Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XII Number 5, May 2004


Thursday, May 27, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting 414 S. Holliston, Caltech Y
Lounge. Help us plan future actions on the Patriot Act, Campaign Against
Discrimination, death penalty, environmental justice and more.

Tuesday, June 8, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Athenaeum.  Corner
of California & Hill. This informal gathering is a great for newcomers to
get acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, June 20, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group.
Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This month we
discuss Ha Jin's The Crazed. (More info below.)



Hi all,

The big news this month has been the revelations about torture at Abu Ghraib
prison.  We include in this newsletter an action calling for independent
investigations into these cases.  Amnesty's viewpoint on this issue is to
see it as part of a continuum of alleged abuses extending to Afghanistan and
Guantanomo.  I encourage you to visit
 to read AI Secretary General's open letter to
George Bush and the 12 page chronology of Amnesty's concerns about prison
abuses.  Also be sure to take the "torture test" and learn the legal
definition of torture!

After commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide in April,
this month we mark the 15th anniversary of the student demonstrations in
Tiananmen Square.  Join our book discussion group this month as we read a
novel by award-winning author Ha Jin set during this tumultuous period.  One
of many actions on current human rights issues in China is included in this
newsletter.  See the website for more.  Amnesty  also recently issued a
press release on harassment of the "Tiananmen Mothers."  Find out more about
this group of women who work to document what happened to their sons and
daughters during the 1989 demonstrations at

In honor of Gay Pride month (and as the recent outpouring of marital bliss!)
we offer an action advocating that the State Department include
documentation of human rights abuses based on sexual orientation in their
annual reports.  Human rights advocates recently lead a similar successful
campaign to ensure that the State Department reports include documentation
of women's human rights issues.  Let's make these reports truly

I regret to report that Kelsey Patterson, the mentally-ill death row inmate
featured in last month's newsletter was executed despite a clemency
recommendation by the Texas Board of Parole (ignored by Governor Perry). On
a more upbeat note, the Governor of Oklahoma, Brad Henry, did grant clemency
to a Mexican national, Osvaldo Torres whose case had been the subject of an
International Court of Justice ruling concerning the failure of law
enforcement to follow Vienna Convention protocols for the notification of
consular officials after the arrest of a foreign national.

Please join us at our meetings this month as we plan further actions in
these cases and others!

Take care,
Martha Ter Maat


Urge Independent Investigations of Torture Cases

Please visit  for more
information including a chronology of AI's concerns about prison abuses in
Afghanistan, Guantanomo and Iraq.

Recent allegations of torture and ill-treatment by Coalition Forces in Iraqi
prisons echo the frequent reports of human rights violations received by
Amnesty International during the past year. Many former detainees have told
Amnesty International that they were tortured and ill treated by US and UK
troops during interrogation. There is no indication that calls by Amnesty
International, for investigation of these allegations, have elicited
meaningful action to remedy the situation. A credible, independent
investigation is crucial to help restore public confidence in justice. Urge
President Bush to support a thorough, independent and public investigation;
to hold accountable all who have committed acts of torture, cruel, inhuman
and degrading treatment, and also those who have contributed to a command
culture that condones such abuses; and to ensure that all Coalition Forces
know that such violations will not be tolerated.

Sample Letter

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am deeply concerned by recent allegations of torture and ill-treatment
emerging from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Extensive research by Amnesty
International suggests that this is not an isolated incident and that these
reported violations have exacerbated an already fragile situation in Iraq.
Amnesty International has interviewed former detainees in Iraq and
Afghanistan who have reported being subjected to torture or other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment during interrogation and detention, and has
repeatedly brought this information to the attention of the US government.
US government officials have yet to respond fully to these allegations.
Last year, you stated that, "torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity
everywhere" and that "the United States is committed to the world-wide
elimination of torture and [is] leading this fight by example." The torture
and ill-treatment of Iraqi detainees at the hands of US military personnel
runs contrary to your words and the tenets of US and international law. The
implementation of US and international laws must be a priority for the
United States if the Iraqi people are to live free of brutal and degrading
practices. For Iraq to have a sustainable and peaceful future, human rights
must be a central component of the way forward.

It is essential that the world community view the investigations as thorough
and impartial, and that both those who commit such acts of torture and those
in command who condone them are held accountable. For that reason, I urge
you to support an independent investigation into these violations and public
disclosure of the findings, and to cooperate with the United Nations High
Commission for Human Rights and others as they gather information on these

Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your



The latest evidence of torture and ill-treatment emerging from Abu Ghraib
prison has exacerbated an already fragile situation. Extensive research in
Iraq suggests that this is not an isolated incident, but rather evidence of
a systemic failure to protect the rights of detainees in accordance with
international law. Amnesty International has received frequent reports of
torture or other ill-treatment by Coalition Forces during the past year.
Detainees have reported being routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment during arrest and detention. Many have told Amnesty
International that they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops
during interrogation. Methods often reported include prolonged sleep
deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes
combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to
bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment
has been adequately investigated by the authorities.

Abu Ghraib prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein -- it should not be
allowed to become so again. The Coalition leadership must send a clear
signal that torture will not be tolerated under any circumstances and that
the Iraqi people can now live free of such brutal and degrading practices.
If Iraq is to have a sustainable and peaceful future, human rights must be a
central component of the way forward. The message must be sent loud and
clear that those who abuse human rights will be held accountable.
Amnesty International is calling for investigations into alleged abuses by
Coalition Forces to be conducted by a body that is competent, impartial and
independent, and that any findings of such investigations be made public. In
addition, reparation -- including compensation -- must be paid to the
victims or to their families.



Urgent Action                        9
Death Penalty                        6
Just Earth                          17
Sudan                                7
Rwanda                              10
Iraq                                 3
Total                               53

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


Detention of people with HIV/AIDS

At least six people with HIV/AIDS, including the Cheng Fudong and Kong
Wanli, have reportedly been detained by police in Henan province, central
China, after seeking help from the local authorities. They may be at risk of
torture or ill-treatment, and Amnesty International is seriously concerned
for their safety.

According to a report from Agence France Press (AFP), the six were detained
on 27 April and are currently held in Shangcai county prison, Henan
Province. Five of them, including Cheng Fudong, were detained after
traveling from their homes in Wenlou village, Shangcai county, to the
provincial capital, Zhengzhou, to request government help in repairing their
homes. Cheng Fudong's wife, Zhang Qiao, told AFP: "Our home is broken down.
Rain pours down from the roof. The government had repaired some of the homes
in the village, but neglected the others."

It is unclear what prompted the detention of Kong Wanli, but his wife, Wei
Hong, told AFP that he was "among the most outspoken farmers in the village
and had previously demanded government help".

According to the report, many local people had been speculating about a
visit to the village by the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, which was apparently
due to take place on 1 May. It is unclear whether this visit will actually
take place, but locals reportedly fear that the men have been detained to
prevent them from protesting during the visit.

According to AFP, a police officer at the Shangcai county prison, Yuan
Xinmin, stated that the men had been detained for "disturbing government
organizations and disturbing government office work". He added that they
would be detained for 4-5 days.

In June 2003 at least 18 people with HIV/AIDS were arrested in connection
with protests and disturbances relating to lack of access to medical care in
Xiongqiao, another village in Shangcai county. Five of them were reportedly
beaten in police custody. Two were later released, but the fate of the other
three remains unclear. Thirteen others were detained during a violent raid
on the village by police wielding metal rods and electro-shock batons. At
least 12 people were reportedly injured in the raid. Some of the detainees
were later released, but around seven of them were reportedly charged. Their
fate and whereabouts are unknown.

HIV infections have spread rapidly in China since the mid-1980s, affecting
the lives and livelihoods of a vast number of people across the country. The
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has estimated that by
the end of 2001 up to 1.5 million Chinese people were infected with HIV, and
has warned that this figure could rise to 10 million by 2010 if no effective
countermeasures are taken.

Reports on HIV/AIDS in the official Chinese media tend to highlight
intravenous drug use and unprotected sex as the main causes for the spread
of the virus. A less well-publicised factor has been the operation of
blood-collecting stations in many parts of China during the late 1980s and
1990s, including several villages in Henan and other central provinces. Many
of these were run by local government health departments, while others were
illegal blood banks known as "blood heads" (xuetou). They were established
rapidly due to a highly profitable global demand for blood plasma. The
blood-collection centres failed to implement basic safety checks in handling
the blood, and so infections soared. Unofficial estimates of the number of
people infected in Henan Province alone through their use of such facilities
range from 150,000 to over one million.

Over recent months, there have been signs that there is greater political
willingness to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in China. A number of new
measures have been announced, including the provision of antiretroviral
drugs to the poor and free HIV tests. However, it remains unclear how well
these measures are being implemented. Official statistics on the spread of
the disease are considered to be gross underestimates and discrimination
against those with HIV/AIDS remains entrenched.

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

- urging the authorities to disclose the names of all those detained with
Cheng Fudong and Kong Wanli on 27 April, and to provide immediate guarantees
for their safety;

- expressing concern that they appear to have been detained solely because
of peaceful protests, and calling on the authorities to release them
immediately unless they are to be charged with a recognisably criminal

- urging the authorities to give them access to lawyers, their families and
adequate medical treatment while they are in detention;

- urging the authorities to fully investigate the extent of HIV/AIDS
transmission in Henan and other provinces due to the operation of
blood-collection centres and to publish their findings.

Director of the Henan Provincial Department of Justice:
Guo Junfeng Tingzhang
8 Jingsilu
Zhengzhoushi 450003
People's Republic of China
Salutation: Dear Director

Premier of the People's Republic of China:
Premier Wen Jiabao
9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie
Beijingshi 100032
People's Republic of China
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Public Health:
Wu Yi Buzhang
1 Xizhimenwai
Xicheng District
Beijingshi 100044
People's Republic of China
Salutation: Dear Minister

Ambassador Jiechi Yang
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008


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

The Crazed  by Ha Jin

In his luminous new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of
contemporary Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between
convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and
betrayal. Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature at a provincial
university, has had a stroke, and his student Jian Wan -- who is also engaged
to Yang's daughter -- has been assigned to care for him. What at first seems a
simple if burdensome duty becomes treacherous when the professor begins to
rave: pleading with invisible tormentors, denouncing his family, his
colleagues, and a system in which a scholar is "just a piece of meat on a
cutting board."

Are these just manifestations of illness, or is Yang spewing up the truth?
And can the dutiful Jian avoid being irretrievably compromised? For in a
China convulsed by the Tiananmen uprising, those who hear the truth are as
much at risk as those who speak it. At once nuanced and fierce, earthy and
humane, The Crazed is further evidence of Ha Jin's prodigious narrative


Support International Human Rights Equality

Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the landmark International Human
Rights Equality Resolution (H.CON.RES. 330). Amnesty International USA is
working to obtain bipartisan support for the resolution and hopes to get at
least 100 Representatives as co-sponsors.

Sample Letter
The Honorable ______________
United States Congress
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Rep ____________:

As your constituent, I write to ask that you co-sponsor H.CON.RES. 330, a
landmark House resolution addressing the abuses perpetrated against lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people around the world.
H.CON.RES. 330 recognizes that the human rights of LGBT people are firmly
enshrined in standards defined in international human rights law. It
condemns violence against LGBT people, and calls on the U.S. government to
give equal consideration to such human rights violations in its
documentation on abuses worldwide. It also calls on the government to
develop a comprehensive strategy to combat such abuses abroad.
Everyday women and men around the world are beaten, imprisoned, tortured or
killed solely on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation.
You can take a stand against this senseless violence and abuse targeting a
group of people because of who they are.

I urge you, as my Representative, to sign-on as a co-sponsor of H.CON.RES.
330 today. Help pass this historic legislation and strengthen our
government's commitment to human rights.

I look forward to hearing your response.


On November 24, 2003, Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Christopher Shays
(R-CT) introduced the landmark International Human Rights Equality
Resolution in the US Congress. The resolution addresses the pervasive and
horrendous human rights abuses that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people around the world face everyday.

The International Human Rights Equality Resolution (H.CON.RES. 330):

- Recognizes the human rights of every lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) individual not as special rights but as rights enshrined
in human rights norms as established in international law, including
international conventions signed by the US;

- Condemns all human rights violations targeting LGBT people -- because of
their sexual orientation and gender identity -- as violations of
internationally recognized norms and law that should be classified and
punished as any other human rights violations;

- Calls on the US government to continue to improve its documentation of
human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to
give such violations the same concern and consideration in its research and
documentation of human rights abuses;

- Calls on the US government to fully integrate LGBT human rights in its
efforts to promote human rights globally.

Everyday, women and men around the world are beaten, imprisoned, tortured or
killed solely on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation. Many of
those who speak up for LGBT rights -- regardless of their sexual
orientation -- become the targets and victims of threats and persecution. In
many instances, the police and other agents of the state are the
perpetrators of human rights abuses, such as extortion, entrapment and
physical assaults. Such cases are rarely investigated, and fewer are

The US Congress can take a stand against violence and abuse perpetrated
against LGBT people by supporting the International Human Rights Equality
Resolution. Passing this historic resolution will strengthen the US
commitment to human rights.


Discrimination Against Kurdish Minority

Here is a sample letter concerning deaths and detention of members of the
Kurdish minority in Syria.

His Excellency Nizar al-Assasi
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
al-Nasr Street, Damascus
fax: 011-63-11-222-3428

Your Excellency:

I am extremely concerned by reports that some 25 Kurdish people were shot
dead by Syrian security forces on 12 March 2004 in Qamishli, following
violent clashes at a soccer (football) match. Hundreds of other Syrian Kurds
have reportedly been arrested. Because their whereabouts are unknown, I fear
that this puts them at grave risk of torture and ill treatment.
The arrests reportedly followed clashes between Arab and Kurdish fans at a
soccer match in the city of Qamishli. Syrian security forces responded by
firing shots into the crowd resulting in the deaths of at least 20 people
and dozens of injuries. Three children were said to have been killed in a
stampede as the crowd tried to escape. Police attacked Syrian Kurdish
mourners the next day, resulting in two days of rioting by Syrian Kurds in
several towns in the mainly Kurdish northeastern area of Syria. In 'Amouda
around 13 March, the head of the town's police station was reportedly beaten
by Kurdish protesters. He later died of his injuries. Hundreds of
individuals, mostly Syrian Kurds, including children, remain in detention.
Most of these are being held in incommunicado detention and are at risk of
torture or ill-treatment.

I urge you to launch an independent judicial enquiry into the clashes
between Kurdish protestors and security forces. For justice to be done and
to be seen to be done, the truth must be uncovered, and the suspected
perpetrators of serious crimes and human rights violations must be brought
to justice.

I ask you to undertake an urgent review of the cases of hundreds of Syrian
Kurds who have been detained, including 16-year-old Mas'oud Ja'far. I
request information about those who were arrested, the reasons for their
arrest, and where they are now being held. I urge you to ensure that all
detainees are given prompt access to their families, legal assistance and
any necessary medical care.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

copy to:
Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic
2215 Wyoming Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
fax: 202-234-9548

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.