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 Student Activism: The Bowls Project and Democracy Wall Group 22 members aren't the only busy Amnesty activists in Pasadena. As many active members know, we are frequently joined in our efforts by members of area high school Amnesty groups. Currently there are active groups at South Pasadena, St. Francis, San Marino, and Arcadia High Schools and at Sacred Heart Academy and Polytechnic School. Amnesty's youth movement is one of it's most important assets and students engage each year in important and creative actions to bring their schoolmates' (and elders!) attention to human rights issues. This year student groups across the Western Region will be decorating bowls symbolizing the last meal of a death row inmate. Each bowl will carry a message asking a country which retains the death penalty to abolish it. Bowls will be collected and displayed at the Annual General Meeting in Washington DC later this year. Students throughout the region should be congratulated for taking on such a controversial issue, one which many adults have difficulty discussing. I hope this youth leadership persuades adult Amnesty activists to have the courage to be more outspoken about our anti-death penalty stance. Here in Pasadena, we plan to take on a small project in conjunction with our local high school groups. This month our monthly meeting will focus on the case of Wei Jing Sheng, a leader of the Democracy Wall movement in the late 1970's. As a way of drawing attention to his case, high school groups will be assembling their own "Democracy Wall" to highlight aspects of our China campaign. To facilitate this project, Group 22 members and high school students will be meeting on Sunday, April 14th at Caltech to build our own walls, all materials, including Chinese calligraphy, supplied. This should be a really fun project so please roll your sleeves up and come prepared to be creative! See you all at our monthly meeting on March 28 at 7:30 in the Y lounge! Martha Ter Maat Group Coordinator 818-281-4039 firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, March 28, 7:30 PM, Monthly Meeting at the Winnett Center Caltech Y, Focus: Wei Jing Sheng and Democracy Wall Wednesday, April 10, 7:30 PM, Letter-writing at the Rathskellar Thursday, April 11, 11:30-12:30, Tabling at Occidental for event featuring Chinese democracy activist Li Lu Sunday, April 14, 2:00 PM, Winnett Center, Club Room 1 Democracy Wall Project with High School Students Monday, April 22, 7:30 PM, Catalina Rec. Rm. 1 Earth Week Video Night - "The Burning Season" Thursday, April 25, 7:30 PM, Monthly Meeting at the Winnett Center Caltech Y, Discussion: Fang Li Zhi, Science and Demcracy The Group 22 Minutes (Yes , It's back) CAMPAIGN UPDATES: Revae said that there are no new actions in the Egyptian case and talked about the possibility of taking on a new prisoner. Beth brought more postcards for the Nigeria/Kenya campaign. Martha and Mark gave us an update on the Death Penalty campaign. There was a vigil that night at All Saints before the execution of William Bonin. There may be a discussion held about the movie Dean Man Walking at All Saints at a later date. There are two propositions on the ballot on March 26 to extend the crimes punishable by the death penalty in California. This is in direct violation of international treaties signed by the U.S. saying that we will not extend the death penalty. Revae passed out a schedule of Women's Day activities. We all got a very interesting fact sheet about Tibet to help us with our upcoming China campaign. The Web-tips of the month. March AI-Mexico http://laneta.apc.org:80/aimexico/ Okay, so this one is primarily of interest to our intrepid newsletter editor, but in case you wanted a little language practice by brushing up on "El Mandato" or are looking for some introductory material about AI in Spanish to give to a Spanish-speaking friend, you can check out what our neighbors to the south are doing at the new AI-Mexico site. The Vanished Gallery http://www.yendor.com/vanished/ Or go further south still and check out "The Vanished Gallery," a web site documenting "Desaparecidos" or "The Disappeared," victims of the Argentine military junta during 1976-1983. As the intro states, "these pages are a humble attempt to bring the voices of the desaparecidos and their loved ones to the world. The vanishing was swift, a burst into a home at night a few minutes and they were gone - not enough to be heard. We owe it to them." The site contains testimony from torture victims, documentation for those who are missing, profiles of those who are accountable, information regarding the commission which was set up to investigate and suggestions for further reading. Human Rights in China gopher://gopher.igc.apc.org:5000/11/nat/hric/eng And our bonus site for the China campaign is for the organization "Human Rights in China," an independent international non-governmental organization founded by Chinese scientists and scholars in March 1989 which monitors the implementation of human rights standards in China and conducts advocacy and education efforts in the Chinese community abroad. Okay, it's a bit dull looking (only a gopher site) but the articles in their publication "China Rights Forum" available here are generally first rate background material for our campaign. It's too bad the site is almost a year out of date-- we hope this means they are working on a web site! The China Campaign by Pat Chuang March Focus: Wei Jingsheng In late 1978, Wei Jingsheng was inspired by the few week old Democracy Wall movement and in a single night wrote his famous "Fifth Modernization - Democracy." One of the reasons that this particular document stood out was its bluntness: We were all amazed. Finally there was this young Chinese man who was speaking in a way we could understand. All the others were still using Marxist jargon. Of course we could understand the language of the posters, but we couldn't understand what was really in their minds... But Wei just said exactly what he thought. - Marie Holzman, French Sinologist Its simple writing is obvious: We want to be masters of our own destiny. We need no gods or emperors. We do not believe in the existence of any savior. We want to be masters in our world and not instruments used by autocrats to carry out their wild ambitions. We want a modern lifestyle and democracy for the people. Freedom and happiness are our sole objectives in accomplishing modernization. Without this fifth modernization all others are merely another promise. - Wei Jingsheng His bold, direct rejection of the existing government (Wei at one time criticized Deng Xiaoping by name) caused him to be sentenced to 15 years in prison on March 29, 1979. The almost 15 years he spent in prison took a toll on his health; he lost 12 teeth and developed a heart condition. Despite his condition he remained true to his beliefs, sometimes staging hunger strikes in protest of his treament. Although Wei's ideas had often been consider as radical in 1979, by 1989, in the wake of the Tienanmen massacre, his writings seemed to express what many felt: the people couldn't trust their leaders to gradually move towards democracy. Wei was released in 1993, half a year before the end of his sentence, in order to improve Beijing's chances of holding the 2000 Olympic Games. His short-lived freedom was spent participating in activities that the government had warned him against. He was interviewed by foreign journalists, he wrote articles for publication outside China, he discussed his term in prison, and met with fellow dissidents. In February 1994, he became the first Chinese dissident to meet with a high-ranking diplomat when he had dinner with John Shattuck, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Not long afterwards, he was taken into police custody, where he remained for 20 months. He was formally charged in November 1995 of trying to overthrow the government and is now serving another 15 year sentence. Amnesty International's stance was that "...Wei's jailing was a mockery of justice and his sentencing an outrage", and AI considers Wei Jingsheng a prisoner of conscience. Please write to the authorities below seeking his immediate and unconditional release. Premier Li Peng Zongli Guowuyuan 9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie Beijingshi 100032 People's Republic of China Salutation: Your Excellency His Excellency Li Daoyu Embassy of the People's Republic of China 2300 Connecticut Avenue NW Washington, DC 20008 Special Earth Week Video Night: "The Burning Season" Video night moves to Earth Week in April for a special Monday night offering of "The Burning Season" dramatizing the life of Brazilian labor and environmental activist Chico Mendes. The film stars Raul Julia, who won both Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his performance, one of the last before his death. Join us on Monday, April 19 at 7:30 PM in Catalina Rec. Rm. (the middle room) for this special program! Vote No on Propositions 195 and 196 - Death Penalty Expansion While opposing the death penalty on the basis of it's status as the most aggregious of human rights violations should be enough to persuade most AI members to vote against Props 195 and 196, here's a reminder for those who "vote with their pocket books" that the death penalty is bad economic and social policy as well: Excerpts from "MILLIONS MISSPENT: What Politicians Don't Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty" a report by The Death Penalty Information Center, Written by Richard C. Dieter, Executive Director, Oct. 1992 Death penalty cases are much more expensive than other criminal cases and cost more than imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. In California, capital trials are six times more costly than other murder trials [Sacramento Bee, 3/28/88]. A study in Kansas indicated that a capital trial costs $116,700 more than an ordinary murder trial. Complex pre-trial motions, lengthy jury selections, and expenses for expert witnesses are all likely to add to the costs in death penalty cases. The irreversibility of the death sentence requires courts to follow heightened due process in the preparation and course of the trial. The separate sentencing phase of the trial can take even longer than the guilt or innocence phase of the trial. And defendants are much more likely to insist on a trial when they are facing a possible death sentence. After conviction, there are constitutionally mandated appeals which involve both prosecution and defense costs. For the states which employ the death penalty, this luxury comes at a high price. In Texas, a death penalty case costs taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years. In Florida, each execution is costing the state $3.2 million. In financially strapped California, one report estimated that the state could save $90 million each year by abolishing capital punishment. The New York Department of Correctional Services estimated that implementing the death penalty would cost the state about $118 million annually... WHAT WORKS AGAINST CRIME Portion of city officials identifying these public-safety measures as "most likely" to reduce crime: 1) Supporting Family Stability 63.6% 2) Jobs % Economic Development 48.4% 3) More Police 39.8% 4) After-School Programs 33.0% 5) Neighborhood-Watch 33.0% 6) More Police Foot Patrols 32.2% 7) School-To-Work Programs 31.2% 8) Recreation Programs 30.4% 9) Early Childhood Education 29.8% 10) Punishment In Schools 18.1% 11) Mandatory Sentencing 7.8% 12) Conflict-Resolution Programs 17.0% 13) Court/Bail Reform 16.8% 14) Funds For Drug Treatment 14.9% 15) Boot Camps 13.1% 16) Citizens Reporting Crime 12.0% 17) Gun Control 11.8% 18) No Parole 9.9% 19) More Prisons 8.4% 20) More Death Penalties 8.1% ------------------------------------------------------------------------ [opinion of 382 municipal officials in various U.S. cities whose population totals 10,000 or more--National League of Cities; source: The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 7, 1995] ...Even where the state provides some of the money for the counties to pursue the death penalty, the burden on the county can be crushing. California, for example, was spending $10 million a year reimbursing counties for expert witnesses, investigators and other death penalty defense costs, plus $2 million more to help pay for the overall cost of murder trials in smaller counties. (Now, even that reimbursement is being cut.) But many financially strapped smaller counties still could not afford to prosecute the complicated death-penalty cases. Some small counties have only one prosecutor with little or no experience in death-penalty cases, no investigators, and only a single Superior Court judge. In Sierra County, California authorities had to cut police services in 1988 to pick up the tab of pursuing death penalty prosecutions. The County's District Attorney, James Reichle, complained, "If we didn't have to pay $500,000 a pop for Sacramento's murders, I'd have an investigator and the sheriff would have a couple of extra deputies and we could do some lasting good for Sierra County law enforcement. The sewage system at the courthouse is failing, a bridge collapsed, there's no county library, no county park, and we have volunteer fire and volunteer search and rescue." The county's auditor, Don Hemphill, said that if death penalty expenses kept piling up, the county would soon be broke. Just recently, Mr. Hemphill indicated that another death penalty case would likely require the county to lay off 10 percent of its police and sheriff force. Theater Benefit Scheduled for May 18th -------------------------------------- The Knightsbridge Theater has generously offered all proceeds from the opening night showing of "The Lark" to benefit Group 22. This is an excellent opportunity for us to earn as much as $1000 with very little effort. The performance will take place on Wednesday, May 25th (note that this is two weeks later than previously announced). The time for the show is 8:00 pm. Afterwards, there will be a small reception. In addition, Knightsbridge has offered to donate 10% of the proceeds from all showings of "the Lark" to Amnesty ... so if you or someone you know cannot make it to opening night you or your friends can come during one of the other performances. The Knightsbridge Theater is located at 35 S. Raymond Ave. in Old Town, Pasadena (between Colorado and Green). It has had some very great successes in recent years, as evident by the fact that they recently received 400 applications for the 14 roles in "The Lark"! Quite humbly, they confide that the response of applicants has a lot to do with the quality of the play. So it sounds like it will be an excellent performance. With such a generous offer, we need to make sure we sell every seat in the house (there are 100). The cost for tickets will be $15 general admission or $10 for students. The tickets are reserved seating only, so all tickets need to be purchased at the theater's box office. The number there is (818) 440-0825, and there is a 24 hour service for making reservations. Tickets may be purchased either over the phone using a credit card, or can be reserved (again, using credit card) and paid for on the night of the performance using cash, check, or charge. They can start making reservations for the performance immediately, so now is not too late to start publicizing this. Also, keep track of the number of people that you refer to the ticket office - I'm told that a compact disk will go to the top ticket seller (this may be a little difficult in view of the method of reserving tickets, but we'll give it a shot!). The Lark by Jean Anouilh adapted by Christopher Fry "The Lark" is the story of Joan of Arc, a simple girl who became an inspired warrior and subsequently tried by the church. A story told many times before, this work tells the story from two viewpoints. One of them concerns the way we look at the tale now as history with our knowledge of how the girl's captors unwittingly created a martyr who became a lasting symbol of courage and faith. The other viewpoint imagines what it must have been like to be Joan herself. Both approaches to this legend of the Martyr of Rouen have been splendidly realized by the technique of divorcing the drama from the confinements of time, sequence and space. With this freedom, the story of Joan of Arc can seamlessly move backward or forward without interruption. It begins with Joan's trial, and her tale of the voices which prompted her one day to set forth and save France from the English. As she tells her listeners-- the cold Inquisitor from Spain, the politically cynical Earl of Warwick, the deeply religious but ineffectual Cauchon and others-- of what she heard and what she did, her story comes alive. 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 email@example.com http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~rzenit/rzenit.html