Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XI Number 5, May 2003


Thursday, May 22, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting 414 S. Holliston, Caltech Y
Lounge. Help us plan future actions for Tibet, Iraq, the Patriot Act, and

Tuesday, May 27 Film: DAM/AGE. UCLA Royce Hall  7:00 Part of Amnesty
International Film Festiva (see below). FREE. This screening only, RSVP to
310/825-2101 Featuring a post-screening discussion with Arundhati Roy.
Dam/age traces writer Roy's bold and controversial campaign against the
Narmada dam project in India.

May 27 - June 1.  Amnesty International Film Festival. Directors Guild of
America,   7920 Sunset Blvd. 310-815-0450   For complete information and
film descriptions, see  Ticket Sales:
General Admission: $8, West Hollywood Residents $6, Amnesty Int'l Members
$6, LAUSD Students Free! Other Students (W/ Valid Id) $4. For advance ticket
sales (recommended), call 310-815-0450.

Wednesday, May 28. Amnesty International Film Festival Opening Night Event:
The Killing Fields. DGA Theater 1  7:30pm. A special archive presentation of
Roland Joffe's Academy Award Winning film. A stunning historical drama based
on actual events, though nearly 20 years old, is just as relevant -- if not
more so -- today. The opening night event is free, by invitation only. A
limited number of seats are available to the general public, also free of
charge. Advance reservations required. RSVP To: 310-815-0450 or  A program featuring special guests precedes the

Tuesday, June 10, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Athenaeum.  Corner
of California & Hill in the basement recreation area.  This informal
gathering is a great for newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, June 10, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group..
Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This month we
discuss The Pickup, Nadine Gordimer. (More info below.)


Hope all is well with you and you are enjoying the lovely spring weather.

On April 30th, Group 22 member Joyce Wolf and myself went to the Claremont
Colleges to see a documentary on Tibet called "Tibet-Cry of the Snow Lion".
It was produced by Victoria Mudd and reviews the history of Tibet from the
Chinese takeover to the present. I learned that our government was training
the Tibetans to revolt against the Chinese occupiers in the 60s and early
70s, up until Nixon went to China! The scenery is breathtaking - the film
was shot in Tibet and Dharmsala, India. I would highly recommend this film.

Speaking of films, the Amnesty Int'l Film Festival is coming up -- May 27 to
June 1 in West Hollywood. I saw a flyer this weekend, and several of the
documentaries look really good. For info, go to

I attended the Imagine: Freedom from Discrimination conference this past
weekend at UCLA. It was organized by the Bunche Fellow in the Regional
Office, Christina Vargas. There were a lot of students there, and some local
group members.  The focus was on immigrant rights issues, women's issues and
the death penalty.  We attended workshops on the rights of immigrants and
asylum seekers post Sept 11, racial profiling and hate crimes.  Amnesty has
come out against the Patriot Act and other post Sept 11 laws and executive
orders that infringe on civil liberties and human rights. Group 22 may be
working on this issue in conjunction with other groups such as the ACLU to
persuade the Pasadena City Council to pass a resolution against the Patriot
Act as many other cities have done.  More on this later!

At the Imagine conference, we also heard a report on the AI Iraq delegation
from Eric Sears, from the Washington, DC Amnesty office. The lack of
security and basic services such as potable water, reliable electricity and
humanitarian aid are still major concerns. AI is documenting human rights
abuses that occurred in the past, such as the mass grave that was discovered
recently, and abuses against civilians that occurred during this recent war..
Go to  for more info.  In "Iraq:
Ensuring Justice for human rights abuses", AI calls for the establishment of
a UN commission to address justice in Iraq, in consultation with Iraqis.
There is also a bulletin titled "Responsibilities of Occupying Powers" and
many others, including a 10 point plan for the rebuilding of Iraq. For those
of you who are interested in health, as I am (I am a public health and
school nurse), go to the World Health Organization's website,
  or the CDC at   for
updates on the cholera outbreak in Basra and other aspects of the health
crisis in Iraq.

Lastly, don't miss the book discussion this Sunday 5/18, 6:30 pm, at
Vromans.  The book is titled "The Aquariums of Pyongyang: 10 years in the
North Korean Gulag" by Kang Chol Hwan. Usually fiction is easier for me to
read, but this was a fascinating glimpse into a very different world and a
harrowing tale of one family's experience that I could not put down.



USA: Torture  6
Urgent Action 25
Total:        31

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


Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena
Sunday, June 15, 6:30 PM

The Pickup

by Nadine Gordimer

When Julie Summers's car breaks down on a sleazy street in a South African
city, a young Arab mechanic named Abdu comes to her aid. Their attraction to
one another is fueled by different motives. Julie is in rebellion against
her wealthy background and her father; Abdu, an illegal immigrant, is
desperate to avoid deportation to his impoverished country. In the course of
their relationship, there are unpredictable consequences, and overwhelming
emotions will overturn each one's notion of the other. Set in the new South
Africa and in an Arab village in the desert, The Pickup is "a gripping tale
of contemporary anguish and unexpected desire --  opens the Arab world to
unusually nuanced perception" -Edward Said.

Detention of Children at Guantanamo Bay

"I would say, despite their age, these are very, very dangerous people they
may be juveniles, but they're not on a Little League team anywhere. They're
on a major league team, and it's a terrorist team. And they're in Guantanamo
for a very good reason ? for our safety, for your safety."

--  General  Richard  B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a
Pentagon briefing on April 25, 2003

BACKGROUND The US government has recently acknowledged that at least three
children between the ages of 13 and 15 are among the more than 650 foreign
nationals being held at Guantanamo Bay.  Until this was revealed in the
media, Amnesty International had been unaware of these detentions.  It knew
only of 16-year-old Canadian national, Omar Khadr, who was transferred in
late 2002 from Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Naval Base.   Along with all
the other detainees, he and the other children remain without access to
legal counsel or his family, or to the courts.

As with the other detainees, US officials have shown a disturbing lack of
respect for international law and standards, including the presumption of
innocence, in relation to the children.   At a Department of Defense press
briefing on 25 April 2003, responding to journalists' questions about the
children, General Richard Myers stated: "despite their age, these are very,
very dangerous people."  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested that
"we care what the rest of the world thinks" and that "we try to conduct
ourselves according to our values and generally accepted values in the
world."  However, he too, suggested that the children were guilty of
criminal acts, and criticized "the constant refrain of 'the juveniles,' as
though there's hundreds of children in there ? these are not children There
are plenty of people who have been killed by people who were still in their

In acknowledgment of the vulnerability and special needs of children,
international standards provide that children (the definition of a child,
according to most international legal standards, is anyone under the age
of18) should be detained only as a last resort and for the shortest time
possible.  When in detention, children must be fully protected according to
their general and special needs and the best interests of the child must
always be the primary consideration (article 3 of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child).

The Guantanamo detainees, children and adults alike, have had no access to
lawyers or relatives and have been denied their right to challenge the
lawfulness of their detention in a court of law. Reports indicate that the
child detainees may be subjected to interrogation. Article 40 of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child states that "every child deprived of
his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other
appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of
the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent,
independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such

The US signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995, but has not
ratified it yet. However, under international law, it is still obliged not
to do anything to defeat the object and purpose of the treaty pending its
decision on whether to ratify.  In December 2002 the US government ratified
the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
involvement of children in armed conflict, which provides, among other
things, that governments should assist in the demobilization and
rehabilitation of former child soldiers.

AI has continued to raise its concerns about the conditions under which
detainees are being held at Guantanamo Bay, and about the effects of
prolonged indefinite detention in conditions of isolation on the physical
and mental well being of the detainees.   There have been as many as 25
suicide attempts among the detainees, heightening such concern.  The
authorities have indicated that the children have been taken out of
isolation, and are being treated according to their young age.

WHAT YOU CAN DO.  Please send a letter to President Bush, with copies to
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Powell.

* Express concern that children under the age of 18 are being held without
charge or trial and in indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay.

* Emphasize the universally recognized principle that all official actions
concerning children must have as a primary consideration the  best interests
of the child.

* Suggest that detaining children in a remote naval base without access to
lawyers, their families, or the courts cannot be in the best interests of
the child.

* Express concern that senior US officials have once again failed to respect
the presumption of innocence with regard to those detained at Guantanamo

* Point out that international law requires that the incarceration of
children be used as a last resort and for the minimum time possible.

* Urge that all children ? anyone under the age of 18 ? being held at
Guantanamo Bay be granted immediate access to lawyers and their families,
and that their treatment be fully in accordance with international law and
standards that require that the general and special needs of children be
fully recognized and met.

* Urge that any detained child be promptly charged and tried within a
reasonable time, or released.

* Note the United States' international obligation to assist in the
demobilization and rehabilitation of former child soldiers.

* Cite Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's assertion that the US "cares what the
rest of the world thinks," and note that the US is continuing to cause its
reputation great damage abroad by the violations of international law in
relation to the more than 600 foreign national  detained at the naval base.


The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500


The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
United States Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

The Honorable Colin Powell
Office of the Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk

As world attention continues to focus on Iraq, Group 22's prisoner of
conscience, Ngawang Pekar (naw-wan pee-kar), no doubt remains unaware of
life outside of his harsh confinement in Drapchi Prison. Pekar, a Tibetan
Buddhist monk, has been imprisoned since 1989 after being arrested by
Chinese authorities for participating in a peaceful demonstration in the
city of Lhasa in support of Tibetan independence.

Perhaps of most importance this month is news that Tibet's Party Secretary,
Guo Jinlong, is being replaced by another Chinese leader, Yang Chuantang,
formerly his deputy, according to Radio Free Asia - a move that has been
rumoured for several months. Guo Jinlong has served in the Tibet Autonomous
Region (TAR) since autumn 2000, when he took over from the hardliner Chen
Kuiyuan - a relatively short period of time to serve as Tibet's most senior
leader. Chen held the post for nearly eight years while China's new Party
Secretary and President Hu Jintao was Party Secretary of the TAR from 1988
to 1992-3.

The reasons for the handover, which have not yet been officially announced,
are not clear. The appointment of regional Party Secretaries is carried out
by the Party's Central Committee in Beijing in a highly secretive process.
Since the establishment of the regional Chinese Communist Party in Tibet in
1965, no Tibetans have been appointed to this most senior post in the

Although it is not quite clear yet exactly when Yang Chuantang is to assume
his new position, we ask that you write to Yang to congratulate him and
bring Ngawang Pekar to his attention. Below is a sample letter you can
either copy or use as a guide in composing your own letter (which is highly

Dear Secretary,

I would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Tibet's Party
Secretary and trust that you will fulfill your responsibilities with wisdom
and honor. With that in mind, I wish to bring to your attention a prisoner
being 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 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.

Especially in light of the fact that he has now completed his 14-year
sentence, I respectfully urge you to request that Ngawang Pekar's case be
reviewed and that he be immediately and unconditionally released in
accordance with the international laws to which China is signatory. I
further request that he be allowed access to independent non-governmental
agencies so that his current state of well being may be determined and made

I thank you for your attention to this important matter and would greatly
appreciate any further information that your office may be able to provide.


Address your letter to:
YANG Chuantang Shuji
Zhonggong Xizang Zizhiqu Weiyuanhui
Lasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China

Overseas postage for a normal letter is 80 cents, 70 cents for an aerogram.
Should you receive a reply, please notify Group 22.


Appeal to Virginia on behalf of Mentally Ill Inmate

Percy Walton, 24, black, is scheduled to be executed in Virginia on 28 May
2003. He was sentenced to death in 1997 for the murders of an elderly white
couple, Elizabeth Hendrick, aged 81, and Jesse Hendrick, aged 80, and a
33-year-old black man, Archie Moore, in Danville in November 1996.

Percy Walton was 18 years and one month old at the time of the crime. There
is evidence that he has suffered from schizophrenia, a serious mental
illness, from the age of 16.

Percy Walton's mental health had deteriorated during his mid-teens. Having
been clean, neat, polite, popular and well-behaved until then, he began to
display dramatic changes in behavior. He stopped bathing, began to have
difficulties controlling his emotions at home and school. He skipped school,
stopped playing sports, became withdrawn, and began talking to himself. He
laughed at inappropriate times, displayed irrational thought processes and
between 1996 and 1997 his IQ dropped from 90 to 77.

After his arrest in November 1996, Percy Walton displayed signs of possible
mental illness. In telephone calls to his family, he insisted that his
mother was his sister, and referred to his father as his brother, his
grandfather as his father and his grandmother as his mother. He said he had
discovered that he had two brothers, when he has none. He told his mother he
was the Queen Bee, and his grandmother that he was Superman. He told
relatives that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was a millionaire. He
insisted that he would come back to life as soon as he was executed, and
that he would retrieve and bring back alive his grandfather who had recently

In pre-trial custody, his lawyer noted Walton's unusual behavior. In
February 1997, for example, Percy Walton claimed to be Percy Gunn (Walton's
father) and also the "King of Hearts". During a subsequent meeting, Walton
told his lawyer that if he closed his eyes he could not be seen. He remained
convinced that he would be released on bail despite his lawyer stating that
this would not happen. Walton demanded a speedy trial at which his innocence
would be proven. By July, however, he was saying that he wanted to plead
guilty because the "[electric] chair is for killers". In a 1999 affidavit,
the trial lawyer recalled how Percy Walton "did not meaningfully assist us
in preparing a defense. Often times it was extremely difficult to
communicate with Mr Walton, and there were occasions when we could not tell
whether he understood what we were saying to him. Other times it was clear
from Mr Walton's questions and responses to my questions that Mr Walton
understood little of what I was telling him". The lawyer recalled that "we
were unable to convince Mr Walton that he would not come back to life" if he
was executed.

In July, a court-appointed psychologist wrote that Walton's articulation of
his thoughts was incomprehensible. He recommended that Walton be placed in a
secure psychiatric hospital on the grounds that he was a danger to himself
and others. The trial court rejected this. In a 2001 affidavit, the
psychologist wrote that the symptoms that Walton displayed in July 1997 were
"consistent with forms of schizophrenia", but that he had not been able to
make such a diagnosis without further evaluation. He stated that it was and
remains his opinion that at that time Percy Walton was not competent to
stand trial. However, he was not called to testify to that effect after the
court ordered a psychiatrist at the state hospital to conduct an assessment..
This psychiatrist determined that Walton was competent.

In September 1997 Percy Walton told his lawyer that he wanted to plead not
guilty and have a jury trial because he was innocent. Days later, he
reverted to admitting guilt again. At end of that month, asked whether he
would plead guilty or not guilty, he refused to speak, but responded by
writing the word "chair" on a piece of paper. He told his attorneys that he
wanted to be executed in order "to come back to life so he could be with his
honeys". In court in October 1997, Percy Walton pleaded guilty to the
murders and the judge accepted the plea.

The proceedings then moved into a sentencing phase. During the hearing,
Percy Walton laughed, smiled and waved to family members. He even laughed
during the "victim impact" testimony of one of the Hendrick's
granddaughters. After a recess on the second day of the hearing, Percy
Walton refused to come back into the courtroom because he had been
"disrespected". He was sprayed with mace and brought back into the courtroom
in shackles.  Percy Walton's state- appointed lawyer chose not to offer a
mental health defense against the death penalty, and instead offered
evidence that his client was a young man who was usually polite, quiet and
respectful, and who had taken responsibility for the three murders. The
judge passed three death sentences against Walton.

In 1999, a psychiatrist, a neuropsychologist and a neurologist assessed
Percy Walton's mental health for his appeals.  In their opinion, he suffers
from severe chronic schizophrenia and was probably suffering from this
mental illness at the time of the crime.

In repeated resolutions, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has
called on all retentionist countries not to impose or carry out the death
penalty against anyone with any form of mental disorder. Since the USA
resumed executions in 1977, it has put more than 850 men and women to death..
Virginia is ranked second in the number of executions carried out, having
killed 88 prisoners. In 1999, Virginia's then Governor, James Gilmore,
commuted the death sentence of Calvin Swann on grounds of his schizophrenia
from which he had suffered since his late teens.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
your own words:

* expressing sympathy for the relatives of Elizabeth and Jesse Hendrick and
of Archie Moore, explaining that you are not seeking to minimize the
suffering their deaths will have caused;

* opposing the execution of Percy Levar Walton;

* expressing concern at evidence that he was suffering from serious mental
illness at the time of the crime and the trial, and that the sentencing
judge was not presented with any mental health evidence in mitigation;

* noting that post-conviction expert assessment has diagnosed him as
suffering from schizophrenia;

* pointing to the repeated resolutions at the UN Commission on Human Rights
against the use of the death penalty against people suffering from mental
illness, praising Governor James Gilmore's decision to

* commute the death sentence of Calvin Swann because of the prisoner's

* calling for clemency for Percy Walton in the interest of decency and the
reputation of Virginia.

Governor Mark R. Warner
State Capitol, 3rd Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Email via website:

Editor's Last Word:
Read us on line:
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 /

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.