One of the first donations to Govanhill Baths Community Trust’s new charity Emporium in Victoria Road, was a Chinese dinner set from MSP Patrick Harvie. He had lodged a motion of support for the Trust’s efforts to re-open the Baths in Calder Street as a Health and Wellbeing Centre.
A strong supporter of the Trust’s work, he said their offices are about to move into the Baths building to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the closure of the public facility by Glasgow City Council. Said the Green MSP: “The move of offices will be a landmark moment in this hard-fought campaign.”
His motion at Holyrood commended the: “impressive hard work and energy of the Trust’s committed volunteers over the last decade.”He added: “I believe the baths will benefit hugely the citizens of Govanhill and the surrounding area.”
Raising funds towards the £12m needed to re-open the Baths, the Emporium was described by Patrick Harvie as: “a really great example of how creative, positive and passionate people can be when it comes to investing and supporting their communities. I wish the Govanhill Baths Community Trust success and look forward to being invited to the opening of the baths as well as the wellbeing centre!”
The next major fund raising venture will be an auction of art works from Thursday 17 March to Saturday 19 March. See www.bathsauction .com
Emporium manager, Inga Zaiceva is delighted with her job in Victoria Road as it gives around five times more space to display goods for sale, than the previous shop in Calder Street. She said: “The Baths and Wellbeing centre are badly needed. There are people in this area without showers. The community health problems of overweight and lonelieness need to be addressed. The re-opening of the Baths would help a lot to improve things.”
With music, poetry, film and words, the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia launched its first social evening which was enjoyed by more than 100 supporters at the CCA in Glasgow on Tuesday 18 January.
In his welcome, John Matthew, chair of the Glasgow Branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) which is actively promoting the campaign, said: ‘Everyone is welcome – and an especial welcome to anyone sent here by the Gambia Government or Security Service. Here, you will hear the truth!’
The truth about people who had been imprisoned, tortured, disappeared or killed in cold blood for saying things that were constitutional but critical of the present regime, was related in a variety of ways.
Exiled journalist Alieu Ceesay outlined the reality of life in the sunny West African country. Not only is he on a ‘wanted’ list which is checked at every point of entry to the Gambia, but last week the country’s own Justice Minister Edward Gomez, threatened him and the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights. ‘We will wait here for them to come,’ said the Justice Minister. And warned they would be prosecuted on arrival in Gambia.
Amnesty filmed interviews of a woman writer who was imprisoned and whose baby was taken from her and put into an orphanage and of a male politician who was tortured and witnessed others being tortured and killed in prison, were screened.
A messages of support was given by Peter Swindon, assistant to Westminster MP Anas Sarwar (Labour) who has had 27 cross-party MPs signing an Early Day Motion condemning the abuses of human right in the Gambia. Through the MP, the Campaign has made contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee to inform their cause and the UK Government’s responses and policies.
Said Peter: ‘We have been inspired by the courage and bravery of people like Alieu Ceesay and exiled journalist Charles Atangana from the Cameroons. These voiceless people need us to stand up and shout for them.’
MSP Patrick Harvie (Scottish Green Party) detailed how he has brought forward a similar early day motion in the Scottish Parliament which has been signed by 25 MSPs from the different parties. He emphasised that such human rights were a fundamental part of any democracy. MSP Anne McLaughlin (SNP) also pledged support.
NUJ President, Peter Murray, explained how important it was for a journalist to be able to investigate and circulate their stories especially when a government is corrupt. ‘This is at the heart of good journalism,’ he said. ‘Informed people are strong people.’
Amnesty International representative Arthur West, who is chair of Ayrshire Branch, told the meeting that asylum seekers like Alieu and Charles have been rejected by the UK. ‘We are encouraged to continue the fight for fairness and justice when we hear what people like them have to say and what they have experienced.’
The information was interspersed with poetry, music, song and laughter.
Karina and Ben set the tone of the evening with voice and keyboard. Babs MacGregor followed with some old and new Gaelic songs. Tawong Sithole a poet and musician from Zimbabwe, played the traditional music instrument, mbirg, to wonderful effect. His poems of critical assessment of self and others, were powerful. He and some of his colleagues entertain regularly at the CCA at the Charing Cross end of Sauchiehall Street under the name: Seeds of Thought. An uplifting set from the Parsonage Choir keep the mood bright and enabled everyone to leave with a song in their hearts and with some serious information in their mind.