Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIV Number 7, July 2006


Thursday, June 27, 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, August 8, 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, August 20, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This 
month we read Naomi Hirahara's Summer of the Big Bachi (More below.)


Hi everyone.  Hope you are enjoying the summer and trying to stay cool 
in the (early) summer heat.  We have managed to avoid running the 
air/con except as a last resort when we absolutely can't stand it by 
placing fans in every room, keeping the blinds down, and most of the 
lights off except what is necessary.  Is there any relief in sight?!

Maybe there's some truth to global warming!  Seriously, we have seen 
and highly recommend Al Gore's movie on this topic.

Group 22 has been busy lately. June 25, at All Saints Church, members 
Martha TerMaat, Lucas Kamp, Paula Tavrow, Joyce Wolf, Robert and I 
volunteered at another "Camp Darfur" on the church lawn after services. 
   There were several tents, one for each genocide of the 20th century 
(Armenian, Nazi, Bosnia, Rwanda, and now Darfur).  Each tent had maps 
on the opening flap, plus a printed history of the genocide and events 
leading up to it.  The Bosnian tent had a young woman from Bosnia and 
featured an impressive Bosnian crafts and costume display.  We helped 
"sell" solar cookers at the Darfur tent.  All Saints along with a group 
called Jewish World Watch, was soliciting donations to buy these 
cookers for Darfurian women in refugee camps in Chad.  The purpose of 
the cookers is to allow the women to cook inside the camp without 
having to go outside to look for firewood, which is very hazardous.  
Each family is supposed to get 2 cookers, one for rice and other 
starches and another for vegetables or sauce. For more info, go to The women are also being trained on 
how to assemble the cookers, so they can sell them and thus provide 
income for their families.  Camp Darfur also came to Altadena on July 
23 complete with a visit from Congressman Adam Schiff!

Amnesty has started a new Darfur action campaign called "100 Days of 
Action on Darfur" which began June 26 with Arms and Security.  
Currently, the focus is on International Justice.  Did you know that 
not a single person who has carried out, ordered, or condoned even the 
most egregious of the crimes committed in Darfur has been brought to 
justice?  It's time to bring war criminals in Darfur to justice through 
the International Criminal Court (the ICC).  Take action to call on 
Sudan's government to cooperate with the ICC's investigation, and on 
the African Union and the US Government to do all that they can to 
support the ICC's work.  A sample letter follows this column (from the 
website,, which can 
be sent to either your member of Congress or Secretary of State Rice.

Upcoming topics in the 100 Days of Action for Darfur are Refugees and 
Internally Displaced Persons (August 14), and Stopping Violence against 
Women and Girls (Sept 12).

On July 9th, Hector Aristizabal, a Columbian peace activist who lives 
in Pasadena who has participated in many Group 22 activities, 
(including the Doo Dah Parade!) performed his one man play "Nightwind" 
at All Saints Church.  For those of us who hadn't yet seen this play, 
it was a powerful and moving experience --part therapy session (with 
audience participation afterwards!) and call to action.  It is the 
story of Hectors torture (and his brother's death) --they were both 
student activists in Medellin in the 80's-under the hands of the 
Colombian military. We recommend you see it if you get a chance!

Take care,

Support International Criminal Court
The Honorable (First name, Last name)
United States Senate or House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20510 for the Senate or 20515 for the House
Dear Senator _________ or Representative _________:

  I am profoundly concerned about the egregious crimes committed against 
the people of Darfur.  I believe that the International Criminal Court 
(ICC) is an important instrument to protect human rights in Sudan, as 
well as deter future crimes in the region. I appreciate the U.S. 
administration's willingness to assist the ICC in carrying out its work 
in Darfur, and I urge even closer cooperation with the Court in the 
future.  Please do everything in your power to keep pressure on the 
Government of Sudan to cooperate with the ICC investigation.

Thank you very much.


Summer Postcard Action	31
Eritrea POC 	14
Total:	45
To add your letters to the total contact

Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena
Sunday, August 20, 6:30 PM
Keep up with Rights Readers at

Summer of the Big Bachi
by Naomi Hirahara

In the foothills of Pasadena, Mas Arai is just another 
Japanese-American gardener, his lawnmower blades clean and sharp, his 
truck carefully tuned. But while Mas keeps lawns neatly trimmed, his 
own life has gone to seed. His wife is dead. And his livelihood is 
falling into the hands of the men he once hired by the day. For Mas, a 
life of sin is catching up to him. And now bachi, the spirit of 
retribution, is knocking on his door.

It begins when a stranger comes around, asking questions about a 
nurseryman who once lived in Hiroshima, a man known as Joji Haneda. By 
the end of the summer, Joji will be dead and Mas's own life will be in 
danger. For while Mas was building a life on the edge of the American 
dream, he has kept powerful secrets: about three friends long ago, 
about two lives entwined, and about what really happened when the bomb 
fell on Hiroshima in August 1945.

A spellbinding mystery played out from war-torn Japan to the rich 
tidewaters of L.A.'s multicultural landscape, this stunning debut novel 
weaves a powerful tale of family, loyalty, and the price of both 
survival and forgiveness.

Introducing Eritrean Estifanos Seyoum

Two months ago Group 22 adopted a Prisoner of Conscience (POC) from 
Eritrea. (Eritrea is in East Africa between Ethiopia and the Red Sea.) 
Our POC's name is Estifanos Seyoum. We don't have a photo and we don't 
know his age, although an unconfirmed Wikipedia stub says he was born 
in 1947. We do know that he was a Brigadier General and former head of 
the Inland Revenue Service.
Estifanos Seyoum was arrested on September 18, 2001, along with other 
members of the "Group of 15" (G15 for short). These 15 senior members 
of the National Assembly had all signed open letters criticizing the 
policies of President Issayas and calling for open debate of Eritrea's 
problems. The Eritrean government said that the G15 detainees committed 
treason, but they have never been officially charged. They have been 
held incommunicado, without access to their families or lawyers or 
international humanitarian organizations, and the location of their 
place of detention is secret.

A number of other AI Local Groups have recently been assigned cases of 
G15 detainees and other Eritrean POCs. We look forward to cooperative 
actions with these AI groups, in particular Group 19 from Palo Alto, 
whose members are taking a leading role in the cases of the imprisoned 
Eritrean journalists.

Having adopted Estifanos Seyoum as our POC, our group is now committed 
to ongoing action in his behalf. Please join us this month in writing 
to President Issayas. You can copy the letter below or use it as a 
guide in composing your own. Remember, overseas postage is 84 cents!

His Excellency
Issayas Afewerki
Office of the President
P O Box 257

Your Excellency,

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.

I respectfully remind you that the Constitution of Eritrea guarantees 
that "no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of 
law" (Article 15-2) and that "no person may be arrested or detained 
save pursuant to due process of law" (Article 17-1).
I urge you to ensure that in accord with internationally accepted 
standards of human rights and with Eritrea's own Constitution, 
Estifanos Seyoum is informed of the reason for his arrest and of the 
charges against him. I further urge that he have access to his family 
and lawyers and any necessary medical treatment.

Incommunicado detention increases the risk of prisoners being denied 
the basic rights and protection of Eritrean and international law. 
Therefore I ask that you make public the location where Estifanos 
Seyoum is detained. I also urge you to ensure that representatives of 
the International Committee of the Red Cross or other international 
humanitarian organizations are allowed access to him.
Thank you very much for your consideration of this important matter.


Support for Protection of Civilians

Please note that there is an additional action on the current crisis at targeting the leaders of Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah. 
  A sample letter on the protection of civilians directed towards our 
Congressional leaders follows:

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

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0505

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

Dear Senator Feinstein/Boxer/Rep. Schiff:

I am writing to ask that you urge the Bush administration to help 
broker an agreement that ends the violence and presses all parties to 
cease attacks on civilians in Israel, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and to 
ensure that all parties to the conflict observe international law.
Amnesty International USA sent a letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice 
outlining its human rights concerns. In its letter, Amnesty informed 
Secretary Rice that its members throughout the world have been writing 
to all parties to the conflict urging them to take all possible 
measures to cease attacks on civilians, civilian enclaves, and civilian 
infrastructure and to immediately stop indiscriminate and/or 
disproportionate force which are blatant breaches of international 
humanitarian law and amount to war crimes. Amnesty International has 
opposed Hezbollah and Hamas' launching of indiscriminate attacks in 
civilian areas of Israel that have led to the killing of civilians. 
Amnesty has also opposed Israel's attacks in civilian areas and on 
civilian infrastructure that have led to civilian deaths and raised 
concerns about the need to respect the principle of proportionality.

The United States is in a unique position to exert influence on the 
various parties to the conflict to ensure that they cease immediately 
from carrying out further attacks against civilians or civilian 
infrastructure and adhere fully to their obligations under 
international humanitarian law. Amnesty has expressed its concerns to 
the relevant parties on a range of violations including the capture of 
Israeli soldiers in Gaza and Lebanon, the excessive and 
disproportionate use of lethal force, the targeting of civilians and 
the destruction of civilian infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of 
Lebanese civilians have been forced to flee their homes, but many 
wanting to leave cannot do so because roads and bridges around the 
areas have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes and remaining 
alternative routes are not safe as they are also exposed to air 
strikes. Many Israelis have also fled or been forced to stay in bomb 
shelters. A solution based on respect for the human rights of all 
people in the region must be found.

I am concerned over the transfer of arms that are being used to commit 
human rights violations. Amnesty International has pressed all relevant 
parties to this conflict to cease the transfer of weapons that are 
being used against civilians and to press for appropriate measures to 
ensure civilians are not attacked using such weapons. In addressing 
Secretary Rice, Amnesty International asks the Bush administration to 
urge the Israeli government to ensure that U.S-made weapons are not 
used against civilians and to adhere to international law and U.S. 
restrictions on weapon use. In this light, the decision by the 
Administration to transfer precison guided missles to Israel in the 
middle of the conflict, without obtaining any guarantee that they will 
be used in conformity with international law, leads to a risk of 
further civilian casualties.

I also ask you to support Amnesty International's call for the United 
Nations Security Council to authorize and deploy an immediate U.N. 
fact-finding mission to Lebanon, Israel and Gaza to investigate past 
attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and other 
breaches of international humanitarian law. In addition, Amnesty 
International is calling for a U.N. mission to Lebanon and Israel that 
would make concrete recommendations for measures to spare future 
civilian lives.

Please act to bring a permanent end to the violence that has claimed so 
many civilian lives in the region and join Amnesty International and 
the international chorus of voices calling for the Bush administration 
to help broker an agreement that ends the violence and protects 
civilians from further attacks.


Support New Anti-Censorship Legislation
Sample Letter:

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

Dear Representative Schiff:

I urge you to support the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006, without 
any amendments that would hinder its ability to prevent U.S. Internet 
technology companies from cooperating with repressive regimes 
attempting to limit freedom of expression and access to information.

As it now stands, this legislation would help ensure that the Internet 
remains an open forum for free expression in every part of the world, 
and help American companies resist pressure from authoritarian 
governments to compromise their principles. Specifically, I ask you to 
protect the key provisions of the Act, which prohibit US companies from 
locating personally identifiable information in a country that 
represses freedom of expression and providing repressive governments 
with personally identifiable information of users (except for 
legitimate law enforcement purposes).

Internet companies have an invaluable role to play in the realization 
of freedom of expression and information. This bill helps them to 
fulfill that role by requiring them to tell the U.S. government what 
terms they are using to filter, limit or affect search results based on 
a request or policy of a repressive government, and the content they 
are removing or blocking. This is essential if we are to combat 
restrictions on freedom of expression for people around the world.

  Sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS

Clemency for Montana "Volunteer"

David Dawson is scheduled to be executed in Montana on 11 August 2006. 
He was sentenced to death in April 1987 for the murder of Monica and 
David Rodstein and their 11-year-old son Andrew at a motel in Billings, 
  Montana, in 1986. If the execution goes ahead, it would be the first 
judicial killing in the state of Montana for more than eight years.  
David Dawson, who has been on death row for nearly two decades, has 
given up appeals against his conviction and death sentence. State and 
federal courts have found David Dawson competent to waive his appeals 
and have granted his request to dismiss his lawyers. The lawyers 
challenged Dawson's efforts to waive his appeals and fire them, arguing 
that his decision-making has been influenced by the harsh conditions on 
Montana's death row and the suicides of two other condemned inmates who 
hanged themselves in their cells in July 2003 and February 2004.

David Dawson first moved to waive his appeals in 2004. Efforts are 
underway to attempt to stop the execution based on legal challenges to 
the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection process.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.  There have been 1,032 executions in the USA 
since judicial killing resumed there in 1977. Montana accounts for two 
of these executions, which were carried out in May 1995 and February 
1998. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, some 125 countries are 
abolitionist in law or practice. More than 20 countries have abolished 
the death penalty since Montana last executed a prisoner.

About one in 10 of the people executed in the USA since 1977 have been 
so-called "volunteers", prisoners who had dropped their appeals and 
"consented" to execution. Any number of factors may lead a prisoner not 
to pursue appeals against his or her death sentence, including mental 
disorder, physical illness, remorse, bravado, religious belief, the 
severity of conditions of confinement, including prolonged isolation 
and lack of physical contact visits, the bleak alternative of life 
imprisonment without the possibility of parole, pessimism about appeal 
prospects, a quest for notoriety, or simply a desire to gain a 
semblance of control over a situation in which the prisoner is 
otherwise powerless. Rational or irrational, a decision taken by 
someone who is under threat of death at the hands of others cannot be 
consensual. What is more, it cannot disguise the fact that the state is 
involved in a premeditated killing - part of a culture of violence, not 
a solution to it.

Whether or not prisoners who "ask" to be executed are deluding 
themselves about the level of control they have gained over their fate 
- after all, they are merely assisting their government in what it has 
set out to do anyway - the state is guilty of a far greater deception. 
It is peddling its own illusion of control: that, by killing a 
selection of those it convicts of murder, it can offer a constructive 
contribution to efforts to defeat violent crime. In reality, the state 
is taking to refined, calculated heights what it seeks to condemn - the 
deliberate taking of human life. While such executions are sometimes 
referred to as a form of state-assisted suicide, ''prisoner-assisted 
homicide'' would be a more accurate label. For if a death row inmate 
seeks to commit actual suicide, the state will make every effort to 
prevent it. The phenomenon of prisoners "volunteering" for execution 
contributes to the lottery of the death penalty. To put it another way, 
given the rate of reversible error found in capital cases, if the 
approximately 120 "volunteers" executed since 1977 had pursued their 
appeals, there is a significant possibility that a number of them would 
have had their death sentences overturned to prison terms by the appeal 

As well as opposing the death penalty unconditionally in all cases, 
Amnesty International also has serious concerns about the conditions on 
death rows in the USA.  The organization has recently raised this issue 
with the United Nations Committee Against Torture and the UN Human 
Rights Committee.

In Montana, death row inmates spend most of their lives alone in their 
cells. The exercise area to which they have access for five hours a 
week is reportedly an enclosed cage surrounded by concrete walls, with 
the only outside view straight up (to the sky). David Dawson has spent 
nearly 20 years in such conditions.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as 
- expressing sympathy for relatives and friends of Monica, David and 
Andrew Rodstein, explaining that you are not seeking to excuse this 
crime or downplay the suffering caused;
- welcoming the fact that there has not been a execution in Montana in 
more than eight years, and opposing the execution of David Dawson;
- calling on the Governor to stop this execution and to grant clemency 
to David Dawson;
- calling on the Governor to support a moratorium on executions in 

Governor Brian A. Schweitzer
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
P.O. Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801, USA
Email, via website:

Sample Letter for Prisoner of Conscience

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr

Your Excellency:

I am deeply concerned for the safety of Arzhang Davoodi, an author, 
poet and director of the Parto-e Hekmat Cultural Education Centre in 
Tehran who is currently serving a 15-year sentence at Bandar Abbas 

Arzhang Davoodi was arrested in October 2003 after helping to make 
"Forbidden Iran," a television documentary that criticized Iranian 
authorities. Detained without formal charges for a year, Arzhang 
Davoodi was asked to sign a pre-written confession at least three 
times. Mr. Davoodi was also kept in solitary confinement at a detention 
facility where he was severely tortured, resulting in injuries that 
included a broken shoulder blade, partial deafness, a broken jaw and 
broken teeth. Arzhang Davoodi has acquired severe health problems due 
to the torture, but has been denied access to medical treatment.

According to Amnesty International, Arzhang Davoodi is a prisoner of 
conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing his beliefs. 
His imprisonment in connection with the production of a television 
documentary appears to be a clear violation of his right to freedom of 
expression, a right guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil 
and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. I urge you to 
immediately and unconditionally release Arzhang Davoodi. I call on you 
to thoroughly investigate the allegations of his torture and make 
available the necessary medical treatment.

I thank you for your attention to this serious matter.

copy to:
Iranian Interests Section
2209 Wisconsin Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007