Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume V Number 8, September 1997
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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
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 OF CONSCIENCE - China/Tibet
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
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.
Address it to:
Raidi Zhuren (Chairman Raidi)
Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Daibiao Dahui
(Tibet Autonomous Regional Peoples
Standing Congress Committee)
Xizang Zizhiqu (Tibet Autonomous Region)
Peoples Republic of China
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 email@example.com.
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
SEPTEMBER WEB TIPS
(Listing in Web Tips does not imply
endorsement of website contents by AIUSA)
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
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
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
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.