22nd Street News

The Caltech/Pasadena Area Group 22 NewsLetter

Vol.IV No.6, June 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 Power of the Camera

Our recent video nights have given me pause lately to consider the power
of the camera.  As a follow up to our discussion of "Manufacturing
Consent" and human rights and the media, I have included a web link to the
organization "Witness" which provides videocameras to human rights workers
around the world who want to document human rights abuses in their
communities.  This alternative media can provide coverage of events that
would otherwise go unnoticed by the world.  When I lived in Taiwan in the
early eighties a observed a pioneering version of the technique.
Activists used videocameras to document police behavior at opposition
demonstrations and while traditional media outlets were then closed to the
opposition, videocassettes which could be circulated neighbor to neighbor
were effective in showing that it was the police who instigated who were
trying to instigate violence at rallies.  Witness is one of several
organizations seeking to bring new technologies to the aid of human rights

On the other hand, we all know that the camera can obscure as well.  Our
most recent video night featured the new documentary on Tiananmen, "The
Gate of Heavenly Peace."  This documentary provides a depth to the events
of 1989 which was not evident to many of us watching events unfold on CNN
and network news in the late spring of that year.  Many times, while the
immediacy of camera grabs our attention, it requires some patience to go
beyond the visual to truly understand the reality.  For those who missed
the documentary, and for those who want to learn more, the Frontline web
site has much additional information.  Plus as bonus this month, I am
including in the newsletter, a China campaign reading list for those of
you looking for some summer reading.

Thanks once again to all who came to our fundraiser at the Knightsbridge
Theater.  Your support is much appreciated.  The evening netted 700 for
our local and international human rights work!
At our June monthly meeting we will be doing some collective
brain-storming for our new Tibetan action file.  Revae will brief us on
the case and we will try to put together a detailed action plan for the
next few months.  Come and share your ideas!

See you there!

Martha Ter Maat
Group Coordinator

Upcoming Events

Thursday, June 27, 7:30 PM, Caltech Y Lounge
Monthly Meeting: Tibetan POC planning session

Wednesday, July 10, 7:30 PM, Rathskellar
Letter-writing Meeting

Tuesday, July 16, 7:30 PM, Catalina Rec Rm. 1
Video-Discussion Night: "Drawn From Memory"

July Video Night: Animated Feature!
In our never-ending quest to bring somewhat lighter fare to video night,
especially in summer, we will watch "Drawn from Memory" this month. Artist
Paul Fierlinger recounts his extraordinary life in this autobiographical
film covering his early years in America, his boarding school days in
Czechoslavkia, the Russian invasion and his ultimate defection.  Best part
about it is, it's delightfully animated, and just one hour long. Be there!

The Web-tips of the month. June


A relatively new project of the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights with 
backing from rock musicians like Peter Gabriel and Michael Stipe, 
Witness seeks to provide videocameras and other technical assistance to 
human rights activists seeking to document human rights violations.  The 
web site, as you might guess contains video clips from projects in 
Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador, Turkey and Thailand. Very cool but not 
for the those with pokey modems!

FRONTLINE:  The Gate of Heavenly Peace
Following up to our video offering for June, check out the web site 
created in conjunction with the FRONTLINE documentary "The Gate of 
Heavenly Peace."  It features an interactive map of the Square, a 
chronology of events, a virtual Democracy Wall for you to record your 
thoughts, as well as the usual links to other sites for more 

FRONTLINE:  Angel on Death Row
And while your are at the FRONTLINE site, check out the "Dead Man 
Walking" page put out in conjunction with the documentary about Sister 
Helen Prejean "Angel on Death Row"  It includes background information 
on the case featured in the film, as well as links to other death 
penalty sites.


Amnesty International concerns over killings of lebanease civilians
reinforced after visits to Israel and Lebanon

The findings of an Amnesty International delegation which returned this week
from Lebanon reinforce the organizations concerns that Israeli forces
deliberately or indiscriminately killed civilians during Operation Grapes of
Wrath. More than 150 Lebanese civilians were killed and 350 injured during
the operation last month.  According to Israeli official sources, 62 Israeli
civilians were injured in rocket attacks against northern Israel by Hizbullah.

Amnesty International will be demanding specific clarifications from the
Israeli authorities.  The organization has put its concerns to the
authorities before but they have yet to be fully addressed.

The delegates, who included a military adviser, visited Lebanon between 4
and 19 May 1996 to look into attacks against civilians during last April's
Israeli military operation directed against Hizbullah.  The delegates
visited sites in Qana, Nabatiyyeh, the coastal road and other areas where
civilians had been killed.  They interviewed eyewitnesses, relatives of
victims and officials of local charitable associations.  They also met
Lebanese government and military authorities and personnel of the United
Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Amnesty International also discussed its concerns with officials of
Hizbullah, which has acknowledged to have launched rockets against civilian
areas in northern Israel, saying they were in response to Israeli attacks
against Lebanese civilians.

This visit to Lebanon follows an earlier Amnesty International visit to
Israel in mid-April, during which the organization discussed its concerns
about Israeli attacks on civilians in Lebanon in meetings with Israeli
political and military officials.

Operation Grapes of Wrath lasted between 10 and 26 April . It consisted of
large-scale artillery, air and naval attacks against a variety of targets,
with the declared aim of hitting Hizbullah as well as forcing Lebanon and
Syria to intervene and disarm Hizbullah.  Hizbullah has been fighting Israel
and its allied militia the South Lebanon Army occupying a strip of Lebanese
territory referred to as the security zone-.

Most of the Lebanese civilian casualties took place on 18 April 1 when the
Israeli artillery shelled a UNIFIL compound in Ana where some 8 00 civilians
had.taken refuge.  The operation ended after an understanding was brokered
by the United States of America and France whereby Israel and Hizbullah
engaged themselves not to attack civilians.

During the military confrontation Amnesty International repeatedly appealed
to both Israel and Hizbullah to respect fundamental principles of
international humanitarian law and not target civilians or carry out
indiscriminate attacks.

May 28, 1996 was the 35th anniversary of Amnesty International. 
Happy Birthday A.I.!!

The China Campaign

Sample Letter for the case of  Zhou Guoquiang

Tian Fengshang Shengzhang
Governor of the Heilongjiang Provincial People's Government
Heilongjiangsheng Renmin Zhengfu,
202 Zhongshanlu
Haerbinshi 150001
People's Republic of China

Dear Governor,

        I am writing as a member of Amnesty International on behalf of Zhou
Guoqiang, who is currently serving a three year sentence in the Shuanghe
labor camp in Heilongjiang Province.  Zhou Guoqiang is a lawyer and a poet,
as well as a labor activist.  His arrest stemmed from his involvement with
the League for the Protection of the Rights of Working People (LPRWP), which
was founded to establish a nationwide information network and a mediation
body to help settle labor disputes.  Its founders intended to begin the
process of obtaining legal registration for the LPRWP on March 9, 1994. 
However, on March 3, 1994, Zhou Guoqiang was detained in Beijing and was
accused of "collaborating with hostile organizations and elements both
inside and outside the country to carry out anti-government activities". 
Six months later, Zhou Guoqiang was sentenced without charge or trial to
three years "re-education through labor", as were several other members of
the group. The excessive length of and lack of a clear reason for his
detention enabled Zhou Guoqiang to win an appeal hearing with the Beijing
Western District Court in January 1995.  Although the law states that the
court should make a judgment within three months, the outcome of the appeal
is not yet known.
        I am writing this letter to be sure that you are aware of this 
which appears to be a gross violation of human rights.  Amnesty
International considers Zhou Guoqiang to be a prisoner of conscience.  I
urge you to effect his immediate and unconditional release.  I also would
appreciate any information available of the status of the appeal.  Your
prompt attention to this situation will be much appreciated.  


copy to:

His Excellency Li Daoyu
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
Salutation:  Dear Ambassador

*Death Penalty News
More than half the world's nations -- a total of 100 -- have now abolished
the death penalty in law or practice. Fifty seven countries have abolished
it for all crimes, 15 have eliminated it for all but exceptional offenses
such as wartime crimes, and 28 can be considered abolitionist de facto; they
retain the death penalty in law but have not carried out any
executions for at least ten years.

Ninety four other countries retain and use the death penalty, but a much
smaller number of governments actually execute prisoners in any one year.

Last year, 2,931 prisoners are known to have been executed in
41 countries, and 4,165 were sentenced to death in 79 countries. China,
Saudi Arabia and Nigeria accounted for 85 percent of all executions recorded
by Amnesty International in 1995. Since 1990, five nations -- Iran,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Yemen -- are known to have
executed prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime. The
majority of known executions of juvenile offenders took place in the United
States (six since 1990).

Fifty six prisoners were executed in this country last year, and more than
3,000 U.S. prisoners were under sentence of death at the end of 1995. Thirty
eight states now provide for the death penalty, including New York, which
reinstated it in March. But moves to reintroduce executions were rejected or
postponed in 1995 in the legislatures of three states: Iowa, Massachusetts
and Wisconsin. So far in 1996, reinstatement efforts have been defeated in
Alaska (see next item), Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Editor's last words.

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

http://www.cco.caltech.edu/ aigp22/home.html

Check out the web-tips links.

Roberto (818)796-0876 
http://www.cco.caltech.edu/ rzenit/rzenit.html