Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News Volume V Number 10, November-December 1997

Coordinator's Musings

The regional conference in Tucson was a great success - although not as well attended as last years in Orange County (especially by student groups). My favorite speakers were John Fife, the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Tucson and co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement in the U.S.; Hafsat Abiola, whose father was elected President of Nigeria in 1993 and has been in prison there ever since and whose mother was assassinated for her efforts to free him and bring democracy to Nigeria; and David Marshall, a researcher for AI who investigated and reported on shocking abuses of power by the Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff's department. Best of all, we sold 18 sets of holiday cards at the conference - not as good as we had hoped, but a fair showing considering the attendance and off-the-beaten-path location of group sales. An event that reinforced what I had learned at the conference occurred as I returned a rental car at the airport in Tucson. The agent, who saw my AI T-shirt, questioned me about Amnesty's stand on Nigeria. He obviously didn't agree with AI on everything but was impressed that I knew anything about the political situation there at all (I was, too). Things I learned at the conference also came in handy at the Ani DiFranco concert last Thursday night. Members of our group and others tabled at the concert (which was great). Attending the conference helped me answer some of the questions posed by the people at the concert who stopped at our table to chat. We collected almost 90(!) letters asking the Congress to support passage of a bill that calls for the U.S. to declassify documents that relate to the disappearances and torture of civilians in Guatemala and Honduras in the 1980s. The protest at the Beverly Hilton on November 2nd during the Chinese Presidents visit was well attended. The Amnesty contingent was strong - with eight members from our group (including friends) carrying wonderful signs with pictures of Ngawang Pekar, our POC, made by Martha Ter Maat - Group 22's artist in residence. Thanks also to Robert Adams, Larry Romans and Dipankar Sarkar who carried signs and survived the intense heat! We need your help with sales of the holiday cards by purchasing some for yourself and your friends and by asking your friends, family and even your enemies to purchase them. Sets of ten handmade cards are $15, they're beautiful cards, and it's for a great cause. This will be the primary fund raiser for our group this year - we really need the additional funds to keep us going! Larry Romans successfully arranged for us to have our letter writing meeting in December at Higher Grounds, a coffee shop in Pasadena. It will be at the same time - 7:30 pm - but on Wednesday, December 10th, Human Rights Day, instead of our usual Tuesday evening meeting. The address is 90 N. Los Robles - at the corner of Union and Los Robles (across the street from the California Pizza Kitchen). Please join us - it's an excellent opportunity to reach out to other members of the community and educate them about our group and Amnesty International. Finally, don't forget that the regular monthly meetings in November and December will be replaced with a holiday party on Friday, December 5th at Martha Ter Maat's place. She will be preparing delicious Tibetan food for us, so please let her know as soon as you can whether to expect you so that she knows how much food to purchase. See the announcements section for further details - including her address. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!! --Revae Moran 818-249-1419 Group Coordinator


MONDAY, December 1, 7:00 PM Greater Los Angeles Area Development presents a Quarterly Training and Support Meeting. Training Topic: UDHR Campaign overview. Western Regional Office, 9000 W. Washington Blvd in Culver City, 310-815-0450. Regional campaign coordinator, Martha Ter Maat will introduce the new campaign and facilitate discussion of how groups can coordinate this celebration. FRIDAY, December 5, 7:30 PM Monthly Meeting - Holiday Party. Learn to make Tibetan Dumplings! SPECIAL LOCATION: Martha's House! 128 South Chapel, #34 in Alhambra. Donation requested (no more than $5) to cover food cost. Please RSVP to Martha: 818-281-4039 or by December 4. WEDNESDAY, December 10, 7:30 PM Pasadena Higher Grounds, 90 N. Los Robles, Pasadena Special Letter-Writing Meeting and International Human Rights Day Celebration. Send greeting cards to prisoners of conscience around the world! Pledge to uphold the Universal Declartion of Human Rights! Sign postcards for the Defend the Defenders campaign! Meet people and have a latte! No Monthly Meeting in December! Happy Holidays!


at Pasadena Higher Grounds Group 22 members will launch the 50th annivesary campaign for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, December 10 at Pasadena Higher Grounds coffeehouse (90 N. Los Robles Avenue). December 10 will be the 49th anniversary of the signing and will kick-off worldwide commemoration of this historic anniversary year. The official campaign launch will be in South Africa where Nelson Mandela will sign a pledge to uphold the UDHR. You too can sign a pledge and help us to gather pledges from others in Pasadena. Pledge cards will be collected worldwide and be turned over to the UN Secretary General on December 10, 1998. Your first opportunity to sign on will be at this special letter-writing meeting. Another facet of the campaign is "Defend the Defenders" actions which will appear regularly in this newsletter. They feature those people who have been imprisoned, tortured or killed for thier efforts to defend the Universal Declaration. In this newsletter we include an action for labor rights activist Dita Sari. At the December letter-writing meeting you can check out some of the other "Defenders."


Universal Declaration of Human Rights What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the primary international articulation of the fundamental and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, the UDHR represents the first comprehensive agreement among nations as to the specific rights and freedoms of all human beings. Among others, these include civil and political rights such as the right not to be subjected to torture, to equality before the law, to a fair trial, to freedom of movement, to asylum and to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression. The rights outlined in the UDHR also include economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to food, clothing, housing and medical care, to social security, to work, to equal pay for equal work, to form trade unions and to education. Originally intended as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", over the past fifty years the Universal Declaration has become a cornerstone of customary international law, and all governments are now bound to apply its principles. Because the Universal Declaration of Human Rights successfully encompasses legal, moral and philosophical beliefs held true by all peoples, it has become a living document which asserts its own elevating force on the events of our world. Why is December 10 celebrated as "Human Rights Day?" The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted at 3:00 a.m. on the morning of December 10, 1948. For this reason people throughout the world have chosen to celebrate this date as "Human Rights Day." We celebrate not only to mark the achievements of those who came before us, but also to renew our own faith in and commitment to the Universal Declaration and to the principles it sets forth. This reaffirmation is crucial to the protection of human rights. December 10 is also an opportunity for us to educate ourselves about the importance of respect for every person. Each year on December 10, people all over the world act in solidarity to reinforce their pledge to a world defined by the equal and inalienable rights of all human beings. Human Rights Day is an opportunity for each successive generation to endorse the principles of the Universal Declaration with a renewed sense of commitment.


Labor Activist Jailed in Indonesia On July 8 1996, Dita Sari, leader of the Indonesian Centre for Workers' Struggle (PPBI) was arrested with two colleagues during a labor demonstration. Dita Sari was allegedly beaten when she was arrested. Advocating the struggle of workers towards increased national wages, freedom to organize and an end to the role of the military in industrial relations are all acts which are considered to overthrow, damage or undermine the state. Dita Sari was charged under several laws, and there was a a heavy military presence at her trial which began on December 16, 1996. In late April she was convicted of subversion and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. It appears that she has been imprisoned solely for her peaceful work on behalf of labor rights and social change. AI considers her a prisoner of conscience. Write, calling for her immediate and unconditional release, to: Haji Utoyo Usman S.H. Menteri Kehakiman (Minister of Justice) Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7 Kuningan Jakarta Selatan INDONESIA


Group 22 is now selling attractive handmade greeting cards as our fall fund-raiser. The cards are a simple design, consisting of layered decorative papers and the message "Peace" on the front and blank inside. We have bundled them at 10 cards for $15. Use them yourself or give a set to a friend.


How does Amnesty International regard conscientious objectors to military service? A conscientious objector is understood to be a person liable to conscription for military service who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction arising from religious, ethical, moral, humanitarian, philosophical, political or similar motives refuses to perform armed service or participate directly or indirectly in wars or armed conflicts. Amnesty International considers such a person a prisoner of conscience if his or her imprisonment arises from any of the following: the legal code of a country does not contain provisions for the recognition of conscientious objection and for a person to register his or her objection at a specific time. a person is refused the right to register his or her objection; the authorities' recognition of conscientious objection is so restricted that only some and not all of the above grounds of conscience are acceptable; a person does not have the right to claim conscientious objection after being conscripted into the armed forces; he or she is imprisoned for leaving the armed forces without authorization for reasons of conscience developed after being conscripted if he or she has tried to secure his or her release by lawful means or if he or she did not use those means because he or she had been deprived of reasonable access to the knowledge of them; there is no right to service outside the "war machine"; the length of the alternative service can be seen as a punishment for conscientious objection. A person who is not willing to state the reason for his or her refusal to perform military service is not adopted as a prisoner of conscience, unless it can be inferred from all the circumstances of the case that the refusal is based on conscientious objection. Nor is someone considered a prisoner of conscience if he or she is offered and refuses comparable alternative service outside the "war machine".


Terminal Island Refugee Monitoring Team Action #3 I.N.S. L.A./Orange District Contract with County Jails to Imprison Aliens, including Undocumented Refugees and Asylum Seekers The third in a series of actions related to conditions AI monitors have found within the INS detention system, which we feel affect the ability of asylum seekers to file or pursue their claims. The Refugee Monitoring Team, which has been focusing on the I.N.S. Processing Center (detention center) on Terminal Island since 1994, was disappointed to learn in recent months that the Service has opened up two more detention facilities in District 16 (Los Angeles/Orange Counties). Further disappointment came with the news that the new facilities are actually parts of county jails in Lancaster and Santa Ana. In August 1997, AIUSA called upon the I.N.S. to cease its practice of detaining asylum seekers in county jails and other prisons. Our position is based on review of conditions, policies and practices in such institutions. In many instances, these conditions make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to learn about the asylum system or to obtain legal or other assistance in filing and pursuing their claims. Furthermore, the deleterious effects of isolation, arbitrary treatment, being mingled with a criminal population, and being treated as potentially dangerous criminals themselves, may cause persons to abandon asylum claims and risk returning to their countries voluntarily. This may jeopardize their freedom or even their lives. Jails with whom the I.N.S. contracts usually do not distinguish between aliens (including asylum seekers) and accused or convicted criminals. The consequences of these practices often prove disastrous for asylum seekers' attempts to make sense of their situation, obtain assistance in filing asylum claims, or even articulate their claims. In this system, women often suffer disproportionately. Because of their smaller numbers, women are more often mixed in with the criminal population. The I.N.S. has stated its intention to eventually house 45% of its detainees in county jails or other prisons. ACTION REQUEST. Write a courteous letter to the District Director stating (1) that jails such as Lancaster and Santa Ana are not appropriate places for asylum seekers to be held; (2) in all instances the INS should distinguish between asylum seekers and other detained aliens; (3) the INS should keep records of how many INS prisoners at each detention facility are asylum applicants. Write to: Mr. Richard Rogers Director - District 16 Immigration and Naturalization Service 300 N. Los Angeles Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 Copy to: Doris Meisner Commissioner Immigration and Naturalization Service 425 Eye Street, NW Washington, DC 20536 Please send copies of any replies to Jim Roberts, 2215 E. First Street, Long Beach, CA 90803. You may send letters on this action any time before 1-1-98. For further information and material, consult or contact L. Romans (, 626-683-4977).


(Listing in Web Tips does not imply endorsement of website contents by AIUSA) PBS Frontline: Dreams of Tibet This page was put together in conjunction with the recent broadcast of the Frontline special "Dreams of Tibet" on PBS. As with all their sites, it takes you beyond the documentary with extended interviews of those you see on screen, in this case my favorite China scholars, Orville Schell and Andrew Nathan, plus the actors and film directors involved with the recent spate of Hollywood depictions of China and Tibet, Martin Scorcese, Jon Avnet, Richard Gere, and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (founder of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts). Also featured are Tibetan exiles Tenzin Tethong and Jamyang Norbu, plus Henry Kissinger and Congressman Frank Wolf, who made a recent unauthorized visit to Tibet. There is background on Tibetan Buddhism, the recent history of the Sino-Tibetan conflict plus viewer discussion, press clips, links, chronology, history of Himalayan exploration, and excerpts from Heinrich Harer's book Seven Years in Tibet. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Fiftieth Anniversary This is the official web site of a large coalition of organizations which have committed to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Still under development, it contains history and chronologies, profiles of Eleanor Roosevelt and others who were instrumental in the declaration's history. There are downloadable lesson plans, a section (not yet up and running) for a news feed and an events calendar, and a list of organizations who have signed on for the celebration in case you are looking for coalition partners.


New State Dept Special Coordinator for Tibet! There has been quite a bit of news on our campaign to free prisoner of conscience, Ngawang Pekar. Before I get into this, here's a quick review of the main points of this case. Pekar is a Tibetan monk who was arrested in August 1989 in Lhasa and sentenced to 8 years in prison for his participation in a demonstration. Since he was arrested the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression of conscience, we consider him a "prisoner of conscience" and demand nothing less that complete and unconditional release from prison. We are also concerned over reports that he has been denied access to medical care since his arrest. Recently, his sentence was increased by 6 years when he was caught with a list of prisoners in Drapchi prison. Here's some recent news on the case: On November 3rd the State Department named a special coordinator for Tibet affairs. Spokesman James Rubin said the coordinator, director of policy planning Gregory Craig, has a mandate to help preserve Tibet's distinct culture and promote dialogue between the Beijing government and the Dalai Lama. Quoting spokesman James Rubin, "He will seek to advance our overall human rights objectives with respect to Tibet. He will seek in particular to...preserve the unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of Tibetans. He will also promote substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives." Gregory Craig will be the subject of our action this month - more on this later. While browsing the web, Martha recently came across a mention of Pekar in a press release from the "Tibet Information Network," an organization out of London. It states, "A colleague of Kelsang Thutop, also serving a sentence in Drapchi prison, has had his sentence increased to 14 years for spying after he was caught trying to smuggle a list of Drapchi prisoners out of the prison, according to reports just received from unofficial sources in Tibet. The list was intended for international human rights groups, a source said. Ngawang Pekar, a 34 year old monk from Drepung, was over half way through an 8 year sentence for taking part in a demonstration in 1991 when he was caught with the list of names in August last year. After the list was discovered he was placed in solitary confinement for 4 months and received his additional 6 year sentence at a trial on 13th March this year. Before his arrest Ngawang Pekar was well known to foreigners because he speaks English and often guided tourists around the monastery, having been taught by a British couple who ran an unofficial language school in Lhasa in 1986-7." This is an interesting piece of news for a few reasons. First of all, it is the first time that we have heard that Pekar speaks English! Think "Pekar on Tour" - speaking engagements all over the US after his triumphant release from prison! There are also some, perhaps minor discrepancies between this release and our official information from Amnesty, although this should not deter us from using the information from Amnesty in all of our correspondences. One detail recently Martha found out that the official Chinese name for Drapchi prison, where Pekar is currently being held, is in fact "Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1." From now on when we write letters to Chinese officials we should refer to this instead of Drapchi, the latter may be a Tibetan name for the prison. OK, so this month's homework is to write to our new special coordinator for Tibet affairs: Gregory Craig Director, Policy Planning Staff U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520 Express your satisfaction at the creation of this post, and educate him on the case of Ngawang Pekar. Ask that his case be brought to the attention of Chinese officials in future inquiries. Let's see what will happen here - it certainly seems as though we may have a good ally in our work for human rights in Tibet! For more information see the web site:

MBNA America Issues AIUSA Mastercard

Amnesty has contracted MBNA America to issue an affinity credit card in an Effort to generate a new source of revenue. AIUSA receives royalties of $1 For every new account opened and 0.5 percent of the total retail purchases Made with the card. The credit card is being offered to donors through direct mail and Telemarketing efforts, and to date there are more than 1,000 cardholders. With intensive promotional efforts, we expect this number to rise Considerably in the next year. We encourage all members and volunteers to apply for the card and to invite family and friends to join in this new form of support for amnesty. Applications are available from all regional offices or from member services In the national office; call (212) 807-8400 for details.


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Amnesty International works impartially to free 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.

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