Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIII Number 9, September 2005


Thursday, September 22, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting Caltech Y is located 
off 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 and more.

Sunday, September 25, 1:00-4:00 PM.  "Redemption" Film Screening and 
Discussion.  All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave, Pasadena (in the 
Forum).  This film details the life of California death row inmate, 
Stanley "Tookie" Williams. (More info below.)

Tuesday, October 11, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Athenaeum. 
Corner of California & Hill.  Look for our table downstairs in the 
cafeteria area.  This informal gathering is a great for newcomers to 
get acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, October 15, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book 
Discussion Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., 
Pasadena.  This month we read Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk's, Snow. 
(More info below.)

(Martha stepping in for busy Kathy this month!)

Watching the drama surrounding Hurricane Katrina unfold, I naturally 
thought back to my visit to New Orleans for Amnesty's Annual General 
Meeting in 1997.  The theme of the conference?  Refugees.  As usual, a 
public demonstration was incorporated into the gathering and for this 
occasion, we paraded through the city as part of a traditional New 
Orleans jazz "funeral."  We ended up holding a ceremony at the federal 
building where we symbolically "buried" human rights violations in a 
coffin presided over by Father Roy Bourgeois, the priest-activist most 
famous for his work on torture and the School of the Americas.  Someone 
snapped a picture of me holding a "Refugees have Rights!" sign that 
wound up on the cover of an AIUSA publication, much to the amusement of 
friends and family in faraway places.  Today, going back over my own 
photos from that trip, the one that stands out is of an elderly 
African-American man dressed neatly in a candy-stripe shirt pushing a 
cart heaped full of black plastic trash bags of recyclables -- and 
hoisting a "Refugees have Rights!" sign.  Of course I wonder, where is 
he now?

As many African-Americans objected to the use of the term "refugee" as 
implying that hurricane survivors were less than American,  I recalled 
that the correct term under international law for persons seeking 
refuge in their own country would be "internally displaced persons" or 
IDPs.  Quite a mouthful and not likely to come into common parlance!  
 From my long-ago training as a Refugee Issues Coordinator for Amnesty, 
I remembered that refugees generally get more protection under 
international law than IDPs as its difficult for the UN to intervene in 
a country's internal affairs no matter how severe the crisis.  Just 
look at Sudan.  We include an action on an IDP case from Sudan in this 
newsletter.  Certainly, Amnesty advocates on behalf of refugees and 
IDPs alike, working to protect the human dignity of all survivors of 
disasters, natural or manmade, no matter what term they choose to 
describe themselves.

In the aftermath of the Katrina, Amnesty issued a press release-- 
noting the vulnerability of the storm's victims due to prevailing 
conditions of poverty--  calling for a full, independent inquiry into 
whether authorities could have done more to ensure the safety of 
evacuees, as well as their access to shelter, water, food and medical 
attention, and what should be done to facilitate their recovery.  At 
the same time Amnesty expressed  concern that a "shoot-to-kill" policy 
authorized by Louisiana's governor could lead to disproportionate and 
unlawful use of lethal force, for example, in the case of unarmed 
"looters", who may have been trying to seek supplies to survive.  
Another pressing human rights concern is ensuring that all those in 
custody, including the thousands of prisoners reported to have been 
evacuated out of New Orleans, have access to their families and 
attorneys at the earliest opportunity.

In fact, among the casualties of Katrina is the essential human rights 
work of the Justice Center (, a 
non-profit working on behalf of death row inmates in Louisiana which 
may have lost precious files and evidence to be used for the 
exoneration and sentence mitigation of their clients.  Similarly, 
pre-eminent death penalty abolitionist, Sister Helen Prejean 
(, author of Dead Man Walking, is looking to carry on 
from Baton Rouge.

This month our chapter turns its attention to the death penalty in our 
own state.  Several California death row inmates may see their appeals 
run out in the next few months.  We focus on one such case, that of 
Stanley "Tookie" Williams at our screening of the film based on his 
life, Redemption, starring Jamie Foxx, on September 25 (See Upcoming 
Events or article below for details).  We will be joined by Barbara 
Becnel, Tookie's collaborator in his anti-gang work who will share her 
insight into the man and the prospects for his legal appeals.  Eric 
DeBode of California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty 
will join us to outline the strategy for passing the new death penalty 
moratorium legislation in the California State Legislature. We are 
pleased to be co-sponsoring this event with All Saints Church's 
anti-racism group, COLORS.

Our book discussion group continues to stimulate in a very topical way. 
  As Katrina unfolded, I found myself thinking back to our August 
discussion of the racial and class disparities exposed in the wake of 
the Watts Riot as depicted by Walter Mosley in Little Scarlet (Mosley 
speaks about his latest book at Vroman's on September 26 at 7:00 PM).  
September's book, Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham, about the 
difficult journey of Vietnamese refugees to the US resonated all the 
more when I read news accounts of the plight of Gulf-coast 
Vietnamese-Americans displaced once by war and now by natural disaster. 
  In October we read Orhan Pamuk's Snow just as the author finds himself 
in legal trouble with the Turkish government for his position on the 
Armenian genocide.  The Los Angeles Times was moved to editorialize 
about his plight and you can learn more by visiting the PEN website:  Looking ahead to November, we will 
be reading Ken Wiwa's moving memoir, In the Shadow of a Saint, of his 
father, author-environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed by the Nigerian 
government ten years ago.  A Los Angeles area event focusing on 
Saro-Wiwa's legacy is tentatively scheduled for October 5 (we'll bring 
you details via email) and vigils may also be scheduled around the 
November 10 anniversary of Saro-Wiwa's death.  Look for more 
information in our next newsletter on a report and actions Amnesty will 
issue on human rights in Nigeria in conjunction with this 
mini-campaign.  Please join us for some great events!

Finally, Amnesty is collaborating with the makers of the newly-released 
film, Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage,  which deals with the 
frightening consequences of global arms-trafficking.  If you go to the 
movie, be sure to check out the Control Arms action in this newsletter 
and visit to learn more!

Take care and hope to see you soon,

Martha Ter Maat

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

by Orhan Pamuk

Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between 
secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism- these are the elements that Orhan 
Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel. An exiled poet 
named Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His 
ostensible purpose is to report on a wave of suicides among religious 
girls forbidden to wear their head-scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his 
memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced. Amid blanketing 
snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures 
ranging from Ipek's ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift 
returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes in a 
massacre. And finding god may be the prelude to losing everything else. 
Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, Snow is of 
immense relevance to our present moment.

"A major work - conscience-ridden and carefully wrought, tonic in its 
scope, candor, and humor - with suspense at every dimpled vortex - Pamuk 
[is Turkey's] most likely candidate for the Nobel Prize." - John Updike

Children's Edition UA for El-Amin Kuku, age 13
Another special Urgent Action designed for children to write on behalf 
of children.  Adults can write too!
  El-Amin Kuku, 13, who is disabled, is in serious danger at police 
headquarters in Sudan. El-Amin lived at Soba Aradi Internally Displaced 
Persons Camp in the capital city Khartoum before he was arrested. 
Amnesty International has learned that many of those arrested at that 
camp are being held by police and are being beaten every day.

In May, 19 policemen were killed at Soba Aradi Internally Displaced 
Persons Camp while trying to forcibly relocate internal refugees to a 
distant camp. Internal refugees are persons who have had to leave their 
homes, villages, and farms in one part of the country, to seek safety 
in another part of the country. Reports indicate that there were 
violent clashes between police and internal refugees. The United 
Nations said that the refugees were not consulted about the move and 
were not assured of places to live and basic services in the new camp.

Please write a short, courteous letter before October 31, 2005, to the 
Ambassador from Sudan, Khidir Ahmed, asking him to ensure the safety of 
El-Amin Kuku in police detention in Khartoum. Tell the Ambassador that 
you have learned that many internal refugees held by the police are 
being beaten. Explain to Ambassador Ahmed that you believe that El-Amin 
Kuku 's basic rights under international law are being violated, 
especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is 
supposed to ensure young people's health and safety. Thank Ambassador 
Ahmed for reading your letter and urge him to let you know exactly what 
he will do to make sure that El-Amin Kuku is safe.

The address for the Ambassador of Sudan is:
  [Salutation: Your Excellency,]
  Ambassador Khidir Ahmed
  Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
  2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW
  Washington DC 20008

Stan "Tookie" Williams Event on Sept 25

Group 22 invites you to a screening of "Redemption" a film based on the 
life of California death row inmate Stanley "Tookie" Williams.  The 
event is co-sponsored by All Saints Church's anti-racism group,  COLORS 
and their Prison Ministry and will be held Sunday, September 25 1:00 - 
4:00 PM at All Saints Church, in the Forum (132 N Euclid Ave, 
Pasadena).  A light lunch will be available for $5.00 donation.  The 
film stars Jamie Foxx and details Williams' journey from notorious gang 
leader to gang-prevention advocate and author of anti-gang children's 
books. Williams has neared the end of the appeals process and it is 
anticipated that an execution date may be set for him this fall, along 
with as many as four other  California death row inmates.  The film 
will be followed by a discussion of the Williams case, lead by Barbara 
Becnel, Williams' collaborator in his anti-gang activities, as well as 
a briefing on the status of the anti-death penalty efforts in 
California from our guest Eric DeBode of California People of Faith 
Working Against the Death Penalty.

Oppose Increased Use in Palestinian Authority

His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas
  President of the Palestinian Authority
  Office of the President
  West Bank

Dear President Abbas:

I am very troubled to learn that you authorized the execution of four 
men on 12 June 2005 - the first executions to be carried out by the 
Palestinian Authority since August 2002. The resumption of executions 
reportedly came in response to increased crime and lawlessness in areas 
of the Occupied Territories that fall under Palestinian Authority 
jurisdiction. I am very concerned that more executions will be carried 
out in the near future.

Between 30 and 50 prisoners held on death row in Palestinian Authority 
prisons are at risk of execution at any time, according to Amnesty 
International. Most were convicted of murder, abduction or rape, while 
others were convicted of collaborating with Israeli intelligence agents 
to assassinate other Palestinians. Amnesty International has declared 
that many of those on death row were sentenced to death after unfair 
trials in the State Security Court, military courts or other courts.
On 22 June 2005, a retrial was ordered for all those sentenced to death 
by the State Security Court. I join with Amnesty International in 
welcoming this decision, but I am concerned that these prisoners could 
be executed even after a retrial and that prisoners sentenced by other 
courts remain at risk of execution.

Amnesty International believes that resuming executions will not solve 
the problem of increasing crime and lawlessness in the Occupied 
Palestinian Territories and is a step backwards for human rights. I 
urge you not to ratify any more death sentences, and I ask you to 
impose a moratorium on executions. I further urge you to ensure that 
those sentenced to death after unfair trials will be retried in 
compliance with international standards for fair trials.


copy to:
  Hasan Abdel Rahman
  PLO Mission
  1320 18th Street N.W.
  Suite 200
  Washington, D.C. 20036

Arms Trafficking in Central Africa

Sample Letter:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary,
I urge you to use your influence on the governments of Rwanda, Uganda 
and the DRC to help stop arms trafficking to armed groups in the DRC.  
The DRC conflict has cost the lives of nearly four million people since 
1998, and abusive armed groups in the DRC continue to commit grave 
human rights abuses with high-powered weapons, endangering the fragile 
peace agreements.

According to Amnesty International and UN Panel of Experts research, 
the governments of DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, assisted by an international 
network of clandestine arms brokers and shippers, have facilitated or 
turned a blind eye to arms transfers to armed groups on all sides of 
the conflict.  These transactions are in contravention of a UN arms 
embargo, UNSC Resolution 1596, which requires all States to restrict 
arms transfers to all "foreign and Congolese armed groups and militias" 
in the DRC.  A U.S. airline company operating in the DRC also appears 
to be involved in illegal activities in the DRC and connected to arms 

In the case of the Rwandan government, for example, documents reveal 
that the Rwandan military approved an illegal transfer of arms and 
ammunition to the ANC (military wing of the armed group RCD-Goma) in 
South Kivu, eastern DRC in August 2003, in violation of the UN arms 
embargo.  In May 2004, dissident elements of RCD-Goma are reported to 
have killed more than 60 people and raped more than 100 women and girls 
in South Kivu, eastern DRC.  Arms in the possession of RCD-Goma have 
included weapons such as rocket launchers and mortars manufactured in 
many countries such as the United States, most likely from black market 

As the United States provides development aid and foreign military 
training to the governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC to support 
peace and development efforts, I urge you to initiate investigations 
into alleged breaches of the UN arms embargo, including by U.S. 
companies.  I also encourage you to push other governments to better 
regulate arms brokers that fuel conflicts by supporting a strong global 
agreement on arms brokering.  If unchecked, arms trafficking to armed 
groups in eastern DRC will continue to fuel grave human rights abuses 
and endanger the fragile peace agreements.


Urge Adoption of Senate Version of Patriot Act

The House and Senate recently passed bills reauthorizing the Patriot 
Act and the two bodies are now working to reconcile the two versions.  
Although AIUSA opposed both versions, the Senate's bill is preferable.  
Write to all your representatives and urge them to push for the Senate 

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC   20510-0001

Senator Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC   20510-0001

Representative Adam B. Schiff
United States House of Representatives
326 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC   20515

Dear _______________,

As a constituent, I urge you to vote to bring the Patriot Act in line 
with human rights and Constitutional standards.  I understand the House 
of Representatives and the Senate will soon have to reconcile competing 
Patriot Act reauthorization bills, and--although not perfect--I urge 
you to support the Senate reforms.  I join close to 400 communities, 
including seven states that have passed resolutions calling on Congress 
to bring the Patriot Act in line with international and Constitutional 
law by including appropriate checks and balances to prevent abuse.

I also urge you to support the SAFE Act, and other appropriate steps to 
reform the Patriot Act. Given the recent revelations that the FBI is 
targeting a member of the American Library Association with the Patriot 
Act, it is clear that new safeguards are needed. I ask that you insist 
that there be some factual connection between any private records 
sought--library records, medical records, financial records, computer 
records--and a foreign terrorist as well as judicial approval, among 
other important reforms.

Congress should promote efforts to amend the Patriot Act and bring it 
in line with the principles of the US Constitution and international 
human rights law, not to expand it. The law must be fixed. Together, 
the reforms in the unanimously approved Senate bill and the SAFE Act 
would go a long way towards giving law enforcement the tools to 
investigate criminal activity without infringing on the human rights 
and civil liberties of general populations.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.


Refugees (Haiti)		10
Children's UA (Mexico)	10
War on Terror			10
Vietnam POC			6
Death Penalty 			4
Urgent Actions			19
Total:				59
Want to add your letters to the total?  Get in touch with

Brother Nguyen Thien Phung

Group 22 now has a page on our website for our newly adopted prisoner 
of conscience, Brother Nguyen Thien Phung (Huan). You can visit it at . Our POC is a member of 
the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, a Roman Catholic order. 
He has been imprisoned since 1987, when he was arrested along with 22 
other monks and priests because they were distributing religious books 
and holding training courses without government permission. You will 
find more information at the link above, along with suggested actions 
and addresses.

Some of you may have attended the AI Southern California 
Mini-Conference in March 2003, where one of the featured speakers was 
Nguyen Thanh Trang, the founder and Chairman of the Vietnam Human 
Rights Network. This organization is located in Garden Grove, just 
south of L.A.  in Orange County, and they have a very comprehensive 
site at . This may prove to be a 
valuable resource in our work for Brother Nguyen Thien Phung.

To learn how the Vietnam government views matters, you can read their 
White Paper on Human Rights, issued August 18, 2005. The document is a 47-page PDF, but 
the section on religious freedom is only a few pages long and is easy 
to locate.

This month let's write to the President of Vietnam. Here is a sample 
letter that you can copy or use as a guide.

Tran Duc Luong
Office of the President
35 Ngo Quyen
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Your Excellency,

I welcomed the release earlier this year of Father Nguyen Van Ly and 
other prisoners of conscience. I hope these releases demonstrate a 
renewed commitment by your government to honor and protect the rights 
of all Vietnamese to peacefully express their opinions.

I am especially concerned about Brother Nguyen Thien Phung (Huan), in 
prison camp Z30A, Xuan Loc, Dong Nai province. He was arrested in 1987 
during raids on Thu Duc Monaastery near Ho Chi Minh City, for holding 
training courses and distributing religious books without government 
permission. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment plus 5 years of 
house arrest.

I urge you to ensure that in accordance with international standards 
Brother Nguyen Thien Phung receives adequate food and necessary medical 
I believe that Brother Nguyen Thien Phung was imprisoned solely for 
peacefully exercising his right to freedom of religion and expression 
by his activities as a member of the Congregation of the Mother 
Coredemptrix. The Vietnamese government has the responsibility to 
uphold the right of freedom of expression and religion for everyone in 
Vietnam, and I therefore respectfully urge you to release Brother 
Nguyen Thien Phung immediately and without condition.

(your name and address)

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