22nd Street News

The Caltech/Pasadena Area Group 22 NewsLetter

Vol.IV No.3, March 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

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

See you all at our monthly meeting on March 28 at 7:30 in the Y

Martha Ter Maat
Group Coordinator

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)

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

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
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
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
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...

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

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