Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XI Number 8, August 2003


Thursday, August 28, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting 414 S. Holliston, Caltech Y
Lounge. Help us plan future actions for Tibet, the Patriot Act, Just Earth
campaign and more.

Tuesday, September 9, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Athenaeum.
Corner of California & Hill.  In the summer our usual basement meeting area
shuts down.  Look for us on one of the patios, or the lounge. We'll put up a
sign at our table. This informal gathering is a great for newcomers to get
acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, September 21, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This month
we discuss Crescent and Star, by Stephen Kinzer. (More info below.)

Save the Date! Amnesty International Western Regional Conference will be
held November 1-2 at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina.  Keynote
speakers include Loretta Ross, Executive Director fo the National Center for
Human Rights Education, Paul Hoffman, Chair, International Executive
Committee of Amnesty International, Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone Defense
Project. Workshops on a variety of topics: Congo, Guatemala, North Koriea,
the Patriot Act, Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights, Violence against
Women and more! For more information, contact the AIUSA Western Regional
Office (LA) at 310-815-0450 or 



Summer is almost over!  Hope you had a nice vacation, if you took one, and a
more relaxed atmosphere at work if you had to work! (I think the heat makes
everyone slow down!)  Our trip to Hawaii was very nice-it is so green and
beautiful there!  Some of the highlights were a helicopter ride over Kauai,
seeing Volcano National Park on the Big Island and the USS Arizona Memorial
at Pearl Harbor (I was surprised at how moved I was).

Unfortunately, the world's problems did not take a vacation. Amnesty has
officially ended the Iraq Crisis Response, but has a continuous presence in
Iraq and is monitoring the situation.  There are still human rights
violations occurring and of course, everyone has heard about the recent
tragedy of the UN Headquarters being bombed.  Many other countries are on
the "hot spot" list-Liberia, Columbia, Guatemala, Congo just to name a few.
We have sent actions on some of these countries at our recent letter-writing
meetings.  You can also send email actions via the Internet.  Please visit
the website at:  to
read updates and to send actions. To keep up with the Iraq situation, log on

On a happier note, we have received an unofficial report that our longtime
POC, the Tibetan monk, Ngawang Pekar, has been released.  We are waiting for
official confirmation from Amnesty International before we break out the

We'll let you know when we hear!

I went to hear Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert/professor from
USC, speak at All Saints Church on the Patriot Act in late July.  He is a
dynamic and informative speaker-a passionate advocate for civil liberties.
Our group is involved in a campaign, along with the ACLU and other
organizations, to persuade the Pasadena City Council to pass a resolution
against the Patriot Act. Group 22 Co-Coordinator Lucas Kamp, who has been
working on this, will keep us updated and let us know when the City Council
is supposed to vote on this issue.

The Amnesty International 2003 Western Regional Conference will be held in
Redondo Beach, at the Crowne Plaza hotel from October 31 to November 2 2003.
All are welcome to attend (you do not have to be a member of AI to attend)
what should be a great opportunity to learn about, discuss, and act upon
some of the most important human rights issues facing our world community
today. And it's in our area, so I hope that a lot of you will be able to go!
For more information, contact the AIUSA Western Regional Office (LA) at
310-815-0450 or  .

Thanks so much to all who helped us at our special "work day" creating
greeting handmade cards which we plan to sell at the regional conference.
This has been a successful fundraiser for us in the past and our volunteer
"craftspeople" are greatly appreciated!



Attack On UN in Baghdad is an Attack on Justice & Human Rights

The attack that killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights, symbolises an attack on those who promote the principles of
justice and human rights, stated Amnesty International's Secretary General
Irene Khan.

"The brutal murder of Sergio Vieira de Mello is yet more proof that people
who serve humanity and defend human rights are easy targets in a world in
which national security has trumped human security."

"Human rights, the international community and all those who promote peace
and justice in Iraq are under attack."

"Only when human rights take centre stage and inform our approach to world
security, will we stop these hideous crimes from occurring again," she said.
"The next few days in Iraq will be critical. We can establish the genuine
security needed to breach this perilous chasm or we can revert once again to
the tactics which breed the unrest and discontent at the root of this
violence. What further evidence do we need that eroding the principles which
underpin human rights leads only to escalating insecurity and death?"

"Sergio Vieira de Mello the man has been killed, but his ideals and message
remain alive," declared Ms. Khan as she stated that grief has only
strengthened Amnesty International's resolve for action.

Ms. Khan cautioned that Mr Vieira de Mello's murder has put at stake the
fundamental human rights of the Iraqi people. "Iraq must be a building site
for human rights -- it must not be allowed to become a wasteland."

Paying tribute to Mr Vieira de Mello, a close friend of many years, Ms. Khan
said: "He was a man of action and conviction, exuding all that is positive
and passionate in life."

Ms. Khan called for the perpetrators of the attack to be apprehended and
brought to justice but added: "His death must not become a pretext for a
witch hunt nor lead to widespread abuse of human rights."


Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

We have still not received any official confirmation of the release of our
group's adopted POC, Ngawang Pekar. (He is a Tibetan monk imprisoned since
1989, when he was arrested by the Chinese authorities for participating in a
peaceful demonstration.)

However, in late July Silvia Sarasua of the AI local group in Miami received
another report from one of her Tibetan contacts. Lhading Rinpoche, a revered
lama from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in exile, replied to her query with
a letter saying that Ngawang Pekar "was released from prison some time ago
and now he is in Lhasa and he is well. I received this information from
someone who knows present about him in Dharamsala."

We suggest this month that you help us get official confirmation of the good
news by writing to Rep. Schiff and asking if he can obtain information. Here
is a sample letter:

The Honorable Adam B. Schiff
437 Cannon HOB
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Schiff,

I am writing to ask your assistance in obtaining information about the
current status of Ngawang Pekar, a Tibetan monk imprisoned by the Chinese
authorities since 1989 in Tibet Autonomous Region Prison Number One.

Amnesty International Group 22 of Pasadena/Caltech has been working on
Ngawang Pekar's case for the past seven years. He was sentenced to 8 years
for participating in a peaceful demonstration in 1989; then his term was
increased by an additional 6 years when he was discovered keeping a list of
his fellow political prisoners. He was reportedly beaten and tortured and
denied medical care.

Members and friends of AI Group 22 in Pasadena and the Caltech community
would be grateful to learn whether Ngawang Pekar has now been released and
if he is well. Thank you for anything you can do to help in this matter.



Write Congress About Your Concerns

At least 3.5 million people have died and 500,000 have been displaced over
the last four and a half years as a result of the war in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. There are reports of large scale massacres in
province of Ituri following the withdrawal of Ugandan troops in early May.
On May 30, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a Rapid
Response Force to the town of Bunia in Ituri. However, as the force
deployed, there was heavy fighting in Bunia as well as in neighboring North
Kivu province. It is essential that efforts to ensure long-term peace and
security in Ituri as well as the rest of the Congo also focus on cutting
links between armed militias in the DRC and governments of neighboring
countries such as Rwanda, Uganda.

Please write and urge your Member of Congress to call on the Bush
Administration to urge the governments of Uganda and Rwanda to cease all
support to militia groups in the DRC.

Background information

The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently the scene of one of the worst
human rights and humanitarian disasters in the world. The situation is
especially dire in the Ituri region where there are reports of large-scale
massacres and the displacement of an estimated 500,000 people who are facing
serious shortages of food, water, and sanitation and are at risk of cholera.
Conditions in Ituri deteriorated dramatically in early May, following the
withdrawal of Ugandan troops, which had served as the de facto authority in
the region. UN officials have stated that spiraling violence in Ituri, if
left unchecked, could lead to genocide. In response to this situation, on
May 30, the U.N Security Council authorized the deployment of a French--led
international Rapid Response Force (RRF) to the town of Bunia in
northeastern Congo. As the RRF deployed, there was heavy fighting between
Hema and Lendu militias. There were also reports of heavy clashes between
armed groups in the North Kivu province, another region where there is great
concern over the human rights and humanitarian situation. Amnesty
International USA is calling on the Bush administration to lead efforts to
ensure long-term peace and security in Ituri as well as the rest of the
Congo. These efforts must focus on cutting links between armed militias in
the DRC and governments of neighboring countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and
Zimbabwe and on establishing transparency over the exploitation of natural

The war raging in the DRC has claimed an estimated 3.5 million casualties
since 1998, either as a direct result of the violence or because of the
conditions created by the conflict. In addition to the humanitarian crisis,
human rights abuses are rampant, including torture and sexual violence,
unlawful killings, summary executions, illegal detentions, use of child
soldiers and even reports of cannibalism. Many of these abuses are directly
linked to competition to control and exploit the DRC's natural resources. A
2002 UN report stated that as much as $10 billion in resources has been
extracted in the past four years, underscoring how central this illicit
wealth has become to perpetuating the ongoing conflict. Armies from
Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda are directly involved in this looting and were
officially recalled from the DRC last year. However, numerous reports
suggest that significant forces from these countries remain in the Eastern
Congo, dressed in civilian clothing but nonetheless, still actively
maintaining control of key natural resources. These armies also created
proxy militia forces that are now committing terrible human rights abuses in
order to control territory and carve out possible roles themselves in the
ongoing peace processes.

If you are not in Congressman Schiff's district go to to find the officials who
represent you

Sample letter

The Honorable Adam B. Schiff
437 Cannon HOB
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Schiff:

I am deeply concerned by the slaughter and horrific human rights abuses
occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the Ituri
region. I to urge you to call upon the Bush administration to insist that
Uganda and Rwanda immediately withdraw all support to militias in the DRC
that are allied to them.

I am pleased that the United States played a leading role in facilitating
the deployment of the UN Rapid Response Force to Bunia and I hope that we
will continue to support these critical efforts. However I am worried that
unless equal attention to the continuing negative role played by some
governments in the region is forcefully addressed and ended, all of our
peacekeeping efforts will fail. I believe that it is essential that the
United States and the international community forcefully press the
governments of Uganda and Rwanda to cut off immediately all military support
to militia groups that they created in the DRC immediately..

As you may be aware, over three and a half million people have died and
another 500,000 have been displaced as a result of the war in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo during the last four and one half years. The crisis
escalated dramatically in the Ituri region over the last several weeks with
reports of large-scale massacres and an increasingly desperate humanitarian
situation. Human rights abuses are rampant and include torture and sexual
violence, unlawful killings, summary executions, illegal detentions, use of
child soldiers and even cannibalism. The humanitarian situation is abysmal
as displaced persons face serious shortages of food, water, and sanitation
and is at great risk of cholera. UN officials have warned that the spiraling
violence in Ituri, if left unchecked, could lead to genocide.

I urge you once again to help end the killing in the DRC by calling on the
Bush Administration to take action to ensure that any support to militia
groups in the DRC by the governments of Uganda and Rwanda is ended
immediately. I also urge you to encourage the Bush Administration to develop
plans that will ensure long-term peace and security in Ituri as well as the
rest of the Congo.

Sincerely, (YOUR NAME and ADDRESS)



Liberia/Ivory Coast Special Action 6
Urgent Action          14
Total:              20
Want to add your letters to the total? Get in touch with


Protect Guatemalan Environmentalists!

Amnesty International is deeply concerned for the safety of Norma Maldonado,
and for her environmental activist colleagues. This follows a recent raid on
her home, which appears to be part of a wider pattern of intimidation and
harassment directed against the leadership of environmental groups.

At 9am on 24 July, three armed men forced their way into Norma Maldonado's
Guatemala City home. The intruders dragged those present, including a member
of the Board of Directors of Mama Maquin, a rural indigenous women's rights
group and a student from the United States (US) who had been working with
them, to the building's ground floor. The men opened files on several
computers, rifled through papers, diskettes, and folders, apparently
searching for something specific. One of the raiders repeatedly said "It's
not here," ("No esta") to which another responded "Keep looking" ("Segui
buscando"). The men broke diskettes and threw posters with environmental
justice slogans around the building's entrance.

After over an hour, the intruders left, possibly frightened off by the
telephone's repeated ringing and arrival of a visitor. They took two laptop
computers with data on the groups' activities and a camera with footage of a
recent meeting of Mexican and Guatemalan environmental justice advocates
opposed to the proposed Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) treaty, held in June in
Ixcan, Guatemala. However, clearly visible money and cars with keys in them
were not taken.

Norma Maldonado works with an umbrella group Mesa Global de Guatemala, which
includes Mama Maquin, and is concerned about the effects on local
communities of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas and the PPP.
Following the June Ixcan meeting, openly observed by personnel from the
local military base, other attendees reportedly received death threats, and
Norma Maldonado heard noises on her telephone which suggested it may have
been bugged.

In recent months, actions by various Guatemalan and other groups concerned
about the environmental and social effects of the PPP, and the climate of
total secrecy in which such agreements have been negotiated, have attracted
considerable international attention. Amnesty International fears that
business interests with known ties to the Guatemalan military may be
orchestrating intimidation of the leadership of environmental groups to
silence their opposition to such treaties.


The raid on Norma Maldonado's residence occurred during a wave of
politically-motivated violence in Guatemala City. On 24 July, as many as
5,000 supporters of General Efrain Rios Montt rampaged through the capital,
purportedly protesting recent court decisions upholding the Constitutional
ban on coup participants, like the General, from running for presidential
office. Many arrived on buses allegedly provided by the ruling Frente
Republicano Guatemalteco (FRG), Guatemalan Republican Front political party,
of which the General is a founding member. The protestors were allegedly
given food, weapons and instructions by masked men, some of whom were
recognized as FRG leaders. Under their direction, the mob committed acts of
vandalism and violence, targeting noted opponents of the FRG, including
judges who had ruled against the General's candidacy, opponents in the
business and diplomatic communities, and journalists. One journalist died,
apparently from a heart attack, shortly after escaping the mob; another was
drenched in gasoline but was able to escape before being set alight. Human
rights groups, many of whom have been vocal in their criticism of General
Rios Montt and his party, closed their offices and sought protection. The
disturbances only concluded when the General himself reportedly ordered the
mob to disperse. Human Rights Procurator Sergio Morales subsequently
announced that he had received word of a plan to execute a number of human
rights activists, named on a black-list.

General Rios Montt came to power in a 1982 coup and ruled the country during
one of the most repressive periods of Guatemala's prolonged civil conflict.
Since 2000, the FRG administration of President Alfonso Portillo has brought
a marked deterioration in the human rights climate, with an alarming
increase in intimidation, harassment, surveillance, abductions, attacks, and
apparent extrajudicial executions directed against the human rights
community, including those struggling for environmental justice. With
General Rios Montt determined to run for president, Amnesty International is
gravely concerned that the current climate of heightened tensions may lead
to further acts of violence in the lead-up to the November presidential

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

-              expressing grave concern for the safety of Norma Maldonado,
members of Mama Maquin, and other environmental justice activists who have
opposed the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) treaty;

-              pressing the authorities to carry out an immediate, impartial
and exhaustive investigation into the raid on Normal Maldonado's residence,
to make the results public and bring those responsible to justice;

-              calling on the government to ensure that the civilian
population, including local environmental and human rights activists, are
protected and that the rule of law is maintained in Guatemala, to avoid
further incidents like the 24 July mob violence;

-              urging the government to collaborate fully with the work of
the proposed Comision para la Investigacion de Cuerpos Illegales y Aparatos
Clandestinos de Seguridad (CICIACS), which is to investigate human rights
abuses allegedly committed by illegal armed groups and clandestine security
apparatus and to take immediate steps to dismantle such groups and prosecute
those involved.


President of the Republic of Guatemala:
LIc. Alfonso Portillo Cabrera
Presidente de la Republica de Guatemala
6a Avenida "A" 4-41, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Salutation: Dear Mr. President

Minister of the Interior:
Lic. Adolfo Reyes Calderon
Ministro de Gobernacion
Ministerio de Gobernacion
6a Avenida 4-64, Zona 4
Ciudad de Guatemala
Salutation: Dear Minister/Senor Ministro

Attorney General:
Lic. Carlos David de Leon Argueta
Fiscal General de la Republica
Fiscalia General del Ministerio Publico
8a. Avenida 10-57, Tercer nivel, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Salutation: Dear Attorney General



Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena
Sunday, September 21, 6:30 PM

Crescent and Star:

Turkey Between Two Worlds

by Stephen Kinzer

Kinzer vividly describes Turkey's captivating delights as he smokes a water
pipe, searches for the ruins of lost civilizations, watches a camel fight,
and discovers its greatest poet. But he is also attuned to the political
landscape, taking us from Istanbul's elegant cafes to wild mountain outposts
on Turkey's eastern borders, while along the way he talks to dissidents and
patriots, villagers and cabinet ministers. He reports on political trials
and on his own arrest by Turkish soldiers when he was trying to uncover
secrets about the army's campaigns against Kurdish guerillas. He explores
the nation's hope to join the European Union, the human-rights abuses that
have kept it out, and its difficult relations with Kurds, Armenians, and


Editor's Last Word:
Read us on line:
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 /
Amnesty  International Group 22  P.O. Box 50193  Pasadena, CA 91115-0193

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake  research and action focused
on preventing and ending grave abuses of the  rights to physical and mental
integrity, freedom of conscience and  expression, and freedom from
discrimination, within the context of its work  to promote all human rights.

Caltech/Pasadena Group 22.