22nd Street News

The Caltech/Pasadena Area Group 22 NewsLetter

Vol.IV No.1, January 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

Personal Reflections on Wei Jingsheng

In the late '70s I was a fledgling student of Chinese culture watching with
considerable enthusiasm as China began the process of opening up to the
West.  Deng Xiaoping had displaced the Maoists and reform in the shape of
his "Four Modernizations" (industry, agriculture, science/technology and
national defense) was being implemented.  Prospects for further
normalization (maybe even student exchanges!) between the U.S. and China
were good.  Maybe this wasn't such a frivolous major after all!  We were
further riveted by the rise of the Democracy Wall Movement.  On a public
wall near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, activists placed posters calling for
further reforms.  One of its most enthusiastic participants, a young man
named Wei Jingsheng, boldly advocated for a "Fifth Modernization" -
democracy and human rights:

In his words,  "The leaders of our nation must be informed that we want to
take our destiny into our own hands.  We want no more gods and emperors.
No more saviors of any kind.  We want to be masters of our own country, not
modernized tools for expansionist ambitions of dictators... Democracy,
freedom and happiness are the only goals of modernization.  Without this
fifth modernization, the four others are nothing more than a new-fangled

My classmates and I were crushed when the democracy movement was suppressed
and Wei was put on trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  We learned
quickly to envy our friends in Russian Studies, because while the names of
Soviet dissidents, such as Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn, were not quickly
forgotten by the American public or the US government, Chinese dissidents
seemed to vanish into oblivion as far as the public consciousness was
concerned, soon after their incarceration, while the media continued to
focus on the economic transformation of China.  Only those of us with a
personal stake in China's future and human rights advocates like Amnesty
International seemed concerned about the thousands of prisoners of
conscience trapped in the Chinese "laogai" or gulag.  

Even from prison, however, Wei's courageous example continues to inspire
many Chinese reform activists in China and his influence was felt at the
demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989.  Wei was released in 1993, but
when he again began to speak out for democracy and human rights, he was
arrested on April 1, 1994 and held without charge or trial.  His assistant
Tong Yi, a featured prisoner in our recent Women's Campaign was arrested a
few days later.  Wei was tried on December 13, 1995 and after a 5-hour
trial convicted of "plotting to overthrow the government" and sentenced to
14 years in prison and 3 years revocation of his political rights.  The
verdict was upheld on appeal.  (See the "Web Tips" column for an easy way
to find out more about Wei and his trial and how you can respond).

Amnesty is about to launch a major international campaign for human rights
in China and bringing attention to the Wei's case is a major goal of this
campaign.  Please join us at the January 25 monthly meeting to help us plan
how we can pressure the Chinese government for Wei's unconditional release
and raise awareness about the plight of all Chinese prisoners of conscience
here at home. 

See you there!

Martha Ter Maat
Group Coordinator

Up-coming Events
Letter-writing Meeting
Wednesday, January 10, 7:30 PM

Movie Night: "Dead Man Walking"
Friday, January 19, Time TBA
Call Martha: 818-281-4039

Monthly Meeting, Caltech Y Lounge
Thursday, January 25, 7:30 PM

Letter Tally - December

Holiday Card Action	99
Nigeria/Kenya		21
Women			7
Chinese Refugees	12
Children's Action	3
Other			1

Newsletter Subscriptions Due!

Just a reminder that many of our most loyal members have newsletter
subscriptions which expire in January.  You will be receiving a letter
soon, requesting a $10 donation to cover our postage and photo-copying
costs.  Those who receive the newsletter electronically are encouraged
to make donations also as the money will help defray costs of
providing "scholarship" subscriptions to local high school student
activists and free sample issues sent to our newer members.  Any
contribution you can make is very much appreciated!

====================    by Mark

The past year has been a mixed one for anti-death penalty activists.
During 1995 the United States executed 56 people, the highest number
since Capital Punishment resumed in 1977. The total number of
prisoners killed by the United States since Utah shot Gary Gilmore in
1977 now stands at 313. Texas remained the biggest executor by taking
the lives of 19 inmates bringing its post-Gilmore total to a
staggering 104, way ahead of the second most prolific execution state
which is Florida with a cumulative total of 36. Although California
only executed 2 people in 1995 it now has the largest death row
population with 432 human beings currently awaiting their deaths at
the hands of the Golden State. The high number of executions in 1995
is part of a steady upward trend and with anti-death penalty
politicians, such as Mario Cuomo, being pushed out of office there is
no reason to think that this trend will be reversed in the immediate
future. In a further setback for opponents of state sanctioned murder
the state of New York, after ousting Governor Cuomo, decided to
reintroduce death penalty laws bringing the number of states with
Capital Punishment on the statutes to 38.

However, internationally during 1995 there was a continuation in the
trend towards abolition which was underlined by the Republic of South
Africa's decision to end Capital Punishment. Since South Africa had
previously been one of the World's biggest executors their decision
will save many lives but it will also further increase the isolation
of the United States which is the only Western Democracy which still
uses the death penalty.

Group Outing to see "Dead Man Walking"

"Two Thumbs Up!"

"Dead Man Walking," the much anticipated film based on Helen Prejean's
memoir about her experiences with death row inmates premiered on December
29.  Many group members have thoroughly enjoyed the book "Dead Man Walking"
and can only hope that the movie brings the reality of death row to a
larger audience.  The movie stars Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, is directed
by Tim Robbins and has already received Golden Globe nominations for best
actress, actor and screenplay.  Movie critics Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert
have given it their "thumbs up" and praised it as an Oscar contender and
placed it in the top five of their year end "best of 95" lists.  The movie
is receiving much praise for it's thoughtful approach to the issue of
capital punishment and it is hoped that the film will be a starting point
for many constructive discussions about the death penalty.

A CD inspired by the film will be released on January 9 and includes tracks
from Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, Mary Chapin
Carpenter, Tom Waits, Michelle Shocked, Suzanne Vega, Steve Earle and
Pakistani devotional singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.  The album will benefit
groups working for the abolition of the death penalty.

Group 22 members plan to gather to see the movie together in January
(Friday, January 19).  We will try for a 7-8 PM start time preferably at a
theater in Old Town Pasadena where we can gather at a coffee shop
afterwards for discussion.  Carpools will be encouraged.  Call or e-mail
Martha at 818-281-4039/mtermaat@hsc.usc.edu if you want to be included and
we will confirm, time and theater.  Please be aware that since the movie
debuts nationwide on that date (and we anticipate that it will begin
showing in Pasadena theaters at that time) we may not be able to make time
and place confirmations until the last minute.

Women's Human Rights Committee Continues Its Work! 
by Revae Steinman Moran

The members of the Women's HR Committee, an ad hoc group of women from
AI groups around L.A., met on January 11th to discuss how to continue
our work now that the conference is over.

The conference at UCLA was a great success.  The panels were terrific
and radio station KPFK taped the entire day's event.  Segments of the
conference will be aired as part of their fund-raising drive Jan. 25 -
Feb. 9, so stay tuned for further details.  (As of this date, they had
not programmed the event, so they were not sure when the segments
would air.)

We discussed several actions, including how to coordinate with AI's 
campaigns.  We decided that bringing more focus to the plight of women 
prisoners and refugees would be one of the things to focus on.  
Accordingly, we plan to work with the refugee committee and tie into 
their work as well as work with the campaign coordinators to see how we 
can be of service.  We also plan to put out a quarterly newsletter and 
continue to develop a network of individuals interested in women's 
human rights issues.  A final item is to participate in some fashion in 
the AI regional conference - now scheduled for next January.  

No doubt there will be plenty for us to do.  It's just a matter of 
setting our priorities and deciding how to proceed. This will be an 
evolving process as the next few months go by.  Our next meeting will 
be at the AI office on Feb. 8th.  Give me a call at (818) 249-1419 or 
e-mail me at revae@ix.netcom.com if you would like more information or 
would like to pass along information on women's issues.  

Web Tip of the Month: Iqbal Masih - A Bullet Can't Kill a Dream


Warning!  Choose a quiet time and have a box of tissues handy when you
explore this page, it's a real tearjerker!  Iqbal Masih was sold into
bonded labor at 4 years of age for $12.  He was forced to work more than
twelve hours a day, was constantly beaten, verbally abused, and chained to
his loom by the carpet factory owner.  He escaped at the age of 10 and
spoke out against child slavery and for schools for all Pakistani children.
At age 12, Iqbal won the Reebok Human Rights Youth in Action Award 1994.
While in the USA to accept the award he visited Broad Meadows Middle School
in Massachusetts and inspired the children with his story.  In 1995 he was
murdered.  "A Bullet can't Kill a Dream" is a moving compendium of
documents not just about Iqbal and child labor in Pakistan but about the
extraordinary encounter between Iqbal and the students of Broad Meadows and
how they have taken up his cause.  Read the reactions of students when they
first met Iqbal:

"Yesterday, my mother was going to buy a rug. I asked her if it was made in
Pakistan with child bonded labor. She said, 'With what?' I replied, 'There
is someone coming to our class from Pakistan who was sold at age four to a
carpet factory as a bonded slave laborer.' She was surprised. I was
surprised today also when I saw how small he was from malnutrition." --
Kelly Mullen 

"My job was to welcome Iqbal into the building I escorted him to the
classroom and introduced him to the class. When he was telling his story, I
could not believe that he was still alive after all the beatings he got
from the factory owners. I am going to write a letter to the Prime Minister
of Pakistan and to President Clinton. I think if enough adults and kids
work on this slavery in Pakistan, I think we can stop it." --Amanda Loos

There are also poems and reflections as the children deal with their grief 
upon learning of Iqbal's death, posters in support of his cause, press 
clippings and letters of support from politicians and celebrities.  
Finally, the students of Broad Meadows have a dream to build a school in 
Pakistan to honor Iqbal. For their extraordinary dedication and 
accomplishments as human rights activists the children of Broad Meadows 
Middle School received the Reebok Human Rights Youth in Action Award for 

Web Tips Reminders:	Don't forget to take advantage of the Wei Jingsheng
page's electronic petition previously featured in this column. 


Since the first part of our China campaign will focus on Tibet a repeat
visit for some non-AI background on the Tibet to the "Free Tibet" page
might be in order:  


Look for more China campaign web tips in future issues of this newsletter.

California Execution Scheduled for January 26

A man who shot to death 2 Taco Bell employees 12 years ago 
is now scheduled to die in San Quentin in what could be the first of 3 
executions in California this year.

William Kirkpatrick, Jr., 35, is scheduled to be executed on JANUARY 26.  
He has moved ahead of the other 433 prisoners on death row because he has 
no appeals pending, and ther is no court blocking his execution.  He has 
abandoned his legal fight and says he is ready to die.

If he is executed, he will become the 1st person to die via lethal 
injection in California; both Robert Alton Harris and David Mason were put
to death in the gas chamber, which has since been outlawed as cruel and
unusual punishment (in Calif.).

Kirkpatrick was sentenced to death after he was convicted in the 
execution-style shootings of Wayne Hunter, an assistant manager at the 
Burbank Taco Bell, and Jim Falconio, a 16-year-old high school student 
who worked at the restaurant, on Sept. 17, 1983.  He was convicted of 
stealing $625 from the restaurant as well.

Kirkpatrick says he has no remorse and stated in a letter to the 
court:  "Give me my execution date and kill me!!!"

The Los Angeles Times reported that Kirkpatrick has frequently expressed 
contempt for his attorneys and asked to be allowed to represent himself.  
Mike Farrell, head of Death Penalty Focus of California was quoted in the 
Times as saying he was not surprised that Kirkpatrick had given up on his 
appeals, "The enormous psychic pressures on people [in prison] creates a 
reaction to their circumstances that... shouldn't be taken at face 
value.  You grind the humanity out of them to the point that they believe 
that there's no hopeful conclusion and the only thing that's available to 
them is an end."  

Editor's last words

Write for the newsletter!  Commentaries, suggestions are always
welcomed.  Do you like the name of our newsletter? If you have a
better name let me know. Remember that you can read the newsletter on
line at: 
Now featuring the ready-to-be-clicked web tip of the month.

Roberto (818)796-0876