Thursday, May 27, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between
Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor. Highlights: Tiananmen planning, USA
Tuesday, June 8, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum basement.
Corner of California & Hill.
This June 4 marks the 10th anniversary of Tiananmen. On June 4,
hundreds of unarmed civilians were massacred in Beijing, when heavily armed
troops, armored cars and tanks stormed into Tiananmen Square to force out
pro-democracy demonstrators, indiscriminately firing at (or even crushing)
onlookers and protesters in their path. The shock and horror of the first
reports, at first confusing but soon all too clear, will never leave me.
This anniversary is a natural point to take stock of the ten years since
Tiananmen (I'll be ultra-brief, of course.) According to most reports,
the last 10 years have represented a period of relative economic prosperity
for many in China. There have also been intermittent hopeful gestures of
respect for universal human rights. Several key dissident voices,
including Wei Jingsheng (a guiding light of the democracy movement) and
Wang Dan (a student leader at Tiananmen), have been released. But there
remain thousands of people serving long-term prison sentences for political
reasons or for simply exercising their conscience, including several
hundred from Tiananmen. Most of these prisoners are in jail for
"counter-revolutionary" activity, a category which has meanwhile been
removed from the books! China has resisted international pleas to
re-evaluate these cases (or grant them amnesty), leaving the prisoners in a
sort of legal twilight zone.
For a few years leading up to last fall, there seemed to be real signs
political liberalization and some opening of discourse. Last year, China
signed the cornerstone International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, though without clear plans to ratify it. There were also
well-publicized visits by Clinton and Mary Robinson, the UN High
Commissioner on Human Rights. Unfortunately, late last year the pendulum
dramatically reversed; many people have been jailed since then in a new
crackdown on political dissent and criticism.
In Tibet, home of our group's prisoner of conscience Ngawan Pekar, the
human rights situation remains grim, with a persistent pattern of arbitrary
detention, ill-treatment and harrassment. Prison conditions are poor, with
numerous reports of torture and brutality, giving us all the more reason to
hope that our intensive Month of Action for Ngawang Pekar (in April) will
make a difference.
As with Kosovo and Yugoslavia, Amnesty International does not take a
position on the appropriate status of Tibet within (or without) China.
AI's concerns are for the overall respect for human rights, including in
particular the detention of prisoners of conscience such as Ngawang Pekar.
Our group will plan on some sort of commemoration of the Tiananmen
anniversary, to be decided in our monthly meeting on Thursday, May 27.
Please join us there! Meanwhile, welcome to new members Lisa Wong and Don
Group Coordinator email@example.com
DOO-DAH T-SHIRTS NOW ON SALE
The re-designed Doo-Dah T-shirts are now on sale! The back of
features a cute critter looking over the "Animals for the Ethical Treatment
of People" sign, with a "Wag your tail for human rights!" tag line. On the
front "Amnesty International" encircles the AI candle. Available in two
colors, navy and peacock (blue-green), desgin in white. Sizes range from
Adult S, M, L, XL, and Youth S, M. Price is a thrifty $12 per shirt. Come
to the monthly meeting to get your shirt or contact Martha Ter Maat at
626-281-4039 / firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Government Action Network
Women's Rights for the New Millenium
CEDAW is an international treaty that defines discrimination and requires
governments who ratify it to take action to stop discrimination and
violence against women. It has been used to change government laws, help
draft constitutional provisions and mobilize grassroots coalitions to help
women. But, the US will enter the new millennium as the only Western
nation not a party to this important treaty UNLESS your Senators demand
that the Senate leadership make ratifying CEDAW a priority for the 106th
1) The Senate approved a treaty on race discrimination swiftly,
bipartisan basis. That treaty has been in effect for over four years. Why
hasn't the Senate acted on CEDAW ?
2) The United States must enter the new millennium demonstrating
world that it supports worldwide efforts to stop discrimination and
violence against women.
Please write or call YOUR Senators to ask them 1) to support ratification
of CEDAW and 2) to contact Majority Leader Trent Lott (Republicans) and
Minority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrats) to request that they make a Senate
vote on CEDAW a priority of the 106th Congress.
The Honorable Barbara Boxer / Dianne Feinstein
Washington, DC 20515
Women's rights for the new millennium! A majority of the US Senate
supports ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). But, the US will enter the new
millennium as the only Western nation not a party to this important treaty
UNLESS your Senators demand that the Senate leadership make ratifying CEDAW
a priority for the 106th Congress.
CEDAW Helps Women. CEDAW is an international treaty that defines
discrimination and requires governments who ratify it to take action to
stop discrimination and violence against women. It has been used to change
government laws, help draft constitutional provisions and mobilize
grassroots coalitions to help women. It influenced the constitutions of
Brazil, Colombia and Uganda,. The Supreme Court of India used CEDAW to
interpret its constitution to require protection from sexual harassment in
Much More Needs to be Done: Although CEDAW is helping women in many
of the world, the situation of women in many countries remains bleak. In
Afghanistan, the Taliban has imposed what one UN official calls "gender
apartheid." In many areas, government authorities fail to take adequate
action against such practices as female genital mutilation, dowry deaths,
honor killings and other forms of violence against women.
Why the United States should ratify CEDAW: If the US ratified
officials would be in a much stronger position to insist that other
countries stop discrimination against women. The US could also nominate a
US citizen as a member of the committee that monitors compliance with
CEDAW. US failure to ratify strengthens the hands of those who would
continue to discriminate against women.
Please use the talking points above to write a short (it can even be
three sentences) letter to your Senators
LAST MONTH'S ACTION: Last month members of the network wrote to their
representatives to support the Leahy Law. This historic legislation
prohibits US assistance to foreign security force units credibly alleged to
be committing gross violations of human rights. We are happy to report
that at this point it appears that the Leahy Law will once again be adopted
by the Senate. We will keep you informed of its passage through the Senate
California Prisons - USA CAMPAIGN
Follow-up on reforms at Valley State!
After Amnesty International's report, "Not Part of My Sentence" was
published, Cal Terhune, the Director of the California Department of
Corrections, is reported to have said that AI's report and other studies
have prompted him to create a new organizational structure for the state's
four women's prisons and he acknowledged that we need to do a better job
responding to the needs of women inmates, including a high percentage who
suffer from battered women syndrome. He also said that, because of the
difference between men and women in prisons, he was giving women their own
ombudsman and regional warden. (Los Angeles Times, 5 March 1999).
Amnesty International recently sent a report to the California Department
of Corrections outlining the findings of a November 1998 visit to Valley
State Prison for Women. AI welcomes these remarks by the director, and is
highly interested in receiving further details of Mr. Terhune's initiative
to improve conditions for women in California prisons.
Please write a letter to Mr. Terhune:
_ Say that you are writing with regards to Amnesty International's findings
and recommendations following its visit to Valley State Prison for Women in
_ Acknowledge the openness and cooperation of the Department of Corrections
and Valley State Prison for Women officials in providing AI with access to
the prison, and its stated willingness to consider AI's findings;
_ Welcome the steps that he is reported in the press to be taking to
address the special needs of female prisoners in the state,
_ Ask what specific progress has been taken toward implementing these
measures and if the new structures and plans for responding to the needs of
women prisoners conforms with Amnesty International's recommendations.
Send letters to:
Mr C. A. Terhune
Department of Corrections
1515 S Street
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk
Firstly I want to thank all of you who took part in the month of action
our POC Nwagang Pekar. If all went according to plan we sent 270 petitions
to President Jiang Zemin, Chariman Lechog Zhuren and Ambassador Li
Zhaoxing. Thanks in particular to Larry, Martha, Lucas, Veronica, Robert,
Nora and Emily for your commitment. So far, there has been no news from or
response to our action but time will tell and we are determined to continue
to bring Nwagang Pekar's name and plight to the publics attention. The next
step in our campaign is a letter on behalf of Nwagang from our member of
June 4th marks the tenth anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of
civilians in Beijing and the arrest of tens of thousands of demonstrators
in major cities and provinces throughout China. Amnesty International has
records of 241 people who are still imprisoned or on medical parole serving
long sentences for their activities in connection with the 1989 protests.
Official Chinese sources put this number closer to 2000. In connection
with this anniversary we have an update the Report Card, that was described
last September. Below you can see the challenges and current status in
capitals. As you can see the news is disheartening. We shall use this
report in an article to the press coinciding with the Anniversary. If you
want to take more action please contact me (Saskia 626-449-8121 or
email@example.com) and I will be happy to give you more information.
History: Release more than 250 persons involved in peaceful activities
Tiananmen Square. REGRESSION. SOME POLITCAL PRISONERS HAVE BEEN EXECUTED
SINCE CLINTON'S VISIT.
Criminology: Review the cases of more than 2,000 persons convicted
'counter-revolutionary offenses' that are no longer crimes in China. NO
PROGRESS. STILL NO INDICATION THAT A REVIEW WILL BE UNDERTAKEN.
Religion: Permit free exercise of religion for Buddhists, Muslims and
Christians. NO PROGRESS.
Ethics 101: Prevent and punish instances of coercive family planning
harvesting of executed prisoners organs. NO PROGRESS.
International Law: Ratify and Implement the International Covenants
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights as
pledged. NO PROGRESS. THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT HAS STILL NOT RATIFIED THE
COVENANT AND BLANTANTLY VIOLATED THE SPIRIT OF THE ICCPR.
Criminal Law: Abolish the arbitrary "reeducation through labor" system
under which at least 230,000 people have been imprisoned without trial. NO
Law Enforcement: Take immediate and effective measures to prevent torture;
allow impartial investigations and inspections of prisons. NO PROGRESS.
MARTHA'S WEB TIPS FOR MAY
Amnesty International Handbook
New to AI? Need a refresher on basic AI policy or want to know
how we are
organized? The text version of the 7th edition of Amnesty International
Handbook, a reference manual for AI members, is now available at the
Amnesty-volunteer site. The handbook gives useful explanations of AI's
philosophy, mandate, organization, and techniques.
URGENT ACTION: RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Grigory Pasko: prisoner of conscience / medical concern
Amnesty International is concerned at reports that the health of Grigory
Pasko, a military reporter for Boyevaya Vakhta [Battle Watch], the
newspaper of the Russian Pacific Fleet, has deteriorated in detention and
that he might not be provided with adequate medical care. Amnesty
International does not have detailed information on Grigory Pasko's current
state of health but has received reports indicating that he might suffer
from tuberculosis. Additionally, he suffers from an illness of the spine,
high blood pressure and a skin disease. He has been held in prolonged
solitary confinement in a pre-trial detention centre in Vladivostok in a
Amnesty International considers Grigory Pasko a prisoner of conscience
is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Grigory Pasko was arrested in November 1997 by agents from the Federal
Security Services [FSB ] after returning from an officially sanctioned trip
to Japan where he researched a story about Russian sailors in Japan during
World War II. The Russian authorities accuse him of passing classified
information to Japanese agents, and he will face charges of espionage and
revealing state secrets in a closed military trial which began on 21
In earlier articles and a film broadcast on Japanese TV, Grigory Pasko
examined the threat to the environment caused by accidents in Russia's
decaying nuclear submarine fleet. Officials admitted that none of the
documents confiscated during a search of his apartment in relation with his
research were considered secret, but claim that taken as a whole the work
of Grigory Pasko over the last three years posed a threat to national
security. The FSB have now classified the case a state secret which makes
it difficult for Grigory Pasko's lawyers to mount a proper defence.
Please send telegrams/faxes/ express/airmail letters: Appeals are requested
from health professionals to the addresses below:
_ stating that Amnesty International considers Grigory Pasko a prisoner
conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of
expression, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release
_ expressing concern at reports that Grigory Pasko might suffer from
tuberculosis, and asking for more information on his current state of
health and details of the treatment he is receiving
_ seeking assurances that Grigory Pasko is given access to adequate
care as provided for by internationalhuman rights standards such as the UN
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners [Article 22]
If you receive no reply from the government or other recipients within
months of dispatch of your letter, please send a follow up letter seeking a
Military Procurator of the Pacific Fleet, General-Major Valery Suchkov
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, Primorsky Krai, Vladivostok
Voennaya prokuratura Tihookeanskogo Flota,
Voennomu Prokuroru General-Mayoru SUCHKOVU V.
Salutation: Dear Military Procurator
Procurator General of the Russian Federation, Yuriy Skuratov
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, 103793 g.Moskva K-31, ul. Dimitrovka, 15a
Prokuratura Rossiyskoy Federatsii, Generalnomu prokuroru Skuratovu Yu.
Salutation: Dear Procurator General
KOSOVO: Public Statement
Amnesty International writes to NATO's Secretary General
(11 May 1999) Amnesty International has written to NATO's Secretary
General, Javier Solana, expressing deep concern about the attacks carried
out on 7 and 8 May by aircraft under NATO command in which 18 civilians are
reported to have been killed.
In relation to the 7 May attack -- apparently targeted at Nis' airport
which struck the city-centre market and a nearby civilian hospital,
reportedly killing 15 people -- Amnesty International is concerned that
insufficient consideration may have been given to the proximity of
civilians in NATO's planning of the attack. The organization specifically
would like to know whether the proximity of civilians was considered in
determining what weapons to use in the attack on the airport, and the
reason for attacking the airport at midday -- when many civilians were in
the nearby market place.
In relation to the bombing on 8 May of the Embassy of the People's Republic
of China in Belgrade, which killed three civilians, Amnesty International
has pointed out to Mr Solana that NATO's acknowledgement that this attack
was a mistake does not allay fears -- raised by Amnesty International in
previous correspondence -- about whether NATO is undertaking sufficient
safeguards in selecting and vetting targets for attack.
In the letter to Mr Solana, Amnesty International seeks assurances from
that a prompt inquiry is being initiated into these attacks. The letter
concludes by stressing that specific concerns expressed by Amnesty
International about previous incidents which may have constituted
violations of international humanitarian law by NATO forces have not yet
KOSOVO Q & A:
Amnesty International's Activities in the Current Crisis
(Look for more about AI's concerns in Kosovo in future issues)
What is Amnesty International doing during the current crisis?
Amnesty International researchers have been working intensively in
Macedonia and Albania to gather testimonies from refugees on incidents of
human rights violations in Kosovo. The main purpose of our research is to
gather first hand testimony from the refugees about the patterns of gross
human rights violations which have led to the current refugee crisis. The
mission delegates are also assessing the international community's response
to the refugee crisis at the various points of arrival in the region.
How do you ensure you are dealing with reliable witnesses/testimony?
We do this by carefully assessing and comparing testimonies collected
several different sources: refugees, other NGOs, etc. The information
collected by researchers on the ground is sent to the International
Secretariat in London, where a further team of researchers work to ensure
its accuracy before publication.
What does your research indicate so far?
Kosovar refugees interviewed by Amnesty International researchers have
given harrowing accounts of violent expulsions as the authorities renew
their efforts to drive ethnic Albanians from their homes. Deeply
disturbing incidents have been taking place in villages and towns in
Kosovo, including unlawful killings, beatings, house-burnings of ethnic
Albanians, and the destruction of identity documents at the hands of
Yugoslav security forces. The level and intensity of human rights
violations committed by the Yugoslav security forces remains undiminished.
Is there any evidence that systematic rape is taking place in Kosovo?
There is not yet sufficient information to document a pattern of systematic
rape, although there is evidence that individual women, or small groups of
women, have been raped or otherwise sexually abused by members of Serb
security forces. Amnesty International researchers in the field have
interviewed women who have been raped but the stigma attached to rape
within Kosovo Albanian culture, and the traumatic nature of rape and its
effect upon the victim, renders the information gathering process
ATTACKS AGAINST ETHNIC ALBANIANS IN KOSOVO
Do the attacks against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo constitute a crime
They do. Crimes against humanity are now widely recognized as
any of a
series of acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack
directed against any civilian population. These acts include: murder,
extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of population, torture --
including rape -- and other forms of sexual violence, and enforced
disappearance. There is clear evidence that some or all of these crimes
have taken place in +Kosovo, and that unlawful mass displacements are
taking place as a result of this.
Could this crisis have been prevented?
Regretfully, the human tragedy in Kosovo in recent weeks has come as
surprise to Amnesty International -- we have been alerting the
international community about systematic violations of human rights in the
province for over a decade. It can be argued that the chronic neglect of
warnings and the almost complete absence of redress for the victims in
Kosovo has been one of the chief catalysts for the current conflict.
One of the many lessons to be learned from the current crisis
closer attention should be paid by the international community to warnings
from local and international NGOs. While we cannot affirm categorically
that the crisis could have been avoided, closer attention to events in the
region -- and to warnings by human rights organizations -- could have
helped in the formulation of a preventive approach to problems in the
What does Amnesty International mean by 'preventive approach'?
specific measures would you have wanted to see implemented as a way to
avoid the crisis?
We would have liked the international community, for instance, to have
adopted an active policy of raising awareness among government officials,
members of parliament, etc. in the FRY of some basic standards which should
be part of any law enforcement training and practice.
Some of these basic standards include: equal protection of the law for
everyone, use of force only when strictly necessary, use of lethal force
only when strictly unavoidable to protect one's life or that of others,
humane treatment of all detainees, no extrajudicial executions or
'disappearances', and reporting of all breaches of basic standards to a
EDITOR'S LAST WORD:
Read us on line: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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.