Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News

Volume IX Number 3, March 2001




Thursday, March 22, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting 1052 E. Del Mar. Avenue, Top Floor. 

Monday, March 26, Mini conference at Calstate Fullerton. See below.


Monday, March 26, 8:30-10:00 PM, Program at 9:00 PM.  Execution Vigil.  All Saints Church 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena.  All are welcome.


Tuesday, April 10, 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, April 15, 7:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders Books on S. Lake Avenue. This month we discuss House of Splendid Isolation by Edna O’Brien.


 Network with area activists on March 24!


Saturday 24 March 2001

Hosted by Los Angeles and San Diego Area AI Groups

California State University, Fullerton, CA


AI activists will gather for one day to discuss effective methods in Human Rights work currently used in Southern and Baja California areas. We will share successes and develop strategies for working together. Let's educate ourselves, our fellow activists, and our communities about Human Rights. Join us and add your voice!


How to Get to Cal State Fullerton: Cal State Fullerton is located west of the Orange (57) Freeway in Fullerton. The university is bordered by Nutwood Avenue to the south, State College Boulevard to the west, Yorba Linda Boulevard to the north, and the 57 Freeway to the east.


Coming from either the south or the north on the 57 Freeway, exit at Nutwood Avenue. Go west on Nutwood past the main campus entrance at Commonwealth Avenue and then past Titan Drive to the entrance to Parking Lot C.


The registration desk is outside McCarthy Hall Room 121, which is in the northwest corner of the building. This event is free!


Contact the Western Regional Office, (310) 815-0450

or for more info or visit


Tentative Program:


9:30am - 10:30am   Opening Plenary

Workshop (1st Set) 10:40am - 12:00 pm

Intro to Amnesty International, Mandate Review Workshop, Border Issues/Operation Gatekeeper, Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty

12:00 - 1:30pm Lunch/Caucuses

Workshop (2nd Set)1:30pm - 2:50pm

International Treaties, Conflict Resolution, Amnesty Campaigns

Workshop (3rd Set)3:00pm - 4:20pm

Use of the Internet, Group Health - How to retain members, Direct Action Workshop, Legislative Workshop

Workshop (4th Set)4:30pm - 5:50pm

Leadership Skills for High School Students, International Criminal Court, Women's Issues, Building Coalitions - Grassroots/Locally

6:00pm - 6:30pm Closing Plenary



Human Rights Book Discussion Group


Borders Books & Music

475 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena


Sunday, April 15, 7:30 PM


House of Splendid Isolation

by Edna O’Brien


In this novel, Edna O’Brien’s signature theme of womanly love is worked out once more in her signature style--beautiful writing that cascades and pirouettes like the rollicking, invigorating rush of

 rush of a mountain stream a strong role here, in the form of an IRA terrorist loose in the Irish Republic, searched for by the forces of law and scurrying under and around like an evasive rat. With a dual sympathy that gives this narrative its heart, O'Brien follows him as he locates a refuge in the house of an old woman whom he takes hostage; O'Brien backtracks and tells us the woman's story, and it's one of aloneness and heartbreak. Through their brief and tragic intersection, the reader sees both sides of the historical conflict.  A splendid novel by a superb writer. am. Politics plays




Prisoner of Conscience (Ngawang Pekar):    2

Death Penalty:                                                2

Campaign Against Torture                             2

Just Earth                                                        43

Urgent Actions:                                               16

Total:                                                              65


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


Women Asylum Seekers' Treatment Worsens As US Government Fails to Protect Them


Women asylum-seekers are facing ill-treatment, at times serious ill-treatment, in a Miami, Florida jail where they were  transferred following allegations of sexual abuse at a US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detention center in  Florida. Amnesty International believes that the move has effectively resulted in the women being "punished" through more  restrictive detention for the US Government's failure to protect them.


Summary.  In December 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) moved 90 female detainees (as many as 60 are  asylum-seekers) from Krome Service Processing Center to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center (TGK). The move  followed the publication of a report by the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children detailing widespread  sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse by guards of the female detainees at Krome. Women had consistently described  an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the Krome facility. Women who cooperated in sexual activities were made false  promises of release from detention. Threats of deportation, transfers to county jails, or even death were levelled at women who  dared to resist or complain of such abuses. Reports of sexual misconduct range from rape to molestation to trading sex for  favors.


According to reports received by Amnesty International, the treatment of female detainees at TGK is in many respects far  more severe than at Krome. Women have complained of being treated as criminal detainees rather than asylum-seekers.


According to the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which has been monitoring the move, the women's medication and  other personal belongings were reportedly confiscated upon being transferred to TGK. The women, some of whom are  pregnant, complain of insufficient food, inadequate medical care and very cold cells. A detainee alleged that they are told  repeatedly that they are inmates and will be treated as such. The women are frequently locked up in isolation, sometimes  arbitrarily; they have poor recreational facilities; are awakened frequently throughout the night for prison counts or for blood tests; are not allowed pens; and are subject to arbitrary rules. According to one detainee, the women were stripped-searched on  arrival and ordered to squat three times naked.


Although the women are now supervised by female guards at TGK complaints of sexual harassment and abuse continue to be  received. Just two days after their arrival, a male trustee -- a prisoner who is part of a work crew - allegedly "exposed himself"  to a group of women. That same day another male trustee allegedly kissed and fondled a female detainee while a male guard  stood by. On the following day another male trustee exposed himself to a woman, who had reported sexual abuse by an  officer who remains at Krome. The women are now placed in "lockdown" whenever a man is in the cell unit, thus effectively  "punishing" the women further.


Legal service providers report significant barriers to attorney access at TGK, and detainees are only allowed one personal visit  per month, in comparison to the two visits a week they were allowed at Krome. Moreover, they are only allowed to make  collect calls, which calls many phones do not accept.


Amnesty International is also concerned that some women who have already passed their "credible fear" asylum interviews  (and are thus eligible for release) still remain in detention. Moreover, those who are eligible for release are reportedly told that  they will be denied release if they complain about conditions. Some detainees are reportedly threatened with "file review"  denials, transfer or lockdown for expressing concern about their treatment. They are also handcuffed when taken to Krome  for asylum interviews or immigration court hearings and stripped searched numerous times.


Please write to the INS District Director and the INS Commissioner raising all or some of the following points.


-      Explain that you are writing as an AI member to express concern about the INS' decision in December 2000 to move all the female detainees at Krome Processing Center to the Turner Guildford Knight Correctional Centre (TGK), a local jail in Miami.

-      Point out that the transfer has not been a solution to the problem of sexual abuse but has resulted in an entirely new set of problems. According to reports received by AI, the treatment of detainees at TGK is, in many respects, far more severe than at Krome and the women should not be made to suffer more for the authorities' failure to protect them.

-      State that the women have complained of being treated as criminal detainees rather than asylum-seekers. Mention some of the abuses reported by the female detainees at TGK. Urge that the INS takes immediate action to ensure that the women detainees are not locked up in isolation or otherwise treated punitively while in detention and that they receive humane treatment

-      Also raise concern about continuing sexual harassment and abuse and the fact that the women are "locked down" whenever a man is present.

-      Urge that INS takes steps to ensure that male guards and inmate trustees do not have unsupervised access to female facilities which create opportunities for abuse. Preventive measures should be in place so that women are not afraid to report abuses through fear of reprisals and to protect women from sexual abuse.

-      Mention that international standards state that the detention of asylum-seekers should normally be avoided. Women who have passed their "credible fear" asylum interview and are eligible for release, however, have still still remained in detention at Krome or TGK.

-      Urge that the INS consider alternatives to detention. Non-custodial measures, such as half-way houses or monitored release with periodic reporting requirements, should always be considered before resorting to detention.

-      Call on the INS to ensure that detainees are not held in local jails. In those limited circumstances where detention of asylum-seekers is justified, they should be detained in a facility appropriate to their status as asylum-seekers, in line with international standards.

-      Ask to be informed of the outcome of the internal investigation carried out by the TGK Office of Public Affairs into the allegations reported.


Appeals to:           Ms Mary Ann Wyrsch

                                 Acting Commissioner

                                  Immigration and Naturalization Service

                                 Department of Justice

                                 425 I Street NW

                                 Washington, DC 20536, USA


                                 Robert A. Wallis

                                 INS District Director

                                 US INS Miami District Office

                                 7880 Biscayne Boulevard

                                 Miami, FL 33138, USA


Copies of your letters should go to the Attorney General


The Honourable John Ashcroft

Attorney General

Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Room 440

Washington DC 20530-0001, USA



Urgent Appeal for Rodolfo and Teodoro!


Jailed Mexican environmental defenders Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera are waiting to hear what the Attorney General's decision is on the amparo filed by their lawyers. An amparo is a special appeal that is used to challenge an act of an authority that violated an individual's constitutional guarantees. A decision is expected in the coming week. This is a critical moment to step up pressure on President Fox. Attached below is a draft letter that you can send to him. Please copy the Attorney General on the letters. His address is also below.


Lic. Vicente Fox Quesada

President of Mexico

Palacio Nacional

Patio de Honor, Primer Piso

Colonia Centro

México DF CP 06067


Dear President Fox:


I am writing to express my concerns about Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera García, environmental activists currently in prison in Iguala, Guerrero. In August a federal judge convicted them on drug and weapons possession charges, and in October an appeals magistrate upheld the conviction.


Amnesty International believes the charges against them are not supported by the evidence, and that Montiel and Cabrera have committed no crime. They are Prisoners of Conscience who have been targeted because of their efforts to defend Guerrero forests from destructive logging that threatens the livelihood of their communities. They should be immediately and unconditionally released.


On May 2, 1999, Montiel and Cabrera were illegally arrested by members of the Mexican Army's 40th Infantry Battalion in Pizotla, Guerrero. They were held in military custody for five days, during which time they were

tortured and forced to sign blank pieces of paper later submitted at their trials as confessions to drug and weapons crimes.


Montiel and Cabrera are founders and members of the Organization of Campesino Environmentalists of the Petatlán and Coyuca de Catalán Mountains, which was formed in 1998 in response to the widespread and illegal logging in that region. Their efforts have been recognized in Mexico and internationally. Montiel has received the Goldman Environmental Prize and the Sierra Club's Chico Mendes Prize for his struggle to protect the environment.


In July 2000, Mexico's own National Human Rights Commission concluded that Montiel and Cabrera had been illegally detained and tortured by soldiers, and were not in possession of weapons or drugs at the time of their arrest.


Recently, you issued orders that all necessary measures be taken in order to ensure that no further human rights violations are committed against Montiel and Cabrera. I urge you to make good on these promises by securing the immediate and unconditional release of these men if the Attorney General should rule unfavorably on the amparo.


Thank you for your attention to my concerns.




Send copies of letters to:

Attorney General of the Republic

General Rafael Macedo de la Concha

Procurador General de la Republica

Procuraduría General de la República

Paseo de la Reforma 65, esq.Violeta

Col. Guerrero

México D.F., C.P. 06300


Salutation: Senor Procurador General / Dear Attorney General



Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk


Group 22 maintains its commitment to work on behalf of our adopted POC (prisoner of conscience) Ngawang Pekar. He is a Tibetan monk who has been imprisoned since 1989, when he was arrested for participating in a peaceful demonstration in Lhasa.


We are planning some new actions this year. We have received approval to write directly to Ngawang Pekar, and we will do this as soon as we receive confirmation of the address to use. It is likely that Pekar will never actually receive our letters, but he may learn that mail was sent to him from abroad and maybe that knowledge will bring a ray of hope into grim Drapchi Prison.. We also hope to undertake some cooperative email actions with other AI groups who have Tibetan POC's. Currently there are 12 US groups working on 8 Tibetan POC's.


The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) issued a sad news release announcing the death of a 28-year-old Tibetan nun, Ngawang Lochoe, in Drapchi Prison on Feb. 5, just a year before the completion of her 10-year sentence. She was one of the 14 imprisoned nuns who recorded songs on a smuggled tape recorder in 1993 and consequently had their sentences increased. Her relatives were prevented from seeing her in the weeks before her death, and they were not informed of the cause of death. The executive director of TCHRD stated that her sudden death was highly questionable and that 72 Tibetan political prisoners have died directly as a result of torture.


China recently appointed a new ambassador to the US, Yang Jiechi. As this month's action, we ask that you write or email him and make him aware of Ngawang Pekar's case. You may copy the following letter or use it as a guide.


Your Excellency:


I am writing to express my 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 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. I therefore 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.


Thank you for your attention to this important matter.





Please mail to:


Yang Jiechi, Ambassador

Embassy of the People's Republic of China

2300 Connecticut Ave NW

Washington, DC 20008


Or send email to As always, please notify Group 22 if you should receive a reply. Remember: Airmail postage is now 80 cents!!


Torture and ill-treatment in the name of honor
Take action for Kajal Kidhr in Kurdistan


In July 1996, 24-year-old Kajal Khidr was detained near the town of Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan by six members of her husband's family. They accused her of adultery and, although she was pregnant, tortured and mutilated her. They cut off part of her nose, and told her that she would be killed after the birth of her child. After receiving treatment at a hospital in Rania, she managed to escape and received three further months of treatment at a hospital in the city of Sulaimaniya, where she was kept under police protection. She then spent a year in hiding before finding protection in a women's refuge in Sulaimaniya. With the help of local human rights activists Kajal Khidr escaped to Syria in February 1999 and was recognized as a refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In July 2000 she was resettled in a third country where she lives with her daughter, now four years old.


Two of the men who had tortured Kajal Khidr were arrested by the authorities in the area, which is controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), but were released within 24 hours because it was argued that they had acted to safeguard the honor of the family. No charges were ever brought against them.


Every year, in countries around the world, girls and women are brutally assaulted or killed - usually by members of their own family - in the name of "honor". They are accused of bringing shame on their families and community by their behaviour. This can range from simply having a conversation with a male neighbour to having sexual relations outside marriage. The mere perception that a woman has contravened the code of sexual behaviour damages honor.  Women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves and men are encouraged to remove the "stain" on their honor by attacking the woman.


Iraqi law allows male relatives to kill a female relative in the name of honor without any consequent punishment.


Women's organizations and human rights activists in Iraqi Kurdistan have reported that many thousands of women in the areas controlled by the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have been tortured or killed by relatives and others who claim they are acting to protect the honor of the family. Women who have been raped, as well as those accused of adultery - or any sort of contact with a man who is not a family member - have been among the victims, as have women who have refused to marry the man chosen by their family. Neither the KDP nor the PUK have denied that women have been the victims of so-called "honor crimes". In April 2000 the PUK announced that all laws allowing honor crimes would be abolished in the area under its control. The Independent Women's Organization in Kurdistan says that up to 4,000 women have been the victims of "honor killings" since 1991, although other groups have put the figure at 800. In October 1991, the Iraqi government pulled out of parts of the provinces of Dohuk, Sulaimaniya and Arbil in northern Iraq. This area, known as Iraqi Kurdistan, is now controlled by the two main Kurdish groups, the KDP and the PUK, each of which has established its own "government" within the territory.


Recommended Action. Please write to representatives of the PUK, urging them to: take all necessary steps to bring the torturers of Kajal Khidr to justice.


Please write to the representatives of both the KDP and the PUK, urging them to:

-               firmly, publicly and unequivocally condemn violence against women in the name of honor and make clear that such violence will not be tolerated;

-               ensure that so-called "honor crimes" are recognized as criminal offences and that everyone taking the law into their own hands to injure or kill anyone in the name of honor will be brought to justice; 

-               investigate all cases of "honor crimes" and other serious abuses against women in Iraqi Kurdistan, and bring to justice those responsible;

-               take immediate steps to raise public awareness about the issue of "honor crimes" and other abuses against women.


         Appeals to

         Jalal Talabani,

         c/o PUK United Kingdom,

         First Floor, 5 Glasshouse Walk,

         Vauxhall, London SE11 5ES, United Kingdom


         Mas'ud Barzani,

         c/o KDP - Europe,

         PO Box 7725, London SW1 3ZD, United Kingdom


 Execution of Robert Lee Massie set for March 27


Robert Lee Massie is scheduled to be executed by the State of California on Tuesday, March 27,  2001 at 12:01 a.m. If the execution is carried out, he will be the ninth inmate killed by the State of California since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1978, and the first executed in California this year.


While many of the past and upcoming executions in our country have been controversial, with claims of innocence, mental retardation, and redemption, Massie's case is perhaps more  disturbing for the lack of all final pleas. Massie is one of a small minority of death row inmates that has chosen to give up all appeals. He is volunteering to be murdered by the state. The act of state-assisted suicide has been receiving substantial press lately, ever since Timothy McVeigh dropped his appeals and was given an execution date of May 16, 2001. While both men state that they do not wish to spend years on death row waiting for the inevitable, the similarity ends there. McVeigh is accused of wanting more attention and has in fact suggested that his execution should be broadcast-offering the world more death of his making-and seems to be defiantly suicidal. Massie has stated that he is protesting the living conditions of death row and, after nearly 35 years on the row, is ready to bring it to a quick, quiet end.


Massie is 59 years old and has been on death row longer than any man in California, which has earned him the nickname "Dean of Death Row." His path to death row, like so many of those who receive the ultimate punishment, started as a small child. He was born on Christmas Eve to a 15-year-old girl and the man who married her to avoid a charge of statutory rape. Abused by his mother and stepfather, Massie lived in five foster homes by age eleven. At one of the foster homes he was disciplined by being whipped with a switch and by having his head held underwater. At eleven, he was put into a home for runaway boys, and at 17 he stole a car and was sentenced to adult prison. There he was gang-raped by the older inmates.


Massie is the only inmate on California's death row who was condemned to death prior to the 1972 moratorium on executions, had his sentence commuted to life, subsequently killed again and was resentensed to death.


In 1965, Massie killed Mildred Weiss outside her home in San Gabriel while robbing her and her husband. He received the death penalty and once came so close to execution that he had ordered his last meal. But in 1972, all 107 men and women on California's death row had their sentences commuted to life. At that time, the alternative of Life Without Parole (LWOP) did not exist. Massie was paroled in 1978, after six years of good behavior in general population.


But only months later, on January 3, 1979, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Massie fatally shot San Francisco liquor store owner Boris Naumoff and wounded store clerk Charles Harris during another robbery. Pleading guilty against his lawyer's objection, he received a second sentence of death. He tried unsuccessfully to prevent his automatic appeals in state court-one of which overturned his sentence when the California Supreme Court concluded it was illegal for him to have pleaded guilty against his lawyer's advice (1985), only to be reaffirmed by another jury (1989)-but in January, 2001, convinced his attorney, Frederick Baker, and U.S. District Judge Charles Legge that he was competent to withdraw his federal appeal.


In addition to his continued insistence on pursuing a state-assisted suicide, Massie has himself  attempted suicide twice while on death row. While the courts have declared him competent to waive his appeals, it is abundantly clear to many close to him that there is a serious issue of clinical depression.


Massie insists that he is not committing suicide. He has repeatedly condemned state-sanctioned killings and the conditions on death row, and the institutional system that benefits when people are in prison and on death row. After 29 years on death row, and many more in prison and juvenile facilities, he believes there is no chance that he will escape his death sentence, and no longer wishes to accept a lingering death. The conditions he faces at San Quentin have never been worse, and as the population soars (579 are currently on death row at San Quentin) they will continue to deteriorate.


See Up-coming Events for information about the Execution Vigil in Pasadena.  Write to Governor Gray Davis and express your opposition to the death penalty in all cases.


Governor Gray Davis,

State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814


Phone: 916-445-2841                       Fax: 916-445-4633

Editor's Last Word:

Read us on line:

Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 /


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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.