22nd Street News

The Caltech/Pasadena Area Group 22 NewsLetter

Vol.V No.4, AprilXS 1997.

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

* Star-gazing

The past few weeks many of us have spent more time than usual gazing at
the night sky searching for Comet Hale-Bopp and contemplating man's
place in the universe.  Imagine that you are a prisoner of conscience
and catch a glimpse of the moon and stars from your confinement.  The
intensity of this experience has been suggested by more than one author
of a prison memoir.  Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas noted the irony
of his imprisonment on the day Sputnik was launched and a manmade object
broke free from gravity for the first time.  He was comforted by the
analogy that his thoughts too would always be free to wander into
infinity and could not be confined by the physical limitations of his
jail cell.  Palestinan writer, Mahmoud Darwish, in his poem "Prison"
sought consolation in the moon and the stars:  

...Even the moon,
So dear to me here,
Has become larger, more beautiful, 
And the smell of the earth: Perfume
And the taste of nature: Sugar.
It is as though I am on
the roof of my old house
And a new star has riveted itself upon my eye.

Star-gazing eventually brings us back to earth with a renewed global
perpective on our interconnecting lives.  This month we celebrate and
work to protect this planet.  For Amnesty that means protecting those
who would speak out about environmental dangers despite government
threats, whether it is the Ogoni tribe in Nigeria or the Nikitin case
in Russia.  At our April meeting we will finalize our Earth Day plans
and begin planning for our refugee campaign.  Please join us!

Martha Ter Maat
Group Coordinator

* *

Upcoming Events

THURSDAY, April 24, 7:30 PM
Monthly Meeting, Winnett Center Caltech Y Lounge
TUESDAY, May 13, 7:30 PM 
Letter-writing Meeting, Athenaeum Rec Room

* * *

The Web-tips of the month. April 1997

Sierra Club: Human Rights and the Environment
In honor of Earth Day we present the Sierra Club site's Human Rights
and the Environment page. Featured prominently is the Alexander
Nikitin case and human/environmental rights in Nigeria, Burman,
Indonesia and China.  Sierra Club also offers a Human Rights and the
Environment Alert Network for those interested in taking action by
putting pressure on governments and corporations. 
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This April recall the Holocaust with a virtual trip to the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The site includes teaching guides,
photo archives and text and Real Audio files of presentations given at
the museum, eg. Marvin Kalb speaking on Holocaust journalism. Next
month we continue to look at genocide with sites on the Central
African crisis.


Turkey Campaign
Action request: Recep Marasli, Publisher

Recep Marasli, a publisher in Turkey, was the focus of  an 
earlier action of the Turkey Campaign.  Action is again required 
on his behalf.  Recep and Nuran Marasli, his wife, were detained 
by police at Ankara Airport on 6 March 1997 and taken to the 
Anti-Terror Branch of Ankara Police Headquarters. Marasli, 
Director of Komal Publishing house and former prisoner of 
conscience, was reportedly attempting to leave the country under 
the passport of Levent Bakanay.
 A few  days later,  Recep Marasli and his wife Nuran Marasli 
were taken before the judge on 12 March 1997. Marasli was 
committed to prison, as there had been an arrest warrant in force 
for him in connection with his publications and writings, while 
Nuran Marasli was released.  Recep Marasli has permanent and 
serious health problems as a consequence of the torture he 
suffered in prison between 1982 and 1991. He is said to have 
difficulty in walking and in keeping balance and to need constant 
medical care and treatment.

Recep Marasli was first imprisoned at the age of 16 in connection 
with articles he published in newspapers in his home town of 
Erzurum. Upon release he began to work for a publishing house in 
Istanbul which produced works mainly on issues relating to the 
Kurdish minority in Turkey. In 1976 he became director of this 
publishing company which was the target of frequent police raids. 
In 1982 he was again imprisoned and in various trials received 
prison sentences which totaled more than 36 years.
 Recep Marasli suffers from neurological problems and he 
experiences difficulties with his vision and balance. These 
symptoms began in 1984 after a prolonged hunger-strike in 
Diyarbakir Military Prison where he was then held. The prisoners 
were ill-treated and beaten during the hunger- strike. Recep 
Marasli was among a group of prisoners who were transferred to 
prison hospital in a critical state after the hunger-strike had 

He was conditionally released in April 1991 at the time of a 
partial amnesty. Following his release, he continued to write, to 
publish books and to speak of the problems faced by Kurds in 
Turkey. In September 1993 an arrest warrant was issued against 
him after he had appealed for a peaceful political solution to 
the conflict in the southeast in a televised discussion. Recep 
Marasli went into hiding, but was detained in July 1994 during a 
raid by police on the house he was staying. Recep Marasli was 
tortured by electric shocks, falaka (beatings on the soles of the 
feet) and by repeated severe beatings. Nuran Marasli was detained 
in 1994 with her husband and also tortured.
In November 1995, Recep Marasli was sentenced to a further term 
of one year and four months' imprisonment for an article 
published in the newspaper Jiyana Nu. He was released shortly 
later and immediately went into hiding because of other charges 
pending against him. 
RECOMMENDED ACTION:  Please send letters or faxes to the 
* Express concern about the health of Recep Marasli and ask he 
be given all needed medical care, 
* Request he be released from prison because his sentences were 
based on articles of law which violate his basic human right 
to free expression of non-violent human opinion.
* Urge that the laws and practices of the Turkish government be 
reformed to allow for the free expression of opinion which 
does not advocate the use of violence. 
* Request that the Turkish government fully investigate all 
reports of ill-treatment, torture, and deaths in detention and 
to  prosecute officials responsible for these actions. 

Address letters to the following: 
Minister of the Interior:

Mrs Meral Aksener      [Salutation: Dear Minister ]
Icisleri Bakanligi 
Ankara, Turkey
Copy to:
Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir
Turkish Embassy
1714 Massachusetts Avenue, NY
Washington, D.C.  20036
   FAX:  (202) 659-0744 


The Refugees Campaign
Refugee Workshop report 

The workshop was presented by our own Martha Ter Maat, with help from
Adrienne Hazel and Jim Roberts, the head of the Refugee Monitor Team.
I found it to be quite effective, and even entertaining.  The workshop
covered general issues on the worldwide refuge1e situation and AI's
refugee work, then focused on the new INS laws and the monitor team.
AI's work on behalf or refugees is basically to prevent someone being
sent back to a country ("refoulement") where he or she can reasonably
be expected to become a prisoner of conscience, or be subjected to
torture or execution.  In the workshop, we went over a number of
hypothetical (but realistic) case studies, for practice in applying
AI's criteria.

The restriction to not work on one's own country means that AI in the
US is not directly concerned with the circumstances of INS detention
here (AI based elsewhere works on that).  However, those circumstances
will affect whether a detained refugee facing persecution "back home"
will be able to make an effective case for asylum.  This is the basis
for AI's work "in" (as opposed to "on") the country.
Concerns with the INS laws were covered in some detail.  An AI press
report on that topic is appended, so it will not be discussed here.
To introduce us to the monitor team, Martha, Adrienne, and Jim treated
us to a role-playing exercise, dramatizing interviews with an INS
officer on duty and with a refugee in INS detention.  This turned out
to be a quite effective way to bring up a lot of points in an
entertaining manner.

The team has thus far focused on the detention facility at Terminal
Island, though Bakersfield, where the INS uses a wing of a federal
penitentiary (!), was also discussed.  Not surprisingly, there are
real problems with the treatment of detainees (especially at
Bakersfield).  There is also a wide range of problems involving
insensitivity to cultural, language, gender and psychological issues,
which can have devastating effects on the detainee's state and ability
to present a case.
There were some fascinating angles on the INS, including a discussion
of their Asylum Office, located in Anaheim (as opposed to the
Deportation and Detention Division).  It seems that this office has a
commitment to keeping up with human rights information around the
world, with a very well stocked library (all the AI and HRW reports,
etc.)  and a staff eager to pursue contacts with AI (many are members,
in fact).  They have even directly consulted AI for factual
information to help determine the credibility of candidates for

The INS operates a web site ( http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/ ) with lots of
material about the new law.


Monitor Team meeting report

The Refugee Monitor Team meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at
the Western Regional Office (9000 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City).
The contact is Jim Roberts, 310-521-4488.
The team is planning its next visit to the Terminal Island facility.
This visit has been approved by the INS (after an initial rejection),
but the INS still needs to fix the date, which will probably be on a
Tuesday morning.
There was a review of the INS situation, which is somewhat uncertain
at this point, since the agency itself is still working out a strategy
for implementing the new law.  For the future, the monitor team is
planning to broaden its work to include LAX, court proceedings, and
more follow-ups with released refugees.  Especially with the
strengthened discretionary powers of the examining officer, the
situation at LAX will be more critical than ever, and possibilities
for the monitor team will need to be explored as the new procedures
are enacted.
For the next meeting (May 20), there is a special invitation for local
AI groups to send refugee campaign representatives, and newcomers in

AI press release

Amnesty International Blasts New Refugee Provisions
April 1, 1997

Amnesty International USA today blasted the refugee 
provisions of the new immigration law. Calling the new law 
slated to take effect today a death sentence for men, women 
and children fleeing oppression, Nick Rizza, head of the 
AIUSA Refugee Program, called upon Congress to enact new 
provisions that comply with international refugee standards.  
A tiny fraction of all immigrants come to the United States 
because they have been forced to flee their homes, but this 
new law hits them the hardest.  It will hurt worst the very 
people who need our help most, said Rizza.
Rizza noted that the cumulative effect of these provisions 
will often be to deny protection to the most brutalized 
victims, including those who have been tortured, raped or 
suffered sexual abuse, who will find it particularly 
difficult to talk about and document their claims under 
these harsh new provisions. The ability to turn away 
refugees literally at the airport based on new procedures 
much tougher than international standards that the US helped 
to create, combined with severely restricted review, seems 
to be actually calculated to hide mistakes and ensure that 
when genuine refugees are returned to their oppressors, no 
one will ever find out about it, Rizza noted.
AIUSA specifically criticized these aspects of the new 
Summary Exclusion of Persons Without Valid Documents.  
The new law creates streamlined procedures for expelling 
persons who arrive in the US without valid travel documents.  
Under these circumstances -- understandably common in cases 
of people fleeing for their lives -- immigration officials 
can expel them without a hearing and without rights of 
Credible Fear of Persecution Standard.  
The law creates a new hurdle those arriving at the border 
must clear before they are even permitted to apply for 
asylum.  The applicant must demonstrate that the fear of 
persecution is credible -- a much higher standard for 
screening potential applicants than the international 
standard that only rejects claims that are manifestly 
Lack of Judicial Review.  
Some of AIUSAs concerns about the new law applied to 
varying degrees to the old procedures, too.  But the new law 
is particularly disturbing because Congress has aggressively 
limited opportunities for review.
One Year Time Limit On Applying for Political Asylum.  
This new time limit for people already in the US has no 
basis in international law and was strongly criticized by 
President Clinton in signing the bill.  It has great 
potential to result in persons being returned to countries 
where they face genuine threats.

Lack of Gender Sensitivity.  
While ostensibly gender neutral, many of these provisions will 
have a disproportionate impact on women, especially those who are 
the victims of rape, or are under the threat of genital mutilation 
or other gender based persecution. They may find it difficult to 
describe their traumatic experiences to anyone, much less to male 
INS officers or through male interpreters and the new strict time 
limits and lack of review make it especially difficult to overcome 
these burdens.
Under the new legislation, Rizza said, The INS will have a 
tough job setting up guidelines that do not result in people 
being returned to danger. The United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees has recognized this likelihood, 
citing  the new law as inconsistent with international 
principles of refugee protection.
Rizza said that US asylum practices fit the world pattern 
of callousness towards refugees. He added that Amnesty 
International has undertaken a campaign on refugees because 
the global system of refugee protection and burden sharing 
has broken down even as domestic wars and human rights 
abuses have provided more refugees.
Many countries consider the United States to be the 
standard-bearer for fair implementation of international 
standards in the treatment of refugees. By further 
restricting asylum seekers, our government heightens the 
hypocrisy inherent in its criticism of other countries who 
reject refugees fleeing persecution. The US must reclaim its 
historical role of leadership in advancing and complying 
with international standards and human rights, Rizza 


SURAN Update

Nikitin update.

On April 14, Aleksandr Nikitin was awarded the Goldman Environmental
Prize, the largest regular award (75,000 US Dollars) for environmental
work.  Because of the status of the unresolved case against him, he is
still restricted from leaving St. Petersburg, so he was represented at
the award ceremony in San Francisco by his wife Tatyana.
Recall that Nikitin was arrested on the basis of his work on the Bellona
Foundation report on the Russian Northern Fleet in February 1996.
In December 1996 he was released after 10 months in custodial isolation
in St. Petersburg, with charges pending, no freedom to travel, and the
report still suppressed in Russia.

New report on torture in Russia.
On April 3, AI released a major report on torture in Russia, detailing
the systematic and widespread use of torture by law enforcement bodies.
Yeltsin has exacerbated the situation by signing 3 decrees, ostensibly
to help fight against organized crime, allowing suspects to be held
incommunicado for 30 days instead of 48 hours as previously.  Common
tortures are described in the report, and detention conditions "amounting
to torture" are also described.
Our group will be addressing the issue of torture in Russia as part of
its SURAN work.


Russian death penalty update.

When it joined the Council of Europe on February 28, 1996, Russia
agreed to sign Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights,
which outlaws capital punishment, within one year.  It also agreed to
impose an immediate moratorium on executions, and to completely
abolish the death penalty within three years.
On February 28, 1997, President Yeltsin ordered the Foreign Ministry
to sign Protocol 6; it was actually signed on April 16.  However, the
measure is very unlikely to be ratified by the parliament.  Last month
(on March 14) the Duma voted 176 to 75 to reject a moratorium on the
death penalty.
There have been actual executions in Russia through at least last
August (though perhaps none since then), and hundreds of prisoners are
presently facing the death penalty.

* *

Editor's last words.

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