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Amnesty International Group 22
Volume VI Number 8, August 1998

Table of Contents:

Coordinator's Musings

Thanks to Larry Romans and Saskia Feast for co-hosting the letter-writing meeting earlier this month. There was a good turn-out despite several people being on vacation.

Thanks also to Robert Adams and Saskia for attending a Tibetan festival in Santa Monica recently to hand out information about our prisoner of conscience, Ngawang Pekar.

Opening for a New Group Coordinator. My husband and I will be moving to Washington, D.C. later this year, so I am looking for someone to take over my duties as group coordinator. If you are interested, please contact me at (818) 249-1419.

Goodbye Gathering for Jim Smith. Jim Smith, one of the founders of Group 22, will be also be leaving us this fall (sob!). He and his family will be moving to Sweden in early October. You are all invited to join us at Burger Continental on Friday, September 11th at 7:30 pm where we will eat, drink beer, and say our good-byes. Jim's contributions to the group have been enormous. He was the first group coordinator and really helped put Group 22 on the map as one of the most active Amnesty groups in the country. He will be sorely missed although we wish him and Kathy (his wife) and Anna (their daughter) much luck in their new adventures. And it's always nice to have people to visit in other countries!

Planning Meeting on Weds, Aug. 19th This Wednesday, we will have a planning meeting for the group at 7:30 pm at our regular meeting location, 1052 E. Del Mar (top floor). We haven't had a planning meeting for awhile and, at this one, we will discuss the future of the group, upcoming campaigns, fundraising opportunities, and anything else you care to discuss about what we should or could be doing. It's very important that as many people from the group as possible are there so that we can have your input, so please plan to attend.

New member Veronica Raymond made the suggestion at our last monthly meeting that we participate in Pasadena's wacky Doo Dah Parade as a way of getting publicity for the group. Since the fees to enter are low and the event is televised, this seems like a great idea. I will obtain information for the planning meeting re: what is involved for us to participate. Martha Ter Maat suggested that we dress in animal costumes and campaign as "Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People." I think this is a wonderful idea and would add a lighter touch to our human rights work. Perhaps this can become an annual event for the group!

Other fundraising ideas are welcome. Do we want to continue to have an annual rummage sale? Could we arrange to have it at Cal Tech? Do we want to approach local businesses such as restaurants and stores to sponsor a 5% Day or 5% Night to benefit our group? What about local playhouses such as the Knightsbridge Theater? These all have been successful for our group or others in the past and can be quite lucrative if group members are willing to put in the work required. Come to the planning meeting and share your ideas!

Revae Moran
Group Coordinator

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  • WEDNESDAY, August 19, 7:30 PM
    Special Planning Meeting, 1052 E. Del Mar.

  • MONDAY, August 31, 7:00 PM
    AIUSA - Western Regional Office, 9000 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City. "GLAD" leadership cluster meeting. Special Guest: Cosette Thompson, Western Regional Director. Come and meet Cosette! All are welcome.

  • TUESDAY, September 8, 7:30 PM
    Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum basement. Corner of California and Hill.

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Fear for safety / Possible extrajudicial execution

'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person'
Article 9, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Yolima Rangel, mother of Freddy Diaz
Ali Eduardo Sojo (male), aged 14
Katiuska Sojo (female)
Flor Diaz (female)
Freddy Diaz (male), aged 18, killed

There are fears for the safety of Freddy Diaz' family after he was shot dead, reportedly by a policeman, in the municipality of Sucre on 8 July 1998.

After reporting the shooting to the authorities, Yolima Rangel, Freddy Diaz' mother, and the rest of her family have been threatened and followed by police.

The shooting occurred after Ali Eduardo Sojo, Freddy Diaz' 14-year- old cousin, was chased into his house by a policeman making routine spot checks in their street. The policeman reportedly then fired a gun at Ali Eduardo Sojo, but the bullet instead hit Freddy Diaz and killed him in front of a number of witnesses, including children, while they were having dinner.

Freddy Diaz' family was then taken into custody and held for 24 hours. They were told by police that if they pressed charges the police would 'hacerles la vida imposible' - make their lives impossible.

Yolima Rangel nevertheless reported the shooting, and her family and neighbors have since been constantly harassed by the police. They have reported seeing a number of police cars driving past their houses at night and policemen looking into their house.

Over the years, Amnesty International has received many reports of individuals killed by Venezuelan security forces and military personnel in circumstances where firearms were used unnecessarily or with the deliberate intention of killing or causing serious injury.

Amnesty International has also documented an increased number of attacks and extrajudicial killings of minors. These incidents are rarely fully investigated and in very few cases have those responsible been brought to justice.

Please send letters:

  • expressing concern for the safety of Yolima Rangel and her family, and calling on the authorities to guarantee her safety;

  • calling for a full and impartial investigation into the events surrounding the death of Freddy Diaz, and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice;

  • reminding the Venezuelan authorities of the country's commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably Article 3: 'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person'.
Attorney General: (Dear Attorney General:)
Dr. Ivan Dario Badell Gonzalez
Fiscal General de la Republica
Manduca a Ferrenquin
La Candelaria
Caracas, Venezuela

President of the National Human Rights Commission:
Dr. Jose Guillermo Andueza
Presidente de la Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Palacio de Miraflores
Edificio Bicentenario, Nivel Plaza, Of. 206
Caracas, Venezuela

Ambassador Pedro Luis Echeverria
Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela
1099 30th St. NW
Washington DC 20007

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Martha's Web Tips for August

AIUSA Crisis Response - Kosovo

The AIUSA site this month is featuring a crisis response on Kosovo. See the site for more info or just use the sample letter below. (Email to:

President Bill Clinton The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Clinton:

The moment for leadership is now. The crisis in Kosovo province continues to escalate and threatens regional stability. Gruesome massacres have resulted in more than 300 deaths and thousands have been forced to flee their homes as refugees and internally displaced persons. In large part, the current crisis is the result of years of severe human rights abuses in Kosovo, to which the international community has turned a blind eye. It is time to ensure long-term monitoring of human rights and to bring to justice the perpetrators of recent human rights crimes in Kosovo. Please use the moral authority of your office to:

  • Speak out now forcefully to condemn the human rights violations in Kosovo province committed both by the Serbian authorities and by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Call now for a respect for humanitarian and human rights law.

  • Increase financial and other support for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to ensure that the tribunal is fully empowered to investigate, prosecute, and deter human rights crimes in Kosovo. The Tribunal in particular needs increased funds for translation, organization of documents, and for field missions, including equipment.

  • Increase support for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights and help the Commissioner to open a permanent office in Pristina with full staffing.

  • Urge Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to allow the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to reestablish its mission in Kosovo province with access to the entire Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
We appreciate the support you and your Administration have provided in reconstructing Bosnia and helping to bring about accountability for crimes committed there. Let's not wait for several years to take similar action in Kosovo province. Please take firm action to help stop the fighting now.

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Fear for Safety / Legal concern

Padre Hugo ORTIZ - President Permanent Assembly for Human Rights in Caranavi and Catholic priest

Padre Gines Mateo ROCAMORA - Catholic priest, Chaplain of Chonchocoro prison and national representative of the Prisons' Pastoral at the Bolivian Bishops Conference (delegado de la Pastoral Penitenciaria de la Conferencia Episcopal Boliviana)

There is concern for the safety of the two above-named human rights defenders and church members who, Amnesty International has recently learned, have been threatened and, in the case of Padre Hugo Ortiz, physically beaten.

On 9 July 1998 several people reportedly witnessed Catholic priest Padre Hugo Ortiz being beaten by members of Unidad Movil de Patrullaje Rural (UMOPAR), Mobile Rural Patrol Unit. This happened as he was travelling to Coroico to attend a diocesan meeting. The attack is believed to be related to his human rights work, as president of the Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia (APDH), Permanent Assembly for Human Rights in Caranavi, La Paz Department, on behalf of the people of the region. A report on the incident has been submitted to the Minister of Government.

On 19 July, Padre Gines Mateo Rocamora, Chaplain of the Penal de Chonchocoro, Chonchocoro prison in La Paz, was threatened and insulted by former general and ex-President Luis Garcia Meza, currently serving 30 years for human rights violations committed during his government which came into power after a coup d'etat. Following the Sunday service, prison police reportedly confiscated Father Gines Rocamora's identity documents and proceeded to take him to see Luis Garcia Meza and then to stand by as the attack took place.

Amnesty International believes that the incidents described above place the legitimate pastoral and human rights work of Padre Hugo Ortiz and Padre Gines Mateo Rocamora in jeopardy.

Amnesty International is concerned at the increasing level of harassment and human rights violations directed at human rights defenders and church members in Bolivia. Another lay member, Serafin Hendrich, President of the APDH in Beni is also known to have been recently harassed. On 24 July the Director de la Policia Tecnica Judicial (PTJ), Head of the Judicial Police, in Trinidad, reportedly threatened Serafin Hendrich with legal proceedings for defamation (iniciara un juicio por propagar calumnias). This was after Serafin Hendrich had made public and called for an inquiry into allegations that two detainees had been tortured at the PTJ. Amnesty International will continue to monitor this case closely.

Active members and supporters of the APDH, a leading non-governmental human rights organization in the country, have been threatened and harassed on previous occasions. In January 1997, Waldo Albarracin, the national president of the APDH was abducted and tortured by members of the police (UA 27/97 issued 28 January 1997 and re-issued several times and Amnesty International report: 'Bolivia: Undermining Human Rights Work', May 1997). The investigation into the attack and the subsequent threats to his family is yet to be completed.

Please send letters:

  • expressing deep concern at the reported attack on Padre Hugo Ortiz by the Mobile Rural Patrol Unit on 9 July 1998 and asking for information of any action being taken by the authorities to investigate the attack and to guarantee his safety;

  • expressing deep concern about the reported participation of police prison guards at Chonchocoro prison in facilitating the verbal attack and threats against Padre Gines Rocamora on 19 July by former general Luis Garcia Meza;

  • asking for information of any action being taken to investigate the incident, to ensure it does not occur again, and to guarantee his safety while carrying out his pastoral duties at the prison;

  • expressing concern at the harassment of members of the APDH as a result of their legitimate human rights work and the impact this could have on other human rights defenders in the country;

  • urging that the findings of any inquiries be made public and that those responsible be brought to justice.
Excmo Sr. Presidente
Gral. Hugo Banzer
Palacio de Gobierno, La Paz, Bolivia

Minister of Government: (Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister)
Sr. Ministro de Gobierno
Sr. Guido Nayar
Ministerio de Gobierno
Av. Arce esq. Belisario Salinas La Paz, Bolivia


Human Rights Organization:
Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos
Cajon Postal 9282
La Paz, Bolivia

Bolivian Bishops Conference:
Conferencia Episcopal Boliviana
Monsenor Julio Terrazas
Casilla 877, La paz, Bolivia

Ambassador Marcelo Perez Monasterios
Embassy of the Republic of Bolivia
3014 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington DC 20008

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This year Amnesty International USA is sponsoring the National Weekend of Faith in Action on the Death Penalty, October 9-11 aimed at encouraging religious organizations to become more active and visible in the movement to abolish the death penalty.

Amnesty groups can help make this first Faith in Action weekend a success by approaching local religious leaders who may be interested in participating. Some ways faith groups might participate include:

  • Observe a moment of silence at faith services reflecting on victims and perpetrators of violence.

  • Preach from the pulpit about the spiritual issues of the death penalty.

  • Organize discussions of readings or educational videos on the death penalty. Invite a knowledgeable speaker to initiate a dialogue.

  • Use your influence, prayers and moral authority to persuade legislators to repeal death penalty statutes.

  • Organize letter-writing campaigns to Congress, state legislatures and governors, asking them to enact alternatives to the death penalty.

  • Urge congregation members who are politicians or public officials to work against the death penalty.

  • Include information about the spiritual dimensions of the death penalty in regular publications.
For brochures or to request a resource packet please call 1-800-AMNESTY, ext. 508.

Local religious leaders are also encouraged to attend the statewide conference of religious leaders, "Changing Hearts and Minds," sponsored by Death Penalty Focus, October 8-10 in San Francisco. Contact Death Penalty Focus for more information: 415-243-0143 or Next month Group 22 members will participate in a solidarity action associated with the NWFA weekend aimed at the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates. Check your next newsletter or attend a monthly or letter-writing meeting to participate. If you have any questions regarding this exciting new initiative or know of Pasadena religious organizations who might be interested in participating, please contact Martha Ter Maat at 626-281-4039 or

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Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

Group 22 member Saskia Feast attended a special training for groups working on Chinese and Tibetan action file cases held in San Francisco, July 26-27. Here's her report. Come to the next meeting for more inside info:

It was recently my fortune to take part in a training session for groups working on cases related to China. The meetings have been organized by the casework office in order to capitalize on the media focus on China that has occurred following President Clinton's visit. Representatives from 11 of the 13 groups with China casework files were there - with people coming from Hawaii and Alaska! It was an interesting and stimulating 2 days in San Francisco.

We had a full schedule including updates on the current situation in China and TAR, training session for working with the media, non-amnesty groups, members of congress and two guest speakers. To begin with we were updated on recent developments in China. The main message was that although some improvements have been made in the human rights situation in China serious problems remain. For example although the law classing 'counter revolutionary' activities as crimes was abolished in 1997 most people previously convicted under this law remain in prison. On the bright side in June 1997 4 people ('counter revolutionaries') had their cases reviewed and they were overturned. Official statistics show 1946 people were serving prison sentences in Chinese prisons for crimes of "damaging the country's security" (which also encompasses those sentenced for "counter revolutionary crimes") at the end of 1997 with is 70 people less than in 1996.

Also a few groups of Amnesty campaigners have now been invited into Chinese embassies (in Israel, Italy, Switzerland) which is an unprecedented step. The new premier, President Jiang Zemin is apparently a good letter writing target.

Then followed an update on Tibet. Most positive thing about Tibet is the huge media interest of late, with Hollywood films and music. It is important to remember that AI has no position on the independence of TAR we are concerned about the human rights issues there. The over all message was to keep on campaigning, although we hear very little our message is heard over there. A few ideas that came out were organizing Tibetan story telling evenings, sending out daily petitions.

AIUSA has announced that it is going to issue quarterly report cards on Chinese progress toward the concrete human rights goals President Clinton outlined during his summit with the Chinese leaders. President Clinton had said that China must move beyond a few symbolic releases of prominent dissidents. The report card will chart China's progress in seven 'subjects':

  • History: Release more than 250 persons involved in peaceful activities in Tiananmen Square.

  • Criminology: Review the cases of more than 2,000 persons convicted for 'counter-revolutionary offenses' that are no longer crimes in China.

  • Religion: Permit free exercise of religion for Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

  • Ethics 101: Prevent and punish instances of coercive family planning and harvesting of executed prisoners organs

  • International Law: Ratify and Implement the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights as pledged.

  • Criminal Law: Abolish the arbitrary "reeducation through labor" system under which at least 230,000 people have been imprisoned without trial.

  • Law Enforcement: Take immediate and effective measures to prevent torture; allow impartial investigations and inspections of prisons. It is hoped that we can use these cards to get China HR issues into the media.
There was also a section on working with corporations who trade with China. A very useful article by James Kamm, who was the head of the US chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong was brought to our attention. He demonstrates that it is not detrimental for businesses to have an interest in HR situation, in fact it can even be very positive. He has developed a very good relationship with China and been instrumental in discussion for POC's. If anyone is interested I have much more information about working with corporations.

Then we had interesting talks by Lin Munchen translated by Barry Chang from SVDC (Silicon Valley for Democracy in China) and Tenzin, the Dalai Lamas representative on his visit to the US. Lin Munchen had been imprisoned in Chinese labor camps. He spoke of the quota system, "yanda", when the police have to fill their quota of arrests. During this time most human rights abuses occur, in some instances resistance to arrest was meet with the death penalty. "Yanda" could be interpreted as "severe beating period". Barry Chang also helped us with Chinese writing. SVDC has a web site at Tenzin gave an interesting account about Tibet, the historical background to the current situation and current situation for Tibetans. One thing he stressed was that the Chinese authorities do care about what the US thinks of them and thus our work is important.

Naturally it is impossible to condense 2 days into a newsletter article. To summarize I now have more motivation, a much better understanding of the situation and up dated information such as addresses, literature, contacts. If anyone has any particular interests I will be happy to help. (626-449-8121 or

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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

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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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