Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIII Number 1, January 2005


Thursday, January 27, 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 Tibet, the Patriot Act, Campaign Against 
Discrimination, death penalty, environmental justice and more.

Tuesday, February 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, February 20, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book 
Discussion Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., 
Pasadena.  This month we discuss Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. 
(More info below.)


Hi all,

Hope you had a good winter holiday and are ready to start the New Year. 
  Robert and I went to Oregon for 10 days to visit family and enjoyed 
cold but relatively dry weather only to return to LA and encounter a 
monsoon!  Luckily my leaking window in my home office stayed dry.

Our new prisoner of conscience, Ngawang Gyaltsen, was released last 
year and we are in the market for a new one!  Come help us decide at 
one of our monthly meetings-do we want to have another Tibetan prisoner 
or from another country?  Unfortunately, there are many to choose from!

A few weeks ago Group 22 members saw the film "Hotel Rwanda", which is 
based on a true story of Paul  Rusesabagina, the manager of a four star 
Belgian hotel in Kigali. He is Hutu, and his wife is Tutsi.  He saved 
1268 refugees by sheltering them inside the hotel during the April 1994 
genocide when the Hutus killed 800,000 plus Rwandans, mostly Tutsis.  I 
would highly recommend this film as the acting is excellent (especially 
Don Cheadle who plays Mr. Rusesabagina) and it is very suspenseful.  
Hopefully this film won't be forgotten when they pick the Oscar 

Our February book, "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, is now 
available at Vromans in the will call dept (ask for the 20% discount 
slip).  Start reading it now, because it is really long! 533 pages!!  I 
have never read anything by Mr. Rushdie before, but he had me laughing 
already in the first few pages!

This year's Annual General Meeting for USA will be in Austin, Texas 
April 8-10.  For further info, go to the AIUSA website at: or call the Western Regional 
Office  at:  310-815-0450.  Subsidies are available to help offset 
travel costs.  More info on subsidies can be obtained from the Western 
Regional Office-ask to speak to Kathy Brown, the administrator or I've heard Austin is very nice, and would love to go, 
but there's a very important event on April 16 that I don't want to 

Further along the line, the Western Area Regional Conference will be in 
San Francisco November 11-13, 2005. I hope we can all make it to this 
event, as it is much closer!

Take care,

Human Rights at Risk in the Aftermath

In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean, Amnesty 
International (AI) is monitoring the relief effort to ensure that 
fundamental human rights are respected. These include the principle of 
non-discrimination in aid provision, principles guiding protection of 
human rights in situations of internal displacement and the right to 
protection from physical or mental abuse, including violence against 

AI is calling on all those involved in the relief effort to respect 
international human rights and humanitarian norms. Assistance should be 
provided on the basis of need, without discrimination based on the 
race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, 
national or social origin, property, birth or other status of 

AI is looking into reports of adverse discrimination, with a focus on 
groups with particular protection needs, such as indigenous and 
disadvantaged communities, children, migrant workers and women in 
vulnerable situations. The organization is also concerned that relief 
should not be used as cover to forcefully relocate populations, in 
order to clamp down on or undermine support for opposition groups. Any 
relocation of internally displaced persons from camps or other 
accommodation must be voluntary, and should not be coerced in any way, 
including through the suspension of assistance to those persons.

Human rights are most in jeopardy in situations of crisis and 
emergency. It is therefore critical that governments and other actors 
recognize and support the central role of human rights defenders, 
including those engaged in humanitarian work and those monitoring 
violations, in the relief and reconstruction process.

Specific areas of concern:


Even before the earthquake/tsunami, the Indonesian province of Aceh had 
been seriously affected by a conflict between the armed group Free Aceh 
Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) and the Indonesian military. At 
least 3000 people have been killed in this conflict since the 
declaration of a military emergency in May 2003. Access for 
international humanitarian and human rights agencies was also severely 
restricted throughout that period. It will be important to ensure that 
the situation is not exploited by either party to perpetrate further 
human rights abuses.
AI is monitoring the Indonesian response to the current crisis, 
including the leading role played in relief efforts by the Indonesian 
military. AI is closely monitoring any alleged human rights abuses 
associated with the continuing conflict in Aceh.

Sri Lanka

Of particular concern are the emerging reports of sexual violence 
against women in camps for the displaced. AI's ongoing campaign to Stop 
Violence against Women has highlighted the specific risks faced by 
internally displaced women and the need for concrete measures to 
prevent sexual violence and investigate such complaints immediately, 
thoroughly and independently.

AI is also concerned by reports from Sri Lanka that orphaned children 
may be recruited as soldiers by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 
(LTTE), in the north and east of the country and is monitoring this 
closely. Recruitment of children by the LTTE has been a longstanding 
concern. The organization is continuing to appeal for an immediate halt 
to this practice and is urging that those children recruited to date 
are returned to their families or communities.
  There were initially some positive signs of co-operation between the 
LTTE and the government; however there appears to be increasing 
disagreement between the two parties over the distribution of aid. 
Amnesty International is concerned that these disagreements should not 
delay or obstruct delivery of essential aid and continues to monitor 


AI is investigating reports of harassment by the Thai police of Burmese 
migrants who have lost their identity cards.


A sample letter regarding the  proposed lifting of sanctions against 
the Indonesian military to the US Secretary of State follows:

U.S. Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20520

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to express my concern over the reported plans by the 
United States Department of State to furnish foreign military financing 
(FMF) to Indonesia in the Administration's fiscal year 2006 budget 
request.  I am opposed to any consideration of FMF for Indonesia at 
this time, because of the poor human rights record of the Indonesian 

Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of grave human 
rights violations in the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalm (NAD) 
since the declaration of a military emergency in May 2003.  Amnesty has 
collected evidence of unlawful killings of civilians, torture, rape, 
arbitrary detention, and unfair trials.  Although the military 
emergency was downgraded to a civil emergency in May 2004, military 
operations are continuing and human rights violations continue to be 

In August 2004, the convictions of four Indonesian military and police 
officers were overturned on appeal. They were found guilty of 
involvement in committing crimes against humanity in East Timor in 
1999. The State Department noted it was "profoundly disappointed with 
the performance and record of the Indonesian ad hoc tribunal," the 
special institution that was created in the wake of the murder of more 
than 1,400 East Timorese.

Madam Secretary, I feel that the provision of FMF for Indonesia in the 
fiscal year 2006 would exacerbate ongoing violations and corruption by 
rewarding such behavior.

Sincerely,  YOUR NAME and ADDRESS

Urgent Actions	33
Holiday Card Action	53
Total	86
Want to add your letters to the total?  Get in touch with

Protest Forcible Return of Former Child Soldier

Mahmoud Ahmed Chehem, Estifanos Solomon and two army officers were 
reportedly forcibly returned from Djibouti to Eritrea on 28 December 
2004. They are being detained without charge at an unknown location and 
are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Mahmoud Ahmed Chehem is a member of the Afar ethnic group which 
inhabits areas in both Djibouti and Eritrea. He was born in Djibouti, 
although his family live in Eritrea. On 26 December he and the three 
other men drove from the southwest Eritrean town of Assab to Obock town 
in Djibouti, where they were detained by the Djiboutian army. Mahmoud 
Ahmed Chehem was refused permission to stay in Djibouti, despite being 
a Djiboutian citizen.
The three other men reportedly requested asylum in Djibouti but were 
summarily handed over to Eritrean military officers on 28 December, who 
forcibly returned them to Eritrea the same day. The three were denied 
the right to have their asylum application properly determined or to 
contact the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Djibouti.

Mahmoud Ahmed Chehem was unlawfully conscripted into the Eritrean army 
as a child soldier in 1997 when he was 14 years old. He had 
unsuccessfully applied recently to be demobilized on medical grounds 
after receiving eye injuries and shrapnel wounds during the 1998-2000 
war with Ethiopia. His health is poor and he may require medical 
treatment for these injuries.

Other Eritrean asylum seekers, including many attempting to avoid or 
escape conscription, have previously been forcibly returned from Malta, 
Libya and elsewhere in recent years. Several hundred are still detained 
incommunicado without charge or trial (see UA 232/04, 28 July 2004 and 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as 
-	expressing concern for the safety of four members of the armed forces 
- Mahmoud Ahmed Chehem, Estifanos Solomon and two officers -- who were 
detained after being forcibly returned to Eritrea on 28 December from 
-	calling for assurances that they will not be tortured or ill-treated;
-	urging the authorities to reveal their whereabouts and clarify their 
legal status immediately, and calling for them to be charged with a 
recognizably criminal offence or released;
Mahmoud Ahmed Chehem, a Djiboutian citizen, was forcibly returned to 
Eritrea on 26 December 2004, where he had been unlawfully conscripted 
into the Eritrean army as a child soldier at the age of 14. concern 
that the three men who had applied for asylum in Djibouti were denied 
access to procedures to determine their refugee status;
-	noting Mahmoud Ahmed Chehem's ill-health and calling for him to be 
given access to medical treatment;
-	calling for all four men to be given access to their lawyers, 
families and any medical attention they may need.

His Excellency Issayas Afewerki
President of the State of Eritrea
Office of the President
P O Box 257
Asmara, Eritrea

General Sebhat Ephrem
Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
PO Box 629
Asmara, Eritrea

Ms Fawzia Hashim
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
P O Box 241
Asmara, Eritrea

Ambassador Girma Asmerom
Embassy of the State of Eritrea
1708 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington DC 20009

Sample letter for Prisoner of Conscience

President Saparmurad A. Niyazov
Prezident Turkmenistana
Apparat Prezidenta
744000 Ashgabat

Dear President:

I am deeply concerned about the continued forced confinement in a 
psychiatric hospital of 63-year-old prisoner of conscience Gurbandurdy 

On 3 January 2004 Gurbandurdy Durdykuliyev sent a letter to you and to 
a regional governor, urging you both to authorize a two-day peaceful 
demonstration on the main square of Balkanabad on 18 and 19 
February.  The purpose of the demonstration was to protest government 
policies and to urge authorities to alter those policies.  I am aware 
that Mr. Durdykuliyev has been an outspoken critic of the government 
who has advocated the formation of an opposition political 
party.  While his comments may not always be welcomed by your 
government, he should be free to make such observations.  Freedom of 
expression is a basic human right that is protected under the 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which 
Turkmenistan is a state party.

On 13 February 2004, Gurbandurdy Durdykuliyev was taken from his home 
in Suvchy and forcibly confined to a psychiatric hospital in the town 
of Balkanabad.  Shortly afterwards he was transferred across the 
country to a psychiatric hospital in Garashsyzlyk district, where he 
was officially diagnosed as suffering from "wild paranoia in an 
aggressive form."  However, several medical staff of the hospital in 
Garashsyzlyk reportedly told Mr. Durdykuliyev's relatives that they had 
not found any sign of mental illness but that authorities had pressured 
them to diagnose him as mentally ill.

Gurbandurdy Durdykuliyev is believed to be in a poor state of health, 
suffering from fever and severe stomach pains.  He continues to be 
affected by the aftermath of a heart attack he had had before his 
confinement to the psychiatric hospital.

Amnesty International considers Gurbandurdy Durdykuliyev to be a 
prisoner of conscience who has been forcibly confined to a psychiatric 
hospital to punish him for peacefully expressing his right to freedom 
of expression.  I urge you to grant his immediate and unconditional 


copy to:
Ambassador Meret Bairamovich Orazov
Embassy of Turkmenistan
2207 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Syrian Deported from US, Tortured by Syria

Amnesty International is concerned about the US sending people to 
countries where they may face torture, in violation of the UN 
Convention Against Torture. Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen of Syrian 
descent who was detained at JFK airport in New York while trying to get 
to a connecting flight back to his home in Canada. After holding Mr. 
Arar for ten days, the US deported him to Jordan, and Jordanian 
officials then transported him to Syria where Arar says he was held and 
tortured for ten months. He was then freed and allowed to return to his 
family in Canada.

Urge Attorney General Ashcroft to launch a full, impartial 
investigation into its treatment of Mr. Arar and the role of the US 
government or its agents in his removal to Jordan and Syria. Ask that 
such deportations stop.
Background Information

Despite US stated policy not to hand over suspects to countries where 
they may face torture, there have been persistent reports and rumors of 
detainees in US custody being secretly "rendered" to countries with a 
record of abusing suspects in order to extract information. This action 
contravenes both domestic US law and international treaties. Under the 
UN Convention Against Torture, the United States is prohibited from 
deporting someone to a country where it is more likely than not that 
s/he will be tortured.

Such countries are alleged to include Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. A 
senior intelligence official, speaking anonymously, was quoted in the 
Washington Post on November 5, 2003 as stating that there have been "a 
lot of rendition activities" since the attacks of September 11, 2001. 
Officials have been reported in earlier press articles to have openly 
stated that the USA may deliberately send some detainees to countries 
where they would be subjected to abuse during interrogation.

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who was detained at 
JFK airport in New York while trying to get to a connecting flight back 
to his home in Canada. According to reports from Arar and his attorney, 
US officials detained him and interrogated him, holding him for eight 
days before contacting the Canadian consulate and denying him access to 
an attorney during questioning. After holding Mr. Arar for ten days, 
the US deported him to Jordan, and Jordanian officials then transported 
him to Syria where Arar says he was held and tortured for ten months. 
He was then freed and allowed to return to his family in Canada.

According to officials in the US government, the deportation order was 
signed by the Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson in his capacity as 
acting Attorney General, declaring that to send Arar back to Canada as 
Arar requested would be "prejudicial to the interests of the United 

Amnesty International has conducted several interviews with Mr. Arar 
since his release. He has also made a number of public statements. We 
are gravely concerned by accounts he has given of being tortured in 
Syria and held for months in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions. 
He was also allegedly beaten in Jordan. His testimony, together with 
other credible reports of the treatment of prisoners in Syria and 
Jordan, reinforces our concern that the US government was in breach of 
its obligations under international law in deporting Mr. Arar directly 
or indirectly to Syria.

Sample Letter

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Mr. Gonzales:

I am very concerned about the allegations of rendering and torture in 
the case of Canadian citizen Maher Arar. Mr. Arar was detained while in 
transit at JFK airport on his way back to Canada. He was held for days 
by US authorities, denied basic rights such as access to an attorney 
and consular notification, and then forcibly deported to Syria through 
Jordan, against his wishes. According to officials in the US 
government, the deportation order was signed by the Deputy Attorney 
General Larry Thompson in his capacity as acting Attorney General, 
declaring that to send Arar back to Canada as Arar requested would be 
"prejudicial to the interests of the United States." Mr. Arar alleges 
he was held and tortured in Syria for ten months before being freed and 
allowed to return to Canada.

The US government's actions in deporting Mr. Arar appear to be in gross 
violation of its obligations under international law as well as its own 
stated policy. Article 3 of the Convention against Torture prohibits 
the transfer of anyone to another state where "there are substantial 
grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to 
torture." Mr. Arar reportedly told US officials of his own concern that 
he would be subjected to such treatment if sent to Syria and refused to 
depart voluntarily on this ground.

In view of the very disturbing concerns outlined above, we urge that 
the United States Government to instigate a full, impartial 
investigation into its treatment of Mr. Arar and the role of the US 
government or its agents in his removal to Jordan and Syria. The 
findings of such an inquiry should be made public and any officials 
found responsible for violating his rights held accountable. We also 
urge the United States to abide by its obligations under US and 
international law and ensure that individuals are not sent to countries 
where they may face torture.

Sincerely, YOUR NAME and ADDRESS

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

Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie

Winner of the 1981 Booker Prize and the "Booker of Bookers" (awarded to 
the best Booker Prize winner of the award's first 25 years)

Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's 
independence, and finds himself mysteriously "handcuffed to history" by 
the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, 
each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent -- and whose privilege 
and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through 
Saleem's gifts -- inner voices and a wildly sensitive sense of smell -- 
we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, 
colourful background of the India of this century.

Sample letter for Kenyan Woman

Maj. Gen. M.H. Ali
  Commissioner of Police
  Police Headquarters - Vigilance House
  Harambee Avenue
  PO Box 30083
  Nairobi, KENYA

Dear Major General:

I wish to express my deep concern at reports that Margaret Muthoni 
Murage was severely beaten in police custody, after which she suffered 
a miscarriage.  I am dismayed to learn that no investigation has taken 
place to bring to justice those responsible for her torture.

Margaret Muthoni Murage was six-months pregnant when she was arrested 
on 4 May 2004 in Nairobi.  Accused of stealing gold jewelry from her 
employer, the 17-year-old was taken to a police station for 
questioning.  She described to Amnesty International how one of the 
interrogation officers repeatedly beat her.  She said, "He first kicked 
me on the side then knocked me on the wall, my stomach facing that 
wall.  Then he took me to the counter and pushed me under it." Shortly 
afterward, she found herself in severe pain and, after repeated 
requests, was eventually taken to an office where she suffered a 
miscarriage.  "I was given a paper bag, and I was told to put my fetus 
in the bag and all that in a cardboard box," she said.

Margaret Murage was taken to a hospital and her baby placed in the 
mortuary.  She was then brought back to the police station and released 
the following day.  On 10 May she returned to the station to make a 
statement against the police regarding the beatings and 
torture.  Refusing to take her statement, they arrested her again and 
detained her overnight.  She was subsequently charged with the alleged 
theft, and is currently free pending the trial.

Although police promised Amnesty International that they would 
investigate, no action appears to have been taken.  When Amnesty 
followed up in October 2004, they were told that investigations had 
still not been completed.  I urge you to see to it that authorities 
swiftly complete their investigations and bring to justice those 
responsible for the torture of Margaret Muthoni Murage.


copy to:
  Ambassador Leonard Ngaithe
  Embassy of the Republic of Kenya
  2249 R Street N.W.
  Washington, D.C. 20008

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