Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 2, February 2007


Thursday, February 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.

Saturday, March 10, 11:00 AM. Film Screening. Laemmle's One Colorado 
Theatre, 42 Miller Alley, Old Pasadena. Amnesty International USA's 
Western Region & Stop Violence Against Women Coordinator Sakinah Kahn 
are pleased to support: A screening of "View from a Grain of Sand" 
followed by Q & A with filmmaker Meena Nanji. Tickets: $10.

Combining vérité footage, interviews and archival material, filmmaker 
Meena Nanji has fashioned a harrowing, yet intimate portrait of the 
plight of Afghan women in the last 30 years from the rule of King 
Mohammed Zahir Shah to the current government to the activist work of 
RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Over a 
period of five years, she spent months in a refugee camp in Pakistan, 
where she documented the efforts of three women to rebuild their lives 
and help others: Shapire, a teacher; Roeena, a physician; and Wajeeha, 
an activist.
Seating is limited. Please call 323-632-5558 for tickets. Crafts from 
RAWA's Income Generation Project will be on sale at the event. All 
proceeds will benefit RAWA's vital social programs. For more info call 
(323) 632-5558 or email

Tuesday, March 13, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Athenaeum. 
Corner of California & Hill. We meet downstairs in the cafeteria. This 
informal gathering is a great way for newcomers to get acquainted with 
Sunday, March 18, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. This 
month we read the late Anna Politkovskaya's last book, Putin's Russia 
(More below.)

March 21 & 22, Conference, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. 
Join the Aliados con Amnesty Network in a conference to Stop Violence 
Against Women in Guatemala. MuJER and Loyola Marymount University will 
be hosting an international conference in Los Angeles, on the violent 
murders of women in Guatemala which has surpassed 2,500 since 2001. The 
conference will create a safe space to lecture and debate femicide, its 
theories, the culture of violence behind this issue, and actions to 
investigate, prevent and stop the violent murders of women in this 
country. For more info please visit:


Hello everyone! This is Joyce, substituting for our co-coordinator 
Kathy, who usually writes this column. Kathy has embarked on a Masters 
program in School Nurse Education that will occupy all her weekends and 
her summer break. We wish her the very best success, but we'll miss her 
column. Various Group 22 members will be taking turns to write the 
column, and this month you're stuck with me.

On Sunday, Jan. 28, some of us from Group 22 went to see the film "God 
Grew Tired of Us." This documentary follows three of the Lost Boys of 
Sudan as they start new lives in the USA. The film is warm with flashes 
of humor as the youths cope with alien American gadgets and food and 
culture. It's inspiring to watch them grow into thoughtful, dignified 
young men who are eager to help their people back in Africa. John Dau, 
in particular, was most impressive. After the film, we enjoyed a 
pleasant discussion and equally pleasant beers at Gordon Biersch. Thanks 
to Marie-Helene and Lucas for organizing another enjoyable film night.

Unfortunately this film didn't get any Academy Award nominations, but 
two films that our group attended last year did receive nominations: 
Last King of Scotland for Best Actor and "Water" for Best Foreign 
Language Film. ("Water" was the terribly touching story of child widows 
in India, set in 1938, but the widow houses still exist today.) "Blood 
Diamond" is another award nominee that's related to Amnesty concerns. 
And don't forget the nominations for "Inconvenient Truth" and "Letters 
from Iwo Jima." Dare we hope there's a trend here? In future, watch for 
"Bordertown" with Jennifer Lopez, about the Juarez murders -- no US 
release date yet.

Usually around this time of year I'd be getting ready for Group 22's 
participation in the Los Angeles Environmental Education Fair at the 
Arboretum. Veronica arranged our first exhibit there in 2000, and with 
Martha's help it's been a really successful and fun event for us every 
year since. But alas, no longer! The LAEEF steering committee has made 
major changes this year. They are inviting only "environmentally based 
organizations" and they feel that we do not fit their new 2007 
qualifications for the Fair. It's disappointing. However, we still plan 
to be in the Pasadena Earth Day event on April 21 -- save the date.

Happy Year of the Boar! (sounds better than Pig?) And remember to 
celebrate Women's Day March 8 (see Up-coming Events and the SVAW below 
for suggestions!)


Tibetan Refugees Fear for Safety at Border

A group of Tibetans who were detained in September 2006, when they were 
trying to flee from China to Nepal were tortured in custody. According 
to members of the group who were released, the older teenagers and 
adults were beaten with rubber batons and electric-shock prods. The 
younger children were not beaten, but were interrogated. It is not clear 
if all those who were detained have been released or if some still 
remain in custody.

On 30 September 2006 a group of approximately 70 unarmed Tibetans who 
were trying to flee China were shot at by the Chinese border control 
troops at Nangpa pass in the Himalayas. The Nangpa pass is a commonly 
used escape route for those fleeing China to Nepal. The shooting was 
witnessed by an international group of mountaineers who videotaped one 
person, a 17 year old nun Kelsang Namtso, die at the scene and two 
others fall.

At least 25 members of the group, 10 of whom were children, were taken 
into custody while the rest managed to escape to Nepal. According to one 
of the detainees who later managed to flee from Tibet, those detained 
were first taken to a detention centre in Dingri but were transferred to 
Shigatse after a few days. Altogether they were kept in custody for 
periods ranging from several days to several months, and some may still 
remain in custody. Parents of the children were allowed to collect them 
from detention for a fee between 100 yuan (US$12) and 500 yuan (US$60). 
In Shigatse, the younger children were assigned to do cleaning work and 
the older teenagers and adults were assigned to construction work.

Following international pressure, the Chinese authorities admitted that 
one person had died at the shooting, and that two others, one of whom 
later died from "lack of oxygen" were taken to a local hospital for 
medical treatment.
It is believed that one of them is a young Tibetan boy named Kamsang 
Namgyal. The authorities claimed that the troops had shot at the group 
in self-defense and that this is part of "normal border management." At 
the time of the shooting there were reports of up to six further 
casualties but these reports remain unconfirmed.

Background information. Freedom of religion, expression and association 
continue to be severely restricted in Tibet, and as result many are 
imprisoned for peacefully exercising their basic human rights. As 
elsewhere in China, arbitrary detentions, unfair trials and torture and 
ill-treatment remain commonplace. According to the ICT, between 2,000 
and 3,000 Tibetans flee China every year via Nepal to India. About a 
third of them are children who are sent to Tibetan schools in India, 
while many others are monks and nuns seeking religious education. 
Tibetans fleeing China have been shot at by both the Chinese and 
Nepalese military personnel before, but this is the most severe incident 
that has come to public attention in recent years.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- calling for an official investigation into the allegations of torture, 
with a view of bringing those found responsible to justice;

- calling on the authorities to clarify whether all those detained at 
Nangpa pass on 30 September 2006 have been released; to clarify the 
names, whereabouts and legal status of those who may remain in detention;

- calling upon the authorities to release those who may still be 
detained immediately and unconditionally; unless they are charged with a 
recognizably criminal offence;

- condemning the reported shooting of civilians by Chinese border 
control personnel;

- urging the authorities to confirm the identity of those who died or 
were injured in the shooting, and adequately compensate the victims or 
their families.

Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China:
WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council
9 Xihuangcheng Genbeijie
Beijingshi 100032, People's Republic of China

Minister of Public Security of the People's
Republic of China:
ZHOU Yongkang Buzhang
14 Dongchang'anjie
Beijingshi 100741, People's Republic of China

Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional
People's Government:
Jampa PHUNTSOG Zhuren
Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
1 Kang'angdonglu
Lasashi 850000
Xizang Zizhiqu, People's Republic of China

Ambassador Wen Zhong Zhou
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008

Death of Fessahaye Yohannes in Custody

On February 15 Amnesty International released a public statement, 
"Eritrea: Prominent journalist reported dead in secret prison." (The 
statement is available at 
The journalist is Fessahaye Yohannes (known as "Joshua"), who was 
arrested in September 2001 along with other journalists and former 
government ministers, including Group 22's adopted prisoner of 
conscience, Estifanos Seyoum. These detainees were held incommunicado 
without charge or trial since their arrest. AI considers them to be 
prisoners of conscience, since they had neither used nor advocated 
violence in the expression of their political opinions.

Group 22 began working in behalf of Estifanos Seyoum in the spring of 
2006. However, Amnesty International has now closed the case files of 
all the individual Eritrean POCs and replaced them with a new thematic 
action file, Political Repression in Eritrea. Part of the motivation for 
the restructuring of the Eritrea casework were unconfirmed reports 
circulating on the Internet concerning the deaths of several of the 
detained journalists. Because Eritrea is closed to human rights 
investigators, AI cannot confirm these reports by direct evidence, but 
evidently has now assessed their credibility to be high enough to issue 
a public statement.

The case of Fessahaye Joshua Yohannes was one of those featured in the 
new Eritrea action file. The AI Casework office suggested that local 
groups who do not wish to abandon their adopted POC could link their POC 
with one of the featured cases in the new action file. So Group 22 will 
continue to mention Estifanos as we work on the new thematic file.

Here is a sample letter for this month that you can copy or use as a 
guide. Postage to Eritrea is 84 cents.

His Excellency
Issayas Afewerki
Office of the President
PO Box 257
Asmara, Eritrea

Your Excellency,
I read with dismay and deep sadness the public statement issued by 
Amnesty International regarding the reported death of Eritrean 
journalist Fessahaye Yohannes.

I join the members of Amnesty International in urgently calling upon you 
to do the following:
--Establish an impartial and independent judicial inquiry to investigate 
the reported death of Fessahaye "Joshua" Yohannes and that of other 
co-detainees who have also allegedly died, and to authorize this inquiry 
to visit the Eiraeiro prison;
--State publicly what has happened to Fessahaye Johannes and Estifanos 
Seyoum and other detainees who were arrested in September 2001;
--If any detainees are dead, return their bodies to their families for 
burial, and bring to justice those responsible for any criminal actions 
or negligence resulting in their deaths;
--If the detainees are alive, release them immediately and 
unconditionally, as prisoners of conscience who have neither used nor 
advocated violence.

Thank you for your attention to these urgent matters.
[Your name and address]

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Sunday, March 18, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena

Putin's Russia
by Anna Politkovskaya

Putin's Russia depicts a far-reaching state of decay. Politkovskaya 
describes an army in which soldiers die from malnutrition, parents must 
pay bribes to recover their dead sons' bodies, and conscripts are even 
hired out as slaves. She exposes rampant corruption in business, 
government, and the judiciary, where everything from store permits to 
bus routes to court appointments is for sale. And she offers a scathing 
condemnation of the ongoing war in Chechnya, where kidnappings, 
extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture are begetting terrorism rather 
than fighting it.

Eritrea 8
Urgent Actions 25
Total: 33
To add your letters to the total contact

Texas man faces execution on weak evidence

Donald Miller is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 27 February 2007. 
He was sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of Michael Mozingo 
earlier that year. Donald Miller was 19 years old at the time of the 
crime. He has been on death row for nearly 25 years.

Michael Mozingo and another man, Kenneth Whitt, were robbed and shot 
dead on 2 February 1982. Three men were charged with the crime: Eddie 
Segura, Danny Woods and Donald Miller.

Before Donald Miller's trial, Eddie Segura pleaded guilty to aggravated 
robbery and became a key witness against Donald Miller. Segura was 
sentenced after Miller's trial, to 25 years in prison. Before Miller's 
trial, Danny Woods, who admitted to shooting Kenneth Whitt, pleaded 
guilty to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Woods did not 
testify at Miller's trial. Donald Miller, according to his trial 
attorney (now deceased), faced a death penalty trial after he refused a 
plea bargain of a life sentence in return for a guilty plea.

Following an evidentiary hearing in 2002, a federal district court judge 
ruled in 2004 that the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence at 
Donald Miller's trial, in violation of the US Supreme Court's 1963 
ruling, Brady v. Maryland. The federal judge found that the withheld 
evidence was material to the question of sentencing: that is, the 
sentence might have been different if the evidence had not been suppressed.

The evidence in question related to statements made by witnesses prior 
to the trial. The federal judge noted that pre-trial statements made by 
Ray McCall, who was the brother of Eddie Segura's then-girlfriend, were 
inconsistent with his trial testimony against Miller and could have been 
used by the defense to undermine McCall's credibility. At the 2002 
evidentiary hearing, Miller's trial lawyer had described McCall's 
testimony as "the most devastating testimony in the whole trial" in 
that it depicted Donald Miller as a cold-blooded and remorseless killer. 
The federal judge also noted inconsistencies in the statements of 
another witness, Archie Morris, who was Ray McCall's grandfather. Prior 
to the trial, Morris had told investigators that he only owned a .22 
caliber handgun and had not given it to Donald Miller. At the trial, 
however, he testified that on the day of the crime Miller had borrowed 
from him the .38 caliber gun used in the shooting.

In addition, the state suppressed affidavits from four people who did 
not testify at the trial. Robert White, for example, stated that Danny 
Woods had told him that after one of the victims had been killed with a 
shotgun, "either Danny or the guy with Danny then reached down into his 
boot and pulled a .38 pistol and shot the other guy when he started to 
run". Miller's appeal lawyers have argued that this was important 
because it was established at trial that Miller was not wearing boots at 
the time of the murders. White's affidavit also states that the day 
after the murders, Woods had denied that Miller was involved. The 
federal judge found that the affidavits indicated that Woods may have 
killed both victims and that Segura was armed at the time.

On appeal to the US Court of Appeals to the Fifth Circuit, the state 
argued that District Court's decision was wrong, and Miller's appeal 
lawyers countered that the suppressed evidence not only went to the 
question of the reliability of the sentence, but also to the question of 
Miller's guilt. The Fifth Circuit panel rejected Miller's arguments 
about guilt and overturned the District Court's ruling on sentencing. 
One of the three judges dissented, arguing that "the various pieces of 
evidence, taken together, could have raised a reasonable doubt in a 
juror" when deciding whether to vote for a death sentence. On McCall's 
testimony, the dissenting judge noted that although McCall was 
"generally impeached on cross-examination as a dishonest criminal who 
was not always truthful with the police during the investigation", 
there "is a significant difference between evidence that a witness is 
generally not truthful and specific evidence that he gave inconsistent 
statements with respect to the subject of his crucial testimony....The 
defence was not able to cross-examine McCall about his [pre-trial] 
statements..." The judge said that McCall provided "important 
corroboration of Segura's account of the crime, which portrayed Miller 
as a leader in the killings, so weakening his testimony could have cast 
doubt on whether Miller planned the killings and was an actual shooter".

Similarly, Archie Morris' testimony had provided "critical 
corroboration...linking Miller to one of the murder weapons" and yet 
the credibility of his testimony had gone unchallenged at the trial.

In Texas, a jury can only pass a death sentence if it unanimously agrees 
that the defendant would likely commit future criminal acts of violence 
if allowed to live, even in prison (the "future dangerousness" 
question). The dissenting Fifth Circuit judge noted that undermining the 
prosecution's portrayal of Donald Miller as ringleader and gunman in the 
crime could have affected the jury's finding that he posed a future danger.

A study published by the Texas Defender Service in 2004 concluded that 
predictions of "future dangerousness" in the Texas death penalty 
system were wrong in a majority of cases, and that "basing capital 
sentencing decisions on predictions of future dangerousness is 
unjustifiable -- and not only because a system that so allots punishment 
in effect punishes defendants for offences they may or may not commit, 
thus violating the fundamental legal principle that the accused is 
innocent until proven guilty." During his nearly 25 years on death row, 
Donald Miller is reported never to have been disciplined for violent or 
aggressive behaviour towards other inmates, guards, or anyone else. He 
was reportedly once accused of assaulting a guard, but was cleared of 
this by the prison system.

In 1995, a US Supreme Court Justice wrote that executing a prisoner who 
had been on death row for 17 years -- eight years less than Donald Miller 
has suffered -- arguably negated any deterrent or retributive 
justification for the punishment. In 2002, in the case of an inmate who 
had been on death row for about 27 years, another Justice wrote of this 
"extraordinarily long confinement under sentence of death, a 
confinement that extends from late youth to later middle age." If 
executed, the Justice stated, the prisoner would have been "punished 
both by death and also by more than a generation spent in death row's 
twilight. It is fairly asked whether such punishment is both unusual and 
cruel", in violation of the US Constitution.

Since the USA resumed judicial killing in 1977, there have been 1,062 
executions, of which 383 (36 per cent) have been carried out in Texas. 
Texas has executed nearly four times as many people as the next leading 
death penalty state, Virginia. Although there are signs that the USA is 
slowly turning against capital punishment, the rate of judicial killing 
in Texas remains high. In 2006, Texas carried out 24 executions, five 
times as many as the next highest state total. Four of the five 
executions in the USA so far in 2007 have been carried out in Texas. 
Governor Perry's governorship of Texas has seen 144 executions in the 
state (since 2001). There were 152 executions in Texas during the 
five-year term of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals:

- expressing sympathy for the family and friends of Michael Mozingo and 
Kenneth Whitt, stating that you are neither seeking to condone the 
manner of their deaths in 1982 nor to downplay the suffering caused;

- opposing the execution of Donald Miller for the murder of Michael Mozingo;

- expressing concern that the prosecution suppressed evidence at his 
trial, and noting that two federal judges have concluded that the 
evidence could have made a different to the sentencing outcome;

- noting that despite doubts about whether Donald Miller was the 
ringleader in the crime, as the prosecution depicted, he would be the 
only defendant to be executed, raising questions of arbitrariness;

- noting that the jury's determination that Donald Miller would be a 
future danger to society, even in prison, has not been borne out by his 
past 25 years on death row;

- calling on the Governor to stop this execution and do all in his power 
to bring about clemency.

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

Urge Congress to support Guatemala resolution

As our Women's Day action we encourage you to support the following action:

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 sign on to House Resolution 100 reintroduced on January 
24, 2007 by Representative Solis (D-CA), and cosponsored by 
Representatives Burton (R-IN) Lee (D-CA), Lantos (D-CA), and Engel 
(D-NY). The resolution expresses the sympathy of the House of 
Representatives to the families of women and girls murdered in Guatemala 
and encourages the Government of Guatemala to bring an end to these 
crimes. This resolution builds upon past Congressional support for this 
issue; in May 2006, 117 Members of Congress signed a letter asking the 
State Department to intervene to help end the violence.

More than 2,500 women and girls have been brutally murdered in Guatemala 
since 2001. Many of the killings are preceded by abduction, sexual 
assault or brutal mutilation. The lack of thorough and impartial 
investigations into these and other violent crimes against women is 
unacceptable. According to Amnesty International, as of June 2006, only 
two convictions had taken place in over six hundred cases of women 
reported murdered in 2005.

The Guatemalan government committed specifically to protecting the lives 
of women in 1995 when it ratified the Convention of Belém do Pará (The 
Inter-American Convention for the Prevention, Punishment, and 
Eradication of Violence against Women) and the UN Convention to 
Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Yet 
violence against women in the family and sexual harassment have not been 
criminalized. The office of the Guatemalan Special Prosecutor for Crimes 
Against Women receives approximately 800 reports of domestic violence 
per month, with some of those cases ending in murder. If Guatemalan law 
provided for prison sentences in cases of domestic violence, such 
murders could be prevented.

I strongly urge you to sponsor House Resolution 100 and help put an end 
to violence against women in Guatemala. Thank you for your attention to 
this important matter.


Ordinary People, Extraordinary Change

Despite milestone victories last year, violence against women remains a 
world scourge. The United States government continues to condone torture 
in the war on terror. Individuals around the world are at risk of human 
rights abuses. Meeting these and other challenges takes extraordinary 
effort. And it's up to activists to make change.
You are cordinally invited to participate in the 2007 Annual General 
Meeting (AGM) March 23 - March 25, 2007 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The AGM is Amnesty International USA's annual national conference for 
ALL members and activists to join, meet, learn, discuss and create 
extraordinary change! With renowned speakers, inspirational programming, 
and opportunities to connect with others, you won't want to miss the 
2007 AGM.

A tentative program including workshops and panel discussions can be 
found here:
Details regarding registration and accommodations can be found at