Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 6, June 2007


Thursday, June 28, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting Special Location This
Month Only!  187 South Catalina Ave, Unit 2, Pasadena. (This is 2
blocks east of Lake Ave, between Del Mar and Cordoba.  Call
626-795-1785 for more information.) Help us plan our group's actions
for the coming month. Also, this month, we will be showing an
hour-long video documentary called "Dangerous Living", about gay
communities in Africa, India, Vietnam and Honduras. Refreshments

Tuesday, July 10, 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, July 15, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. 
This month we read Greg Mortenson's account of building schools in
Pakistan and Afghanistan, Three Cups of Tea (More below).


For example, the underlying premise of representative democracy was
that the voters in each constituency would be able to communicate
freely within the public forum with the candidates vying to be their
representative in Congress and assumed further that they could rely
on the free flow of information about that representative's
subsequent performance in Congress in order to hold him accountable.
(From The Assault on Reason by Al Gore)
We experienced some representative democracy on May 29, when Ariel,
Christina, Joyce, Martha, Stevi and Wen visited Representative Adam
Schiff's office to discuss our prisoners of conscience in Eritrea. 
Paula arranged the appointment for us.

We met at Memorial Park before our appointment to organize our
thoughts and then walked to Mr. Schiff's office.  As we waited for
our appointment, Wen told us about her previous encounters with Mr.
Schiff, one of which netted her a certificate of appreciation for
translating his remarks into Chinese at a local event.

After our meeting began with handshakes all around, Martha gave a
short introduction about Group 22. Joyce talked about Eritrea and
told Mr. Schiff about the April 23, Congressional letter to Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice regarding prisoners of conscience in
Eritrea. He said he would send his own letter modeled after the
Congressional letter, which he would have been happy to sign if he'd
known about it. He told us world press freedom was a special concern
of his, and, indeed, he recently had given a speech on that topic
with particular reference to murdered Russian journalists. We, of
course, remember Anna Politkovskaya's Putin's Russia and her brutal
death.  He mentioned the organization Reporters Without Borders.

Martha adroitly steered the discussion to our next topic: Internet
censorship in China. Wen filled in the details. Mr. Schiff didn't
seem familiar with the Global Online Freedom Act.   Wen and Martha
suggested he support it.  He seemed receptive and directed his
assistant to make a note to get information on it.

As our time came to an end, Martha briefly summarized AI's position
on the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 and asked for his
support.  Mr. Schiff explained his position on this issue and said he
might recommend even stronger legislation.

We thought the meeting was productive and Mr. Schiff was receptive to
the issues we raised with him.  We are happy to introduce Mr. Schiff
to our Eritrea work. Many thanks to Paula for arranging the meeting.
It was fun, interesting and definitely worthwhile. In fact, Paula
suggests we make it an annual event! Maybe some of you will
participate next year. Right now you can visit the Rights Readers May
30 blog entry (see to take action
on the issues we discussed with Mr. Schiff.

For those of you who may be traveling this summer and find yourselves
wandering along U. S. Highway 395, you might consider a stop at the
Eastern California Museum in Independence, CA.  An exhibit called
GULAG: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom will be
there until October 21, 2007.  According to the Amnesty website, "the
National Park Service, in a unique partnership with the Gulag Museum
at Perm-36, the International Memorial Society, and Amnesty
International USA, presents the first exhibition on the
Belbaltlag-1932.  Courtesy of the Central Russian State and Photo
Archive."  And as long as you are in Independence, you might want to
visit Manzanar, the Japanese internment camp six miles south of town.

We hope you can join us for letter writing, discussing books,
planning our upcoming events, and sharing in delightful conversation
and snacks.

Good summer to all! 

Joyce and Stevi

Dangerous Living

This month at our monthly meeting we will be screening the
documentary film "Dangerous Living." (See Up-coming Events for
time/location details).  Join us for what should be a stimulating

Dangerous Living examines the struggles and triumphs of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender people in the Global South. It is the first
documentary to deeply explore the lives of GLBT people in non-western
cultures. The crew of Dangerous Living traveled to five continents to
tell the heartbreaking and triumphant stories of these incredible
individuals on film.

The persecution of gay men in Egypt attracted much attention from the
western press. However, most occurrences of oppression of LGBT
individuals around the world receive no media coverage at all. By
sharing the personal stories of LGBT activists from other countries,
Dangerous Living sheds light on an emerging global movement striving
to end the atrocities against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender

Summer Postcard Action

Join us at our July letter-writing meeting for our annual summer
postcard action!  Right a note of encouragement to threatened and
imprisoned activists around the world!

William Hernandez, director of Asociación Entre Amigos (Among Friends
Association), and his staff have been subjected to death threats and
intimidation as a result of their work on behalf of lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender people in El Salvador. The issues on which
the organization has campaigned include the ability of same-sex
couples to marry and adopt children.

Their offices have reportedly been ransacked seven times in the past
five years. On May 30, 2006, Mr. Hernandez and another staff member
discovered that three windows had been broken. No valuable office
equipment was stolen in the raid, but files had been searched, and a
number of documents were taken, including a hand-written program of
the organization's planned activities for June to celebrate sexual
diversity. Two written threats were left in the office, one saying,
"Fags die" and the other, "This is what you deserve."

Two days later on June 1, 2006, William Hernandez was threatened at
gunpoint outside his office soon after the police officer assigned to
protect him left for the day. The unidentified man approached
Hernandez from behind and put a gun to his neck. He cursed and
threatened Hernandez, adding, "I already looked inside but didn't
find anything. Here I'll find what I'm looking for. Stop f***ing or
I'll kill you before you get married." The unidentified man then
grabbed the briefcase Hernandez was carrying and ran away.

Please send messages of solidarity to the staff of Asociación Entre

Please send cards of support to:
    Asociación Entre Amigos
    Calle San Antonio Abad, Lote 2
    Casa Nro. 2562
    San Salvador, 503

End refugee/migrant child detention

This Children's Edition Urgent Action commemorates World Refugee Day
(June 20).
Amnesty International is concerned about hundreds of migrant*
children and their parents who are detained at the Don T. Hutto
Residential Center in Taylor, Texas. Before housing children in
prison cells, the Hutto building housed convicted criminals. Children
from Central America and other parts of the world including Greece,
Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Russia and Romania are detained at Hutto, many
for months at a time.

BACKGROUND: Every day, the United States government detains over 600
migrant children and their parents who are asking permission to
remain here legally. Some families flee violence and war in their
home countries and they're hoping to be protected by our government.
Others come because they want to have a better life than they left
behind. When immigration officers find families who don't have
permission to stay, they can lock them in facilities like Hutto until
they decide whether to allow the families to remain in the U.S.
Sometimes this process can take years.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please write a short, courteous letter to the
Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, asking the
government to stop holding migrant children and their parents in
prison-like facilities. Thank the Secretary for reading your letter,
and ask him to let you know when migrant children and their families
being held at Hutto have adequate access to toys, education and
health care.

The Secretary's address is:
Michael Chertoff, Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, D.C. 20528
Salutation [ Dear Secretary ]

Eritrea    5
Urgent Actions    23
Death Penalty    4
Total:    32
To add your letters to the total contact

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

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

Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Anyone who despairs of the individual's power to change lives has to
read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who,
following a 1993 climb of Pakistan's treacherous K2, was inspired by
a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised
to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five
schools -- especially for girls -- that offer a balanced education in one
of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles
Mortenson's quest, which has brought him into conflict with both
enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea
combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

Stop the Execution of Troy Davis

Troy Anthony Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 15
years for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail at a Burger
King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit.
There was no physical evidence against Troy Davis and the weapon used
in the crime was never found.

The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which
contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then,
all but three of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have
recanted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in
sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into
testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the three witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is
Sylvester "Red" Coles -- the principle alternative suspect, according
to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as
the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating
Sylvester Coles.

Troy Davis is caught in a trap set by the US Congress a decade ago
when it withdrew funding from postconviction defender organizations
in 1995 and passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(AEDPA), which then President Bill Clinton signed in April 1996.

The passage of AEDPA required federal courts to show greater
deference to the decisions of state courts, meaning that relief was
now only permissible if the decision of a state court had "resulted
in a decision that was contrary to, or involved in an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law." Federal appeals
courts have rejected Troy Davis' claim that his trial was
constitutionally unfair, despite 21 separate affidavits either
recanting testimony (and in many cases alleging police coercion), or
implicating another suspect. Troy Davis has never had a hearing in
federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used
against him at trial.

Take Action!
Unless the US Supreme Court intervenes, the only option left for Troy
Davis is clemency.  Please write to the Georgia Parole Board, in your
own words, to seek clemency for Troy Davis. If possible, write a
separate appeal to each of the individual Board members. If you can
only write one appeal, please send it to the Chairperson. Please
write in English. We recommend that your appeals be no more than two
pages in length. The following is a guide only:

- explaining that you are not seeking to condone the murder of
Officer Mark Allen McPhail, or to downplay the seriousness of the
crime or the suffering caused;
- explaining that you are writing to seek clemency for Troy Anthony
Davis, whose judicial appeals are almost exhausted;
- noting that almost all of the witnesses who testimony was used
against Troy Davis at his trial have since recanted or contradicted
their trial testimony;
- noting the large number of wrongful convictions (123) in capital
cases that have been uncovered in the USA since 1976;
- noting that unreliability of witness testimony has been one of the
contributing factors in numerous of these cases;
- expressing concern that Troy Davis has not had a hearing in
federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used
against him at trial;
- noting that the power of clemency in capital cases exists as a
failsafe against irreversible error that the courts have been unable
or unwilling to remedy;
- noting that numerous death row inmates whose judicial appeals have
been exhausted have received clemency since 1977 in the USA on the
grounds of doubts about their guilt (see footnote 57 of the report);
- calling on the Board to commute the death sentence of Troy Davis.

Board members
- Garland R. Hunt, Esq. (Chairperson)
- L. Gale Buckner (Vice Chair)
- Garfield Hammonds, Jr.
- Robert E. Keller
- Milton E. Nix, Jr.

State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909
Salutation, as appropriate: Dear Chairperson Hunt / Vice Chair
Buckner / Board Member Hammonds, Keller, etc.

Nigerian Activist & Family Attacked

Armed men attacked the wife and children of Bari-ara Kpalap, a staff
member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP),
on 19 May. Amnesty International believes that his life and those of
his family may be at risk.

At about 2am on 19 May, four unidentified armed men broke into the
home of Bari-ara Kpalap in the city of Port Harcourt in southern
Nigeria, and entered the room where Bari-ara Kpalap's children were

While pointing their guns at the children, the men asked them where
their father was. When the children responded that their father was
not in the house, the men hit them. When Bari-ara Kpalap's wife came
into the children's room, the men took her at gunpoint to another
room where they also hit her, leaving her with bruises and an injury
to her leg. The men then left the house, warning that they would be
back. The attack was reported to the police but no effective action
has been taken so far.

MOSOP is a community organization that campaigns to ensure that oil
companies and the Nigerian government address environmental pollution
linked to oil exploitation and pay adequate compensation to the oil
producing regions.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION.  The Ogoni ethnic group, based in Rivers
State, have been subjected to serious human rights violations in the
past in its fight to get compensation for the environmental damage
caused by oil companies. In 1995, during the military dictatorship of
General Sani Abacha, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists
were executed for their work in defense of human rights. Ten years
later, in 2005, the federal government appointed an independent
mediator, the Reverend Matthew H. Kukah, to assist the reconciliation
between the oil company Shell Nigeria and the Ogoni community.
Disagreement between different groups representing the Ogoni
community has lead to recent tensions (including previous death
threats to the President of MOSOP) as to how to deal with the
reconciliation process.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
- expressing concern for the safety of Bari-ara Kpalap, from the
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and his family;

- urging the authorities to take immediate and effective action to
protect Bari-ara Kpalap, Baridi Kpalap, and their children, in
accordance with their wishes;

- calling the authorities to order a thorough and independent
investigation into the attack on his wife and children, with the
results made public and those responsible brought to justice.

Governor of Rivers State:
His Excellency Celestine Ngozichim Omehia
Governor of Rivers State,
Office of the Governor
Government House
Port Harcourt
Rivers State, Nigeria
Salutation: Your Excellency

Rivers State Police Commissioner:
Mr Felix Ogbaudu
Commissioner of Police
Rivers State Command Headquarters
Moscow Road,
Port Harcourt
Rivers State, Nigeria
Salutation: Dear Sir

Director of Rivers State Security Service:
Alhaji Kola Adesina
Director of the Rivers State Security Service
State Security Service Headquarters
Forces Avenue (old GRA)
Port Harcourt
Rivers State, Nigeria

Ambassador Professor George Achulike Obiozor
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court NW
Washington DC 20008

Sample Letter for Belarus POC

President Alyaksandr G. Lukashenka
ul. Karla Marxa 38
220016 Minsk

Dear President Lukashenka:

I am very concerned about the case of Alyaksandr Kazulin, leader of
the Belarusian Socialist Democratic Party, Hramada, former
presidential candidate and former rector of the Belarusian State
University, who has been in prison since June 2006. Amnesty
International believes that he is a prisoner of conscience and that
his continuing imprisonment is a violation of his rights to freedom
of assembly, association and expression.

Amnesty International monitored authorities' treatment of Alyaksandr
Kazulin and their treatment of members of his electoral campaign
team, his family and his lawyer during the period of the March 2006
presidential elections. On various occasions, activists from his
electoral headquarters were harassed, detained and beaten, and their
equipment was seized by the security forces. The charges brought
against Alyaksandr Kazulin of "hooliganism" and "the organization of
group activities that breach public order or active participation in
similar activities," for which he is serving a five-and-a-half-year
prison sentence, were a blatant pretext for an unfair trial aimed at
intimidating Alyaksandr Kazulin and obstructing his lawful political

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which
Belarus is a party, guarantees the rights to freedom of expression,
assembly and association. I call for Belarus to live up to its
international obligations and immediately and unconditionally release
Alyaksandr Kazulin. I further urge you to ensure there is a full and
impartial investigation into reports of ill-treatment suffered by
Alyaksandr Kazulin at the hands of law enforcement officials.

copy to:

Ambassador Mikhail Khvostov
Embassy of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
          fax: 202-986-1805