Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News Volume V Number 8, September 1997

Coordinator's Musings

I'm writing this from yet another strange hotel room in another city - this time New York - while on a business trip. I miss attending letter writing and other meetings but so far have managed to work it out so that I can attend the monthly meetings. I wonder at the public outpouring of grief over the death of a woman who was obviously a symbol of many things to them - youth, beauty, tragedy. How great it would be if we could put the same attention and energy into the work of groups such as AI! I guess that is what another woman who recently died,, Mother Theresa, stood for. Now she was truly remarkable! At our last meeting, we decided that the September meeting would focus on a review of the 1987-89 demonstrations in Lhasa which form the backdrop for the arrest of Ngawang Pekar. Tentative plans are for a guest speaker from Peru at our October meeting. The November meeting, which would fall on Thanksgiving Day will be combined with the December meeting as in years past, for a group party on Friday, December 5th, Martha Ter Maat has generously agreed to host this party and to make it a celebration of Tibetan food and culture. So, get out those yak butter cookie recipes! Between meetings, there are several opportunities for involvement. Letter writing will continue on the 2nd Tuesday of the month - October 14th is the next one - at the Athenaeum. Video night has been put on hold but we plan to have a group outing to see the new movie set in Tibet (yes, the one starring Brad Pitt - no he's not playing the Dalai Lama!). Stay tuned for further details. The American Friends Service Committee Bookstore on 980 N. Fair Oaks is offering some wonderful events including a presentation we are co-sponsoring of Chinese prisoner of conscience, Wei Jingsheng's new book, "The Courage to Stand Alone" on Friday, October 17 at 7:00. Fundraising! To raise much needed funds, we decided to do two things immediately, (1) make holiday cards to sell at the regional conference in Tucson as well as closer to home and (2) hold another garage sale since I have enough left from the last sale as well as new things I've collected (and they always make us money!). So, what we need from you is to PLEASE JOIN US on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12 at my house in La Crescenta to help make cards and host the sale. The address is 2742 Prospect Avenue. Take the 210 Freeway west to the La Crescenta exit, go north 2 blocks to Prospect and turn right and it's the third house on the right. We'll start at 9 a.m. and go until about 2 p.m. Come for as long as you can - lunch provided. If you need more info or a ride please call. We are also exploring other fund-raising activities, so please give us your ideas at the monthly meeting on Thursday, September 25th or by calling me at the number below. Remember the construction around the Y prevents you from approaching the building from any direction other than the south. I've found that parking on California about a block east of Hill gives me the closest access. Hope to see you at the next meeting! --Revae Moran 818-249-1419 Group Coordinator

Upcoming Events

THURSDAY, September 25 7:00 PM New Member Orientation 7:30 PM Monthly Meeting Caltech Y Lounge, Winnett Center 2nd Floor. TUESDAY, October 14, 7:30 PM Athenaeum Basement (Corner of California and Hill), Letter-writing meeting. Too many actions for this newsletter! Come help us write! SUNDAY, October 12, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM Rummage Sale/Work Day. 2742 Prospect Avenue La Crescenta. Call Revae for more info or to arrange to donate items: 818-249-1419. FRIDAY, October 17, 7:00 PM 980 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, American Friends Service Committee Bookstore event to promote Wei Jingsheng's book: "The Courage to Stand Alone." See enclosed flyer for details! FRIDAY-SUNDAY, October 24-26 "Human Rights Have No Borders", AIUSA Western Regional Conference, Tucson Arizona. It's not too late to sign up for a terrific program! Contact the regional office for registration and program information: 310-815-0450.

Death Penalty Update

New Legislation Means Speedier Executions The California Legislature has passed legislation intended to speed up the processing of death penalty appeals. The governor is expected to approve a measure which aids 154 inmates on death row who lack an attorney for their habeas corpus claims by creating a resource center to provide investigative, legal and other support services and, authorizing the hiring of up to 30 attorneys for death penalty cases and requiring the State Supreme Court to develop competency guidelines for lawyers. Keep track of death penalty actions and events by calling the Death Penalty Action Team Hotline: 213-673-3693!


What happens when Amnesty International is uncertain about the grounds for a person's imprisonment? When Amnesty International does not have enough information to be certain about the reasons for imprisonment, but where there are grounds to believe that the individual might be a prisoner of conscience, the case is taken up for investigation. The case is usually assigned to a group which is asked to write to the authorities to obtain further details, such as where the prisoner is held, what charges are faced, and what is the evidence against the prisoner. If such prisoners are being held without charge or trial, Amnesty International may urge that they either be charged and given a fair trial or released. Only if it is clear that a case can be treated as that of a prisoner of conscience, however, does Amnesty International "adopt" the prisoner and call unconditionally for his or her immediate release. Whom does Amnesty International regard as a prisoner? Many people are persecuted in ways that do not involve imprisonment or similar physical restrictions. They may be fired from their jobs, have their telephones cut off or correspondence intercepted, be summoned for frequent police questioning or be threatened with other reprisals. Amnesty International, however, concentrates on people who have been jailed or otherwise forcibly restricted; people in prison, people in official custody and detention centres, people under strict house arrest or confined to a village, or others whose freedom of movement has been so severely restricted as to amount to a form of detention. For this reason, Amnesty International's mandate is often described as "prisoner-oriented".


Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk Recently, Xinhua news agency in China has reported that judicial officials in Tibet have reduced sentences or released on parole 132 prisoners from "one of the region's largest jails in the northern suburbs of the Tibetan capital" (this could be Drapchi prison), including some jailed for political offences. This comes, coincidentally, on the eve of the opening of the landmark 15th Communist Party Congress in Beijing. Is this good news for our prisoner? One can only hope! In the meantime, keep those letters coming! The more letters we write, the more likely Pekar's name will be on a list like that mentioned above. This month let's write to Raidi Zhuren, Chairman of Tibet's People's Congress Standing Committee: Dear Chairman Raidi, I am writing regarding the case of Ngawang Pekar, a monk who was arrested in August 1989 and sentenced to 8 years in prison for his participation in a demonstration and whose sentence was recently increased by 6 years. I am concerned that he was arrested for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression of conscience. I am also concerned over reports that he has been denied access to medical care since his arrest. I am also concerned that he was given an extremely harsh increase of 6 years in his sentence for keeping a list of prisoners in Drapchi prison and was held in an iron cell for 3 months after the list was found. If Ngawang Pekar has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of his conscience, I ask that he be immediately and unconditionally released in accordance with the international laws to which China subscribes. If he is not released, I ask that the extension of his sentence be reduced. Sincerely, Address it to: Raidi Zhuren (Chairman Raidi) Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Daibiao Dahui (Tibet Autonomous Regional Peoples Standing Congress Committee) Lasashi (Lhasa) Xizang Zizhiqu (Tibet Autonomous Region) Peoples Republic of China

Refugee Campaign

Terminal Island Refugee Monitor Team Action #2 Refusal Of INS To Parole Deserving Asylum Seekers Detained in Terminal Island and Lancaster This is the second in a series of actions related to conditions AI monitors have found at the INS prison on Terminal Island in the Los Angeles Harbor, which we feel affect the ability of asylum seekers to file or pursue their claims. All persons entering at U.S. ports of entry who are found by INS inspectors to not have proper documents (passports, visas, etc.) are required by law to be detained. Improper documentation includes both lack of documents and possession of false documents. In spite of the law requiring detention at the time of entry, INS district directors have fairly wide discretion to parole. Some reasons for which they may parole detainees are medical conditions, humanitarian considerations, and "for the good of the Service". Parole of an asylum seeker who has a compelling and credible fear of persecution is possible under either of the latter two categories. In spite of this, Amnesty International monitors have seen many cases of persons denied parole who had compelling cases. Many persons who are eventually granted asylum by immigration judges are detained right up to the day of their final hearing or appeal (and sometimes longer). If the district director feels there is some risk of flight on the part of the asylum seeker he may require a bail bond before granting parole. When Amnesty International asked the district office if there were written guidelines for requiring and setting amounts of bail bonds, we were told there are none, leaving us with the impression that bail and parole policy may be capricious and/or arbitrary. In 1996 Amnesty monitors unsuccessfully petitioned the district director to parole a female asylum seeker from China for one afternoon in order to see a physician for diagnostic testing. Although the woman was in pain and displayed obvious physical symptoms, her complaints were dismissed as "psychological" and the brief medical parole was denied. One man from Romania, recently transferred from Terminal Island to the Lancaster detention facility, has been detained for three and a half years. The INS has refused him parole based on "risk of flight". The man has no criminal record, no record of disciplinary problems while in custody and, except for being vocal about not wanting to be imprisoned, has not been a problem to the INS. He has nowhere to flee and there is no real evidence that he is a flight risk. Terminal Island and Lancaster are filled with women and men with credible claims of well founded fears of persecution if subjected to refoulement back to their native countries. The INS does parole some, but usually only after a hard fight by their lawyers. The chances of unrepresented refugees/asylum seekers obtaining parole are small. ACTION REQUEST. Write a courteous letter to the District Director asking for a review of parole and bail bond policy as it affects asylum seekers/refugees detained in Terminal Island and Lancaster. State that international accords signed by the U.S. discourage the detention of refugees except under extraordinary circumstances. Asylum seekers should be paroled if they have credible claims. Bail should not be set unreasonably high. The district or the regional INS office should promulgate written public guidelines for the granting of parole and the setting of bail. Long term detainees in particular (persons held for over three months) should receive priority attention during the recommended review of parole and bail policy. Write to: Mr. Richard Rogers Director - District 16 Immigration and Naturalization Service 300 N. Los Angeles Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 Larry Romans has also prepared a petition for this action, if you would like a copy, contact him at 626-683-4977 or 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 12-1-97.


(Listing in Web Tips does not imply endorsement of website contents by AIUSA) Cambodian Genocide Now that Pol Pot is back in the news and the Cambodian peace accords are in danger a refresher on the Cambodian genocide seems in order. See this excellent web site, especially the process center photos discovered by photographers Doug Niven and Christopher Riley with accompanying essay by historian David Chandler. Plus survivor's stories, the text of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act and more. Death Penalty Information Center Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who had himself defended death row inmates, held that the real barrier to a more enlightened view of the death penalty was ignorance, that once people were well informed they would oppose the capital punishment. Embracing this theory (sometimes referred to as the Marshall hypothesis), the Death Penalty Information Center seeks to provide a variety of well-documented research to the public. The Center has been in the news recently for it's report highlighting cases of innocent people on death row. Check out their web site for a number of impressive reports issued in years past, such as "Millions Misspent" about the economics of execution, "With Justice for Few" about the substandard legal representation of death row inmates, "On the Front Line" about law enforcement views of the death penalty and "Killing for Votes" about politicians and the death penalty. Also featured are up-coming executions, news updates and pointers to other resources.
Editor's Last Word: Submissions welcome. Deadline is generally the second Friday of the month, check to be sure. Read us on line: Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 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.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF A FLYER FROM AFSC BOOKSTORE. PLEASE NOTE ESPECIALLY THE AI-CO-SPONSORED EVENT ON OCTOBER 17! All events at the AFSC Bookstore 980 N. Fair Oaks in Pasadena (818-791-1978 for more info). Art Exhibition on display for the month of September: September, 9-5, weekdays Inside Insights, an Exhibition of Prison Art Featuring drawings by inmates of Pelican Bay High Security Prison. These drawings were done as part of the Free the Mind Project with students at UCLA. Also exhibited will be artwork by recently paroled men affiliated with the Homeland Cultural Center in Long Beach. This exhibition includes artwork on envelopes lovingly embellished for loved ones "outside." Reception: Sunday, Sept. 28, 2 - 5 pm Featuring: Viviana Trujillo of the UCLA Free the Mind Project and Dixie Swift from the Homeland Cultural Center in Long Beach. Manazar Gamboa will share excerpts from his dramatic piece "Cell E-304"; and a staged reading of "Psychologist Homeboy," created and presented by alumni of Franklin Middle School, Long Beach. Ordinary People Standing up to Imperial Power Friday, October 10 at 7 pm Matthew Jardine, co-author of East Timor's Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance Matt Jardine will talk about his new book, co-authored with Constancio Pinto, East Timor's Unfinished Struggle: Inside the East Timorese Resistance, and U.S. foreign policy and the unfolding situation in East Timor. The presentation will include slides from his recent trip to the Indonesian-occupied territory. Since Indonesia's brutal and illegal occupation in 1975, over 200,000 Timorese - one-third of the population - have been killed. The 1996 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos Horta for their efforts on behalf of self-determination in East Timor. Matt Jardine is also the author of East Timor: Genocide in Paradise and his articles on East Timor have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, The Progressive and Z Magazine. Co-Sponsored by Amnesty International - Pasadena Chapter Friday, October 17 at 7 pm The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other Writings by Wei Jingsheng, with a presentation by Ann Lau and Martha Ter Maat Wei Jingsheng has spent all but six months of the last seventeen years in prison. Once a Red Guard and devoted Maoist, Wei Jingsheng put up a poster in 1978 stating that democracy was essential for a modern China. He was arrested in 1979 and sent to prison. Held in solitary confinement, Wei Jingsheng has continued to advocate for human rights and democratization in China in spite of deteriorating health. Ann Lau, co-chair of the Visual Artists Guild, will discuss Wei's case and present a video interview with Wei. Martha Ter Maat is a member of the Pasadena group of Amnesty International and has an M.A. in Chinese Studies. One reporter's Journey Through History Friday, November 14 at 7 pm John Ross, author of The Annexation of Mexico: From the Aztecs to the IMF John Ross has been reporting on Mexico and Latin America for the last twenty years. He is also the author of Rebellion from the Roots: Indian Uprising in Chiapas. In this just-published book, John Ross tells the history of Mexico from the Aztecs to NAFTA. He examines how pressure from the United States influenced politics and policy in Mexico during World War II and the Cold War to the detriment of the Mexican economy and civil society. He also shows the similarity of today's "free-trade" issues to those of the 1860's and how NAFTA has accelerated the destruction of an independent Mexico.