have we learnt today? Share your feedback and commit to taking further action, with Kerim Balchi, Rebecca Dallison, James Savage and Liesbeth ten Ham.


Famous Essex Vegetarian Chef Leon Lewis will be providing our lunch, with a selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes, including foraged ingredients.

Wild mushroom and cashew nut roast with an elderberry and port sauce
Quiche nicoise
Nettle and lentil pie

Siny’et bedingal (Egyptian marinated aubergines)
Tabbouli salad
Puy lentil salad
Green salad
White chocolate cheesecake to die for
Apple pie
(both served with blackberries in creme de cassis)

Leon tells us: “I have been catering since giving up my job as a teacher at Brentwood School in 1980 and my two books were published in Chelmsford. Recently, I have concentrated on using wild food in my work and on making more recipes vegan.  I take people out on wild food forays regularly throughout the year and  enjoy the fruits of our forays afterwards with fine wines to accompany.  Most of the 10,000 people I cater for each year are at festivals such as Folk Festivals in Southwell, Ely and Warwick and Glastonbury and the Cropredy Festival.” Contact him on or 01277 218661.

Lunch and breaktime activities:
– Browse the displays by Amnesty International East Anglia local groups
– Take action with Amnesty International postcard campaigns
– Treat yourself at the Fair Trade stall


Please register in advance and make your choice of workshop sessions using our online booking form.

The cost is £9 which covers the day’s food and drinks. Booking in advance helps us to ensure we do not over or under cater for the day, so please do so by Thursday 21st September at the very latest.
If the cost is problematic for you please email us on and we will do our best to help.

Please note that conference tickets are non-refundable due to administrative restrictions, however if you are unable to join us after you have booked, we would be grateful if you could let us know.

Attendance by 14 – 17 year olds
The conference will be open to everyone over the age of 14. If you wish to attend and are between the ages of 14 -17 you will need parental permission. If you wish to attend please make sure you indicate your age in order that we can complete your registration.
Parents and carers should be aware that topics such as war, torture and other human rights contraventions may be discussed. We therefore ask all parents and carers to consider whether this conference is suitable for their child.
If your child wishes to attend without an adult they will be introduced to the conference organisers with whom they can speak, if they wish to.