AIUSA Group 22 Newsletter - Nov-Dec


Greetings friends!  I am standing in for Larry this month while he
vacations in Korea.  I'm sure he will have something inspiring to say when
he gets back, but meanwhile this is a big month for Group 22 activity.

First, I must draw your attention to the impending execution on November 17
of Jay Siripongs, a Thai citizen.  An action is included in this newsletter
which deals with some very interesting issues concerning foreign nationals
on death row.  As this issue also impacts other foreigners on death row,
you could still write to Gov. Wilson or Secretary Albright about this
matter even after the 17th to express your concern about implementing
proper procedures for handling these cases.  An interfaith vigil will be
held at All Saints Church on November 16 from 8:00-10:00 PM.  Because both
the condemned inmate and at least one of the victims' families are
Buddhist, some effort has been made to incorporate the Buddhist perspective
on the death penalty in the program.

Doo-Dah Day is nearly here!  On November 19, our special monthly meeting
will include last minute planning for the parade including a first look at
our fabulous tails, manufactured by the Mistress of Tails, Grace Ter Maat.
Thanks Mom!  November 22 is our big parade day and we hope that you will
participate or at least watch for us.  Masks are made and tails are ready
for our Doo-Dah debut.  This is your chance to "get wild" and educate the
public about the up-coming anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.  Please contact me as soon as possible if you want to march
so we can reserve a slot for you!

Our December letter-writing meeting will feature our annual holiday card
action.  This action allows you to communicate directly with prisoners
around the world and llet's them know that they are not forgotten.  Many of
those targeted by this action have responded that the cards gave them the
strength to go on when they had given up hope.  Please take a break from
the holiday crush and join us for this important and easy action.

December 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (UDHR 50).  Amnesty International will mark this event with
the opening of a gallery exhibit, "Enduring Spirit," photos by Phil Borges.
The photo collection is also available in book and calendar form (a great
gift that benefits your favorite charity!).  Come along and get your copies
signed!  Group 22 members may carpool to this event, so please be in touch
with Larry or myself if you are interested in this very special celebration.

Before the end of the year, do check out the Southern California web site
( and our progress on the "50 for 50"
UDHR events goal.  We expect to hit 100 area events soon!  This project was
recently featured in "Amnesty Action" the national newsletter of Amnesty
International - USA.

Finally, while I have the floor here, all of you who have contributed to
Group 22's efforts to celebrate "UDHR 50" over the past year should give
yourself a hand, pop a champagne cork, wear a tail or otherwise
congratulate yourselves on a job well done.  This is the end of the
anniversary year but the work of educating the public and implementing the
document's goals will go on.  Thanks for all your help and I look forward
to more great campaigns in the future!

Please note that as our normal meeting date lands on Thanksgiving, we have
shifted our monthly meeting to November 19.  There will be no monthly
meeting in December.  Enjoy the holidays!

Martha Ter Maat	626-281-4039
UDHR 50 Regional Coordinator

Larry Romans	626-683-4977
Group Coordinator


Monday, November 16, 8:00-10:00 PM. Interfaith Execution Vigil.  All Saints
Church, 132 N. Euclid, Pasadena.  Short program begins at 9:30 PM.  For
more information call Martha Ter Maat at 626-281-4039.  See article inside
for details regarding the Siripongs case.

Thursday, November 19, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between
Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor.  Highlights: Doo Dah costume fitting!
UDHR 50 celebrations!  Other festive stuff!

Sunday, November 22.  It's Doo-Dah Day!  All parade marchers meet at 9:00
AM at 1052 E. Del Mar (our regular hang out) to get costumes and signs.
Then we all head for Memorial Park.  Bring $$ for lunch afterwards at
Burger Continental.  For more info: Martha 626-281-4039.

Tuesday, December 8, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum
basement.  Corner of California & Hill.  Special Feature:  Holiday Card

Thursday, December 10, 6:00-9:00 PM.  International Human Rights Day! In
honor of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, Jose Tasende and Amnesty International USA will present
the exhibition "Enduring Spirit - People of Endangered Cultures"
Photographs by Phil Borges Tasende Gallery-Los Angeles, 8808 Melrose
Avenue, West Hollywood.  310-276-8686.

No December Monthly meeting!  Next letter-writing meeting -January 12, 7:30
PM at the Athenaeum

Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

Our group continues to seek the release of prisoner of conscience (POC)
Ngawang Pekar (naw-wan pee-kar), an approximately 38-year-old Tibetan
Buddhist monk from Drepung Monastery. In 1989, he was arrested by Chinese
authorities and sentenced to 8 years in prison for participating in a
peaceful demonstration in the city of Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in
support of Tibetan independence. Shortly before he was due to be released
last year, he was sentenced to an additional 6 years for allegedly trying
to smuggle out a list of other prisoners to international human rights
organizations. Amnesty International is concerned that, like many others in
Tibet, Ngawang Pekar has been imprisoned solely as a result of peacefully
exercising his right to voice his conscience and that, during his
incarceration, he has been subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment
including being beaten, denied medical treatment, and being confined to an
iron isolation cell for 3 months.

No new information has come to light concerning our POC this month, but we
can only assume that, without any intervention on his behalf, Ngawang Pekar
will continue to languish and suffer in confinement until at least the year
2003. Therefore, we need to continue to apply pressure on the Chinese
officials to make such intervention a reality! This month, we ask that you
send your letters to Hua Liankui, the Law Committee Chairman of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference. Please write to Hua Liankui to
let him know that you and Amnesty International are aware of Ngawang
Pekar's case and urge him to do whatever is in his power to obtain Pekar's
release from prison. Below is a sample letter that you may either copy or
use as a rough guide in composing your own letter:

Dear Chairman:

As a supporter of human rights and a member of Amnesty International, I am
writing to you out of concern for a prisoner being held in Tibet Autonomous
Region Prison No. 1. The prisoner's name is NGAWANG PEKAR.

Ngawang Pekar, a Tibetan monk, was arrested in 1989 for participating in a
peaceful demonstration and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Subsequently,
his sentence was increased by 6 more years. I am concerned that he has been
imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of
expression and about reports that he has been beaten and denied access to
medical care since his arrest. I am also concerned that the 6-year increase
in his sentence was an extremely harsh punishment for keeping a list of his
fellow prisoners and that he was subsequently held in an iron cell for 3
months after the list was found.

I respectfully urge you to utilize your position to request that Ngawang
Pekar's case be reviewed and that he be immediately and unconditionally
released in accordance with the international laws to which China
subscribes. If that is not deemed possible, then I would hope that his
sentence could at least be reduced as a demonstration of the regard which
the People's Republic of China has for human rights.

I thank you for your assistance in this important matter and would greatly
appreciate any further information that you may be able to provide.


Address your letter to:
HUA Liankui Zhurenweiyuan
Zhongguo Zhengxie Quanguo Weiyuanhui
Falu Weiyuanhui
23 Taipingqiao Dajie
Beijingshi 100811
People's Republic of China

Postage: 60-cents. Include your name and mailing address at the top of the
letter in case you receive a reply, and please notify the Group 22
coordinator if a reply is received.

CHILE:  Fear for safety in wake of Pinochet arrest

Jose BALMES, Painter and lecturer at the University of Chile,  (Decano de
Bellas Artes, Universidad de Chile)
Hector Reinaldo PAVELIC SANHUEZA, journalist, former political prisoner
Rolando LEAL SAN MARTIN - members of the same family and former political
prisoners Gladys MARIN, Secretary General of the Communist Party Luis
CORVALAN, former Secretary General of the Communist Party Volodia
TELTEIBOIM, Writer and member of the Central Committee of the Communist

The arrest of former General Augusto Pinochet in London on 16 October 1998
has triggered a wave of anonymous death threats in Chile.

All the above-mentioned individuals received death threats between 19 and
20 October. Hector Reinaldo Pavelic Sanhueza, a former political prisoner
and journalist and the cousin of William Miller Sanhueza, who 'disappeared'
in 1973, was warned by anonymous telephone callers that he would be killed
if anything happened to former General Augusto Pinochet. The Chilean
non-governmental organization Comite de Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo
(CODEPU), Committee for the Defence of Peoples' Rights, has condemned this
death threat.

On 23 October, former political prisoner Marta San Martin Alarcon received
an anonymous telephone call at her home. The caller aggressively warned her
that 'they [the family] have been located', and that her two sons [Rolando
and Marcos] 'were going to die' ('que los tienen ubicados y que sus dos
hijos van a morir'). Marcos Leal San Martin, who holds a Swedish passport,
is due to travel to Sweden in January 1999. His mother was told that he was
going to die before his trip. CODEPU has filed a habeas corpus writ
(Recurso de Amparo) before the Santiago Appeals Court on their behalf.

During the week of 20 October, the daughter of painter and lecturer Jose
Balmes received an anonymous telephone call stating that her father would
be 'gutted' ('lo iban a destripar') if the detention of former General
Augusto Pinochet continued.

Chile's Communist Party has reported that they received anonymous messages
during the last two weeks of October threatening to kill Communist Party
members Gladys Marin, Luis Corvalan and Volodia Telteiboim. The threats
have been denounced publicly to the media and to the Ministry of Interior
by a delegation of the Party.  To date, no replies have been received from
the authorities.

Most of the people currently issued with death threats are former political
prisoners, exiles and relatives of victims of human rights violations that
occurred in Chile during the Pinochet military government. Human rights
lawyers have also been threatened.

In a press statement on 21 October, CODEPU denounced the death threats
against Jose Balmes and Carmen Soria (UA 275/98,  21 October 1998). In a
press release on 23 October CODEPU denounced the death threats to Carmen
Soria, Jose Balnes, Hector Reinaldo Pavelic Sanhueza, the human rights
lawyer Hernan Montealegre and the family Leal San Martin.

Several mechanisms guaranteeing impunity have blocked effective judicial
investigations in Chile. In 1978, the military government of General
Pinochet decreed an amnesty (Decree 2191) designed to shield those
responsible for human rights violations committed between 11 September and
10 March 1978 from prosecution. It is, in effect, a self-amnesty and has
made it impossible for relatives to find the answers on the whereabouts of
those 'disappeared' and to obtain justice.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send airmail letters:

- expressing concern at the death threats against the above-mentioned

- asking for reassurances that the authorities will take all necessary
steps to fully protect their physical integrity and that of their families;

- asking for the annulment of the Amnesty Law of 1978.

President of the Republic:
Senor Presidente de la Republica de Chile
Senor Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
Palacio de la Moneda
Santiago, Chile
Dear President:
Fax: 011 562 694 5080

Minister of Interior:
Sr. Raul Troncoso
Ministerio del Interior
Palacio de la Moneda
Santiago, Chile
Dear Minister:
Fax: 011 562 696 8740 - 699 2165

Minister of Justice:
Sra. Maria Soledad Alvear
Ministra de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia
Morande 107
Santiago, Chile
Dear Minister:
Fax: 011 562 695 4558

Human Rights Organization:
Brown Sur 150 - Nunoa
Santiago, Chile
Fax: 011 562 341 5041

Ambassador John Biehl
Embassy of Chile
1732 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington DC 20036

'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person' Article 3,
Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Human Rights Watch: Report on Chile

Wondering what the human rights situation is like in post-Pinochet Chile?
Check out this recent Human Rights Watch report.

Alert new state officials about prison concerns

This fall's election campaign may have been a bit discouraging to some
Amnesty members. We watched the candidates tout their support of the death
penalty as an asset and promise to put even more people behind bars.
According to the ACLU, the United States already has the largest per capita
prison population of any industrialized nation (see
issues/prisons/isprisons.html). In 1997 about 13,000 inmates were in super
maximum security prisons.  These institutions often violate international
human rights standards by confining  prisoners to solitary, sometimes
windowless cells for 22-24 hours a day. (See Among the most
notorious of these prisons are the Pelican Bay and Corcoran Secure Housing
Units (SHU) in California (see
cpf/CPFshu.html.)  Beatings and gratuitous violence have been
well-documented at both facilities. Corcoran guards even held daily
gladiator fights between prisoners from 1988-1996.

You may want to remind our newly-elected state officials that not all of
their constituents see institutionalized human rights abuses as the
solution to violence in our society.  Please take a moment to write a
courteous, respectful letter encouraging Governor-elect Davis and Attorney
General-elect Lockyer to establish independent and effective monitoring
bodies to investigate allegations  of abuses in prisons and jails.  Amnesty
International also recommends that inherently dangerous and cruel restraint
procedures, including hog-tying and the use of electro-shock stun-belts, be
banned.  The officials' addresses are:

Lieut. Gov. Gray Davis
State Capitol
Room 1114
Sacramento, CA 95814

Bill Lockyer
1230 H Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Still a few slots for marchers left!

wearing masks and tails and carrying signs in support of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights 50th Anniversary.

Bring $10 for your registration fee to march in the parade to the monthly
meeting November 19.  This fee can be refunded, but only if you march! If
you can't be at this meeting, but want to march, please call Martha at
626-281-4039 as soon as possible.

Marchers will meet at 9:00 AM on Sunday, November 22 at our usual meeting
place on 1052 E. Del Mar to get into costumes and rehearse.  Then we are
off to the staging area at Memorial Park.  After the parade we hope to have
lunch together at Burger Continental so bring some cash.

This promises to be a memorable experience, so join us!

State of California to Execute Jay Siripongs

Jaturun SIRIPONGS, Thai national, in his 40s Jaturun Siripongs is scheduled
to be executed in California on 17 November 1998. He was sentenced to death
in 1983 for a double murder committed during a robbery at Pantai market in
Garden Grove, Orange County, California, in December 1981, 18 months after
he arrived in the USA from Thailand.

After his arrest, Jaturun Siripongs should have been informed of his right
to contact and seek assistance from the Thai Consulate, as provided by
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, ratified by the
USA in 1969. However, like most of the more than 60 other foreign nationals
currently on death row in the USA, he was not informed of this right.
Amnesty International believes that, in a capital justice system prone to
race and class-based bias, in which sentencing can depend more on a
defendant's lawyer than on their crime, access to consular resources and
legal expertise can make the difference between life and death.

Jaturun Siripongs' lawyer called no witnesses during the trial, choosing to
exclude evidence that an accomplice might have been involved in the
killings.  At the sentencing phase of the trial he called no character
witnesses to provide mitigating evidence, including the facts of Jaturun
Siripongs's childhood, which was marked by extreme poverty and physical,
emotional and sexual abuse.

Since he has been in prison, Jaturun Siripongs is reported to have been a
model prisoner, studying Buddhism and becoming an accomplished artist.
Surachai Wattanaporn, the widower of one of the two people killed in the
1981 crime, is reported to have written to Governor Wilson appealing for
clemency: "As a Buddhist, I do not seek revenge for my wife's death, and
ask you to consider exercising mercy in this case."  The widow of the
second murder victim is also said to be opposed to the execution.

The Royal Thai government is reported to have requested that Governor
Wilson commute Jaturun Siripongs' death sentence.


The violation of the rights of foreign nationals arrested on capital
charges in the USA came to international attention in April 1998, when
Angel Francisco Breard, a Paraguayan national denied his rights under
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, was executed in
Virginia despite a ruling by the International Court of Justice that the
execution be suspended. This ruling was binding under international law.

Earlier in the year, Amnesty International had called upon the US federal
authorities to impose a moratorium on the execution of foreign nationals to
allow the US State Department to assess the impact of Vienna Convention
violations in such cases.

In California, the Governor has sole power to grant clemency. There are
currently 517 people under sentence of death in the state, the largest
death row in the USA.  Five prisoners have been executed in California
since 1977, most recently Thomas Thompson on 14 July 1998.  In the same
period, 486 inmates have been put to death nationwide.  The most recent
execution, that of Ronald Lee Fitzgerald in Virginia, was carried out on 21

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send letters

To the Governor:

- expressing deep concern that Jaturun Siripongs is scheduled to be
executed on 17 November, and urging that his death sentence be commuted to
a more humane alternative; -  expressing sympathy for the victims of
violent crime and their families, but noting that an increasing number of
families of murder victims in the USA are speaking out against the death
penalty, saying that it does not help them in their loss and only compounds
the brutality;

- noting that Jaturun Siripongs' rights under Article 36 of the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations were violated after arrest, and that, at
the very least, the execution should be stayed to assess the impact of this
violation on the outcome of his trial.

To Secretary of State Albright:

- expressing deep concern that another foreign national, Jaturun Siripongs,
is due to be executed in the USA after his rights under Article 36 of the
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations were violated;

- calling on the federal authorities to do everything in their power to
stop this execution, and to enforce a moratorium on the execution of
foreign nationals in order to assess the impact of Vienna Convention
violations on their trials;

- asking what measures the State Department has taken since the execution
of Angel Francisco Breard in April 1998 to ensure that such violations do
not continue.


State Governor
The Honorable Pete Wilson
State Capitol, 1st Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814, USA
Faxes:         	1 916 445 4633
Salutation:    	Dear Governor

US Secretary of State
The Honorable Madeleine Albright
Office of the Secretary of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20520, USA
Faxes:         	1 202 647 1533
Salutation:    	Dear Secretary of State


His Excellency Gordon Giffin
Ambassador for the USA
100 Wellington Street
PO Box 866, Station B
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5A1
     Fax: (613) 238-5720

PLEASE SEND YOUR APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.  (Note: you could still raise the
issue of treaty violations in letters sent after Nov 16 as they will apply
to other foreign nationals on death row.


Read us on line:
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 /