Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News

Volume IX Number 8, August 2001


Group 22  Monthly Meetings will move to a new location this month: 414 S. Holliston in the Caltech Y Lounge.  We’re still on the Caltech campus.  Entering campus from Del Mar to Holliston, you’ll drive by Avery House and the Recycling Center.  Look for the building with the green porch umbrella and the banner that says “Caltech Y.” We’ll post signs so you can find the room.

Please check out the Tibet column this month for a report on last month’s meeting with Tseten Phanucharas.  This month we’ll be planning fall events: Doo Dah Parade, an event on Afghanistan, grad fair tabling, etc.

Questions? Contact Larry Romans at 818-354-5809 or


Thursday, August 23, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting Note new Location!  414 S. Holliston, Caltech Y Lounge. Help us plan future actions on Tibet, the Campaign against Torture and abolition of the death penalty.

Tuesday, September 11, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Athenaeum.  Corner of California & Hill in the basement recreation area.  An informal meeting, a great place for first-timers to ask questions!

Sunday, September 16, 7:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders Books on S. Lake Avenue. This month we discuss Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond by Michael and Ignatieff (see below).


Keep up pressure for Napoleon Beazley

Amid huge national and international publicity, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Napoleon Beazley a stay of execution by a 6-3 vote, less than four hours before he was due to be killed. He had already been moved to a death watch cell in readiness for his execution, scheduled for 6pm local time on 15 August.

Issuing the emergency reprieve in response to a 134-page petition filed by Napoleon Beazley's lawyers, the court noted that the applicant presents 10 allegations challenging the validity of his conviction and resulting sentence'. These claims include that Napoleon Beazley's first post-conviction lawyer, by his own recent admission, failed to adequately investigate and present the case on appeal; that the prosecutors knowingly used false testimony (of Napoleon Beazley's two co-defendants); that one of the jurors was racially biased; and that another juror was biased because she knew the victim. Another of the issues is Napoleon Beazley's age at the time of the murder of John Luttig. He was 17 - international law bans the death penalty against those under 18 at the time of the crime.

The US Supreme Court had earlier denied a stay of execution on a 3- 3 vote. Three of the nine Justices had abstained, because of their various relationships with the son of the murder victim, who is a federal appeals court judge. Despite denying a stay, the Supreme Court has yet to announce whether it will consider the merits of the Beazley case brought before it on appeal.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 13-3 against a reprieve and 10-6 against recommending that the Governor commute the death sentence. This left Governor Rick Perry with the option to grant a 30-day reprieve. He had not said whether he would do so when the Court of Criminal Appeals issued the stay. However, less than an hour earlier, he told reporters that he supported the state's law that allows 17-year-olds to be subject to the death penalty: 'My son's 17. And I am comfortable that my son understands right from wrong. Citizens from the state of Texas have sent a clear message that when you reach 17 years of age you're going to be held responsible for your actions just like you were an adult'. Yet in February this year, a Houston Chronicle poll suggested that only a minority of Texas citizens support the death penalty for juvenile offenders. Moreover, in May, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill which would have raised the age of death penalty eligibility in the state to 18. There was optimism that the bill would pass the Senate also, until the governor's office intervened with a threat to veto it. Governor Perry recently vetoed a bill which had passed both houses of the Texas legislature banning the use of the death penalty against prisoners with mental retardation.

Among those who appealed for clemency to the Governor and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was the original trial judge, Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent. In a letter to the governor, she wrote that 'it is my recommendation that due to his age at the time of the offense... that you consider carefully and grant his request that his sentence be commuted'. Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen, one of Napoleon Beazley's prosecutors, said he was shocked by the judge's letter and that he was 'absolutely committed to respond to this letter in the strongest terms possible to Governor Perry'. He said that his office would 'fight and fight and fight until the verdict is carried out'. Earlier, the District Attorney of Houston County, Napoleon Beazley's home county, had appealed for clemency, saying that, knowing the facts of the crime and background of the defendant, she would never have sought the death penalty in the case.

Among the governmental bodies and international and US non- governmental organizations which appealed for clemency were the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Swiss and Norwegian governments, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Advocates, the American Bar Association, the Youth Law Center, the Children's Defense Fund, the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center, the National Urban League, the Juvenile Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Child Welfare League of America, the Constitution Project, and the National Mental Health Association. For details, please see the website of the American Bar Association's Juvenile Justice website,, where some of the media articles and the clemency letters are posted, including Amnesty International materials.

Napoleon Beazley's parents have asked for their heartfelt thanks to be passed on to all who sent appeals on their son's behalf.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: please send an appeal, IN YOUR OWN WORDS. In all appeals, please express sympathy for the family and friends of John Luttig.

To District Attorney Jack Skeen:

o            noting that the trial judge, the Honorable Judge Cynthia S. Kent, appealed for clemency in this case, as did the Houston County District Attorney, and many prominent organizations, and that many leading US and Texas newspapers editorialized against the execution;

o            expressing concern at the District Attorney's reported continuing opposition to clemency, and urging him to reconsider this position in the light of international law and national and international standards of decency reflected in the attention given to this case at home and abroad.


Jack Skeen, Jr.

Smith County District Attorney

100 N. Broadway

Tyler, Texas 75702


To the Governor:

The Honorable Rick Perry

Governor of Texas

State Capitol

PO Box 12428

Austin, TX 78711



A new report by Amnesty International, Racism and the Administration of Justice, asserts that the US federal and state justice systems are riddled with racial discrimination. The report reviews the role of racism in legal and penal systems worldwide. The report is available for download at  Also available: Using the Human Rights System to Combat Racial Discrimination - A Handbook. 



Uganda: Criminalizing Homosexuality
-A License to Torture


...Look for homosexuals, lock them up and charge them..."--President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

In September 1999, in the wake of publicity in the Ugandan media about an alleged "gay marriage" in Kampala, which subsequently proved to be false after a police investigation, President Yoweri Museveni announced to the press that he had ordered the Criminal Investigations Department "to look for homosexuals, lock them up and charge them".

The effect of President Museveni's statement on the lives of five Ugandan activists, who formed a gay and lesbian human rights group in early 1999, was devastating. The five were gay and lesbian human rights defenders. Following the President's statement, they met in a private home to discuss strategy. The military found out about the meeting and eight armed men burst into the room and arrested them. "No one could speak. We were all shocked... They tied black cloths on our heads and led us to the cars", Christine , one of the five human rights defenders, recalled.

They were all taken to different detention centres, including military barracks. Christine was left alone in aroom with three male detainees. "Coming midnight they said "we want to show you something". They took my clothes off and raped me. I remember being raped by two of them, then I passed out". Norah was also subjected to sexual violence because of her sexual orientation.

"I was kept in a small filthy room with bats in the ceiling. I was by myself in that room for about five hours, then three men came in and started interrogating me. These men were so cruel and intimidating, it was unbearable... I was also beaten, abused both sexually and physically. My clothes were ripped off. Nasty remarks were made that I should just be punished for denying men what is rightfully theirs, and that who do I think I am to do what the President feels to be wrong. They even suggested that they should show me what I am missing by taking turns on me." Norah recalled.

The others were also subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including severe beatings, death threats and humiliation.

The five activists were released some two weeks later. Fearing for their safety if they returned to their homes, they fled to a neighbouring country. All five required medical treatment following their ordeal. The psychological scars will take even longer to heal. Some have moved on to other countries as they have not been able to return in safety to Uganda.

The Constitution of Uganda upholds the equality of all persons under article 21 (2). However, this is directly contravened in the Penal Code where under articles 140 (a) and 140 (c) homosexuality is a crime. "Any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" and "Any person who permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature" is liable to life imprisonment. Article 141 further stipulates that anyone attempting to commit a homosexual act is liable to seven years' imprisonment.

Amnesty International is concerned that such legal provisions allow for the imprisonment of individuals as prisoners of conscience solely for their consensual, private homosexual relations and facilitate the torture and ill-treatment of LGBT people. Please appeal calling for the immediate reform of the Penal Code so as to abolish Articles 140 and 141, since they contravene article 21 (2) of the Uganda Constitution and are in blatant violation of the fundamental rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and association, the right to privacy and the right to equality before the law.

Please send appeals in September 2001 so that they are given maximum attention and are kept separate from AI's concerns on the lead up to and outcome of the parliamentary elections that are due to be held in July 2001.

Background.  Many of the reports AI has received of torture and ill-treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in detention have come from countries where same-sex relations are outlawed. At least 70 states have such laws on their statute books. In many other countries where same sex relations are not a criminal offence per se, other provisions are used to detain people solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including discriminatory age of consent laws which effectively criminalize behaviour which is perfectly legal for heterosexuals.

AI's research indicates that such laws can act as a licence to torture and ill-treat LGBT people in a number of ways. They may encourage law enforcement officials to disregard the humanity of the detainee whose very identity is criminalized. Where accusations of homosexuality are used as a pretext to detain political opponents, torture and ill-treatment are used to extract confessions in order to make fabricated charges stick. In some countries, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments such as flogging are imposed for the "crime" of homosexuality. In many countries, laws criminalizing homosexuality have been shown to create a climate conducive to violence against LGBT people at the hands of private individuals or groups.

The UN Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights have held that laws criminalizing same-sex relations are in breach of international human rights standards, as they violate the right to privacy and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex or other status.

          Appeals to:


Hon. Joshua Mayanja Nkang

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

PO Box 7183

Kampala Uganda


Lt General Yoweri Museveni

Office of the President

Parliament Buildings

PO Box 7168

Kampala Uganda 


Mr Bart Katureebe

Attorney General

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

P O Box 7183

Kampala Uganda



Campaign Against Torture                                      &nb sp;     3

Government Action Network                                       7

Urgent Actions:                                      &nb sp;                                 8

Total:                                                                                     &nb sp;         18


Want to add your letters to the total?  Get in touch with

Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

Group 22 is committed to work on behalf of our adopted prisoner of conscience Ngawang Pekar, a Tibetan monk imprisoned since 1989 for participating in a peaceful demonstration in Lhasa.

Our group's July meeting featured a very special guest speaker, Tseten Phanucharas, a Tibetan activist and past president of Los Angeles Friends of Tibet (for information about this organization, see their website at She told us about the history of her native land and its people's current plight. She emphasized that our letters really do help: in general they serve to make the Chinese authorities aware of the world's concern for the human rights of the Tibetan people, and in particular they can prevent an individual prisoner from being beaten and mistreated.

Many thanks are due to group member Lucas for graciously opening his home for this event, finding chairs for everyone, and providing a delicious feast of Indian dishes.  Tseten said that Tibet seems to have an extraordinary hold on the imaginations and hearts of people everywhere, and evidence of this interest was obvious to all of us, since attendance at this meeting was greater than we have seen in years. (Only a few people confessed to having come for the food!) A special welcome to the first-time visitors -- we hope to see you again at upcoming events, and we invite you to join us in our efforts for Ngawang Pekar. You can start by writing a letter right now!

Conditions in Tibet are currently rather bleak, as several group members learned at a recent dinner sponsored by the Friends of Tibet at the new Tibet Nepal House restaurant (36 E.Holly St, Pasadena). Two guests had just returned from a visit to Tibet, and they reported that the Chinese government has resettled large numbers of ethnic Chinese in Tibet, so that Lhasa now resembles a typical city in China and Tibetan culture is in danger of being overwhelmed. On a more positive note, guest of honor Kuno Narkyid, who is the official biographer of the Dalai Lama, told us that the Dalai Lama bears no antagonism toward the Chinese and continues to seek peaceful negotiations with China for the welfare of the Tibetan people.

This month we suggest that you write to the Governor of Drapchi Prison in Lhasa and express your concern about the treatment of Ngawang Pekar. You may copy this letter or use it as a guide in writing your own.

Dear Governor:

As a supporter of human rights, I am writing to you about a prisoner last known to be held in Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1. The prisoner's name is NGAWANG PEKAR (layname: Paljor).

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.

I am especially concerned about reports that he has been beaten and denied access to medical care since his arrest.

I respectfully urge you to review Ngawang Pekar's case and make sure that he receives necessary medical care.  I also request that a report on his health and status be made available to international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I would greatly appreciate any current information about Ngawang Pekar that you may be able to provide.


Address your letter to:


Xizang Zizhiqu Di Yi Jianyu

Lasashi 850003

Xizang Zizhiqu

People's Republic of China

Postage for a letter is 80 cents.  Please notify Group 22 if you should happen to receive a response to your letter.


Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Borders Books & Music
475 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena

Sunday, September 16, 7:30 PM


Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond

by Michael Ignatieff


Virtual War describes the latest phase in modern combat: war fought by remote control. Kosovo was such a virtual war, a war in which US and

NATO forces did the fighting but only Kosovars and Serbs did the dying.  As unrest continues in the Balkans, East Timor, and other places around the world, Ignatieff raises the troubling possibility that virtual wars, so much easier to fight, could become the way superpowers impose their will in the century ahead.

A talented and versatile writer, Ignatieff takes up the central moral issues raised by the intervention… The shadows across his path give his book poignancy and engagement. -–Fouad Ajami, New York Review of Books

Ignatieff has produced a work that is both intellectually unflinching and genuinely open-minded.  Ostensibly a consideration of the moral and political implications of the West’s military intervention in Kosovo, the book is in fact the best exploration of both the operational and moral dilemmas of humanitarian was that has yet been written…A considerable achievement. -–David Rieff, Los Angeles Times Book Review


Montiel and Cabrera Lose Appeal

Washington, DC:  Amnesty International and Sierra Club called the decision of a Mexican judge to deny the appeal of Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera Garcia, two imprisoned environmentalists, a severe blow to human rights and the protection of the environment in Mexico.  It is also a serious set back for the Fox administration, which had repeatedly expressed support for the release of both men.  Both groups call on President Vicente Fox to release the two men immediately and unconditionally.

"The arrest, torture and conviction of these Prisoners of Conscience were clearly linked to their peaceful efforts to protect the forests in Guerrero State," said Diego Zavala from Amnesty International USA.  "The request by the Attorney General's office for the continued incarceration of these men is a contradiction to President Fox's expressed commitment to human rights. With this latest decision by the Judge, the Mexican justice system remains a bastion of impunity. While Rodolfo and Teodoro, both victims of torture, remain in prison, the accused torturers, members of the Mexican armed forces, remain free and unencumbered by the justice system."

"This ruling against Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera García will have an extreme chilling effect on other environmental activists in Mexico" said Alejandro Queral, of the Sierra Club.  "President Fox could have quickly moved beyond rhetoric by ensuring that the Attorney General's office acknowledge the use of torture against Montiel and Cabrera.  The Fox administration is on the verge of loosing credibility worldwide about his commitment to respecting human rights and protecting the environment."

On May 2, 1999, Mr. Montiel and Mr. Cabrera were arrested by members of the 40th Infantry Batallion of the Mexican Army. During the raid, the soldiers shot and killed Salomé Sanchez Ortiz, a local farmer.  Mr. Montiel and Mr. Cabrera were subsequently beaten, tortured and forced to confess to charges of planting marijuana and possession of illegal weapons.  On August 28, 2000, Mr. Montiel and Mr. Cabrera were convicted and sentenced to six-year, eight months and ten-year jail terms respectively.  Last October, a judge denied an appeal to the two men.  The ruling this week was on their latest legal recourse, an "amparo," which was based on human and civil rights concerns.

Amnesty International and Sierra Club believe that the arrest and conviction of the two environmentalists stem solely from their efforts to stop the rampant logging in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico. Particularly disappointing is the lack of support from the Fox Administration, which had earlier voiced concern for Mr. Montiel and Mr. Cabrera. In a March 13 meeting with Amnesty International Secretary General Pierre Sané, President Fox stated "we want them out," referring to the two environmentalists. Despite encouraging words from President Fox and environmental minister Victor Lichtinger, the Attorney General recommended an opinion of guilt to the Judge and today the Judge upheld the sentence against Rodolfo and Teodoro.


Editor's Last Word:

Read us on line:

Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 /




Text Box: Holliston









Check “Up-coming Events” for details.  Meeting dates may vary due to holidays!











From the 210 exit on Lake Avenue, head south, turn left on Del Mar

From the 110 continue on Arroyo Parkway north, turn right on California

Street parking is generally available.