Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIV Number 8, August 2006


Thursday, August 24, 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.

Tuesday, September 12, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the 
Athenaeum. Corner of California & Hill.  The cafeteria area is closed 
in summer so look for us outside on the lawn if weather permits, or in 
the lounge close to the entryway.  This informal gathering is a great 
way for newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, September 17, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book 
Discussion Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., 
Pasadena.  This month we read Michela Wrong's book on Eritrea, I Didn't 
Do it For You, (More below.)


Hello everyone.  Summer is winding down and it's almost time to go back 
to school.  I myself returned to work this week, after taking most of 
the summer off (no paycheck in August, thus my early return to the 
job!). In July Rob and I spent a week and a half in Manhattan and 
Boston. I had never been to either city before; Robert has been to NYC. 
What a contrast to Los Angeles! We did all the usual touristy things, 
which was fun. The weather was great and the city pretty with lots of 
green trees and parks. We did not encounter the legendary New York 

We also paid a visit to ground zero. They are working on the memorial 
site. We couldn't tell what they were doing; it looked like a jumble of 
rubble to me, but the memorial will have 2 reflecting pools with 
waterfalls where the two towers were, a tall white "freedom tower", 
trees, a plaza/transportation hub where the current subway station is 
now, a museum, performing arts center and commercial buildings.  It is 
supposed to open September 11, 2009.  We went downstairs to the subway 
station and saw a display of tiles that were painted by children who 
had lost family members in 911. You would have to have a heart of stone 
not to tear up looking at these paintings-"my dad-my hero", "poppy died 
here", drawings of hearts, American flags, rainbows, family members, 
and the two towers with a plane flying toward them. My favorite was one 
that had a giant heart, giant earth, and peace symbol interlaced with 
the word "ONE" in caps at the top. I look forward to seeing the Oliver 
Stone movie "World Trade Center"-don't care if Kenny Turan panned it!

Group 22 has had a few activities this summer.  On July 23, another 
Camp Darfur was held in Altadena at the First Presbyterian Church.  
Group 22 member Lucas Kamp and a few others were there and so was 
Representative Adam Schiff! The purpose was to invite his constituents 
to come write letters to raise awareness and to call for action to stop 
the genocide in Darfur. Group 22 member Paula Tavrow has been involved 
with the Stop Genocide Now group and we thank her for her tireless 
organizing and work on this issue.

The Western Regional Conference will be held in Tucson, Arizona Oct 
13-15, 2006.  It is titled "Human Rights Have No Borders".  Larry Cox, 
the new AIUSA director, is one of the featured speakers, along with the 
director of Borderlinks and other immigration rights organizations and 
a speaker from the Hopi Foundation.  Tucson has a reputation since the 
80s- when the Southside Presbyterian Church and the Quakers were 
assisting refugees fleeing war-torn El Salvador-for humanitarian 
actions toward immigrants from "Old Mexico" and other Latin countries.  
I attended University of Arizona there to get my BSN(Bachelors of 
Science in Nursing) and have very fond memories of the city, so we will 
probably attend the conference! For more info, call the Region Office 
at:  310-815-0450 or go online to:

Take care and hope to see you at one of our meetings!


Push for Intl Agreement to Control Arms

Continuing with the "100 Days of Action" on Sudan, we offer this action 
on arms control this month:

The Honorable Adam Schiff
United States House of Representatives
326 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-

RE: Help Establish International Agreement to Determine When 
Governments Should Prevent Arms Brokering

Dear Representative Schiff

  I am deeply concerned about the ease with which ruthless arms brokers 
provide weapons to countries under regional and U.N. arms embargoes. 
These globetrotting merchants of death continue to facilitate shipments 
of arms to Sudan and others, threatening the lives of innocent 

In the last decade and a half, unscrupulous arms brokers have been at 
the center of many of the most disturbing arms deals. In a typical 
example, an Irish arms broker reportedly arranged the transfer of 50 
T72 tanks from Ukraine to the Sudanese military in late 2004. The 
notorious arms broker, Victor Bout, continues to be linked to arms 
transfers to Sudan. Bout, the above Irish arms broker, and many others, 
however, remain free and continue to fuel violent conflicts.

Addressing the threat of these globetrotting brokers, the U.S. 
government adopted a tough law on arms brokering in 1996. The U.S. law, 
for example, covers a wide range of brokering activities and both U.S. 
and some foreign persons operating in the United States or abroad. This 
law, however, will not be fully effective until other governments adopt 
and work to implement similar laws. Without similar international laws, 
U.S. government officials find it difficult to investigate and 
extradite perpetrators of U.S. law in foreign countries.

In order to better enforce U.S. law and stop ruthless arms brokers from 
supporting abusive armed groups around the world, I urge you to 
encourage the Bush Administration to establish a strong global 
agreement on arms brokering to tackle this global threat.

  Your Name and Address

Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena
Sunday, September 15, 6:30 PM
Keep up with Rights Readers at

I Didn't Do it For You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation
by Michela Wrong

Scarred by decades of conflict and occupation, the craggy African 
nation of Eritrea has weathered the world's longest-running guerrilla 
war. The dogged determination that secured victory against Ethiopia, 
its giant neighbor, is woven into the national psyche, the product of 
cynical foreign interventions. In I Didn't Do It for You, Michela Wrong 
reveals the breathtaking abuses this tiny nation has suffered and, with 
a sharp eye for detail and a taste for the incongruous, tells the story 
of colonialism itself and how international power politics can play 
havoc with a country's destiny.

Israel - Lebanon	25
Eritrea POC 	3
Urgent Actions	5
Total:	33
To add your letters to the total contact

Eritrean Estifanos Seyoum

Next month will mark the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Estifanos 
Seyoum, Group 22's adopted prisoner of conscience. The Eritrea 
authorities arrested him and 10 others on Sep. 18, 2001, because they 
signed open letters criticizing government policies and calling for 
reforms and open debate. For five years Estifanos and the others have 
been held in secret places of detention and have never been tried in 
court or formally charged.  More information is available on our web 
site at

The September selection of our human rights book discussion group is a 
book about Eritrea,  I Didn't Do It for You : How the World Betrayed a 
Small African Nation, by Michela Wrong. Please visit now for a description of the book, 
and visit again in September to see what new supplementary information 
our bookgroup moderator has posted. We are looking forward to learning 
more about the country of our adopted POC.

The long term goal of our work for Estifanos Seyoum is of course his 
immediate and unconditional  release. In the short term, our goals are 
to ensure that the Eritrean authorities make public his whereabouts in 
detention, to obtain information about his health and treatment in 
custody, and to ensure that he has access to his family, lawyers, and 
necessary medical treatment.  Please join us this month in writing to 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Postage is 84 cents.)

Mr Mohamed Omar
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
P O Box 190

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you about ESTIFANOS SEYOUM, formerly a Brigadier 
General and head of the Inland Revenue Service until August 2001. He 
was arrested on 18 September 2001. His current whereabouts and 
condition of health are unknown.

Amnesty International considers Estifanos Seyoum to be a Prisoner of 
Conscience, since he has neither used nor advocated violence in the 
peaceful expression of his political opinions.

Incommunicado detention increases the risk of prisoners being denied 
the basic rights and protection of Eritrean and international law. 
Therefore I urge that the whereabouts of Estifanos Seyoum be made known 

I call upon the government of Eritrea to provide access for Estifanos 
Seyoum to his family and lawyers and necessary medical care, in 
accordance with the United Nations Body of Principles for the 
Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, 
Principle 18(3) and Principle 19.
I ask that international humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC 
(International Committee of the Red Cross) be given immediate access to 
Estifanos Seyoum.
Thank you very much for your consideration of this important matter.

[Your Name and Address]

Justice for Survivors of WWII Sexual Slavery

Survivors of the "comfort women" system are very elderly, and many have 
died. At least two survivors AI delegates met with when researching for 
the report on this issue have since died. It is therefore important to 
work towards realizing justice for these women as soon as possible.

The Japanese government has vigorously defended its legal position on 
this issue and has persistently maintained that all issues of 
compensation have been settled by post World War II (WWII) peace 
treaties (including the San Francisco Peace treaty and bi-lateral 
treaty arrangements between Japan and relevant parties). Japan's 
apologies to the former "comfort women" have also been half-hearted. 
Japan's answer to compensation - the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) - has 
failed to meet international guidelines on reparations and has divided 
many of the former "comfort women" and their support groups.

Amnesty International calls on the government of Japan to ensure that 
survivors receive full reparation including: restitution, compensation, 
rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition. The 
organization calls on the government of Japan to:

1) Accept full responsibility for the "comfort women" system, including 
publicly acknowledging the harm that these women suffered, restore the 
dignity of the survivors and publicly denounce sexual violence against 
women, whenever and wherever it occurs.

2) Issue an apology from the Japanese Diet that is acceptable to the 
majority of "comfort women" and their immediate relatives.

3) Offer adequate and effective compensation directly from the Japanese 
government to the "comfort women" or their immediate relatives. This 
compensation should take into account the violations committed against 
them including the long term denial of the remedy itself and issues 
such as lost opportunities and livelihoods.

4) Guarantee non-repetition by:

* Ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

* Supporting efforts to agree on an international arms trade treaty to 
stop the proliferation of weapons used to commit human rights 
violations such as violence against women;

5) Provide an accurate account of the sexual slavery system in Japanese 
educational text books on World War II.

(For more information see Still Waiting After 60 Years: Justice for 
Survivors of Japan's Military Sexual Slavery System, AI Index: ASA 

Ambassador Ryozo Kato
2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
RE: Ratify the ICC's Rome Statute
  Dear Ambassador Kato

  I am writing to you on the 61st anniversary of the end of World War II 
in the Pacific to call for justice for the survivors of Japan's sexual 
slavery system. Up to 200,000 women and girls were forced to become 
"comfort women" by the Japanese Imperial Army before and during World 
War II. Survivors of this system of sexual slavery are still awaiting 
full reparations. They are now very elderly and many have died without 
seeing justice.

I am calling on the government of Japan to accept full responsibility 
for the crimes committed against the "comfort women" and provide full 
reparations to survivors of the sexual slavery system in accordance 
with international standards and in a way acceptable to survivors 

To date, your government has taken limited steps to atone for the crime 
of sexual slavery. Survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery 
suffered over 50 years of physical and mental ill-health, isolation, 
misplaced shame, and often extreme poverty before breaking their 
silence in the early 1990s. Despite their tireless campaign for 
justice, the government of Japan refuses to acknowledge these women's 
right to justice.

I urge the Japanese government to:

1) Provide direct adequate and effective compensation to the "comfort 
women" or their immediate relatives.

2) Make a full and frank public apology to survivors accepting the 
government's responsibility for the crimes, acknowledging the harm 
suffered by survivors and admitting that the sexual slavery system 
amounts to crimes under international law.

3) Include an accurate account of the sexual slavery system in 
educational materials and school history textbooks.

4) Immediately ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal 
Court as an important guarantee of non-repetition of these crimes.

Your Name and Address

Investigate/Prosecute Contractors who Torture

The United States government is outsourcing key security and military 
support functions to private companies, particularly in Iraq and 
Afghanistan. Government reports have implicated these private 
contractors in serious human rights violations - including participation 
by contractors in the torture at Abu Ghraib - yet only one civilian 
contractor has faced charges.


The publication of photos depicting Iraqi detainees being physically 
and mentally abused at Abu Ghraib prison caused shock and outrage 
across the world. Following publication of these horrific images, 
serious allegations of involvement in the abuse by private military 
companies contracted by the U.S. government emerged. Yet years later, 
Bush administration officials have made virtually no effort to hold 
contractors accountable or to compensate victims.

The U.S. government has outsourced billions of dollars in contracts to 
private companies, leaving to civilians some of the most essential and 
sensitive functions in the war, including providing security for U.S 
government personnel and reconstruction projects, operating and 
maintaining weapons systems, translating during interrogations and 
conducting interrogations. Despite weak reporting requirements placed 
on private security firms, allegations have surfaced implicating 
civilians working for the U.S. government in mistreatment of Iraqi and 
Afghan civilians.

Currently the contractors operate in a virtually rules-free zone; they 
are exempt from Iraqi law per a Coalition Provisional Authority order 
and they fall outside the military chain of command. Further, of the 20 
known cases of alleged misconduct by civilians in the "war on terror" 
that were forwarded by the Pentagon and CIA to the U.S. Department of 
Justice (DOJ) for investigation, the DOJ has prosecuted one case, 
dismissed two, and left open the remaining 17.

Recommended Action:

Tell the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute 
all cases of human rights violations committed by employees or 
contractors of private military companies.

Write a letter or e-mail to the Department of Justice:

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

We have provided a sample letter, but please be encouraged to add your 
own thoughts:

Dear Mr. Gonzales,

At your January 2005 confirmation hearing, you promised that "abuse 
will not be tolerated by this administration" and that if confirmed, 
you would "ensure that the Department of Justice aggressively pursues 
those responsible for such abhorrent actions." However, today I am 
deeply concerned that serious allegations of government contractors' 
involvement in grave human rights violations in the War on Terror have 
largely been ignored by the Department of Justice.

The Army's Fay / Jones and Taguba reports investigating abuse at Abu 
Ghraib implicated contractors from two companies in torture and ill 
treatment. Yet of the 20 known cases of abuse allegedly committed by 
civilians working for private military contractors that have been 
forwarded to the Department of Justice, and the hundreds of serious 
incident reports voluntarily filed with U.S. authorities in Iraq, only 
one trial has been initiated.

Amnesty International condemns torture and abuse committed in the name 
of the War on Terror and demands that those responsible for the abuses 
be brought to justice in accordance with U.S. obligations under 
international and domestic law.

Accountability is a critical component of enforcing human rights. Where 
clear evidence of human rights violations exists, perpetrators should 
be immediately prosecuted. I ask you to uphold your commitment to 
pursue those responsible for abuses, and ensure that the Department of 
Justice promptly investigate all allegations of human rights violations 
committed by employees or contractors of private military and security 
firms. Thank you for your attention to these very serious matters. I 
look forward to your response.

Your Name and Address

Urge Korean Govt to Abolish Death Penalty

The Legislation and Judiciary Committee (LJC) of the South Korean 
National Assembly (or Parliament), which has in the past delayed the 
enactment of the Special Bill on Abolishing the Death Penalty (Special 
Bill), is finally about to consider it, and is proposing a public 
hearing on the Special Bill in the National Assembly in April. Despite 
the fact that a majority of National Assembly members have voted for 
the bill, the 13 member LJC has never in the past considered it. This 
is a crucial step before the bill can be enacted into legislation. It 
is not clear how many members in the LJC are in favour of the Special 
Bill, but the vote is expected to be very close. International pressure 
from the AI movement is seen as being very important to demonstrate to 
the LJC that the international community is expecting them to vote for 
this historic legislation, and thus enact the first death penalty 
abolition bill in Northeast Asia.

Sample Letter follows:

Chairman Sang-soo An
Room 507, National Assembly Member's Office Bldg.
Yeouido-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu
Seoul, 150-702, KOREA

Member Yoon-keun Woo
Room 239, National Assembly Member's Office Bldg.
Yeouido-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu
Seoul, 150-702, KOREA

Member Byung-yul Seon
Room 344, National Assembly Member's Office Bldg.
Yeouido-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu
Seoul, 150-702, KOREA

Member Seung-jo Yang
Room 404, National Assembly Member's Office Bldg.
Yeouido-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu
Seoul, 150-702, KOREA

Member Won-young Lee
Room 535, National Assembly Member's Office Bldg.
Yeouido-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu
Seoul, 150-702, KOREA

RE: Urge the Adoption of Death Penalty Legislation

Dear Chairman An/ Member Woo/Seon/Yang/Lee:

As a member of Amnesty International, I write to urge you as a member 
of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee to pass the Special Bill on 
Abolishing the Death Penalty which calls for the abolition of the death 
penalty in the Republic of Korea.

Amnesty International unconditionally opposes the death penalty on the 
grounds that it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading 
punishment. The death penalty violates the right to life; it is 
irrevocable and has been inflicted on the innocent. It has not been 
shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments.
A majority of the countries in the world, 120, have abolished the death 
penalty in law or practice. Since 1990 over 40 countries have abolished 
the death penalty for all crimes. Among Organization for Economic 
Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, all countries except 
South Korea, Japan, the United States of America (USA) and Mexico have 
abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Mexico has abolished the 
death penalty for all ordinary crimes.

Amnesty International welcomes the fact that there have been no 
executions since former President Kim Dae-jung, a former death row 
prisoner himself, took office in February 1998 and that the present 
President Roh Moo-hyun has continued to honor this commitment.

However, at least three people were sentenced to death in South Korea 
in 2005 and at least 63 prisoners remained under sentence of death at 
the end of the year.
I urge you to support this historic step in passing into legislation 
the first death penalty abolition bill in Northeast Asia. The adoption 
of this Special Bill would be in line with an international trend to 
abolish the death penalty worldwide. South Korea can send an important 
message to Asia as a whole and become the leading force in abolishing 
the death penalty in the region.


  Your Name and Address