Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 10, October 2007


Thursday, October 25, 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, November 12, 7:30 PM. Letter-
writing Meeting.  Location TBA. This informal 
gathering is a great way for newcomers to get 
acquainted with Amnesty! 

Sunday, November 18, 5:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. 
Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  This month we 
read Jason Elliot's Mirrors of the Unseen: 
Journeys in Iran. (More below). Note time 
change for this meeting only.


Dear friends, 

Somehow I doubt this will be my last column for 
Group 22 (and in any case you can still keep up 
with me on the Rights Readers blog:, but my 
departure for the Midwest seems a good time to 
reflect on the history of our little band of activists 
and what keeps us going.  

Seeing the saffron-robed monks marching in the 
streets of Burma, reminded me of Group 22's 
very first special event featuring a young 
Burmese actor-activist who performed a one-
woman play about the plight of the Burmese.  
That event was successful in inaugurating our 
on-going dialogue with the Caltech/Pasadena 
activist community and one of the many 
refugee/human rights solidarity groups present 
in the Los Angeles area. But as our worst fears 
about a Burmese government crackdown on 
present-day activists appears to be coming true, 
it's easy to become discouraged about the 
intractable nature of some of the issues we have 
worked on over the years.

Of course Burma wasn't my first human rights 
passion-- that would be China.  Back in college in 
the seventies, before I knew about Amnesty 
International, I watched with excitement as 
Chinese activists like Wei Jing Sheng built 
"Democracy Wall" and then was saddened and 
angered when Wei was imprisoned for speaking 
out for human rights, his sentence stretching into 
the 1990s.  Early on, Group 22 worked on a post-
Tiananmen China campaign, built its own 
Democracy Wall at Caltech, and had the 
opportunity to meet Wei Jing Sheng after his 
release.  And we worked slowly, steadily and 
ultimately successfully on the Prisoner of 
Conscience case of the Tibetan monk Ngwang 
Pekar. Just now we find ourselves focused on 
highlighting the cases of Falun Gong practitioners 
and blogger/journalist Shi Tao, most recently 
reaching out to Senator Boxer's office (see Rights 
Readers blog for details), trying to throw a 
spotlight on their imprisonment even as the 
world prepares to celebrate the 2008 Beijing 
Olympics. With China our victories in one case 
are frustratingly replaced by new cases that need 
our attention.  

So how do you keep going as an activist when 
sometimes progress is measured in a case here or 
there or as with Burma, time just seems to stand 
still?  I have the answer: tails!!!  Back in 1998 as 
part of the 50th anniversary campaign for the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights we 
marched down Colorado Boulevard in the Doo-
Dah parade as Animals for the Ethical Treatment 
of People, dressed as friendly critters in masks 
and sporting lovely tails along with our signs 
celebrating the UDHR.  I was reminded of what 
fun we had spreading this message of our shared 
humanity in an admittedly silly package when I 
saw my activist friends donning tails for my 
farewell party.  Sure, we could sit at home with 
no one to wag a tail at and crank out those letters 
to statesmen and senators as individuals, But, 
one Burmese monk didn't make that sea of 
saffron and one Chinese dissident didn't 
construct Democracy Wall.  Our own collective 
efforts may be merely in homage to these 
courageous men and women, but the shared 
struggles, linked arms (and paws!) and cherished 
friendships are what keeps us all going.

Stay in touch with me via the Rights Readers 
blog.  Communities really know do boundaries 
these days!


Prisoners of Conscience

Group 22 continues to work in behalf of 
Estifanos Seyoum, Haile Woldetensae, Ogbe 
Abraha and other Eritrean prisoners of conscience 
who were arrested in September 2001. We had 
some special activities during the past month to 
mark the sixth anniversary of their arrest. At our 
September meeting we watched a short 
presentation in tribute to Fessahaye Joshua 
Johannes, an Eritrean journalist and prisoner of 
conscience who reportedly died while in 
detention. We also collected about 20 signatures 
on our Eritrea POC petition. 

Probably our most important activity was a 
meeting on Oct 15 with a representative from 
Senator Boxer's Los Angeles office, at which we 
discussed our group's work on Eritrea (other 
topics were China POC Shi Tao and the Darfur 
crisis). Paula, Lucas, Martha and Joyce (that's 
me) participated. Many thanks to Paula for her 
efforts in arranging this meeting.

We were told that Senator Boxer would be more 
likely to help with our request if she received 
inputs from constituents on the topic. Therefore 
we ask that you contact Senator Boxer and let her 
know that you are concerned about the Eritrea 
POCs. You can use the following sample letter as 
a guide. If you prefer to send email or phone or 
fax, the contact information is available at her 
official website, 

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 

Dear Senator Boxer,

I am writing to ask your help to get information 
about the status of Estifanos Seyoum, Haile 
Woldetensae, Ogbe Abraha, Petros Solomon and 
other Eritrean prisoners of conscience who were 
arrested in September 2001. These former 
government officials, often referred to as the "G-
15", have been detained without charge in secret 
locations for more than six years simply for 
proposing peaceful political reforms.

I am sure you are aware of the distressing 
human rights situation in Eritrea. Despite 
frequent appeals from Amnesty International 
and other human rights organizations, the 
Eritrean authorities have not disclosed the 
whereabouts of these prisoners, nor have they 
released any information about their condition. 
Several have reportedly died while in detention 
because of torture and denial of medical 

I ask your assistance in ascertaining the status of 
these prisoners of conscience. I hope that you 
might find the opportunity to urge the 
government of Eritrea to act in accord with the 
human rights provisions in the Constitution of 
Eritrea and in the international agreements to 
which they are party. Thank you for your 

[Your name and address]

Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Keep up with Rights Readers at
Sunday, November 18, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena

Mirrors of the Unseen: 
Journeys in Iran
By Jason Elliot
Filling a long-neglected gap in the travel writing 
of the region, Mirrors of the Unseen is a rare and 
timely portrait of the nation descended from the 
world's earliest superpower: Iran. Animated by 
the same spirit of exploration as its acclaimed 
predecessor, An Unexpected Light, and drawing 
on several years of independent travel and 
research, this thought-provoking work weaves 
together observations of life in contemporary Iran 
with history, politics, and a penetrating enquiry 
into the secrets of Islamic art. Generously 
illustrated with the author's own sketches and 
photographs, Mirrors of the Unseen is a rich, 
sensitive, and vivid account of a country and its 

Join Fellow AI Activists in San Francisco!
Amnesty International USA 
Western Regional Conference
November 9-11, 2007
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway
San Francisco, California

The Western Regional Conference of Amnesty 
International USA is an opportunity for activists, 
scholars, communities, and students to come 
together to learn about, discuss, and act upon 
some of the most important human rights issues 
facing our world today.  All Amnesty group 
members and anyone interested in human rights 
are encouraged to attend!

Traveling from Southern California?  Looking for 
cheaper alternatives to flying?  We recommend 
contacting other Amnesty groups about 
carpools, or check out for 
inexpensive (as low as $1 each way) and, 
according to the L.A. Times Travel section, 
comfortable bus travel from Los Angeles or San 
Diego (with a connection in L.A.).

Buy your tickets early, because the $1 tickets sell 
out quickly and prices go up as time goes by.

Remember:  OCTOBER 15 is the DEADLINE for
- Early-bird conference registration:  Register 
early to pay the lowest registration fee!  (You'll 
still be able to register after the 15th, but it'll cost 
more!)  Online registration available!
- Hotel guest room reservations:  Book your room 
with the the hotel by the 15th to get our special 
rate of $124 per night.
- Ideas Fair registration:  If you or your Amnesty 
group has ideas, a project, or a success story you 
want to share with others, sign up for the Ideas 
Fair!  Space is limited!

Keynote Speakers
- Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Author, "The Pinochet 
Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of 
Human Rights"
- Riane Eisler, Macrohistorian, Author of "The 
Real Wealth of Nations" and "The Chalice and the 
- Larry Cox, Executive Director, Amnesty 
International USA

Other conference highlights include
- Friday night movie
- Workshops
- Saturday evening concert!
- Policy-making sessions
And more!

The full conference schedule, list of workshops, 
and other information are available online at

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED.  Would you like to 
learn more about the inner workings of a Regional 
Conference?  Would you like your conference 
registration fee waived?
If so, why not sign up to be a volunteer at the 
conference.  A minimum of four hours is 
requested.  If you're interested in volunteering, 
please contact Kathy Brown ASAP at or 310-815-0450.

Questions?  Call 310-815-0450 or email

We hope to see you in San Francisco!


"May we be free of torture, may there be peace in 
hearts and minds as our kindness spreads 
around the world."
This was the chant of pro-democracy protesters 
in Burma (Myanmar) this past week. Security 
forces have begun a violent crackdown on the 
protests, led by 30,000 red-robed monks. The 
military government's forces clubbed and tear-
gassed protesters, fired shots into the air, and 
arrested dozens if not hundreds of monks. 
Several people were reportedly shot to death.
When the people of Burma last staged mass pro-
democracy protests back in 1988, the military 
junta murdered thousands.
Ask President Bush to urge the UN Security 
Council members, especially the Permanent 
members like China, to immediately deploy a 
UN Security Council mission to Myanmar 
(Burma). This mission should act to resolve the 
human rights crisis and avert the risk of further 
violence and bloodshed. The Council should also 
consider the possibility of imposing an arms 
embargo and to address the dire human rights 
situation in Myanmar. The peaceful mass 
demonstrations taking place compare in scale to 
those in 1988, when security forces broke up 
massive pro-democracy demonstrations with 
deadly violence, killing thousands.  Sample letter 

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC, 20500

Dear President Bush,
We ask you to take immediate steps to work 
with the UN Security Council members, 
especially the permanent members like China, to 
deploy an urgent UN Security Council mission to 
Myanmar (Burma). This mission should assess 
the situation on the ground and engage urgently 
with authorities to avert further violence and 
bloodshed. This Security Council should impose 
an arms embargo on Myanmar. 
As you are aware, Myanmar is now witnessing 
killings and other abuses on a scale not seen since 
1988, when security forces broke up massive pro-
democracy demonstrations with deadly violence 
killing thousands. There are long-standing 
human rights violations in Myanmar, including 
the ongoing detention of Nobel Peace Prize 
Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and well over 
1,160 political prisoners.  During the current 
crackdown hundreds if not thousands were 
arrested and detained.  
The Burmese government has blocked the 
Buddhist monks in their monasteries. According 
to international news reports thousands of 
monks detained may be sent to prisons. Also, at 
least some of the monks have been reportedly 
disrobed and shackled. An unknown number 
have been killed. Failure to act may result in 
more killings and other human rights abuses. 
Peaceful demonstrations that were first sparked 
by a sharp increase in fuel prices have now grown 
in size and number. Buddhist monks have led 
many of the peaceful protests calling for a 
reduction in commodity prices, the release of 
political prisoners, and national reconciliation. 
I ask you to work urgently with all the UN 
Security Council members to deploy a UN 
Security Council mission to Myanmar. Thank 
Sincerely (your name and address)


26 September 2007
UA 250/07 Fear of torture or ill-
treatment/health concern
MYANMAR Myint Myint San (f), National 
League for Democracy (NLD) member
Paik Ko (m), NLD Member of Parliament, 
Par Par Lay (m), comedian
Zargana (m), also known as Ko Thura, comedian
Tin Aung (m), NLD Member of Parliament
Tin Ko (m), NLD youth member in Meiktila
U Win Naing (m), politician
Up to 300 others, including Buddhist monks

Around 300 people were reportedly arrested in a 
crackdown on anti-government protests launched 
by the ruling State Peace and Development 
Council (SPDC) in the evening of 25 September in 
the former capital Yangon, the second-biggest 
city, Mandalay, and also Meiktila, Pakokku and 
Mogok. Amnesty International was told that a 
number of people had gone into hiding.  Some 
were reportedly arrested in the evening of 24 
September, but most were seized during the 
following 36 hours, as the crackdown by security 
forces escalated. Among those arrested were 
between 50 and 100 monks in Yangon.

Parliamentarian Paik Ko and at least one other 
member of parliament from the main opposition 
party, the National League for Democracy 
(NLD), which is led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 
several other NLD members and other public 
figures, including the famous comedian and 
former prisoner of conscience Zargana ere also 
reported to have been arrested. Amnesty 
International believes these and other 
detainees are at grave risk of torture or other 
ill treatment.  Officials confirmed to 
journalists that at least three monks were 
killed in Yangon: one was shot and two were 
beaten to death. Unofficial sources told 
Amnesty International that up to 50 monks 
had been injured.

Despite the high tension, thousands of people 
continue to take to the streets in continued 
anti-government protests, led by monks, 
who have reportedly asked ordinary civilians 
to stay away, in an apparent effort to protect 
them.  The security forces have reportedly 
beaten demonstrators with batons, used 
teargas to disperse crowds defying a
recent ban on gatherings of more than five 
people, and fired warning shots into the air. 

Peaceful demonstrations began in August in 
response to sharp increases in fuel prices. 
They have grown rapidly in size and number. 
Buddhist monks, who took the lead in the 
protests after reports that monks had been 
injured by security forces in the town of 
Pakokku, have called for a reduction in 
commodity prices, the release of political 
prisoners and a process of national 
reconciliation to resolve deep political 
divisions. In the evening of 25 September, the 
authorities began a crackdown on the 
protesters, introducing a 60-day 9pm- 5am 
curfew and issuing public warnings of legal 
action against protesters. Human rights 
violations in Myanmar are widespread and 
systematic. They include the use of child 
soldiers and forced labour. There are laws 
that criminalize peaceful expression of 
political dissent. At the end of 2006 most 
senior opposition figures were imprisoned or 
administratively detained, among more than 
1,160 political prisoners held in deteriorating 
prison conditions. People are frequently 
arrested without warrant and held 
incommunicado; torture and other cruel, 
inhuman and degrading treatment are 
common, especially during interrogation and 
while in custody awaiting trial. Judicial 
proceedings against political detainees fall 
short of international standards for fair trial: 
defendants are often denied the right to legal 
counsel and prosecutors have relied on 
confessions extracted through torture.

appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- expressing concern at reports that hundreds 
of monks and other peaceful protesters, 
including well-known comedian Zargana and 
member of parliament Paik Ko have been 
- urging the authorities to release them 
immediately and unconditionally, unless they 
are to be charged with recognisably criminal 
- calling on the authorities to ensure that, 
while they remain in custody, all the 
detainees are held only in official places of 
detention, and are given immediate access to 
lawyers, their families and any medical 
treatment they may require;
- calling on the authorities to ensure that the 
detainees are not subjected to torture or any 
other ill-treatment;
- calling on the authorities to ensure that all 
people in Myanmar are able to peacefully 
exercise the rights to freedom of expression, 
association and assembly without fear of 
harassment, intimidation or arbitrary 
detention, in line with international human 
rights standards.

State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
Senior General Than Shwe
c/o Ministry of Defence, Naypyitaw, Union 
of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear General
Foreign Minister Nyan Win
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Naypyitaw, 
Union of Myanmar

Salutation: Dear Minister
U Aye Maung
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General, Office No. 25,
Naypyitaw, Union of Myanmar

Salutation: Dear Attorney General
Brig-General Khin Yi
Director General, Myanmar Police Force, 
Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear Director General

Mr. Myint Lwin, Counsellor Minister
Charge D'Affairs Ad Interim
Embassy of the Union of Burma
2300 S St. NW
Washington DC 20008

Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if 
sending appeals after 6 November 2007.

Urgent Actions	17
Total:	17
To add your letters to the total contact

Directions to Caltech:

From the 210 exit on Lake Avenue, head south, turn left on Del Mar
From the 110 continue on Arroyo Parkway north, turn right on California
Street parking is generally available.

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

Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume VII Number 9, September 1999