I sent Shaker Aamer the sermon Reverend Nicholas Mercer delivered in October which denounces the UK's involvement in the tortuous and horrifying tactics used in the 'war on terror' and its continued denial of justice to those still subjected to those same practices. Shaker, clearly touched, wrote back almost immediately.
Solidarity with oppressed people is critical - it can make all the difference. The first time I saw Nelson Mandela was a few months after his release, in June 1990, when he came to a meeting of European charities in Strasbourg and thanked us for our support during the years of struggle. He knew the difference that support had made through those difficult times.
The amount of money now washing around Asia and the seemingly unquenchable demand there for ivory, particularly in countries such as Vietnam and China, has caused the price charged on the black market to soar. Indeed in many places ivory is now worth more per ounce than gold. The result has been an almost unprecedented slaughter on the savannahs. Some 100 elephants are being killed per day in Africa, and at present rates of poaching the surviving population in the wild risks being decimated within a decade. Chad had 15,000 elephants. Now it is 400.
With all the hullabaloo coming from the Tories about human rights, it's too easy to forget that the 1998 Act recognised rights of the victims of crime long denied under English law. If we were to allow the Chris Grayling and his cronies to tear up the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights from which it is derived, we would set back the cause of victims' rights by decades.
So, do we write off countries like the Philippines as simply 'disaster-prone', and ready our emergency relief teams for the next Haiyan? Absolutely not. We must act now on the knowledge that climate change is driving an increase in extreme weather, and provide better protection against the impact of climate-related disasters.
I arrived at the Robben Island prison on a wintry and cold day and was escorted to my prison cell in B-Section from the admissions section by a fellow comrade and prisoner, Tokyo Sexwale. By then, Nelson Mandela had been removed to Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town in preparation for his release... Other prisoners and comrades beamed at my presence and welcomed me very warmly and it was almost by-the-way that one of the remarked that I was allocated the cell from which someone famous had departed - a Mr Nelson Mandela.
A man died yesterday. He was 95 years old and had been seriously ill for several months. Not an unusual occurrence, yet his death is reported this morning on the front page of just about every newspaper on earth. That man was Nelson Mandela, one of the very few men of whom it can truthfully be said that he personally changed the course of history.