Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 3, March 2007


Thursday, March 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 31, 9 AM - 5:30 PM. Amnesty International Southern 
California Mini-Conference, Amnesty International Cal State Fullerton 
Campus University Hall, Featuring: Lydia Cacho, Mexican investigative 
journalist and winner of the 2007 Ginetta Sagan Fund award; David 
Berger, Co-author of AI's report on life in prison without parole for 
juveniles; Sara Petite, Singer/songwriter and human rights activist; Ali 
Azizi, AIUSA Board member on his missions to Yemen. With workshops 
including: Guantanamo Prisoner Group Work, The Death Penalty, Intro to 
Amnesty International, AI International Congress (ICM) Issues and 
Resolutions, Stop Violence Against Women, Juveniles in the Justice 
System, Shi Tao Western Region Special Focus Case, The Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights, Uganda. Continental Breakfast Provided at 
9am. Meet other activists and those interested in human rights in 
Southern California. Learn about the work we all do to promote human 
rights! Free to the public. For more information please call 
310-815-0450. Details including a flyer with map and directions can be 
found here:

Tuesday, April 10, 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, April 15, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. This 
month we read the novel Tracks by Louise Erdrich (More below.)


Greetings! Spring is here and that means we are transitioning from 
Women's Day to Earth Day at Group 22 Worldwide Headquarters! We got 
started early with the strong women theme in February with the Pasadena 
visit of Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and death 
penalty abolitionist extraordinaire. Several of us had the opportunity 
to hear her speak and even see excerpts from the opera based on Dead Man 
performed. We also campaigned against the impending execution of Texas 
death row inmate Cathy Henderson, for whom Sister Helen serves as 
spiritual advisor. You can learn more about this case and take action on 
her behalf at

Among other events and actions for Women's History Month, our book 
discussion group, Rights Readers, took on the late Russian journalist 
Anna Politkovskaya's recent book, an eye-opener on many levels including 
many insightful vignettes of the often difficult lives of women and 
girls in post-Soviet Russia. The book also stands as a memorial to its 
very brave author. Please note the actions in this newsletter for 
another Russian activist and for a Bangladeshi journalist.

We're finishing up the month of March with the annual Southern 
California mini-conference at CSU Fullerton. Always great speakers and 
workshops - and its free! Check "Upcoming Events" for details.

We continue to track our concern for the situation in the Horn of Africa 
with our usual action on Eritrean prisoners of conscience and another 
action focused on the volatile and regionally destabilizing situation in 
Somalia. We know its tough with so many "hot spots" in the world to give 
them all their due, but urge you to take a few minutes for these 
actions, even in this week when we are noting the fourth anniversary of 
the war in Iraq. Maybe especially in this week - these are the kinds of 
actions that will help to head off the next war.

Hope to see you at a meeting soon!

Health Concern for Attorney Mikhail Trepashkin

Mikhail Trepashkin, a lawyer and former security service officer, was 
convicted in May 2004 of illegal possession of ammunition (Article 222 
of the Russian Criminal Code) and revealing state secrets (Article 283). 
He was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in a prison settlement 
colony (kolonia poselenie) following a criminal investigation and trial 
that was marred by serious fair trial violations and during which he 
allegedly was ill-treated. Human rights groups in Russia are convinced 
that the criminal case against Mikhail Trepashkin was fabricated in 
order to halt his investigative work into the 1999 apartment bombings in 
Moscow. Mikhail Trepashkin had been working as a consultant to the 
independent commission set up to investigate these bombings, chaired by 
Duma Deputies Sergei Kovalev and the late Sergei Yushenkov. In 
particular, Mikhail Trepashkin had been asked to investigate allegations 
of security service complicity in the bombings -- which had officially 
been attributed to Chechen separatists. Since mid 2002, Mikhail 
Trepashkin had also been acting as a legal representative to the family 
of one of the victims of bombings. His clients have since been granted 
political asylum in the USA.

On 9 March, a district court in Nizhnii Tagil in the Sverdlovsk Region 
of the Russian Federation decided that Mikhail Trepashkin should be 
transferred to a standard prison colony, which has a stricter regime 
than the open prison colony he used to be in. After his transfer, 
Mikhail Trepashkin has restricted access to his family, friends, lawyers 
and supporters. In addition, he may be at risk of further violations of 
his human rights including the continuing denial of adequate medical 
treatment which may lead to a further decline of his health.

Amnesty International is concerned that the appeal by the prison 
authorities to the court to transfer Mikhail Trepashkin to a stricter 
prison colony for alleged violations of the prison rules is politically 
motivated and that it is an attempt to prevent him from having access to 
journalists and to the public.

Mikhail Trepashkin was sentenced in May 2005 to four years' imprisonment 
in an open prison colony for illegal possession of ammunition and 
divulging state secrets. During his imprisonment, he has on several 
occasions been ordered to spend days in a punishment cell for alleged 
violations of the prison rules.

On one occasion he was punished for allegedly bringing alcohol into the 
prison colony. According to his lawyer, Mikhail Trepashkin had bought a 
small bottle (7ml) of eau de toilette on a day when he was allowed to go 
into the town of Nizhnii Tagil. Upon his return to the colony he had 
shown the bottle to the guards in order to find out whether it was a 
permitted item.

On another occasion, he was accused of having sworn at a prison 
administration official. However, when later questioned in court by 
Mikhail Trepashkin's lawyers, the official allegedly said Mikhail 
Trepashkin had not addressed him and had not insulted him but may have 
murmured a swearword. According to his lawyers, it was these two 
incidents which formed the basis of the prison administration's appeal 
for Mikhail Trepashkin's transfer to a stricter prison colony.

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- expressing concern about the transfer of Mikhail Trepashkin to a 
standard prison colony;

- urging the prison authorities instead to send him to hospital 
immediately in order for him to undergo an exhaustive health check which 
would then form the basis of his medical treatment;

- reiterating Amnesty International's concerns that Mikhail Trepashkin 
may have been convicted following an unfair trial;

- reiterating Amnesty International's call to the authorities that 
Mikhail Trepashkin should be released from detention pending a full 
review of the case.

Procurator General of the Russian Federation
103793 Moskva, Ul. Bolshaya Dimitrovka 15a,
Salutation: Dear Procurator General

Pavel Pavlovich Kukushkin
Procuracy of Sverdlovsk Region
Ul. Moskovskaia 21
620219 g. Yekaterinburg
Russian Federation
Salutation: Dear Procurator

Yury Ivanovich KALININ
Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments
Ul. Zhitnaia 14
119991 g. Moskva
GSP - 1
Russian Federation
Salutation: Dear Director

Ambassador Yuri Viktorovich Ushakov
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007

Investigate Death of Fessahaye Yohannes

This month we offer this "Freedom Writers" sample letter regarding the 
death in custody of Eritean journalist Fessahaye Yohannes.

President Issayas Afewerki
Office of the President
P.O. Box 257

Dear Mr. President:

I am shocked and deeply saddened by recent reports that Fessahaye Joshua 
Yohannes, a prominent journalist and playwright, died in prison in 
January 2007. Joshua, as he was widely known, had been arrested along 
with many other leading independent journalists in September 2001. 
Shuffled among various secret detention centers, he was never brought 
before a judge or charged in a court of law. He was never allowed to see 
his family or meet with a lawyer.

Judging by what I have read about Joshua, he was a true son of Eritrea. 
He fought for Eritrea's freedom during the country's long battle for 
independence from Ethiopia. After the war, he organized a children's 
traveling circus troupe to teach skills to Eritrean youth and to rally 
the country in its efforts to rebuild from the devastation of the war. 
He co-founded and co-edited the weekly newspaper Setit to reach more 
people who could help Eritrea realize its great potential as a nation. I 
do not understand how authorities could detain such a man, deny him 
every freedom, mistreat him, torture him, and allow him to die from lack 
of medical care.

I urge you to establish an impartial and independent judicial inquiry to 
investigate the reported death of Fessahaye Joshua Yohannes and that of 
other detainees who allegedly died at Eiraeiro prison. I ask you to 
publicly clarify what has happened to Joshua and other detainees. If 
Joshua is dead, I urge you to return his body to his family for burial. 
If he is dead, I also ask you to bring to justice those responsible for 
any criminal actions or negligence resulting in his death. If Joshua is 
still alive, I call on you to please order his immediate and 
unconditional release from prison and to do the same for all other 
prisoners of conscience now detained in Eritrea.



copy to:
Ambassador Ghirmai Ghebremariam
Embassy of Eritrea
1708 New Hampshire Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009

Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Keep up with Rights Readers at

Sunday, April 15, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena

by Louise Erdrich

Set in North Dakota at a time in this century when Indian tribes were 
struggling to keep what little remained of their lands, Tracks is a tale 
of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as 
tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women 
are pushed to the brink of their endurance--yet their pride and humor 
prohibit surrender. The reader will experience shock and pleasure in 
encountering a group of characters that are compelling and rich in their 
vigor, clarity, and indomitable vitality.

Eritrea 5
Urgent Actions 17
Death Penalty 3
Total: 25
To add your letters to the total contact

Somalia Stabilization and Reconstruction Act

Somalia Stabilization and Reconstruction Act Since the overthrow of Siad 
Barre's brutal 21-year rule in 1991, civil conflict based on clan 
rivalries and the criminal activity of warlords has torn Somalia apart, 
leading to a fundamental collapse of both state and economy. In 
addition, Somalia is vulnerable to severe droughts and floods which 
contribute to widespread malnutrition and famine. Both humanitarian and 
human rights crises are dire and pervasive.

By 2006 a group called the Union of Islamic Courts (later the Council of 
Islamic Courts) emerged from among local Islamic leaders, and for months 
it served to meet popular demands for basic security--like the 
protection of women against sexual violence--in the streets of 
Mogadishu. A counter-movement backed by the U.S. government also 
emerged, but quickly fell to the CIC. Later, splits between moderate and 
extremist elements in the CIC itself resulted in the ascension to power 
of individuals who would restrict Somali citizens social and political 
rights based on their particular interpretation of Islamic law. These 
leaders grew increasingly more aggressive, expanding their military 
operations beyond Mogadishu to Baidoa (the seat of governance for the TFG).

By December 2006 the UN Security Council passed resolution 1725 
expressing its support for a regional peacekeeping operation in Somalia. 
The CIC launched attacks around Baidoa, and Ethiopia sent in troops to 
prop up the TFG. But by the end of December the CIC had folded before an 
Ethiopian-led TFG advance, with some CIC leaders and troops retreating 
south from Mogadishu, while others melted back into that city's 
population. The U.S. later bombed southern Somalia, twice, in 
January--ostensibly targeting specific terrorist suspects. Although 
their primary targets escaped, scores of civilians were reportedly 
killed in these bombings.

Since January 2007 the TFG has installed itself in Mogadishu, not 
without significant Ethiopian military backing. Popular opinion about 
Ethiopia's presence in Somalia is divided, as the two countries have 
historically been violent opponents in the region, but if Ethiopia 
withdraws a power vacuum will follow. Though Ethiopia's Prime Minister 
has threatened to withdraw completely, it currently appears that he is 
allowing some time for the formation of a regional African peacekeeping 
force--backed by the U.S. To date, Uganda has committed troops to this 
force. Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Malawi and several other African countries 
are also considering troop contributions.
But time is slipping away, Ethiopia won't stay in Mogadishu 
indefinitely, the TFG is weak and lacking in popular support, and the 
level of security in Mogadishu, previously maintained by the CIC, has 
severely diminished--leaving openings for warlords and certain clan 
leaders to fill any already emerging vacuum of governance with violence 
once again.

The people of Somalia need genuine security, unfettered access to 
humanitarian assistance, support for a politically inclusive 
government-building process, and long term international commitments to 
support reconciliation and reconstruction. They also need our vigilance 
in monitoring human rights conditions during this volatile transition 
period. The Somalia Stabilization and Reconstruction Act of 2007 (S. 
492) is an essential step toward responsible U.S. engagement in the 
region. We encourage its co-sponsorship and active support.

Sample letter to Senators Feinstein and Boxer:

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

Dear Senator _______:

I urge you to co-sponsor the Somalia Stabilization and Reconstruction 
Act of 2007 (S. 492), introduced on February 6, 2007 by Senators Russ 
Feingold, Norm Coleman, and Amy Klobuchar. This bill would authorize the 
appropriation of funds to promote stabilization and reconstruction 
efforts in Somalia, including a regional African peacekeeping force. It 
also calls on President Bush to establish a Special Envoy for Somalia.

Somalia has endured decades of violence and instability, which threatens 
the people of Somalia, other countries in the region, and the national 
security of the United States. Most recently following the collapse of 
Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) rule in December 2006, Somalia's 
political, humanitarian, and security situation has again deteriorated. 
The Transitional Federal Government's imposition of martial law on 
January 10, 2007 to maintain order also contributes to the violation of 
human rights. Press freedom and the rights of refugees and internally 
displaced persons from Somalia are particularly at risk.

The United States and the international community - along with the TFG and 
Somali religious and clan elders, women, and business leaders - now face a 
window of opportunity to help alleviate the current humanitarian crisis 
and offer support for the establishment of peace and security in 
Somalia. Urgent action is required and your co-sponsorship of the 
Somalia Stabilization and Reconstruction Act of 2007 is an important 
step toward a stable, just, and peaceful Somalia.

I strongly urge you to co-sponsor S. 492. Thank you for your attention 
to this important matter. I look forward to hearing your response.

Sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS

Urge Support for Bhopal Shareholder Resolution

For a number of years, Amnesty International has campaigned for justice 
for the victims of the Bhopal chemical disaster. On the night of 2/3 
December 1984 toxic gas leaked from a chemical plant owned by Union 
Carbide Corporation (UCC) in Bhopal, India, killing more than 7,000 
people within days. Over the next 22 years exposure to the toxins 
resulted in the deaths of a further 15,000 people as well as chronic and 
debilitating illnesses for more than 100,000 others. Despite efforts by 
survivors, the plant site has not been cleaned up and as a result, piles 
of toxic waste continue to pollute the environment and the water that 
surrounding communities drink. Following Dow Chemical's 2001 acquisition 
of UCC, Amnesty International has been calling on Dow to address the 
continuing health, social and environmental damage suffered by the 
people of Bhopal as a consequence of the ongoing contamination of the site.
In our effort to hold the company accountable, we have used a variety of 
tactics, including shareholder activism. Shareholders enjoy special 
rights and privileges, since they are considered part owners of the 
companies they invest in. One of the ways investors can create change is 
by filing shareholder resolutions that will be voted on at a company's 
annual meeting. For three years now, Amnesty has filed a shareholder 
resolution about Bhopal with Dow Chemical to help increase the pressure 
on the company to address its responsibilities. Each year that a 
resolution is submitted, it must reach a threshold vote in order to be 
voted on again the following year. This year, that threshold is 10%. 
Reaching 10% is challenging, since many shareholders blindly vote the 
way that management recommends. In the past Dow has recommended a vote 
against the Bhopal resolution and we expect the same this year. In order 
to help increase the vote, we are asking activists to send letters to 
top shareholders to help make them aware of Bhopal and to recommend they 
support the shareholder resolution.

CIO State Street Global Advisors Sean Flannery
State Street Global Advisors
1 Lincoln Street
Boston, MA 02111

Managing Director Vanguard Group George Sauter
Vanguard Group
100 Vanguard Boulevard
Malvern, PA 19355

CIO, JP Morgan Asset Management Benjamin Gifford
JP Morgan Asset Management
522 Fifth Avenue 12th floor
New York, NY 10036

Senior Vice President State Farm Insurance Paul Eckley
State Farm Insurance Company
1 State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61710

Dear _____:

As an advocate for corporate social responsibility, I am writing to urge 
your institution to consider the array of issues Dow Chemical Company 
(Dow) faces as a result of its 2001 acquisition of the Union Carbide 
Corporation (UCC), among them, the Bhopal chemical disaster.

Specifically, I ask you to support the Dow shareholder resolution on 
Bhopal, which was submitted this year by a coalition of investors 
representing more than $278 million, led by the New York City Pension 
Funds. The resolution requests Dow management to report by October 2007, 
at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, descriptions 
of any new initiatives instituted by management to address specific 
health, environmental and social concerns of Bhopal, India survivors.

Often cited as one of the world's worst industrial disasters, the toxic 
gas leak of a Union Carbide Corporation pesticide production plant on 
December 2nd, 1984 in Bhopal, India killed more than 7,000 people within 
days. Over the next 22 years exposure to the toxins resulted in the 
deaths of a further 15,000 people as well as chronic and debilitating 
illnesses for more than 100,000 others. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) 
became a full subsidiary of Dow Chemical in 2001, and accordingly Dow 
became responsible for the ongoing contamination in Bhopal as well as 
the care of the disaster survivors. However, Dow has consistently denied 
any responsibility for the damage caused by either the gas leak or the 
ensuing contamination.

Dow's position on Bhopal is not only untenable from a human rights 
perspective, but also has the potential to cause significant damage to 
the company's long term economic value. This concern is supported by a 
2004 report by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors which downgraded Dow 
from an AA to a BB ratio after considering the Bhopal disaster, among 
other issues, as an ongoing concern with significant potential to harm 
the company's reputation, give rise to material liabilities, and 
constrain investment in Asia 

Shareholder proponents of the Bhopal resolution seek to send a clear 
signal to Dow's management that promises by the company concerning 
environmental and social responsibility must be matched with action, 
especially in Bhopal. This is of greater concern in the context of Dow's 
recently launched ''Human Element'' campaign, which emphasizes the 
importance of public health and sustainable water supplies. The 
resolution presents an opportunity for the company to articulate the 
relationship between its stated public commitment and initiatives on 
clean water and human needs and the ongoing contamination in Bhopal.

I note that in the past you have voted against this resolution, sending 
a clear message to Dow that their largest investors are not concerned 
about the company's failure to disclose the significant liabilities 
associated with the Bhopal disaster. I urge you to contemplate the 
deeper implications of your vote, and to consider supporting the Bhopal 
resolution this year.

Sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS

Concern for Safety of Bangladeshi Journalist

Sample letter follows:
Mr. Iajuddin Ahmed
President and Chief Adviser of the Caretaker Government
Office of the Chief Adviser

Dear Chief Adviser:

I am very concerned for the safety of the journalist Sumi Khan, who has 
received death threats and been attacked as a result of her 
investigative journalism.

Sumi Khan, who is based in the city of Chittagong, has written 
investigative articles alleging the involvement of local politicians and 
religious groups in attacks on members of minority communities. She was 
stabbed in an attack in 2004, and her attackers remain at large. In 
March 2005 she received a written death threat telling her to retract 
articles she had written about Islamist groups.

I am aware that other journalists have also been subjected to death 
threats in the past few years. In December 2005, Sumi Khan and a number 
of other journalists from Chittagong, as well as police, government 
officials and magistrates from across the country, were reportedly 
threatened in a letter to the Chittagong Press Club. The letter, 
allegedly from the banned Islamist group Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, 
was believed to be part of a campaign by some Islamist groups to 
destabilize democratic society in Bangladesh. The government failed to 
investigate the death threats or the protection needs of those named in 
the letter, putting Sumi Khan and others at risk of attack. Sumi Khan 
has received further threats from unidentified sources, and attacks on 
journalists have continued nationwide.

I urge you to ensure that there is a thorough, impartial and independent 
investigation into the threats and attack against Sumi Khan and that the 
perpetrators are brought to justice. I ask you to take measures to 
protect journalists who have been threatened as a result of their 
professional activities.

Sincerely, Your NAME and ADDRESS

copy to:
Ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury
Embassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
3510 International Drive N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008