Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech
Volume VI Number 2, February 1998

"Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home
- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.
Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives
in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he
works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal
justice,  equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless
these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without
concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in
vain for progress in the large world..." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Coordinator's Musings

Congratulations to Martha Ter Maat for a successful kick-off to the UDHR50 campaign via her training session on February 1st at the Avery Center. It was well attended by a good cross-section of AI members from around the L.A. area and Orange County. A good chance for us all to get to know each other better and to learn more about the UDHR. We had fun, too, making Tibetan prayer flags with a UDHR theme. Martha has used this same prayer flag project recently to educate children on the fundamentals of the UDHR. This will be one of the topics discussed at the next monthly meeting as we solidify our plans for the campaign and set group goals. There are many different ways we can participate. For example, new member Saskia Feast has gotten permission to put up a display at the Pasadena children's library on the UDHR in May. Thanks to Byron Philhour, new group member and RA for Dabney House at Caltech, for hosting an evening with Matthew Jardine, journalist and professor, on the genocide in East Timor. It was extremely informative and timely with the current economic crisis and upcoming "election" putting Indonesia in the news daily. He reminded us that this is a good time to lobby the U.S. government for change in its policies re: Indonesia. Thanks also to Larry Romans for his many recent activities in keeping our website up to date, listing all UDHR50 events, and providing assistance to other AI groups so that they can easily list info on their groups. I am really amazed at how much he has done in this area - and so are others in Amnesty. I just received a notice from Roberto Quezada of AIUSA that our website will be featured in the monthly mailing that goes out student and community groups nationwide! Now, some upcoming events: The United Nations Assn. (UNA), Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, along with several local law schools and bar associations are sponsoring a symposium on the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday, Feb. 26th from 4:30 to 7 PM at the Biltmore Hotel downtown. (If this date rings a bell, it's because it is also the day of our next monthly meeting.) I plan to attend - and be back to the EQL lab in time for the meeting - so if anyone needs a ride, give me a call. The symposium features David Scheffer, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes and head of the U.S. delegation to the ICC preparatory committee. The ICC is to be established at the U.N. diplomatic conference in Rome this June. It will create, for the first time, a permanent mechanism for enforcing international law in the areas of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Admission is $25 ($10 for students) and tickets can be obtained from the UNA Pasadena office! Don't forget about Amnesty's Annual General Meeting in San Francisco the weekend of March 20-22. The AGM is often in places much less accessible to us, so this is a great opportunity to attend. See an announcement about the AGM elsewhere in this edition of the newsletter for more info. I was very pleased and encouraged by the large turnout at our last monthly meeting. Several new members have joined the group and are giving a real shot of new energy to those of us who have been around awhile. Welcome to: Beth Miller, Asst. Professor in the Dept. of Anthropology at Cal State L.A.; Richard Jimenez, who works at a local branch of a yet-to-be-determined Mexican bank; Saskia Feast, a research chemist (biochemist?) who is here from England with her Austrian fiance who is doing his postdoctoral work at Caltech; Farida Toubal, who is interested in the situation in Algeria; and Byron Philhour, Caltech student and RA for Dabney House. Welcome to all of you and special thanks to our "old timers" who keep things running so smoothly. It is so easy and such a pleasure to coordinate this committed, active group. Revae Moran Group Coordinator 818-249-1419


Note our new monthly meeting location!! THURSDAY, February 26, 4:30 to 7:00 PM, International Criminal Court Symposium at the Biltmore. See Coordinator's column for details. THURSDAY, February 26, 7:30 PM, Monthly Meeting at the EQL lounge. Because the Y has relocated we will meet at the EQL lab (environmental quality lab), located on Lura St. off of Wilson Ave and just south of Del Mar. It's a small 2-story house - the entrance is on the opposite side of the building away from the parking lot. SATURDAY, February 28, 7:30 PM, Beverly Hills Community Center, 471 North Roxbury Dr. Forum on Sex Trafficking of Women & Children, sponsored by Captive Daughters (see Web Tips for more info). MONDAY, March 2, 7:00 PM. GLAD (cluster) meeting at the regional office (9000 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City). Special Guest Sandra Hunnicutt will tell us about child-trafficking and her organization, Captive Daughters and Norma Edwards will relate the issue to CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). TUESDAY, March 10, 7:30 PM, Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum basement. SUNDAY, March 15, 10:15 AM, All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave, Pasadena. Mark Costanzo, Chair of Social Psychology at Claremont McKenna College talks about his book, Just Revenge: The Costs and Consequences of the Death Penalty. FRIDAY-SUNDAY, March 20-22. Annual General Meeting in San Francisco. Register Now! Call 310-815-0450 for more info. AGM Update: Pre-registration Deadline is 3/6 Just a reminder that AIUSA's 1998 Annual General Meeting is being held earlier than previous AGMs. The meeting will take place March 20-22 at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. The pre-registration deadline is March 6. See pages on the Web at In conjunction with the AGM this year, a benefit performance will be presented by actress Vanessa Redgrave at the Herbst Theater on Friday evening, March 20. She will be performing Planet Without a Visa, a one-woman show about asylum seekers. The opening plenary on Saturday, March 21 also promises to be inspiring, as author Alice Walker has graciously agreed to be the keynote speaker. In addition, a significant amount of time has been set aside to discuss policy issues at the plenary and other AGM panels and workshops. All members are urged to participate. Please contact AGM Coordinator Rohini Verma in the National Office at (212) 633-4289 or call the Western Regional Office at (415) 291-9233 for further details. See you in San Francisco!

FIFTY for FIFTY Campaign Off to Great Start

Group 22 is participating in an effort to chart area progress on the UDHR50 campaign called "50 for 50: 50 ways to celebrate the UDHR50" All area groups are reporting their activities and these are being recorded on the Group 22 website. This month the UDHR projects have featured the advocacy aspects of the campaign, promoting the International Criminal Court and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. In a more "hands on" mode, area volunteers brought the UDHR to children at the Villa Parke Community Center Arts Program here in Pasadena. Keep an eye on the web site for more news:


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Can the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be enforced? Yes. A founding principle of the United Nations is "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person [and] in the equal rights of men and women..." The Universal Declaration recognizes respect for human rights as the "foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." Accordingly, along with the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration has provided the moral and legal basis for United Nations action, including action by the Security Council, against violators of human rights. Actions undertaken by the United Nations have included the dispatch of UN investigators, called Special Rapporteurs, to monitor and report on abuses, the establishment of human rights field missions in trouble-spots where the UN conducts peacekeeping operations, and the imposition of economic and political sanctions. Of course the struggle to fully implement human rights is ongoing. In recent years, the UN Security Council has created two international tribunals to bring to justice those individuals responsible for acts of genocide and other crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The UN is currently working to establish a permanent International Criminal Court that will hold individual human rights abusers accountable and vigorously pursue justice for the individual victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But enforcement of human rights principles goes beyond the UN system. Countries have included the language and principles of the UDHR in their national constitutions, and in their statutory laws and regulations. Lawyers appeal to the principles of the Universal Declaration as they litigate in defense of clients. Non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch use the powerful principles and language of the UDHR to advocate for the release of political prisoners and the relief of those who suffer abuse. As these organizations and others have demonstrated, public exposure and condemnation of rights violations has proven to be a surprisingly effective remedy.


U.S. barely makes the grade on human rights A survey conducted for Human Rights USA, a coalition that includes Amnesty International USA, shows the U.S. public is generally disappointed in human rights conditions at home. The coalition announced the results of the survey in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on December 10, Human Rights Day. "This survey shows that we have human rights problems right here in the United States - in our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces," said HRUSA Director Lyn Beth Neylon. "We can do better, and our hope is to impact the way Americans think, speak and act about human rights." Among the areas addressed by the survey, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., were perceptions of the gravity of human rights problems in this country; how the public believes the nation is measuring up; and how to improve the status of human rights here. The survey's "report card" gave the United States a "C" to "C-" overall in the areas of education, equal pay for women in the workplace, providing access to affordable health care, helping poor people and protecting the environment. Meanwhile, only 8 percent of adults and 4 percent of young people were aware of the existence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, upon which Amnesty bases its work. However, when made aware of the contents of the UDHR, a large majority said the United States should do more to live up to the principles in the document. "The survey results validate the need and demand for Amnesty work here," stated Nancy Flowers, a member of AIUSA'S Human Rights Educators' Network who also serves on the Steering Committee of HRUSA. "Those polled see education about the Universal Declaration and human rights as essential for creating a more just society." HRUSA is a collaborative effort of four non-profit partner organizations: Amnesty's Human Rights Educators' Network; the Center for Human Rights Education; Partners in Human Rights Education; and Street Law, Inc. The goal of the initiative is to develop comprehensive human rights education programs in schools and communities.


(Listing in Web Tips does not imply endorsement of website contents by AIUSA) Human Rights USA Human Rights USA is yet another great resource for the UDHR50 campaign. This site represents a coalition of organizations (including Amnesty's own Human Rights Educators Network) which advocate for human rights education. The focus is on providing resources and materials for teachers and students. Another way to reach them is by toll free phone: 1-888-HREDUC8. (See article about a poll they sponsored elsewhere in this issue). Captive Daughters Captive Daughters was founded by AI West L.A. group member, and L.A. Friends of Tibet founder Sandra Hunnicutt to advocate for an end to trafficking in women and girls worldwide. The organization and the site are in a somewhat embryonic state but it's an exciting project with lots of possibilities and lots of intersection with Amnesty's work on women's and children's rights, refugees, indigenous peoples and more. You have two opportunities to find out more about these issues in coming weeks. On February 28 Captive Daughters is sponsoring an event in Beverly Hills. Group 22's Martha Ter Maat will be speaking on children's rights along with representatives from organizations who advocate for an end to trafficking both at home and abroad. Then again at the March GLAD meeting, Sandra will join us to share her enthusiasm and shed some light on a dark subject.


Demand an investigation into the Algerian massacres! January 28, 1998 - Since late December 1997, unidentified groups have conducted large-scale massacres in small towns in western Algeria. While organizations such as Amnesty International have been denied access to the country and access for journalists is tightly controlled by the government, reports estimate that up to 1,000 men, women and children were slaughtered in just two weeks of violence - many disemboweled or decapitated in brutal massacres lasting over five hours. We need your help to push the Clinton administration to demand an international investigation to find out what happened and who is responsible for these horrific acts. These recent massacres have taken place against a background of six years of violence, in which AI estimates over 80,000 civilians have been killed. In more than one instance, these massacres reportedly took place within 200 meters of Algerian army barracks, without intervention from the soldiers stationed there. The Algerian government restricts access to areas affected by the violence, and claims that violence in the country is "residual," underscoring the need for a prompt, independent investigation. Since 1993, the Algerian government has agreed "in principle" to allow the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Extra-judicial Executions to visit but has never actually allowed a visit, stating each time that the dates were "not convenient." This month, Algerian authorities agreed again "in principle" to allow the two Special Rapporteurs to visit the country, but they already are stalling the visit. To date, the Clinton Administration has supported access for non-governmental organizations and the visit of the Special Rapporteurs. These steps are important but are not enough to stop the butchery in Algeria and bring those responsible for the massacres to justice. Please write or call your Representatives and Senators asking them to sign the letter being circulated by Senator Patrick Leahy urging the Administration to take prompt and effective action. Even a very short phone call or letter can make a big difference. The Leahy letter calls for: - An international investigation with the authority, independence and resources to establish the facts and make recommendations, including ways to bring perpetrators to justice; - Access for international non-governmental organizations and journalists to investigate abuses; and - A serious effort to encourage the Algerian government to cooperate fully with the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and to expedite the visit of the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Extra-judicial Execution. WRITE OR E-MAIL Your Congressional Delegation: The Hon. ______ The Hon _________ U.S. Senate U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515 PHONE: Capitol Switchboard (202) 225-3121


Our prisoner of conscience (POC) is named Ngawang Pekar (pronounced naw-wan pee-kar). He is a Tibetan monk from the Drepung Loseling Monastery. He was arrested in 1989 for participating in a peaceful demonstration and putting up posters promoting independence for Tibet. He was sentenced by the Chinese government to 8 years in prison. He was 29 years old at the time of his arrest and was planning to flee to India as other monks did. Recently, his sentence was increased by 6 years when he was caught with a list of prisoners in the Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No.1, where he is being held. In addition to our demand that he be immediately and unconditionally released from prison, we should also express our concerns over the conditions of his imprisonment, and his health. Although there is no real news on this case in the past month, I want to stress again just how important our letters are. Wei Jingsheng's recent release from prison and his moving letter to Amnesty activists makes this clear ... our letters DO make a difference. For those who missed Wei's letter in last month's newsletter, here is an excerpt: "Your work is of enormous value to those suffering from political oppression. It is perhaps more successful than you yourselves have ever realized. The message I would like to give to all of you is: please keep the faith." This month I would like for us to write to the prison governor: Jianyuzhang (prison governor) Xizang Zizhiqu Di Yi Jianyu (Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1) Lasashi 850003 (Lhasa 850003) Xizang Zizhiqu (Tibet Autonomous Region) People's Republic of China If you can, make your letter go twice as far and send a copy to Gregory Craig, our government's our new special coordinator for Tibet affairs (or if you prefer, send a letter specifically to him): Gregory Craig Director, Policy Planning Staff U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520 State the facts of the case and express your concern about our POC (underline his name for emphasis) and that he was imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of his conscience and that he has been denied access to medical care since his detention in 1989. Ask for information about him and urge that he be released Sample letter: Dear Governor Jianyuzhang: I am writing in regard to 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 and about 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 Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1 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, (For postage, use a 60-cent airmail stamp.) For more information see the web site:


What does Amnesty International do about political trials and imprisonment without trial? In many countries, either under the ordinary law or states of emergency, the authorities put people in prison without a trial. In some cases imprisonment lasts for decades. A fair and public hearing within a reasonable time is a basic human right as is the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. To imprison people for a long period without proving a case against them is a violation of these rights. Amnesty International opposes the detention of any political prisoner without a trial within a reasonable time. It has called on various governments to end administrative internment and other procedures that allow for prolonged political detention without trial. Amnesty International also opposes trial procedures in political cases that do not conform to internationally agreed standards. For example, secret trials take place. Sometimes they are nominally public, but only those selected by the authorities are allowed to attend. Prisoners are denied a defence lawyer of their choice- or the defence is not allowed to call witnesses or present evidence. Cases are heard by special tribunals and military courts whose composition is incompatible with an impartial hearing or whose procedures fall short of those in ordinary courts.


Last month's newsletter contained the text of a letter from Wei Jingsheng thanking all Amnesty activists for their work on his behalf. Here's your chance to write to Wei and thank him for being such an inspiration for human rights advocates around the world: As he adjusts to his new life in the United States, we're asking AIUSA members to send Wei a card or letter welcoming his release from prison and his arrival in this country. A simple message of support is all you need to write. The National Casework Office will collect the messages and pass them along to Wei. Send your cards to: Wei Jingsheng c/o Amnesty International USA 131 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Suite 220 Atlanta, Georgia 30308


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.

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