22nd Street News

The Caltech/Pasadena Area Group 22 NewsLetter

Vol.IV No.2, February 1996.

This is our current newsletter, except that Urgent Actions have been removed since they are not public domain. If you would like a copy of our newsletter (either electronically or via snail-mail) please contact us.


Coordinator's Corner
The Face of Love

Some months ago, PBS aired several hours of documentaries about Tibet.
What, I wondered, is it about Tibet that makes it so fascinating to
both filmmakers and the general public?  The physically remote
location, walled off from the rest of civilization? the other-worldly
people and customs?  A scene in one of the films stood out.  A young
Tibetan nun had just completed the arduous journey across the
Himalayas to safety and freedom.  And all she could speak of was how
much compassion she felt for the men who had tortured her, how
difficult their lives must be.  Talk about exotic!  Maybe our
fascination stems from the difficulty in imagining how a whole culture
could be based on this compassionate, non-violent ethic.  It seems so
alien, so spiritually remote, from our own.

Then again, maybe it doesn't need to be so alien.  Several members of
our group gathered to see the film "Dead Man Walking" in Old Town a
few weeks ago, and are now ready to add our hearty endorsements to all
the critics' raves.  But more importantly, the outing served to remind
us of the powerful example of compassion that Helen Prejean presents
to us all, epitomized in the movie when she tells the death row inmate
to look at her because she wants the last thing he sees to be a "face
of love."  The movie was successful in conveying that this kind of
compassion does not come without a struggle- all the more reason to
value and strive for it.  As Sister Helen has said, "In our society
forgiveness is often seen as a weakness.  People who forgive those who
have hurt them or their family are made to look as if they don't
really care about their loved ones.  But forgiveness is a tremendous
strength."  Sister Helen understands the Tibetan nun.  Would that we
could all present that "face of love" and that our society could value
compassion as much as the Tibetans do.

Our new China campaign offers an opportunity to work on behalf of
several Tibetan prisoners of conscience, including several nuns, whose
non-violent protests against the Chinese government resulted in prison
sentences, torture, rape and in some cases death from the conditions
of imprisonment.  At the same time, we face a pending execution in our
own state, and this difficult case will be a challenge to many of us
seeking to communicate our opposition to the death penalty.  Please
join us at our next meeting to find out you can get help.

See you there!

Martha Ter Maat
Group Coordinator

Up-coming Events

Sunday, February 18, 6:00 PM at Martha's in Alhambra
Chinese New Year's PARTY - Bring in the YEAR of the RAT!
Martha and Pat will be teaching all to make and eat Chinese dumplings, 
followed by viewing of a Chinese video. $5 per person.  Please feel free 
to bring a friend.  PLEASE RSVP TO MARTHA.

Thursday, February 22, 7:30 PM Monthly Meeting at the Caltech Y.  Updates 
on our on-going campaigns and kick-off for the China campaign, starting 
with Tibet. 

Thursday, February 22, 11:00 PM-1:00 AM.  Execution vigil at All Saints 
Church, 132 N. Euclid.  The vigil will be a time for silent relfection 
with a brief period of prayers and readings at midnight.

Wednesday, February 28, 7:30 PM Tibetan Prisoner of Conscience, Gendun 
Rinchen, at the Museum of Tolerance (9786 West Pico Boulevard, Los 
Angeles) Free of charge.

Friday, March 1, International Abolition Day.  Table on the death penalty 
on the Olive Walk.  Please contact Mark to help out.  

Saturday, March 16, 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM Super Benefit Dance at Virgilio's, 
2611 S. La Cienega (crossstreet: Venice).  $10, Cash bar, auction, DJ 
from KCRW.  Tracy says:  Lots of fun! More info:  213-876-2662. Funds to 
go to:  China campaign, Westside community groups.  

Saturday, May 11, Knightsbridge Theater Fund-raiser. Save the Date!

Web Tips for February

Abolition Now!

Abolition Now! is a new compendium of web resources on the death
penalty.  Of particular interest to activists is the state by state
updates on specific cases including California.  In honor of the Black
History Month, we suggest checking out the link to the ACLU fact sheet
on "Race and the Death Penalty" and for an excellent overview start
with Hugo Adam Bedau's "The Case Against the Death Penalty".  We quote
here from the portion of the essay on lethal injection, soon to be the
preferred method of execution in California (see also the "Botched
Executions" link):

"The latest mode of inflicting the death penalty, enacted into law by
nearly two dozen states, is lethal injection, first used in Texas in
1982. It is easy to overstate the humaneness and efficacy of this
method.  There is no way of knowing that it is really painless. As the
U.S. Court of Appeals observed, there is "substantial and
uncontroverted evidence ... that execution by lethal injection poses a
serious risk of cruel, protracted death.... Even a slight error in
dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralyzed
while dying, a sentient witness of his or her own asphyxiation."
(Chaney v. Heckler, 718 F.2d 1174 [1983])

"Nor does the execution always proceed smoothly as planned. In 1985
"the authorities repeatedly jabbed needles into ... Stephen Morin,
when they had trouble finding a usable vein because he had been a drug
abuser." In 1988, during the execution of Raymond Landry, "a tube
attached to a needle inside the inmate's right arm began leaking,
sending the lethal mixture shooting across the death chamber toward

"Indeed, by its veneer of decency and by subtle analogy with
life-saving medical practice, death by lethal injection makes killing
as punishment more acceptable to the public. Even when it prevents the
struggles of the condemned person and avoids maiming the body, it is
no different from hanging or shooting as an expression of the absolute
power of the state over the helpless individual."

Tibetan Women's Association

There are so many good sites out there which are relevant to the China
campaign that we are expanding "Web Tips" for the time being.  While
the Tibetan Women's Association is linked to the Free Tibet page, it's
worth a special visit this month as we focus on the plight of Tibetan
nuns.  Plus you will find lots of great links to pictures to help you
appreciate this very photogenic land and it's people.

China Campaign Special Action 
Focus:  Tibetan Nuns 
Repression of political dissent in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the
People's Republic of China, already endemic for many years, has
increased further from 1993 to the present.  New forms of repression
have been introduced, targeted primarily against people actively
promoting the independence of Tibet.  Hundreds of political prisoners,
the overwhelming majority of them prisoners of conscience, are being
held.  Most are Buddhist monks and nuns detained solely for their
peaceful expression of support for independence.  Some are being held
without charge or trial for long periods while others were sentenced
to lengthy terms in prison after grossly unfair trials.  Many of them
were tortured.
In May 1992, 25-year old Ngawang Choekyi was among 14 nuns from
Toelung Nyen Nunnery who were arrested in Lhasa because they had
joined a pro-independence demonstration.  She was sentenced to five
years’ imprisonment and sent to Drapchi Prison in Lhasa.  In 1993,
her sentence was increased to eight years after she and 13 other nuns
were convicted of having composed and recorded pro-independence songs
in prison.  In most of the songs, which were recorded on a tape
recorder that had been smuggled into prison, the nuns reaffirmed their
commitment to Tibetan independence and make assurances that they are
in good spirits.
Please take a moment to write a letter on their behalf.  In the letter, you can make any or all of the  
following points: 
- Amnesty considers Ngawang Choekyi, along with the 13 other nuns, to
be prisoners of conscience, who have not used or advocated violence.
We demand their immediate and unconditional release from prison.
- Amnesty is very concerned that the 14 nuns received the additional
punishment of eight years simply for the peaceful exercise of the
right to freedom of conscience and expression.
- Amnesty is also concerned that the nuns have not received fair
trials either when they were first arrested or during the second trial
in October 1993.  The organization considers that the trial procedures
provided in Chinese law do not meet the minimum standards for fair
trial set out in international human rights standards.
- Amnesty is disturbed by the numerous reports of torture for
political prisoners held in Tibet.
Gyaltsen Norbu Zhuxi  (salutation:  Dear President)
President of the Xizang Autonomous Regional Peoples Government
Xizang Zizhuiqu Renmin Zhengfu
1 Kangangdonglu
Lasashi 850000
Xizang Zizhiqu
Peoples Republic of China

Send a copy of your letter to:
His Excellency Li Daoyu
Embassy of the Peoples Rebublic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

Editor's last words.
Write for the newsletter!  Commentaries, suggestions are always welcomed. 
You can also read the newsletter on line at: 

Check out the web-tips links.

Roberto (818)796-0876 

Amnesty International works impartially to free prisoners of
conscience-individuals jailed solely for their beliefs, ethnic origin,
language, or sexual orientation, provided they have not used or
advocated violence-to ensure fair trials for all political prisoners,
and to abolish torture and executions worldwide. It is funded by
members and supporters around the world.

Caltech/Pasadena Group 22.

Group Coordinator: Martha Ter Maat