AIUSA Group 22 Newsletter - August 1999


Thursday, August 26, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between
Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor.

Tuesday, September 14, 7:00 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum
basement.  Corner of California & Hill. Due to on-going renovations at the
Ath, we are meeting in the "Beer Garden" -the outdoor patio on the east
side of the building.  When entering through the main entrance turn right
and continue until you see the  patio to your left. Note that we will also
start 30 minutes earlier to accommodate Garden hours.

Saturday, August 29, 8:00 PM.   "Africa Fete" featuring Sengalese Afropop
superstar Baaba Maal comes to Grand Performances at the California Plaza in
Downtown LA.  We plan to meet at the plaza at 7:00 PM (bring snacks to
share) to stake out seats.  Carpooling will leave at 6:30 from our Del Mar
meeting spot.  The Plaza is located between Grand and Olive in downtown LA
just down the block from the Museum of Contemporary Art (250 S Grand Ave).
Parking is best accessed from Olive:  look for signs for "Angel's Flight."
Just for kicks you can take this rail car to the top of the plaza for a

Sunday, September 5, 7:30 PM. Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders
Books on S. Lake Avenue.  More info inside!


It's great to be able to report a very promising step in our group's
campaign on behalf of our prisoner of conscience,  Tibetan monk Ngawang
Pekar.  In the last week of July, five of us (Robert Adams, Ignacio
Lopez-Calvo, Veronica Raymond, Martha Ter Maat and I) visited the office of
our local Congressional Representative, James Rogan, and spoke with two of
his staff.  The purpose of the visit, organized by Robert, was to try to
enlist Rogan's help on behalf of Pekar.  As reported in more detail
elsewhere in this newsletter,  our visit was very successful -- we had a
stimulating discussion with Rogan's staff, and left a draft of a letter on
behalf of Pekar which Robert had written as a suggested model.  In less
than two weeks, we learned that Rogan sent a copy of the letter to Chinese
President Jiang Zemin, essentially verbatim as written by Robert!

Needless to say, this development can signal a major boost of hope for
Ngawang Pekar, as well as his fellow inmates in Drapchi prison in Lhasa.
By flooding the Chinese authorities with our individual cards and letters
over the years, we've been sending the message that an inmate was
attracting international attention  (whether or not every nuance of our
wording gets across...)  In that way, we could hope to influence their
treatment of Pekar,  possibly even the whole prison.  Of course, one can
never know for sure what effect one has in any given case, and
unfortunately it can be difficult to see concrete progress in many cases
such as Tibetans in China.  But if we can raise the slightest suspicion
that the world is watching (even that there might be potential "bargaining
chips" there -- however one feels about the barter economy of prominent
dissidents, wouldn't it be great if every prisoner of conscience were
treated as a potential bargaining chip) ...who knows?  In the next peaceful
demonstration, the authorities might hesitate a little bit longer before
shooting into the crowd.  The stakes are very high, considering the reality
in Drapchi and many other places around the world.  It was an emotional
moment for me, seeing the letter on Rogan's official Congressional
letterhead, knowing that the letter could be a powerful tool for making a
difference for Ngawang Pekar and his fellow inmates in Drapchi.

Bravo Robert for taking the initiative in this effort, as well as for
handling all the details!  Now our task is to think of ways to use this
tool, this potential leverage.  For now, it would certainly make sense to
thank Rogan himself for his role, and also to include a reminder of this in
the letters we'll continue to write to Chinese authorities on Ngawang
Pekar's behalf.

I hope to see you at the next monthly meeting, where we'll discuss our
further plans on this, as well as our work on the USA campaign.  We'll also
be discussing upcoming fundraisers, and our participation in the Doo-Dah
parade again this year (back by popular demand!).

Meanwhile, I'll look forward to seeing you at our brand-new book group,  on
Sunday, September 5 (see below in the newsletter) -- I'm quite excited
about that!  And meanwhile, keep the letters flowing!


Larry Romans            626-683-4977
Group Coordinator

USA CAMPAIGN: Ban Stun Belts!

At July's monthly meeting we decided to focus our energy for the remainder
of the campaign on stun belts. By educating ourselves and preparing several
flyers for the public, we hope to make significant progress on this
important issue by the end of the campaign. Lucas and Ignacio are putting
together a survey that will serve as both a way to gauge our community's
knowledge  and a PR tool. Ashley volunteered to contact local papers about
writing a story on AI's recent report and its implications locally. Matt
and Larry are writing a fact sheet that will help us communicate the basics
quickly when tabling. Veronica is supplying the visuals.  These last few
months of the USA campaign are going to be busy!

A number of technical questions about stun belts were asked at July's
meeting. Some of the answers are on the webpage of Nova, one of the two
stun belt manufacturers in the US. Complete specs are on and more general information is at A stun belt typically delivers 50,000 V at a rate
of 17-20 pulses per second with a current of 3-4 milliamps. It can operate
from 100 feet away if there are obstructions between the guard and the
prisoner. The range extends to 200 fee if line of sight is maintained. It
sells for $695.95.

Don't forget to check out our newly revamped website at

Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

Group 22 continues to seek the release of prisoner of conscience (POC)
Ngawang Pekar (naw-wan pee-kar), an approximately 39-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,
he was sentenced to an additional 6 years in March of 1996 for allegedly
trying to smuggle out a list of other prisoners to international human
rights organizations. Amnesty International is concerned that Ngawang Pekar
has been imprisoned solely for peacefully voicing his conscience and that,
during his incarceration, he has been subjected to gross mistreatment.

Several weeks ago, a small group of us finally met at Representative James
Rogan's district office to discuss Ngawang Pekar's case with the office's
Chief of Staff and one of Rogan's Field Representatives. After the
information we provided was forwarded to Congressman Rogan in Washington,
on 5 August he sent a letter to President Jiang Zemin and the Chinese
Ambassador to the U.S. urging Pekar's "immediate and unconditional release"
and that Pekar "be allowed access to the International Committee of the Red
Cross in order that they may independently ascertain his health and
circumstances." Hooray! Although, apparently as a result of a
misunderstanding on the part of Rogan's district staff, it is still "up in
the air" as to whether or not Rogan will "adopt" Ngawang Pekar's case on a
continuing basis, even the single letter he wrote should do much to raise
awareness of Pekar's case among Chinese officials and will hopefully add a
much needed boost to our efforts. Congressman Rogan is to be applauded for
his action on behalf of our POC.

As has been the case for much too long now, there is nothing new to report
this month regarding Ngawang Pekar, though it is fairly safe to assume that
he is still being held in Drapchi Prison (Tibet Autonomous Region Prison
No. 1). In other Tibet-related news, Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown
recently completed a two-week unannounced visit to Tibet. Since 1959,
Senator Brown is only the second foreign government official to visit Tibet
unescorted by Chinese custodians, U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf being the
first in 1997. To say the least, Senator Brown was shocked by what he saw
during his trip and is now calling on the international community to help
China end its repression in Tibet.

As our POC action this month, we request that you follow up Congressman
Rogan's action by writing on behalf of Ngawang Pekar to Chinese President
Jiang Zemin. This will hopefully serve to help "remind" President Jiang of
Pekar's case and that a member of the U.S. Congress is now also aware of
and concerned about Pekar. Below is a sample letter that you may either
copy or use as an example in composing your own letter (which is
preferred). Just remember to keep the tone of your letter respectful and
that Amnesty takes no official position on Tibetan independence from China.

Your Excellency:

As a firm believer in the principles delineated in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, I am writing to you out of concern for a
prisoner being held in Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1. The prisoner's

Ngawang Pekar, a Tibetan monk, was arrested in 1989 for participating in a
peaceful demonstration in the city of Lasashi and sentenced to 8 years in
prison. Subsequently, his sentence was increased by an additional 6 years.
Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience and I am
concerned that he has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of
his universally recognized right to freedom of expression. I am further
deeply concerned about reports that he has been beaten and denied access to
medical care since his arrest and that the 6-year increase in his sentence,
following 3 months in an iron isolation cell, was an extremely harsh
punishment for keeping a list of his fellow prisoners.

As I'm sure you're aware, U.S. Congressman James Rogan recently wrote you
to express his concern about Ngawang Pekar's case. In accord with
Congressman Rogan's concerns, I respectfully urge you to request that
Pekar's case be reviewed and that he be immediately and unconditionally
released in accordance with the international laws to which China is
signatory. I further request that he be allowed access to independent
non-governmental agencies so that his current state of well-being may be
determined and made known.

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


Address your letter to:
JIANG Zemin Guojia Zhuxi
People's Republic of China

For postage, use a 60-cent airmail stamp. Include your name and mailing
address at the top of the letter to enable a reply, and please notify the
Group 22 coordinator if a reply is received.



Get your technical questions about stun belts answered at this
manufacturers' website.

Thomas and Fedworld

Representative Rogan's assistance on our POC case brings to mind the wealth
of information that the federal government has to offer us.  Here are two
major starting points for info on federal legislation (Thomas) and
executive branch reports and contacts (Fedworld).

Fear for Safety / Death Threats / Arbitrary Detentions

Members of El Portal community

Genaro Gutierrez Aguilar - detained
Ramiro de Leon de Leon - detained
Luis Zunun Martinez - detained
Elfego Zunun Martinez - detained

Amnesty International fears for the safety of members of the community of
El Portal, in the Autonomous Municipality of Tierra y Libertad, in Chiapas
State, after they were attacked, apparently by supporters of the ruling
Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), Institutional Revolutionary
Party. Police were apparently present but did nothing to stop the attack.

According to information received by Amnesty International, on 14 July 1999
members of El Portal community - some of whom also are part of the Frente
de Organizaciones Campesinas Indigenas (FOCI), Indigenous Peasant
Organization Front - reconnected their water supply, which had been cut off
for the previous four months. As they were returning to their houses, a
crowd of PRI supporters, allegedly armed with guns and machetes, started
throwing stones at them. The PRI supporters fired at people running away
and beat those who did not escape. They also threatened to burn them alive.

Apparently, several members of the Policia Seguridad Publica (Public
Security Police) were present but did not intervene to stop the attacks and
threats. However they apparently arbitrarily detained 20 FOCI members. The
police interrogated these people, about whom are the heads of the
organization. Sixteen of the detainees were subsequently released but four
of them, Genaro Gutierrez Aguilar, Ramiro de Leon de Leon, Luis Zunun
Martinez, and Elfego Zunun Martinez, were charged with various crimes and
transferred to a prison, the Centro de Readaptacion Social No.5.

Four people were gravely injured in these attacks, one of whom had to have
a leg amputated. Residents affiliated to the FOCI left in the community
reportedly received an ultimatum from the PRI supporters that their houses
would be burnt down if they did not leave by 30 July 1999.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.  Amnesty International has long been documenting
reported acts of violence by members of the Mexican authorities against
alleged supporters of the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN),
Zapatista National Liberation Army, in the state of Chiapas. Last year saw
a spate of military operations against supposed EZLN members in the
communities of Taniperla, Diez de Abril, Amparo Aguatinta, Nicolas Ruiz,
and El Bosque, all in the state of Chiapas. This culminated in the arrest
of 167 people in Nicolas Ruiz - most of whom have since been released
without charge - in an operation which lasted six hours and involved
hundreds of police and soldiers in June 1998.

In the light of these and similar actions the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights concluded, in a 1998 report, that 'the emergence of new
dissident armed groups of various types [in Mexico] has led not only to a
resumption of measures of control by the security forces but also to the
indiscriminate repression of social organizations and leaders'.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:  Please send letters:

_ expressing concern for the safety of members of El Portal community, in
the municipality of Tierra y Libertad, Chiapas State, and

_ calling on the authorities to take adequate measures to guarantee their

_ calling for a thorough, prompt, and independant investigation into the
armed attacks and death threats against members of the Autonomous
Municipality of Tierra y Libertad, and that those responsible be brought to

_ calling on the authorities to bring recognizable criminal charges against
Genaro Gutierrez Aguilar, Ramiro de Leon de Leon, Luis Zunun Martinez, and
Elfego Zunun Martinez, or to promptly release them;

_ urging the authorities assure that the detainees have access to lawyers,
doctors and their families.


Governor of the State of Chiapas:
Lic. Roberto Albores Guillen
Gobernador del Estado de Chiapas
Palacio de Gobierno, Piso 1, Col. Centro, 29000
Tuxla Gutierrez
Estado de Chiapas, MEXICO

Dear Governor:

Attorney General of Chiapas:
Lic. Jorge Hernandez Aguilar
Procurador General de Chiapas
Procuraduria General de Chiapas
Tuxtla Gutierrez
Estado de Chiapas, MEXICO

Dear State Attorney General:


'Fray Bartolome de las Casas' Human Rights
Francisco Leon 5, Barrio de Santa Lucia
San Cristobal de las Casas
Chiapas, 29250, Mexico

Ambassador Jesus F. Reyes Heroles G.G.
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20006

Childrens' Rights in BURUNDI

Here's a quick action on Burundi.  Think of it as a warm-up for our book
discussion on Central Africa!

Térence Sinunguruza
 Minister of Justice
 c/o Embassy of the Republic of Burundi
 2233 Wisconsin Avenue N.W., Suite 212
 Washington, D.C. 20007

Dear Minister:

It has come to my attention that serious violations of basic human rights
and fair trial standards have been committed with regard to minors in
Burundi. Article 17 of the U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles
Deprived of their Liberty states that when juveniles are detained,
"juvenile courts . . . shall give the highest priority to the most
expeditious processing of such cases to ensure the shortest possible
duration of detention." Article 29 states that in all detention facilities,
juveniles should be separated from adults.

I have learned that at least 25 minors are being held in Rumonge Prison in
violation of these basic guarantees. These children are said to be held
together with adults, in spite of the fact that there reportedly is room to
hold them separately. In many cases it appears that the children were
arrested after being forced by members of the armed opposition to carry
weapons. None of the children has been granted a trial.

Antoine Hatungimana was twelve years old at the time of his arrest, even
though Burundian law states that children under the age of thirteen should
not be detained. The independent human rights organization Amnesty
International has declared that the statement drawn up after Antoine
Hatungimana's arrest was not properly validated and is therefore illegal.
This statement appears to be the only evidence against him. Yet, Antoine
Hatungimana has spent a year in detention, and he continues to be held
without charge.

I am confident that you have until now been unaware of these injustices.
Because the detention of Antoine Hatungimana is clearly illegal, I urge
your government to order his immediate and unconditional release. I further
urge your government to thoroughly investigate the cases of all minors
currently held in Rumonge Prison and take steps to ensure that minors are
not held with adults in prison.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. I look forward to
hearing from you with regard to improvements in this situation.


    Amnesty International Group 22 Caltech / Pasadena presents:

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Borders Books & Music
475 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA, Pasadena


 King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, & Heroism in Colonial Africa

by Adam Hochschild

Hochschild's superb, engrossing chronicle focuses on one of the great,
horrifying and nearly forgotten crimes of the century: greedy Belgian King
Leopold II's rape of the Congo, the vast colony he seized as his private
fiefdom in 1885. Until 1909, he used his mercenary army to force slaves
into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic
punishments, including dismemberment, and committ mass murder. The hero of
Hochschild's highly personal, even gossipy narrative is Liverpool shipping
agent Edmund Morel, who, having stumbled on evidence of Leopold's
atrocities, became an investigative journalist and launched an
international Congo reform movement with support from Mark Twain, Booker T.
Washington and Arthur Conan Doyle. Other pivotal figures include Joseph
Conrad, whose disgust with Leopold's "civilizing mission" led to Heart of
Darkness; and black American journalist George Washington Williams, who
wrote the first systematic indictment of Leopold's colonial regime in 1890.
Hochschild (The Unquiet Ghost) documents the machinations of Leopold, who
won over President Chester A. Arthur and bribed a U.S. senator to derail
Congo protest resolutions. He also draws provocative parallels between
Leopold's predatory one-man rule and the strongarm tactics of Mobuto Sese
Seko, who ruled the successor state of Zaire. But most of all it is a story
of the bestiality of one challenged by the heroism of many in an
increasingly democratic world.  - Publishers Weekly


We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families:
Stories from Rwanda

by Philip Gourevitch

In April 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu
majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months
800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since
Hitler's war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch's haunting work is an
anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide's
background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its

"[It is the] sobering voice of witness that Gourevitch has vividly captured
in his work." --Wole Soyinka, The New York Times Book Review

"The most important book I have read in many years...Gourevitch's book
poses the preeminent question of our time: What--if anything--does it mean
to be a human being at the end of the 20th century?...He examines [this
question] with humility, anger, grief and a remarkable level of both
political and moral intelligence." --Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times

A New York Times Editor's Choice
The National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction
The Los Angeles Times Book Prize
The George K. Polk Award for Foreign Reporting
Overseas Press Club Cornelius Ryan Best Book Award
The PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Non-Fiction

Read us on line:
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 / mtermaat@hsc.usc

Amnesty International
works impartially to free-individuals jailed solely for their beliefs,
ethnic origin, language, gender 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.