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 workers. 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 818-281-4039 email@example.com * 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 Witness http://www.witness.org/ 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 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gate/ 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 information. FRONTLINE: Angel on Death Row http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/angel/ 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. * PRESS RELEASES * 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. *AMNEESTY IS 35 ! 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 Heilongjiangsheng 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 situation, 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. Respectfully, 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 * U.S. NOW IN MINORITY AS MORE NATIONS ABOLISH EXECUTIONS 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 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.cco.caltech.edu/ rzenit/rzenit.html