Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 7, July 2007


Thursday, July 26, 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 14, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing 
Meeting at the Athenaeum. Corner of California 
& Hill.  In the summer we meet on the lawn 
behind the building in the outdoor dining area. 
Look for the table with the Amnesty sign. This 
informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty! 

Sunday, August 19, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. Vroman's 
Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., 
Pasadena.  This month we read The Coroner's 
Lunch by Colin Cotterill, a mystery set in Laos. 
(More below).


We love good news!  It was great this week to see 
the homecoming of the Bulgarian nurses released 
from their ordeal in Libya where they had been 
convicted (with no evidence) and sentenced to 
death for causing the HIV infection of hundreds 
of children.  We featured this case on our blog.  
Thanks to all those who took a moment to take 
action on the case.  

Back in June we got more good news about the 
Cathy Henderson case, a woman on death row in 
Texas who first received a 60-day reprieve from 
execution which was extended to a more 
indefinite stay allowing her to pursue an appeal 
which could result in a reduced charge based on 
new medical evidence and now we have good 
news in the Troy Davis case featured in our last 
newsletter.   He received a 90-day stay that we 
need to work to extend into a lengthier stay or 
commutation for this very deserving probable 
innocence case.  You can visit the death penalty 
section of the AIUSA website 
( to 
continue to take action on Troy's behalf.   You 
have to believe that international outcry was a 
factor in the reprieves in both these cases and 
that keeping up the pressure will take these cases 
off the execution track for good. 

 Closer to home its important to note that you 
can help prevent wrongful convictions like Troy's 
by supporting legislation arising from the 
findings of the California Commission on the Fair 
Administration of Justice (see  These bills would 
tighten guidelines for eyewitness identification 
(S.B. 756), mandate videotaping of interrogations 
(S.B. 511) and curtail the use of jailhouse 
snitches. (S.B. 609).  See our blog  post 
"Preventing Wrongful Convictions"  at for more 
information about these bills and links to help 
you send a message to Governor Schwarzenegger 
and your California state representatives about  
the importance of these safeguards for our 
state's justice system.  
Meanwhile, Group 22 members are on to relaxing 
summer pursuits in between bursts of letter-
writing (I know at least one group member who 
probably spent the last weekend reading the final 
Harry Potter!).  Our book discussion group 
always lightens up with a mystery in August, 
and this year is no exception with our Rights 
Readers selection taking us on a crime-solving, 
justice-seeking adventure in Laos.  A great time 
to join us if you find our regular reading 
schedule too heavy!   

Finally, a word of thanks to Lucas Kamp for 
hosting our last monthly meeting at his home.  
We had a great time sharing pizza and a 
screening of "Dangerous Living," a film about 
the difficulties of gay and lesbian activists in the 
developing world.  Back to our usual haunts at 
Caltech this month.  Hope to catch you at a 
meeting soon!


Free Vietnamese Internet Dissidents!

 “Everyone has the right to express his/her wishes 
and opinions on political, economic, social and 
cultural issues in the mass media.”

This quote, from the Vietnamese government’s 
2005 report "Achievements in the Protection and 
Promotion of Human Rights in Vietnam" 
suggests that the Vietnamese people enjoy the 
right to freedom of expression.  The reality 
however, is very different.

Viet Nam has passed a string of laws in recent 
years attempting to limit the opportunity for 
freedom of expression on the Internet. As well as 
automated filtering and blocking technology, 
there is a dedicated police task-force monitoring 
and controlling Internet use. The authorities 
nurture self-censorship by creating fear with 
arbitrary law enforcement and harsh 

Many Internet dissidents, including those who 
have already spent years in prison for exercising 
their right to freedom of expression, are under 
close surveillance, harassed and threatened, and 
have had their computers confiscated.

Nguyen Vu Binh, 37, imprisoned since September 
2002, is serving a seven-year sentence after 
publishing criticism, partly through the World 
Wide Web, about corruption and violations of 
human rights.  Accused of “spying”, the charges 
against him included that he "communicated via 
emails" with "reactionary" organizations overseas 
and disseminated information about human 
rights in Viet Nam.  

Nguyen Vu Binh is detained at Ba Sao prison 
camp in Nam Ha province, northern Viet Nam. 
He has been regularly disciplined for refusing to 
sign a "confession".  

On 19 October 2005 three young Vietnamese 
chatroom users, Truong Quoc Tuan, Truong 
Quoc Huy and Pham Ngoc Anh Dao were 
arrested in Ho Chi Minh City.  After nine months 
in detention without access to legal 
representation or visits by family members, the 
three were suddenly released on 7 July 2006. No 
charges were ever brought against them.  Only 
six weeks later Truong Quoc Huy was re-
arrested at an Internet café in Ho Chi Minh City.

At the time of writing, his family have heard no 
further news about him; his whereabouts are 
unknown and no public charges have been 
brought against him.  

Amnesty International considers Nguyen Vu 
Binh and Truon Quoc Huy to be prisoners of 
conscience, detained solely for peacefully 
exercising their right to freedom of expression 
and association.

Take Action!  Call on the government of Viet 
Nam to immediately release Nguyen Vu Binh 
and Truong Quoc Huy, and stop the harassment 
and threats against other Internet dissidents.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung
Office of the Prime Minister
Hoang Hoa Tham
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to urge the immediate and 
unconditional release of prisoners of conscience 
Nguyen Vu Binh and Truong Quoc Huy.  

These men have only exercised their legitimate 
right to freedom of expression through the 
Internet; Nguyen Vu Binh by communicating 
with others outside Viet Nam about human 
rights and corruption and Truong Quoc Huy by 
taking part in an Internet chat room and 
expressing support for other dissidents 
advocating political reform.

Your government has said many times that 
Vietnamese citizens have the right to freedom of 
expression. Arresting and imprisoning people like 
Nguyen Vu Binh and Truong Quoc Huy directly 
contradicts this.  

I call on you to uphold the rights of all 
Vietnamese citizens  to freedom of 
expression,and association, to release Nguyen Vu 
Binh and Truong Quoc Huy immediately and 
stop the harassment and arrest of countless 
others who have a valid and positive contribution 
to make towards the progress of Viet Nam.

Yours sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS


Stop Flogging of Teen in UAE

A teenage girl has reportedly been sentenced to 
receive 60 lashes for having "illicit sex". 
According to a local newspaper, the Supreme 
Court has upheld the sentence. The sentence 
could now be carried out at any time.

The girl, identified by her initials as R.A, is to 
receive 60 lashes for having sex with a man when 
she was 14. The court of First Instance in the 
town of al-‘Ain in the Emirate of Abu-Dhabi 
found her guilty of “illicit sex” and sentenced her 
to be flogged. 

The man involved in the case, identified by his 
initials as H.S, was sentenced to six months’ 
imprisonment. This discriminatory sentencing is 
a violation of the UAE's obligations under 
international law. The UAE became a state party 
to the Convention on the Elimination of All 
Forms of Discrimination against Women 
(CEDAW, or the Women’s Convention) in 
October 2004 and to the Convention on the 
Rights of the Child (CRC) in February 1997. In its 
General Recommendation No. 19, the CEDAW 
Committee made clear that discrimination 
prohibited by article 1 of the Convention includes 
gender-based violence, that is violence directed 
against a woman which “impairs or nullifies” the 
enjoyment of her human rights and fundamental 
freedoms, such as “the right not to be subject to 
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading 
treatment or punishment.” 

punishment, such as whipping and flogging, has 
been recognized as torture or cruel, inhuman and 
degrading treatment by numerous human rights 
treaty bodies, including the Committee on the 
Rights of the Child.  International human rights 
law explicitly prohibits torture, or cruel, inhuman 
and degrading treatment.  As a state party to 
CEDAW and the CRC, the UAE is violating its 
international legal obligations to prohibit torture, 
or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Amnesty International opposes judicial 
punishments that amount to torture or cruel, 
inhuman or degrading punishment, regardless of 
the crime for which they are imposed, or the 
nature of the legal code that sanctions such 

appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- expressing concern at reports that a teenage girl 
is to receive 60 lashes because she engaged in a 
sexual relationship with a man when she was 14;

- expressing concern that the sentence of flogging 
imposed on a teenage girl contravenes the UAE’s 
obligations under international human rights 

- stating that Amnesty International considers the 
punishment of flogging to constitute cruel, 
inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to 


His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid 
Office of the Prime Minister
POB 73311
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Salutation: 	Your Highness

His Excellency
Muhammad bin Nakhira Al-Dhahiri
Ministry of Justice, Awqaf & Islamic Affairs
PO Box 753
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Salutation: 	Your Excellency


Ambassador Saqr Ghobash
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Court NW
Washington DC 20037

Sample Letter - Russian Torture Victim

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 
Prezidentu Rossiiskoi Federatsii 
4 Staraya Square 
103132 g. Moskva 
Rossiiskaia Federatsia 

Dear President Putin:

I am writing you regarding the case of Zelimkhan 
Murdalov, a 26-year-old student from Grozny, 
who left his home on 2 January 2001. Zelimkhan 
Murdalov said he would be back soon, but he 
never returned. His parents were able to track him 
down at the police station, where an official 
promised he would be released soon. However, 
they have not seen their son since. In court, 
Zelimkhan Murdalov's parents learned that their 
son had been tortured in detention and then taken 
away by police. In March 2005 Lieutenant Sergei 
Lapin was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment 
for the torture of Zelimkhan Murdalov. However, 
his conviction is currently under review. 
Zelimkhan Murdalov is one of thousands of 
people who have become victims of enforced 
disappearances in Chechnya, causing unending 
agony for their relatives. Virtually none of the 
2,000 investigations have produced any results. 
Although Lieutenant Sergei Lapin was convicted 
for torturing Zelimkhan Murdalov, he was not 
prosecuted for anything relating to the abduction. 
Zelimkhan Murdalov's parents are among 
numerous relatives of the "disappeared" who have 
faced reprisals and intimidation on account of 
their efforts to seek justice.

I urge you to take measures to end impunity 
regarding "disappearances" in Chechnya, which 
would include making public the official list of 
missing people. Please also ensure that all 
enforced disappearances, including Zelimkhan 
Murdalov's, are investigated effectively, and that 
an autopsy service be established in Chechnya. I 
urge you to take every step to ensure that relatives 
and witnesses are free from intimidation and 

Thank you very much for your help and attention. 
Sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS

copy to: 

Ambassador Yuri V. Ushakov 
Embassy of the Russian Federation 
2650 Wisconsin Avenue N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20007

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Sunday, August 19, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena

The Coroner's Lunch
Colin Cotterill
Laos, 1975. The Communist Pathet Lao has 
taken over this former French colony. Dr. Siri 
Paiboun, a 72-year-old Paris-trained doctor, is 
appointed national coroner. Although he has no 
training for the job, there is no one else; the rest of 
the educated class has fled.
He is expected to come up with the answers the 
party wants. But crafty and charming Dr. Siri is 
immune to bureaucratic pressure. At his age, he 
reasons, what can they do to him? And he knows 
he cannot fail the dead who come into his care 
without risk of incurring their boundless 
displeasure. Eternity could be a long time to have 
the spirits mad at you.


Summer postcard actions          55
Urgent Actions                    8
Total:                           63

To add your letters to the total, contact

Urge Senate to Curb Cluster Bomb Use

In the last ten years, U.S. cluster munitions have 
been used in or near civilian-populated areas in 
Afghanistan, Iraq, former Yugoslavia, and 
southern Lebanon with devastating consequences 
to civilians. When used in or near civilian areas, 
cluster munitions run a serious risk of violating 
the international humanitarian law prohibition on 
indiscriminate attacks. Cluster munitions also 
often leave large numbers of unexploded sub-
munitions on the ground, presenting a grave 
danger to civilian lives similar to landmines. Urge 
your U.S. Senator to co-sponsor the Cluster 
Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 (S. 
594), which seeks to prevent the U.S. use or 
export of cluster bombs with high dud rates and 
for civilian-populated areas.

Visit the Amnesty USA online action center to 
urge Senator Boxer to support this legislation:

Then use the attached "cluster bomb origami" to 
spread the word to a friend!

Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code 5-62
Pasadena, CA 91125