22nd Street News

The Caltech/Pasadena Area Group 22 NewsLetter

Vol.IV No.5, May 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

Washington to Tiananmen

This month we will pause at our monthly meeting to take a look at 
Amnesty, the organization.  In June the Annual General Meeting of AIUSA 
will meet in Washington, D.C. and it is an appropriate time to take the 
opportunity to discuss how the organization works, with particular 
attention to the resolutions process and board elections.  These are two 
important ways that individuals and local groups can have an impact on 
the goals and structure of the organization and thus the direction of 
the human rights movement in general.  Newcomers are also particularly 
invited to ask any other questions about how Amnesty works.  
Fund-raising too, is an important organizational goal and ensuring the 
success of our June 1 benefit at the Knightsbridge Theater will be 
another important concern at this meeting.  I certainly hope to see old 
and new supporters at the event and hope that all of you are encouraging 
friends to join you.  Your suggestions for other ways to increase 
attendance are more than welcome.

In addition to this "Amnesty Basics" discussion, we will warm up for the 
up-coming anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen protests on June 4.  Members 
have been reading selected poetry, drama, prose, film criticism and 
humor from the post-Democracy Wall era in an effort to understand and 
appreciate the pre-Tiananmen cultural ferment in China.  The outburst of 
creativity in this period tested many societal limits and resulted in 
campaigns ("Anti-Spiritual Pollution" and "Anti-Bourgeoise 
Liberalization") which attempted to reign in freedom of expression.  I 
think you will find these glimpses into the creativity surrounding the 
Chinese dissident movement both entertaining and revealing of the many 
levels on which artists and intellectuals chafed under goverment and 
societal restrictions.
See you there!

Martha Ter Maat
Group Coordinator

Upcoming Events

Thursday, May 23, 7:30 PM Caltech Y Lounge.
Monthly Meeting Topic: Tiananmen and "Amnesty Basics"

Saturday, June 1, 8:00 PM, Knightsbridge Theater Benefit Performance 
"The Lark."  35 S. Raymond Avenue, in Old Town Pasadena.  Call 
818-440-0821 for reservations.

Wednesday, June 12, 7:30 PM, Letter-writing at the Rathskellar.

Monday, June 18, 7:30 PM, Catalina Rec. Room 1 Video/Discussion Night:  

The Web-tips of the month. May

Goldman Environmental Prize

As follow-up to our Earth Day events we offer this month the web site 
for the the 1996 Goldman Environmental Prize winners, which includes an 
associate of Chico Mendes.  Marina Silva "became one of the architects 
of the "empates," peaceful demonstrations by forest-dwelling rubber 
tappers against wanton deforestation and the expulsion of forest 
communities from their traditional land holdings. During the empates 
rubber tappers would, by sheer numbers, peacefully persuade ranch hands 
to stop the deforestation. The empate movement led to the idea of 
establishing sustainable extractive reserves where products such as 
rubber and nuts would be harvested from the rainforest without 
destroying it. After Mendes' assassination in 1988, Silva continued to 
push for the creation of extractive reserves. Today Acre's extractive 
reserves encompass two million hectares of forest managed by the 
traditional communities that inhabit them... In 1994 she was the first 
rubber-tapper ever elected to Brazil's federal senate. As a populist 
senator, Silva has skillfully built support for environmental protection 
of the reserves."  Read about other prize winners from around the world 
at the site.

Tiananmen, 1989 Photo Archive

Our China campaign site for the month is an archive of over 200 images 
from the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989.  Of course pictures do not 
tell the whole story, but if you need a reminder of how the images of 
Tiananmen riveted the whole world for a couple of months, this is where 
to find it.

Amnesty Basics.

Death Penalty Q  A

Have strict procedures eliminated discrimination in death sentencing?

No. A 1990 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report summarizing several 
capital punishment studies confirmed "a consistent pattern of evidence 
indicating racial disparities in charging, sentencing and the imposition 
of the death penalty...." Eighty-two percent of the studies the GAO 
reviewed revealed that "those who murdered whites were more likely to be 
sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks." In addition, the GAO 
uncovered evidence (though less consistent) that a convict's race, as 
well as the race of the victim, also influences imposition of the death 

A 1987 study of death sentencing in New Jersey found that prosecutors 
sought the death penalty in 50 percent of the cases involving a black 
defendant and a white victim, but in only 28 percent of the cases 
involving black defendants and black victims. A 1985 study found that, 
in California, six percent of those convicted of killing whites got the 
death penalty compared to three percent of those convicted of killing 
blacks. In Georgia, a landmark 1986 study found that, overall, those 
convicted of killing whites were four times more likely to be sentenced 
to death than convicted killers of nonwhites.

African Americans are approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population 
yet of the 3,859 persons executed for a range of crimes since 1930, more 
than 50 percent have been black.  Other minorities are also 
death-sentenced disproportionate to their numbers in the population. 
This is not primarily because minorities commit more murders, but 
because they are more often sentenced to death when they do.

Poor people are also far more likely to be death-sentenced than those 
who can afford the high costs of private investigators, psychiatrists 
and expert criminal lawyers. Indeed, capital punishment is "a privilege 
of the poor," said Clinton Duffy, former warden at California's San 
Quentin Prison. Some observers have pointed out that the term "capital 
punishment" is ironic because "only those without capital get the 

The China Campaign

Chen Lantao, Political Prisioner. 

Chen Lantao a prisioner od conscience is serving a 16-year sentence
for his activities in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, one of the
longest prison sentences imposed. He was arrested together with his
wife Sun Lijuan, on June 1989. Eight days earlier, Chinese troops had
massacred at least 1,000 pro-democracy demostrators in Beijing.

Chen Lantao, now aged 32, had taken part in peaceful demostrations in
Qingdao, Shandong Province, where he worked as a marine biologist. As
news spread of the Beijing massacre, he was one of those who took to
the streets to protest. On June 8 he gave a speech in which he
reportedly criticized the government and called for greater

In 1994 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention raised Chen
Lantao's case with the Chinese government. The government replied that
he had tried inciting mobs to disrupt traffic and fomenting

However, the UN Working Group concluded that the conviction of Chen
Lantaomwas based solely on the grounds that he listened to the Voice
of America, distributed leaflets, met student leaders and called for
student strikes. Such activities should have been regarded as the
legitimate exercise of Chen Lantao's right to free speech and
assembly, rights guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution and
international law.

Chen Lantao is serving a 16 year sentence for his activities, one of
the longest possible senteces. He is being held in Shandong Provincial
Prison No.3 in Weifang county.

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional
release of Chen Lantao, prisioner of conscience, arrested solely for
exercising his right to free speech and assembly.

Write to:

Li Chunting Shengzhang      (Salutation: Dear Governor)
Governor of the Shandong Provincial People's Government
Shandongsheng Renmin Zhengfu,
1 Shengfu qianjie,
People's Republic of China

Copies to:

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

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 

Amnesty International works impartially to free prisoners of
conscience-individuals jailed solely for their beliefs, ethnic origin,
language, or sexual orientation, provided they have not used or
advocated violence-to ensure fair trials for all political prisoners,
and to abolish torture and executions worldwide. It is funded by
members and supporters around the world.