Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIII Number 5, April 2005


Thursday, April 28, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting Caltech Y has moved. Just 
around the corner from our old meeting place, we moved to San Pasqual 
between Hill and Holliston, south side. You will see two curving walls 
forming a gate to a path-- our building is just beyond. Help us plan 
future actions on Sudan, the War on Terror, death penalty, 
environmental justice and more.

Tuesday, May 10, 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, May 15, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This 
month we discuss journalist Alma Guillermoprieto's memoir, Dancing with 
Cuba. (More info below.)

Save the Dates!!! The Amnesty International Film Festival is coming to 
West Hollywood, May 24-29.  Visit for 
details, or call the Western Regional office at 310-815-0450 to request 
a brochure or volunteer to help staff the event!


Greetings!  We are giving Kathy a little break from the column this 
month as she and Robert are on their honeymoon!  Kathy and Robert met 
as members of our book group, Rights Readers, and we in Group 22 count 
this as a big human rights success story!  If you haven't had a chance 
to congratulate the happy couple, we suggest a visit to our next 
monthly meeting.

After many years of casework on Tibetan prisoners, Group 22 has decided 
to adopt a Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience.  We hope to have details 
on this case by the time of our meeting on April 28 and begin 
strategizing for our work on behalf of this new prisoner.  In the 
meantime, I thought I would include an action from Vietnam in this 
newsletter as a kind of warm-up for our future work.

This month Group 22 members have been busy tabling at events ranging 
from Domestic Violence
Awareness Day at PCC to Caltech Earth Day.  A special shout-out to our 
coordinator Lucas Kamp for fielding (and staffing) all these outreach 

Coming up in May, we look forward to the Amnesty International Film 
Festival in West Hollywood.  See Up-coming Events for more information. 
  Past festivals have offered terrifically moving and informative films. 
  Make reservations early!

Summer will be upon us soon and if you're not planning an exotic 
vacation, may we suggest some vicarious travel with the book group? In 
the coming months, Rights Readers books will take us to Cuba, Nigeria 
and Mongolia.  That's quite a journey!  In August we'll carry on our 
tradition of reading a mystery novel (and while the title is still "to 
be determined" I think I will just drop a hint here that it may be a 
novel set very close to home!)
Hope to see you all soon at an up-coming meeting!

Take care,
Martha Ter Maat

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

Dancing with Cuba
by Alma Guillermoprieto

In 1970 a young dancer named Alma Guillermoprieto left New York to take 
a job teaching at Cuba's National School of Dance. For six months, she 
worked in mirrorless studios (it was considered more revolutionary); 
her poorly trained but ardent students worked without them but dreamt 
of greatness. Yet in the midst of chronic shortages and revolutionary 
upheaval, Guillermoprieto found in Cuba a people whose sense of purpose 
touched her forever.

In this electrifying memoir, Guillermoprieto -- now an award-winning 
journalist and arguably one of our finest writers on Latin America -- 
resurrects a time when dancers and revolutionaries seemed to occupy the 
same historical stage and even a floor exercise could be a profoundly 
political act. Exuberant and elegiac, tender and unsparing, Dancing is 
a triumph of memory and feeling.

Medical Concerns for 21 Year Old Teacher

Prisoner of conscience Le Thi Hong Lien, who is reportedly suffering 
from severe mental illness, has been moved to Bien Hoa Mental Hospital, 
where she is reportedly receiving treatment for the first time. Her 
family has been able to visit her but have reported that her physical 
and mental health is still very poor. Amnesty International is 
concerned that she may not be receiving appropriate medical treatment.

She had been held at Chi Hoa Prison, in Ho Chi Minh City, since her 
arrest in June 2004, when she was arrested. Her mental health is 
reported to have deteriorated seriously since her arrest. Guards at Chi 
Hoa Prison reportedly told her relatives that they did not have the 
means to care for inmates with such a severe illness. On 25 January the 
prison authorities finally acknowledged that Le Thi Hong Lien was 
suffering from mental illness. On 17 February she was moved to another 
prison distant from her family home. Ten days later she was moved from 
there to Bien Hoa Mental Hospital, 50km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, 
where she is reportedly held in the prison section under the charge of 
prison guards rather than medical staff.

Guards beat Le Thi Hong Lien while she was held at Chi Hoa Prison, 
according to fellow inmates, and received a particularly savage beating 
from a guard escorting her to and from her trial.

Le Thi Hong Lien, a teacher for the Vietnamese Mennonite Christian 
Church, was arrested in June 2004 along with a number of other members 
of the Mennonite community. On 12 November she was sentenced to 12 
months in prison on charges of "resisting a person performing official 

Amnesty International considers Le Thi Hong Lien to be a prisoner of 
conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of her 
fundamental rights to freedom of expression and association. Members of 
the Mennonite Church, and other religious organizations that are not 
sanctioned by the state, have suffered official harassment and 
imprisonment for many years. Le Thi Hong Lien had taken part in a 
number of demonstrations against the government's policies on religion, 
and had been arrested many times.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as 
- welcoming the news that Le Thi Hong Lien has been moved to Bien Hoa 
Mental Hospital, but expressing concern that she may not be receiving 
appropriate treatment;
- expressing concern that she is currently in the prison wing of the 
hospital and that her care-givers reportedly are prison staff, not 
medical staff;
- urging the authorities to ensure that she receives the medical 
attention she needs;
- calling on the authorities to order an investigation into reports 
that she was beaten by guards at Chi Hoa Prison, and for those 
responsible to be brought to justice;
- calling for Le Thi Hong Lien to be released immediately and 
unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely 
for the peaceful exercise of her fundamental rights to freedom of 
expression and association.

Prime Minister:
His Excellency Phan Van Khai
Office of the Prime Minister
Hoang Hoa Tham
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Minster of Public Security:
His Excellency Le Hong Anh
Ministry of Public Security
15 Tran Binh Trong Street
Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Ambassador Chien Tam Nguyen
Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th St NW #400
Washington DC 20036

Radio La Luna Staff in Danger

Radio station director Francisco Velasco has received telephone death 
threats at his home, after he allowed critics of the government to air 
their views on his station. The authorities have reportedly done 
nothing to protect him or investigate the threats, and Amnesty 
International believes that he, his family and staff at the radio 
station may be in grave danger.

Francisco Velasco is the director of the independent FM radio station 
La Luna, based in the capital, Quito. The station has repeatedly 
allowed critics of the government of President Lucio Gutiérrez to 
broadcast their views.

On 3 April, Francisco Velasco's 13-year-old son answered a call from a 
man who told him, "te vamos a matar" (we are going to kill you). Four 
days later, his 11-year-old daughter answered the phone, and heard the 
same message. On 14 April, Francisco Velasco's wife answered a call 
from a man who told her that "vamos a matar a tu hijo" (We are going to 
kill your son).

In February 2004, the government had threatened to close down Radio La 
Luna and file charges against Francisco after he criticised the 
government over the detention of an indigenous leader. Velasco.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.  Lucio Gutierrez took office as President in 
January 2003 with the support of the Pachakutic Movement, the political 
party backed by the indigenous communities. However, by August 2003 the 
Pachakutic Movement broke ranks split from the government amid 
accusations that the government was continuing to implement economic 
policies that did not serve the interests of the majority of the 
population. Trade unions and grassroots organizations, including those 
based in the indigenous communities, staged demonstrations against 
growing poverty and government economic policies.

The latest demonstrations against President Gutierrez began in Quito on 
13 April, and led him to declare a state of emergency in the city two 
days later: this suspended the rights to freedom of expression, 
association and movement. Following national and international pressure 
the state of emergency was suspended on 16 April. The demonstrations in 
front of the presidential palace continued, and were broken up by 
police using tear gas.
Amnesty International has recently expressed its deep concern about the 
continued threatening and harassment of those who are critical of the 
authorities, including human rights defenders, journalists and 
indigenous community leaders. The organization has urged the Ecuadorian 
authorities on several occasions to send a clear message that such 
threats will not be tolerated, to ensure that human rights defenders, 
community leaders and journalists are able to work without fear of 
intimidation. It has also called upon the authorities to investigate 
these threats and bring those responsible to justice, but nobody has 
been charged.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as 
- expressing concern for the safety of Francisco Velasco, his family 
and staff of Radio La Luna, in Quito, after telephone death threats 
were made to his family home;

- expressing serious concern that this is the latest of several threats 
against Francisco Velasco, which have not been investigated by the 

- calling for a prompt and impartial investigation into the threats 
against Francisco Velasco and his family, and for those responsible to 
be brought to justice;

- urging the authorities to do everything in their power to guarantee 
the safety of Francisco Velasco, his family and staff of Radio La Luna, 
in accordance with their wishes.

Minister of the Interior:
Dr. Oscar Ayerve
Ministro de Gobierno, Policia,
Justicia, Cultos y Municipalidades
Ministerio de Gobierno y Policia
Benalcazar y Espejo
Quito, Ecuador

Acting Attorney General:
Dra. Cecilia Armas
Ministra Fiscal Subrogante
Fiscalia General del Estado
Av. Eloy Alfaro No32-240 y Republica
Quito, Ecuador

Ambassador Raul Gangotena Rivadeneira
Embassy of Ecuador
2535 -15th St. NW
Washington DC 20009
Fax: 1 202 667 3482

Stop Violence Against Women Campaign	5
Urgent Actions	                       23
Death Penalty 	                        8
Mexican Environmentalists	        8
Campaign for Bhopal	                8
Total:	                               49

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

Afghan Refugee, Age 19, to be Executed in Iran

Afghan refugee Abbas Hosseini is reportedly scheduled for execution on 
1 May for a murder committed when he was 17. Iran is a state party to 
international treaties that expressly prohibit the use of the death 
penalty for crimes committed below the age of 18.

In July 2003 Abbas Hosseini was reportedly helping a man, a member of 
the Revolutionary Guard, to move furniture in his house. He says the 
man made sexual advances to him. Abbas Hosseini then managed to leave 
the house by promising that he would return with his girlfriend. In a 
fit of rage he returned to the house in order to "teach the man a 
lesson". He lured the man outside, supposedly to meet the girlfriend, 
and stabbed him once with a knife. The man died shortly afterwards as a 
result of his injuries.

Abbas Hosseini was arrested by the police and held in a juvenile 
detention center in the city of Mashhad. He reportedly confessed to the 
murder, claiming that he had done it in a moment of insanity. A medical 
examination, conducted ten months after his arrest, rejected his claim 
of insanity at the time of the crime. Six months after his arrest he 
was transferred to the central prison in Mashhad, and charged with 

On 3 June 2004 he was sentenced to death by Branch 43 of Mashhad 
Special Court. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 28 
October. The family of the victim has refused to accept payment of 
compensation (diyeh) and has insisted the death sentence be carried 
out. Under Iran's penal code, death sentences imposed for murder can be 
commuted if the victim's heirs forgo their right to retribution (qesas) 
and ask instead for the payment of 'blood money' (diyeh).

Abbas Hosseini was born in September 1985 to Afghan refugee parents in 
Mashhad, Iran. His family had fled to Iran to escape the civil war in 
Afghanistan, and he is considered a refugee by the UNHCR. He was 17 
years old and attending high school when the crime took place.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.  As a state party to the International 
Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on 
the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran has undertaken not to execute 
anyone for an offence committed when they were under the age of 18.

Nevertheless, 11 child offenders have been executed in Iran since 1990. 
On 20 January 2005 Iman Farokhi was executed for a crime committed when 
he was 17 years old. On the same day an Iranian governmental delegation 
claimed that Iran does not execute people under the age of 18, in a 
declaration to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The Committee, which monitors states' implementation of the CRC, urged 
Iran to immediately stay all executions of people convicted of crimes 
committed when they were under 18, and abolish the use of the death 
penalty in such cases. The Committee said that it "deplored" the fact 
that Iran had continued to carry out such executions even after it 
ratified the CRC, including the execution that had taken place that 

There are least 37 children under sentence of death in Iran, including 
Rasoul Mohammadi, a 17-year-old boy who is due to be executed on 16 
April at Esfahan prison.

For the last three years, the Iranian authorities have been considering 
legislation that would prohibit the use of the death penalty for 
offences committed under the age of 18.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as 

- stating that Amnesty International recognizes the right and 
responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of 
criminal offences, but opposes the death penalty as the ultimate cruel, 
inhuman and degrading punishment;

- urging the authorities to commute the death sentence imposed on Abbas 
Hosseini immediately;

- asking for details of his trial, including his legal representation 
and the appeals against his conviction;

- reminding the authorities of their commitment to the International 
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that "sentence of 
death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below 
eighteen years of age";

- calling on the Iranian authorities to implement the recommendations 
of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which 
called on Iran in January 2005 to "immediately suspend the execution of 
all death penalties imposed on persons for having committed a crime 
before the age of 18, and to abolish the death penalty as a sentence 
imposed on persons for having committed crimes before the age of 18, as 
required by article 37 of the Convention."

Leader of the Islamic Republic:
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary:
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Iranian Interests Section
2209 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007

Conscientious Objector Imprisoned

Abdullah Webster, imprisoned in the USA on account of his conscientious 
objection to the war in Iraq, is now receiving appropriate medical 
care. He had not been getting the regular blood tests required to check 
for the side effects of a drug he needs to take for high blood 

Shortly after the last update to this UA, a medical enquiry was set up 
into Abdullah Webster's medical condition and an Army major took over 
the supervision of his medical care. Abdullah Webster has now had a 
further blood test which showed no abnormalities and no apparent 
permanent damage to his liver. He has also been taken off the 
medication and the prison authorities are looking into alternative 
medication, with less severe side effects, to regulate his high 

Abdullah Webster is the second serving soldier imprisoned by the US 
authorities solely on the basis of his conscientious objection to the 
war in Iraq. Amnesty International adopted both men as prisoners of 
conscience. Camilo Mejia was released on 15 February, after serving 
nine months of a one-year sentence for desertion, handed down in May 
2004 after he refused to return to his unit in Iraq. His sentence was 
reduced on grounds of good conduct, and he is now back at home with his 
family. (See UA 190/04 issued 3 June 2004, and re-issued once)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as 
- welcoming the improvement in Abdullah Webster's medical care;
- calling for Abdullah Webster to be released immediately and 
unconditionally, with restoration of his pension and other benefits, 
and pointing out that Amnesty International considers him to be a 
prisoner of conscience.

Raymond F. Dubois
Acting Secretary of the Army
102 Army Pentagon, Room 3E588
Washington DC 20310-0102

Lieutenant Commander Anthony Cruz
Commanding Officer
Fort Lewis Corrections Facility, Bldg. # 1450
Washington 98433
Email: RCF@Lewis.Army.MIL

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington DC 20301
Email via:

Stop Violence against Women
Zimbabwean Women Receive Harassed

You may recall that we sent holiday greetings to WOZA last December.  
They still need our support!  Here's a sample letter:
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
  Police Headquarters
  PO Box 8807, Causeway

Dear Commissioner Chihuri:

Since February 2003, police repeatedly have arrested women belonging to 
the women's rights organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA!) for 
taking part in peaceful demonstrations to protest the worsening social, 
economic and human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The women have been 
subjected to intimidation, harassment, and ill-treatment by police 

On 7 March 2004 Bulawayo police arbitrarily arrested three women, all 
WOZA leaders, as they left a meeting, according to Amnesty 
International. On 16 June 2004, 43 women, along with some of their 
children, were arrested while attending a private meeting in Bulawayo. 
Several of the women reported that they were verbally abused and 
assaulted by the police. On 28 September 2004, 48 women participating 
in a fundraising and protest walk, together with four men who were 
assisting them, were arrested and held in custody for several days 
until a magistrate ordered them released. On 12 February 2005, 50 women 
were arrested after participating in a WOZA demonstration in Bulawayo, 
where they carried banners proclaiming, "The Power of Love can conquer 
the Love of Power."

I am aware that many of those arrested have subsequently been released 
without charge, but some have been charged under the repressive Public 
Order and Security Act or under the Miscellaneous Offences Act. In 
numerous cases where WOZA women have been arrested, police have 
attempted to deny the detained activists access to legal advice. 
Lawyers acting for WOZA have been harassed and ejected from police 
stations, and many detainees have been freed only after their families 
paid a so-called "admission of guilt" fine.

I join Amnesty International in urging you to put an end to the 
intimidation and arbitrary detention of WOZA activists and other human 
rights defenders. I also ask you to ensure that investigations are 
conducted into all reports of harassment, ill-treatment and unjust 
imprisonment of human rights defenders, as required by the U.N. 
Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Sincerely, YOUR NAME and ADDRESS
copy to:

  Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako
  Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe
  1608 New Hampshire Avenue N.W.
  Washington, D.C. 20009

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