Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 8, August 2007


Thursday, August 23, 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 11, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting.  For this
one date only, we will not meet at the Athenaeum, but at the Coffee
Tree at 696 East Colorado Blvd., #8, in the alley just off Colorado.
(This is across the street from Vromans bookstore and the Laemmle
theater.)  This informal gathering is a great way for newcomers to
get acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, September 16, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book
Discussion Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd.,
Pasadena.  This month we read Sonia Nazario's Pulitzer-winning
account of migrant children, Enrique's Journey (More below).


Hi everyone,

Long time no see! Well, I'm back to writing the column again as I
have finished all the classes and am 75% of the way done with my
project for the Cambridge College, Ontario, CA Masters in Education
program.  (Thanks to Joyce, Rob, and Stevie who have been my
proof-readers!) Thanks to those of you who "filled in" for me since
February.  It has really been a lot of fun and I met a lot of great
people in Ontario this summer, including several school nurses from
Las Vegas!

What has Group 22 been doing since I've been away?  Group 22's China
expert, Wen Chen, along with Lucas Kamp, our Co-Coordinator, and
other local China activists have been meeting with Pasadena city and
Tournament of Roses officials since June of this year regarding the
Pasadena City Council's invitation to the Chinese government to have
an Olympic themed float in the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade.  This
is of concern to many in the community because of China's poor human
rights record-especially the persecution of Falun Gong members.  The
husband of one of Wen's friends, Bu Dongwei, has been imprisoned in
China (he was there working for an aid organization) for having Falun
Gong literature at his home.  Amnesty deems him to be a prisoner of
conscience as he was arrested for practicing his right of freedom of
expression and religion.  There are other human rights concerns in
China dealing with labor issues, the displacement of persons evicted
from their homes to make way for the building of Olympic facilities,
the crackdown on the media, with continued imprisonment of
journalists and writers, and internet censorship, plus the secretive
and excessive use of the death penalty.  Read Amnesty's report on
China at:

One of our Group 22 members recently returned from visiting her
sister, who works as a teacher in Xinjiang province in China, an area
north of Tibet that is bordered by Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and
Kyrgyzstan that has many ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs.

Remember Rebiya Kadeer, the Uyghur woman who was one of our special
focus cases several years ago?  Well, she was released May 2005 and
we heard her speak at one of the regional conferences.  Her children
are still imprisoned in China. 

Below is an action on their behalf.


Concern for Rebiya Kadeer's Children

Under the Chinese Anti-Terrorism law, thousands of Uyghurs, an ethnic
minority group, have been detained and political prisoners have been
executed after unfair trials. On numerous occasions Chinese
authorities have arrested Muslim preachers and religious leaders,
destroyed Mosques, and closed down many Muslim religious schools.

Rebiya Kadeer is a former Amnesty International prisoner of
conscience.  After she was arrested in 1999 for supposedly leaking
secrets of the State, her family was the target of harassment by
authorities that has only intensified since her release and arrival
in the United States.  Prior to her release in March 2005, Rebiya
claims she was warned that "her businesses and children will be
finished" if she engaged with members of the Uyghur ethnic community
or spoke publicly about "sensitive issues" after her release.  After
her release the Chinese government launched an investigation into
alleged financial irregularities by her company, the "Akida Trading
Co." in Urumqi; Rebiya has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.  Amnesty
International believes that the ongoing harassment and reports of
torture of Rebiya's family casts serious a doubt on the credibility
of this investigation.

Rebiya has provided numerous examples of the abuse her family has
suffered.  On May 29 of 2006, Rebiya's sons, Alim and Ablikim, her
daughter, Rushangul, and six other family members (four of them
children) were detained by Chinese authorities in an apparent attempt
to prevent them from meeting with a delegation from the United States
Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which was scheduled to visit them
the following day.  The official Chinese press, however, reported
that members of the Kadeer family were detained due to charges
related to financial irregularities in Rebiya Kadeer's business. 
After the departure of the delegation, her family members were freed,
though her four grandchildren that were released are reportedly being
prevented form leaving their homes to attend school.

Only days later on June 1, in an attempt to influence Rebiya's
activities promoting the rights of Uyghur people, Alim and Ablikim
were beaten by police in front of their children and Rebiya's
daughter Rushangul, who was then handed a phone and told to call
Rebiya in the United States to tell her what was happening. 
Rushangul was later taken to a hospital to be treated for symptoms
related to stress and shock.

Alim was sentenced to 7 years in jail on November 27. Ablikim is
still being detained while he awaits trial.  Rushangul remains under
house arrest.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice,

I am concerned by the imprisonment of three of Rebiya Kabeer's
children who were taken into custody in May of 2006.  Ms. Kadeer is a
prominent human rights activist that was a prisoner of conscience in
China for six years.  I urge you to press the Chinese government to
immediately and unconditionally release her children. 

When Ms. Kadeer was released from prison, in March 2005, after
serving a six-year prison term for "leaking state secrets," Chinese
security forces warned her not to advocate for the rights of the
Uyghur minority in the United States or elsewhere or else her family
and businesses would suffer the consequences.
At the end of May of 2006, her two sons, Alim and Ablikim, as well as
her daughter, Rushangul, were detained and subsequently placed under
house arrest.  The following day, security forces reportedly beat her
sons outside of Urumqi City, Xinjiang, which resulted in the
hospitalization of one.  Chinese authorities have arrested both sons
and her daughter remains under house arrest.  It is also reported
that another relative of Ms. Kadeer's, Kahar Adiriyim, is now facing
criminal charges.

As an advocate of the basic human rights we enjoy here in the United
States, I urge you to press the Chinese government for the immediate
and unconditional release of Rebiya Kadeer's children.

Sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS

Protect Sudanese Environmentalists

The Secretary General of the Committee Against the Building of the
Kajbar Dam, Osman Ibrahim, was arrested at his home in Farraig
village by some 40 police and security officers on 20 July. He had
recently left the hospital where he was being treated for diabetes.
When he was arrested, the security forces refused to allow him to
take his medication with him. Dr Mohamed Jalal Ahmed Hashim, who also
suffers from diabetes, was reportedly twice taken to the hospital for
treatment and returned to prison. Journalist Mujahed Mohamed Abdallah
is now known to have been arrested on 13 June. Abdulaziz Mohamed Ali
Khairi was released on 5 August. Raafat Hassan Abbas was released on
23 June, and Saad Mohamed Ahmed on 9 July.

Six others, named above, remain in prison. Most were arrested on 13
June after they arrived in the Northern State capital, Dongola, to
investigate the killing of four people in a demonstration against the
Kajbar Dam earlier that day in Farraig. Only two of them have been
allowed any contact with the outside world: Dr Mohamed Jalal Ahmed
Hashim and Alam Eldin Abdelghani have been allowed 15-minute family
All seven detainees are being held in Debek Prison, north of
Khartoum, where conditions are very poor, especially in the rainy
season, which is now, when there are swarms of mosquitoes and flies.
None of those in custody has been formally charged with any offense.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.  The Kajbar Dam is to be located on the third
cataract of the Nile. Local residents are protesting against the
destruction of their villages and the failure of the authorities to
hold a proper consultation over the proposed dam construction.

Article 31 of the 1999 National Security Forces Act gives the
security forces the power to detain people for up to nine months
without access to judicial review. All those detained over the
protests against the Kajbar Dam are likely to be held under this

ACTION: Please send appeals:
- expressing concern for those detained in connection with the
construction of the Kajbar Dam;

- urging the authorities to give them immediate and regular access to
their families, lawyers, and any medical treatment they may require;

- urging the authorities to release the detainees unless they are to
be charged promptly with a recognisably criminal offense;

- urging the authorities to repeal Article 31 of the National
Security Forces Act, which allows detainees to be held for up to nine
months without access to judicial review.

Prof. Al-Zubair Bashir Taha
Minister of Internal Affairs
Ministry of Interior, PO Box 281
Khartoum, SUDAN

Mr Muhammad Ali al-Maradhi
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 302
Khartoum, SUDAN

Ambassador John Ukec Lueth Ukec
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at
Sunday, September 16, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena

Enrique's Journey
by Sonia Nazario

In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia
Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who
braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the
United States. Enrique sets off alone from Tegucigalpa, with little
more than a slip of paper bearing his mother's North Carolina
telephone number. Without money, he will make the dangerous and
illegal trek up the length of Mexico the only way he can - clinging to
the sides and tops of freight trains.  Enrique pushes forward using
his wit, courage, and hope - and the kindness of strangers. It is an
epic journey, one thousands of immigrant children make each year to
find their mothers in the United States.

Lao Refugees Fear Forcible Return

The 149 Lao Hmong refugees detained at Nong Khai Immigration
Detention Center (IDC) began a hunger-strike at midday on 16 August
in protest at their continued detention in appalling conditions.
There are grave concerns for their welfare, particularly as more than
half of them are children and some are already suffering from health
problems made worse by the conditions at the detention centre and the
fact that they have been detained for a prolonged period.

Conditions at the Nong Khai IDC have deteriorated recently. Since
June the refugees are confined to two small, hot, windowless,
overcrowded cells, which they are not allowed to leave, in what the
United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has described as "deplorable"
conditions. They reportedly have no access to clean drinking water,
have not been allowed to wash their clothes, and have had their
mosquito netting and blankets removed. This is reportedly in response
to the escape of seven of the group in June, two of whom were
recaptured and returned.

The 149, who are recognized as refugees by the UNHCR, have been
detained for the last nine months. They were arrested in mid-November
2006 and initially detained at the IDC in Bangkok. On 7 December they
were transported to Nong Khai, on the border with Laos.

The Thai authorities attempted to forcibly return the group to Laos
on 30 January, but met with international condemnation after
immigration officials dragged the women and children from their cell,
loaded them onto buses and took them to the Lao border. The
authorities attempted to force the men and boys from their cell,
where they had barricaded themselves. The unlawful deportation
attempt was abandoned, and since then Prime Minister Surayong
Chulanont has stated that the group will not be forcibly returned to
Laos, and will be allowed to resettle in third countries. Four
countries have accepted all of them for resettlement, but the Thai
authorities have not yet allowed the refugees to leave.

Despite repeated calls from UNHCR and other members of the
international community, including Amnesty International, the 149
recognized refugees in Nong Khai IDC have not been released and
allowed to proceed with their resettlement.

Around 8,000 ethnic Hmong Lao asylum-seekers are living in a camp at
Huay Nam Khao in Phetchabun province. Lao Hmong started arriving at
the camp in large numbers in 2004, seeking refugee status. In
addition, an unknown number are held at police detention facilities
in the province.

These individuals claim to have been persecuted in Laos because of
their connection with ethnic Hmong armed resistance groups, who
fought alongside the USA against the communist Lao forces during the
Viet Nam war (1965-1975) and its spill-over fighting in Laos.

So far, the UNHCR has not been allowed access to the Lao Hmong in
Huay Nam Khao in order to determine their protection needs, and the
Thai authorities have not introduced a fair and satisfactory
procedure to enable these individuals to claim asylum and a durable
solution to their plight. In early June a group of 163 asylum-seekers
were forcibly returned under a bilateral agreement between Thailand
and Laos, in breach of international human rights law and standards.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals:
- expressing concern that 149 Lao Hmong refugees, including children
and infants, remain in prolonged detention in overcrowded and
unsanitary conditions in Nong Khai Immigration Detention Center;

- expressing concern that the refugees are already in poor health,
and that this is likely to deteriorate further as they embark on a
protest hunger strike, and urging the authorities to immediately
provide the refugees with adequate medical care;

- calling on the authorities to take immediate steps to improve the
conditions at the IDC and the treatment of the refugees, in
accordance with UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of

- urging the authorities to arrange the speedy resettlement of the
refugees to a third country;

- urging the authorities to ensure that UNHCR and other relevant
independent humanitarian agencies are given immediate access to all
asylum seekers, including new arrivals, in Huay Nam Khao and other
facilities in Phetchabun province.

Head of agency with responsibilities for border
areas and refugees:
Prakit Prachonpachanuk
National Security Council
Government House, Phitsanulok Road
Dusit, Bangkok, 10300

General Surayud Chulanont
Office of the Prime Minister
Government House, Phitsanulok Road
Dusit, Bangkok, 10300

Nitya Pibulsonggram
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Wang Saranrom, Bangkok 10200

Ambassador Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn
Embassy of Thailand
1024 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington DC 20007

Stop Texas Execution

Kenneth Foster is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 30 August. He
was sentenced to death in 1997 for the murder of Michael LaHood, a
white man, in 1996. Mauriceo Brown, the person who shot LaHood, was
executed in 2006. Kenneth Foster, in a car some 30 metres from the
crime when it was committed, was convicted under the "law of
parties", the 1974 Texas law under which the distinction between
principal actor and accomplice in a crime is abolished and each may
be held equally culpable. Kenneth Foster maintains that he did not
know that Brown would either rob or kill Michael LaHood. There is
evidence not heard at trial that the murder was an unplanned act
committed by Mauriceo Brown, as the latter himself claimed.
On the evening of 14 August 1996, Mauriceo Brown, DeWayne Dillard,
Julius Steen and Kenneth Foster drove around San Antonio in Foster's
grandfather's rental car, with Foster driving. They committed two
armed robberies, with Steen and Brown robbing at gunpoint first a
woman and then a man and two women. Then, in the early hours of 15
August, they stopped outside the house of Michael LaHood to which
LaHood and a female companion, Mary Patrick, were returning.
According to the trial evidence, Mary Patrick approached Foster's car
and asked who they were. When she realized she did not know the
occupants, she walked back towards Michael LaHood. Mauriceo Brown got
out of the car, approached LaHood, demanded his wallet, and shot him.
Not long afterwards, Kenneth Foster and his three companions were
stopped by police and arrested. Kenneth Foster, who was aged 19 at
the time, gave police a statement in which he said that, "Mauriceo
jumped out of the car...We had tried to get Mauriceo to get in the car
and leave... We just wanted to leave... I heard a gunshot...I did not
know, at the time, that Mauriceo had a gun. Mauriceo trotted back to
the car... He was gasping... I asked him, what happened, what had he
done. He didn't reply".
Mauriceo Brown and Kenneth Foster were tried jointly for capital
murder. Brown admitted being the gunman but denied intent to kill. At
the trial Brown testified that there had been no discussion of
robbing LaHood before he got out of the car. Foster pleaded not
guilty. Both were sentenced to death. Mauriceo Brown was executed on
19 July 2006. Neither Julius Steen nor DeWayne Dillard was prosecuted
for the LaHood murder.

To convict Kenneth Foster of capital murder under the law of parties,
the prosecution had to prove that there was a conspiracy between him
and Brown to rob LaHood, and that Foster should have anticipated that
murder might have occurred during the robbery. The prosecution's key
witness was Julius Steen. Although Steen testified that he had not
been sure of Brown's intent when he left the car and that there had
been no discussion in the car about committing a robbery, he said
that "it was kind of like, I guess understood what was probably
fixing to go down." Asked by the prosecutor if he had understood that
when Brown got out of the car, there was going to be a robbery, Steen
testified that "I would say I kind of thought it". He also said that
he was not sure of Foster's understanding in this regard. Affirming
the death sentence in 1999, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
observed that the case against Foster "rested largely on Steen's
testimony as an accomplice". The prosecution had pointed to the two
earlier robberies committed at gunpoint as a reason Foster should
have anticipated that a murder could have occurred.

Neither Julius Steen nor DeWayne Dillard (who did not testify at the
trial) was interviewed by Kenneth Foster's trial lawyers. This was
because each was facing charges in other cases, and their own lawyers
refused to allow them to be interviewed while those cases were still
pending. Since the trial, both have given statements. Dillard
testified at a state appeal that before the shooting, Kenneth Foster
had told him that he wanted Brown and Steen to stop committing the
robberies, and because Dillard had known the two longer, asked him to
persuade them to stop. Dillard testified that he himself had believed
there would be no more robberies because he had taken his gun back
after the two earlier crimes.

He said that the four were heading back to his home when they came to
a dead end and, after turning the car around, had stopped when they
saw Mary Patrick apparently flagging them down. Dillard testified
that Brown had grabbed the gun but that Foster was unlikely to have
seen that; that there was no agreement or plan to rob anyone; and
that no one had encouraged Brown to do what he did. He said that
after the shot was heard, Foster had appeared surprised and panicked
and started to drive away, but Dillard had told him to stop and wait
for Brown.

Julius Steen signed an affidavit in 2003 clarifying his trial
testimony, clarification that had not been elicited by the defense
because their cross-examination was inevitably weak due to their lack
of pre-trial contact with this witness. Steen recalled that it was
only when he had seen Mauriceo Brown standing opposite Michael LaHood
that he understood "what might be going down. At that point, and not
before, I thought that Brown might be robbing the man". He stated
that "There was no agreement that I am aware of for Brown to commit a
robbery at the LaHood residence. I do not believe that Foster and
Brown ever agreed to commit a robbery. In my opinion, I don't think
that Foster thought that Brown was going to commit a robbery. When
Brown got back in the car, we were all shocked. Even Brown looked
shocked. I don't think that Brown knew why he shot the man and was
surprised that he did". In a recent appeal, Foster's lawyer has
argued: "Foster clearly did not anticipate what Brown himself did not
foresee. Brown clearly acted on his own independent impulse, and not
pursuant to the imaginary robbery conspiracy that has trapped Kenneth
Foster on death row".

In 2005, a federal district judge found a "fundamental constitutional
defect in Foster's sentence". In 1982, the US Supreme Court had ruled
in Enmund v. Florida - in the case of a man who had been in a parked
car while his accomplices committed robbery and murder in a house
nearby - that the death penalty is disproportionate if it is imposed
on a defendant who did not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend
to kill the victim. The Court modified this rule five years later in
Tison v. Arizona when it held that a defendant who participates in a
crime that leads to murder and whose "mental state is one of reckless
indifference to the value of human life" may be sentenced to death.
The federal judge ruled that Foster's jury had not been asked to
determine if he had any intent to kill LaHood, and that this failure
represented a misapplication of the law. However, Texas appealed to
the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the decision.
The UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those
facing the Death Penalty state that "capital punishment may be
imposed only when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear
and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative
explanation of the facts". The fact is that Kenneth Foster did not
kill Michael LaHood, and there is compelling evidence that he did not
plan, intend or anticipate that he would be robbed or killed either.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
possible (please include Kenneth Foster's inmate number, #999232):

- expressing sympathy for the family of Michael LaHood, and
explaining that you are not seeking to excuse the manner of his death
or to downplay the suffering it will have caused;

- noting that the person who actually shot Michael LaHood, Mauriceo
Brown, was executed last year;

- expressing concern at the use of the law of parties in this case,
noting evidence that the shooting was the spontaneous act of Mauriceo
Brown, and that all those involved in the crime have said that there
was no conspiracy to rob Michael LaHood, which would make Kenneth
Foster innocent of capital murder;

- noting that the two other accomplices in the car were never
prosecuted in this crime, and yet as the evidence stands today their
and Foster's culpability in it would appear to be similar or the

- calling for Kenneth Foster to be granted clemency.

Rissie Owens, Presiding Officer
Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78757

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Summer Postcard Action    37
Urgent Actions    23
Eritrea    8
Total:    68
To add your letters to the total contact