Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XI Number 6, June 2003


Thursday, June 26, 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, July 8, 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, July 20, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group..
Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This month we
discuss The Dressing Station, by Jonathan Kaplan. (More info below.)


Hi everyone!  Summer is almost here.  I'm looking forward to a lighter work
schedule, a watercolor class at Descanso Gardens, Italian language course,
and a first-time trip to Hawaii!  Hope everyone has a great summer.

Our group will still have our regular meetings.  The July and August book
selections look very interesting.  July's selection, which we hope to do in
conjunction with All Saints Church's Health Care Ministry (of which I am a
participant), is by a physician who has served all over the world in wartime
situations and tells of his experiences.  In August, we read a novel set in
Cuba and Miami. Hopefully, since it's summer, more of you will be able to
participate and read the books!

We have some ongoing projects that we will be working on during the summer,
such as working with the Coalition for Civil Liberties (CCL) on getting the
Pasadena City Council to pass a resolution against the US Patriot Act as
many other cities have done and making cards to sell for fund-raising.

Lucas Kamp heading up our involvement with the Patriot Act project. He
reports that the CCL has met with 3 Pasadena City commissions and the Board
of Trustees of PCC.  All responded positively.  The plan is to get the
Pasadena City Council to pass a resolution in August.  On July 28, at All
Saints Church, Erwin Chemerinsky, law professor at USC and well known
champion of civil liberties (most recently arguing a three-strikes case
before the Supreme Court), will speak.  More details later!

Our creative genius, Martha Ter Maat, is designing cards that we can make
and use as a fund-raiser at conferences, etc.  She brought the sample
designs to a recent meeting, and they looked very good (Japanese theme). We
plan to have a "card-making day" sometime this summer.  All are invited.

Did anyone make it to the AI film festival held the last week of May?  We
saw one film (the other was sold out!),"Discovering Dominga", about a
Guatemalan woman living in the US who has repressed her past life as a small
child whose family was killed in a massacre in Guatemala.  The movie is
about how she discovers the past and struggles to right the injustices that
still remain in her native country.  It airs on the PBS P.O.V. series on
July 8.  We saw fellow group member, Martha Ter Maat there, plus some folks
from the SF Valley and Santa Monica groups.

AIUSA has ended its Iraq Crisis Response but information and actions will
continue to be available on the website,
  re the continuing problems (security, justice,
detainees, humanitarian situation, refugees, unexploded ordnances, etc).
Meanwhile pressing concerns in other parts of the world command our
attention: Congo, Cuba, Burma, Iran, Liberia.

I just received an email from Adriana Gonzalez, a woman who started
attending our group last year who had emigrated from Columbia with her
daughter.  She was fleeing political persecution because of her human rights
work and was granted asylum in the US. She has recently moved to Florida. We
will miss her and the insight she brought to our group (as well as the
Spanish, she used to laugh at my pronunciation!).



Take Action on Deteriorating Situation in DRC

Dozens of detainees may be at imminent risk of extrajudicial execution or
torture, following a failed attempt to overthrow the leadership of an armed
political group operating in the Ituri province of north-eastern DRC. The
detainees are being held incommunicado in metal containers and several have
been tortured. At least four people are thought to have already been
executed in the wake of the failed coup.

The attempted coup was directed, in his absence, against Commander Je'rome
Kakwavu, leader of an armed group known as the Forces arme'es pour le peuple
congolais (FAPC), Armed Forces for the Congolese People, which controls the
town of Aru on the Congolese border with Uganda. The commander returned to
Aru on 22 May, escorted by soldiers belonging to the Uganda People's Defense
Forces (UPDF - Uganda's national army), and immediately began a brutal
crackdown on those suspected of involvement in the coup. At present Amnesty
International has the name of only one of the persons executed -- a commander
named Mboyo -- but reports suggest that at least three other people have also
been executed. Two of those executed were reportedly arrested at Aru airport
on 22 May and executed on the spot.

Since 22 May, dozens of people, including both soldiers and civilians, have
been arrested and are detained in metal containers. The conditions in these
containers, in which it is very hot and difficult to breathe, constitute
cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The detainees include Le'opold Leti
(known as Appo), a high-ranking member of another armed group, the Union des
patriotes congolais (UPC), Union of Congolese Patriots, who was repeatedly
stabbed in the back and the nape of the neck, as well as being beaten,
following his arrest. Like all the other detainees, many of whom have been
detained since 22 May, he has had no access to medical treatment or to food..

Other detainees include a driver for a local college faculty, Leti,
reportedly arrested on the grounds that the mutineers had seized his car in
mounting their coup, Jean-Filbert Tshombe (also a prominent member of the
UPC), Avoti, Jimmy Banga, and Donatien Kanyi-Ngiya, the Administrator of
Aru, who was arrested on 27 May. Around eight other suspected mutineers are
being held in UPDF custody across the border in the Ugandan town of Arua. A
small number of detainees have been released, including Father Jean Dhebo
and Aru's Bishop, Emile Aiti. They were arrested on 22 May, apparently
because some of the mutineers had used hotel accommodation owned by the
church. Father Dhebo was severely whipped in detention.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION. Ituri province has been the scene of appallingly
high levels of human rights abuses, often directed against the civilian
population, since the outbreak of war in the DRC in 1998. It is estimated
that some 50,000 people have been killed and over half a million displaced
from their homes since 1999. Uganda has played a pivotal role in the region,
providing arms and logistical support to all of the armed groups currently
operating in Ituri province, as well as maintaining UPDF forces in the
region until their official withdrawal on 6 May 2003.

The Forces arme'es pour le peuple congolais, which is directly supported by
the UPDF, is a relatively new splinter group of the Union des patriotes
congolais, an armed group led by Thomas Lubanga which is in control of
Ituri's capital town, Bunia. The underlying motive for the attempted coup
against the FAPC leadership was reportedly a dispute over the sharing of
profits derived from exploiting the area's natural resources, including
gold. The desire to control and profit from eastern DRC's natural resources
has become the biggest single factor driving the continuing fighting in the
region and has led directly to horrendous human rights abuses against the
civilian population.

Amnesty International is supporting calls for the rapid deployment to Ituri
of an international peace-keeping force, explicitly mandated by the United
Nations to protect civilians at risk and to prevent further bloodshed.

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

* urging the Ugandan authorities to intervene urgently to prevent further
detainees held by the FAPC in Aru from being extrajudicially executed;

* pressing for the detainees held by the FAPC in Aru to be immediately
removed from the metal containers, where the conditions amount to cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment;

* pressing for the detainees in Aru and also the eight or so detainees held
by the UPDF in Arua to be granted immediate access to their families, to
lawyers, and to any medical treatment they may require;

* pressing for concrete action to be taken against any FAPC or UPDF members
who are suspected of having been involved in extrajudicial executions or
acts of torture, beginning with their immediate suspension from their duties
pending legal proceedings against them;

* seeking assurances the rights of all the detainees will be fully
respected, including their right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment, their right to legal representation, and their right to
a fair trial which conforms to international standards of fairness;

* urging the Ugandan government to take all practical steps it can to
support and facilitate the deployment of a UN-mandated peace-keeping force
to Ituri, including by ceasing all arms transfers and other logistical or
financial support to armed groups in Ituri known to have been responsible
for human rights abuses.


Minister of Defense:
Hon. Amama Mbabazi
Minister of Defense
Ministry of Defense, Bombo
P.O.Box 7069
Kampala, Uganda

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Hon. James Wapakhabulo
Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassy House, Parliament Avenue
P.O.Box 7084
Kampala, Uganda

Army Chief of Staff:
Nakibus Lakara
Chief of Staff, Uganda People's Defense Forces
C/0 Ministry of Defense, Bombo
P.O.Box 7069
Kampala, Uganda
Arua Resident District Commissioner:
Mr Okoth Nyalulu Thomas
Resident District Commissioner of Arua
P.O.Box 1 Arua, Uganda


Ambassador Edith Grace Ssempala
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda
5911 -16th St. NW
Washington DC 20011


Death Penalty          1
Urgent Action          17
Prisoner of Conscience: Ngawang Pekar 18
Total:              36
Want to add your letters to the total? Get in touch with

Urge Commutation of Death Sentences and Release of all Prisoners of

On April 11, 2003, Cuban authorities ended a three-year de facto moratorium
on executions by sending three men to their deaths before a firing squad.
There is grave concern that 52 people currently on death row may face
imminent execution. In addition, a wave of mass arrests and summary trials
of at least 77 Cuban dissidents began on March 18th. Send a message to
Dagoberto Rodriguez, Chief of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, DC
that the execution of Cuban citizens by the government violates
international norms, and urge the Cuban government to release all political

Background information: On April 11, 2003 three men were sent to their
deaths before a firing squad, thereby ending the three-year de facto
moratorium on executions. The three men along with several others were
imprisoned after they had hijacked a Cuban ferry on April 2 with the
intention of escaping to the United States. This incident had marked the
third highjacking in two weeks and ended without any bloodshed after several
days of standoff with Cuban security forces. The highjackers were convicted
under toughened anti-terrorism legislation passed in December 2001, which
allows for the use of the death penalty in the most extreme cases. Their
appeals to the Supreme Court and the Council of State were rapidly dismissed
and they were executed within a week of the start of their trial. Four of
the highjackers received life sentences and four others received shorter
prison terms. Currently at least 52 people are in death row. Given the
moratorium's end, Amnesty International is concerned that these people may
also face imminent execution.

In addition, in the past 14 months there have been a number of large-scale
arrests of political dissidents by Cuban authorities. On February 27, 2002,
21 Cuban men were arrested after they highjacked a bus and attempted to
enter the Mexican Embassy to request asylum. This incident set of a chain of
arrests and numerous other dissidents were also detained in sweeps conducted
by state officials. On December 6, 2002, another 17 were arrested after they
had attempted to meet in Havana to engage in a discussion on human rights
and to reportedly form a grassroots project for the promotion of these
rights. Following these mass arrests the Cuban government continued to
detain large amounts of dissidents throughout the Island.

Beginning on March 18, 2003 a new wave of targeted arrests was initiated and
which culminated in the detention of at least 77 Cuban citizens for the
non-violent exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and
association. These incidents have amounted to the biggest crackdown in over
a decade in which independent journalists, members of human rights groups,
political activists and other perceived nonconformists have been detained in
a major police operation.

In an official statement issued by the Cuban government after the March 18
arrests, the detained were accused of being linked to 'acts of conspiracy'
through their contact with

James Cason, the Head of the US interests in Havana. James Cason was
assigned this post in 2002, and has been accused of undiplomatic behavior by
the Cuban government after he made a high-profile visit to a meeting of
dissidents and spoke with international journalists gathered there. Since
this incident he has continued to meet with opposition members and has been
sharply criticized by Fidel Castro for doing so.

At least 33 of the latest dissidents arrested have received sentences
ranging from 14 to 27 years and those that are still awaiting trial could
face equally harsh penalties. These prisoners were convicted under the Ley
de Proteccion de la Independencia Nacional y la Economia de Cuba, Law for
the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba passed in
February 1999. The law permits sentences of 7 to 15 years imprisonment for
passing information to the United States that could be used to bolster
anti-Cuban measures such as the US economic blockade, and increases the
punishment to 20 years if the information is acquired surreptitiously. The
legislation also bans the ownership, distribution or reproduction of
'subversive materials' from the US government, and proposes terms of
imprisonment of up to five years for collaborating with radio and TV
stations and publications deemed to be assisting US policy.

Sample letter:

Mr. Dagoberto Rodriguez
Chief of the Cuban Interests Section
2630 16th Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20009

Dear Mr. Rodriguez,

I am greatly alarmed by the recent summary trial and execution of Lorenzo
Enrique Copello Castillo, Barbaro Leodan Sevilla Garcia, and Jorge Luis
Martinez Isacc, and by the mass arrests of citizens that began on March 18,
2003. In addition, I am extremely disappointed by reports that the
subsequent trials were unfair and resulted in exceptionally long sentences.
In particular, I am troubled over Amnesty International's report that the
appeals before the Supreme Court of the three men executed, were hastily and
improperly dealt with. I fear that this same fate might unjustly await the
52 Cuban prisoners currently on death row.

I am deeply disappointed that the Cuban government decided to end its de
facto moratorium on executions instituted in April of 2000. I had considered
this unofficial moratorium a critical and welcomed step towards the
abolishment of the death penalty in Cuba. The return of executions marks a
gross violation of international norms and a giant step back for Cuba's
progress in the field of human rights.

I understand that among the large numbers of dissidents recently detained
are independent journalists, human rights activists, owners of private
libraries, and pro-democracy members of illegal opposition parties, and that
at least 15 of those have been declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty

Based on the information I have received, I am deeply concerned that those
who have been arrested have been detained merely for the non-violent
exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association. I call on
you Mr. Rodriguez, and on the Cuban government to commute the death
sentences of those facing capital punishment, to immediately and
unconditionally release political prisoners, and to stop massive arrests
from taking place.



Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena
Sunday, July 20, 6:30 PM

The Dressing Station:
A Surgeon's Chronicle of War and Medicine

by Jonathan Kaplan

The Dressing Station is a searing portrait of devastation on the
battlefield. From treating the casualties of apartheid in Cape Town to
operating on Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq at the end of the Gulf War,
Jonathan Kaplan has saved (and lost) lives in the remotest corners of the
world in the most extreme conditions. The Dressing Station is a haunting and
elucidating look into the nature of human violence, the shattering
contradictions of war, and the complicated role of medicine in this modern

Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

Group 22's adopted prisoner of conscience, Tibetan monk Ngawang Pekar, is
scheduled to complete his prison sentence sometime in 2003. He was arrested
for participating in a peaceful demonstration for Tibetan independence at
Lhasa in 1989 and given an 8 year sentence, which was later increased by an
additional 6 years. Here is the story as told by Phuntshok Wangchuk, a
fellow prisoner now in the Tibetan exile community in India:

"The prison officials at Drapchi were always worrying about news of  the
atrocities there getting out, and any prisoner who tried to communicate what
was happening to the outside world was dealt with ruthlessly. Towards the
end of January 1996, Ngawang Pekar from the Old Unit and Kelsang Gyaltsen
from the New Unit were caught recording the names and details of all the
prisoners. As a result Ngawang Pekar was put in solitary confinement and
after a few days transferred to Utritru Prison's solitary confinement. At a
later date he was brought back to Drapchi and again put in solitary
confinement. As a punishment for recording the names and details of the
prisoners, his sentence was increased by 6 years. He was also not given
proper clothes to wear, or sufficient food to eat."

Visit to read the rest of Phuntshok's
story about life and death in Drapchi Prison. The site also has the stories
of 20 other former Tibetan prisoners. Go to to see photos of many released
prisoners. Let's hope that we'll soon find Ngawang Pekar on that page!

Last month we wrote to the newly appointed Party Secretary of the Tibet
Autonomous Region. There's also a new Chairman of the T.A.R., so let's
welcome him as well with letters about Ngawang Pekar. You can copy the
following letter or use it as a guide in composing your own.

Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Government

Jampa Phuntsok
Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
1 Kang'angdonglu
Lasashi 850000,
Xizang Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China

Dear Chairman,

I would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment as
Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Government.
I am writing about a prisoner 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 in the city of Lasashi and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
Later his sentence was increased by an additional 6 years. Amnesty
International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience since he has been
imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his universally recognized
right to freedom of expression.

I am extremely concerned about reports that while in prison Ngawang Pekar
was beaten and denied adequate food and clothing and that he did not have
access to needed medical treatment.

Ngawang Pekar has now nearly completed his 14-year sentence, and I
respectfully urge you to request that his case be reviewed and that he be
considered for immediate release. Many people in the U.S.A. and in other
countries of the world are concerned about Ngawang Pekar and are anxious to
know his current status. I would be very grateful to you and to your
government if you could please give some information about Ngawang Pekar's
present state of health to Amnesty International or to another human rights

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.

Sincerely,  (Your name and address)

Overseas postage is 80 cents. If you receive a reply, please notify Group


Update: Percy Walton Receives Stay

Great news on the action we featured last month!  We will keep you posted if
additional action is needed.

Percy Walton, black, aged 24, who was scheduled to be executed on 28 May,
has been granted a stay of execution on evidence that he may have mental
retardation. In June 2002, in Atkins v Virginia, the US Supreme Court ruled
that the execution of people with mental retardation was unconstitutional.

A federal judge issued the stay on 25 May following an appeal based on
evidence that Percy Walton had been assessed as having possible mental
retardation. The state appealed to the higher US Court of Appeals to
overturn the stay, and when that failed, it appealed to the US Supreme
Court, which refused to overturn the stay.

The issue will now be heard by the federal judge who granted the original
stay of execution. If the judge finds that Percy Walton is not protected by
the Supreme Court's decision on the Atkins case, and if his finding is not
overturned on appeal, Percy Walton could face a new execution date. In that
event, it is possible that there may be a claim that Percy Walton, who has a
serious mental illness, is legally insane and that it would therefore be
unconstitutional to execute him. The US Supreme Court banned the execution
of the insane in 1986.

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 works impartially to free prisoners of
conscience-individuals jailed solely for their beliefs, ethnic origin,
language, 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.

Caltech/Pasadena Group 22.