Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News Volume XV Number
9, September 2007


Thursday, September 27, 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, October 9, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting at the Coffee
Tree at 696 East Colorado Blvd., #8, in the alley just off Colorado.
(This is across the street from Vroman's bookstore and the Laemmle
theater.) This informal gathering is a great way for newcomers to get
acquainted with Amnesty!

Sunday, October 21, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book
Discussion Group. Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd.,
Pasadena.  This month we read Yasmina Khadra's novel about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Attack. (More below).


Hi everyone,

It is raining now as I sit at the computer waiting for inspiration! 
What strange weather - usually in the fall, my favorite time of year,
it is warm and sunny.

Last week, on September 11th, we had our letter-writing meeting at
the Coffee Tree, a coffee/tea bar in the arcade shopping mall where
El Portal restaurant is. Currently, the Rathskeller basement of the
Athenaeum at Caltech is closed for the summer. Isabel Rodriguez, the
owner, and a new member of Group 22, graciously allowed us to sit
outside her shop and write letters in the cool evening air.  Thank
you again Isabel. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Hopefully most of you caught our Group 22 co-coordinator, Lucas Kamp,
being interviewed on KCET' s  local news show, Life and Times, on
Tuesday, September 18th!  Lucas spoke regarding the issue of the
Chinese government sponsoring a float in the upcoming Rose Parade. 
Several local organizations, including Amnesty Group 22, are opposed
to this because it legitimizes an oppressive government.  For those
of you who missed it, you can read the transcript at:  You
can also view the video (requires Real Player) at:  Larry Cox, the director
of Amnesty International USA, was also featured on the program.

Last Sunday, Group 22's Rights Readers read a heart-rending true
story about a boy from Honduras who is desperate to join his mother
in the United States. "Enrique's Journey", by Sonia Nazario, is a
powerful and moving book.  For those of you who want to help the
people that shelter and care for Central American migrants on their
way through Mexico, the author has listed the addresses for the
church in Nuevo Laredo and the Shelter of Jesus the Good Shepherd in
Chiapas on her website: You can obtain a
"giro postal", or money order for Mexico, at your local post office
and have it sent to them. There is also an email link to Olga Sanchez
Martinez, the woman who runs Albergue Jesus el Buen Pastor. 

Last, but certainly not least, Martha TerMaat, is moving to the
Minneapolis area in the near future.  We are having a party to say
farewell on October 6th.  The invitation has been sent out to our
email list and I hope that everyone can attend.  We will miss Martha
more than words can say.  She has been the heart of our group for
many years. ! Que le vaya bien, Martha!

Con carin~o,


Prisoners of Conscience

September 18 marked the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Estifanos
Seyoum, Group 22's adopted POC in Eritrea. He was a member of the
G15, a group of senior government officials who criticized the ruling
party. Estifanos and other detainees have been held incommunicado in
secret prisons, where they have been reportedly subjected to torture
and denial of medical treatment.

Amnesty International USA stated in their September 17 press release,
"Since the detentions on political grounds six years ago on 18
September 2001 of hundreds of former government leaders,private-media
journalists and civil servants, most are still held incommunicado in
life-threatening conditions. Several detainees are alleged to have
died in prison due to ill-treatment and denial of medical treatment,
such as former army chief General Ogba Abraha and journalist
Fessahaye "Joshua" Yohannes. Despite numerous requests, the
government has constantly refused to provide any evidence that they
are still alive."

Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Eritrea have taken a turn
for the worse. In August the U.S. ordered Eritrea to close its
consulate in Oakland, CA, as reciprocal action for Eritrea's
interference with the U.S. Embassy in Asmara.  Now the U.S. is
accusing Eritrea of supporting terrorism. It remains to be seen what
effect these U.S. actions might have on the appeals for information
regarding the POCs.
Please visit for links to the full
text of the AIUSA press release, to an action for imprisoned
Patriarch Abune Antonios, and for more information about recent U.S.
relations with Eritrea.

And please don't allow this sad anniversary to go by without taking
some action for human rights in Eritrea. You can participate in an
action on the new AI Group 19 website, or you can write to the Eritrean
Ambassador in behalf of our POC Estifanos Seyoum, using the following
sample letter as a guide.

His Excellency Ghirmai Gebremariam
Ambassador of Eritrea
1708 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20009

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

September 18 marks the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Estifanos
Seyoum, former Brigadier General and head of the Inland Revenue
Service until August 2001. His current whereabouts and condition of
health are unknown.

Amnesty International considers Estifanos Seyoum, Haile Woldetensee,
Aster Fissehatsion, and other senior government officials known as
the G15 to be Prisoners of Conscience, since they neither used nor
advocated violence in the peaceful expression of their political
Incommunicado detention increases the risk of prisoners being denied
the basic rights and protection of Eritrean and international law.
Therefore I urge that the whereabouts of Estifanos Seyoum and the
other G15 detainees be made known immediately.

I ask that international humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC
(International Committee of the Red Cross) be given immediate access
to Estifanos Seyoum, Haile Woldetensee, Aster Fissehatsion and the
other G15 detainees.

I respectfully remind the government of Eritrea that the Constitution
of Eritrea guarantees that "no person shall be deprived of liberty
without due process of law" (Article 15-2) and that "no person may be
arrested or detained save pursuant to due process of law" (Article

Thank you very much for your consideration of this important matter.

[Your name and address]

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Sunday, October 21, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena

The Attack
by Yasmina Khadra

Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Arab-Israeli surgeon at a hospital in Tel
Aviv. As an admired and respected member of his community, he has
carved a space for himself and his wife, Sihem, at the crossroads of
two troubled societies. Jaafari's world is abruptly shattered when
Sihem is killed in a suicide bombing.

As evidence mounts that Sihem could have been responsible for the
catastrophic bombing, Jaafari begins a tortured search for answers.
Faced with the ultimate betrayal, he must find a way to reconcile his
cherished memories of his wife with the growing realization that she
may have had another life, one that was entirely removed from the
comfortable, modern existence that they shared.

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

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 have 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 Blade"
- 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
Questions?  Call 310-815-0450 or email
We hope to see you in San Francisco!

Free Burmese Writer-Activist

Traditionally, the last week in September is promoted by librarians
and book lovers as "Banned Book Week." In Amnesty what we seek to
draw attention to are banned authors.  With the "people power" (or is
that monk power?) revolution on going in Burma at the moment, we
bring you the case of writer-activist Ko Aung Htun.  For more Banned
Book Week actions (which can be done now or in the weeks to come)
please visit books.

Prisoner of conscience Ko Aung Htun (also known as Aung Htun or Aung
Tun; name variations are common in Myanmar) was imprisoned between
1990 and 1995 for organizing student demonstrations against military
rule. After release, he wrote a 7-volume history of the student
movement in Myanmar, reportedly enlisting the assistance of U Thar
Ban and Dr Maung Maung Kyaw, also previously imprisoned former
student activists at various stages of Burmese history, who
reportedly provided him with photographs and papers for the history.
They all were re-arrested in February 1998 during a crackdown by
authorities on political opponents. Reportedly tortured while
interrogated in 1990 and again in 1998, Ko Aung Htun's health has
suffered as a result.

There is strict censorship in Myanmar and all publications must be
approved by the authorities. After Ko Aung Htun's arrest, authorities
stated at a press conference that he had written and illegally
printed "largely exaggerated and biased accounts of events based on a
few facts" which he distributed to 30 politicians, including Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi. They named the articles and history as "Political
History and First Hand Experience", and "History of the Student
Movements, Me and They and Witnesses to History". In April 1998 Ko
Aung Htun was sentenced to a total of 17 years' imprisonment: seven
years under Section 5j of the 1950 Emergency Provision Act; seven
years under the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act; and
three years under the Unlawful Associations Act. U Thar Ban and Dr.
Maung Maung Kyaw were sentenced to 7 years' imprisonment and
reportedly were released in 2005.

The legislation under which the group was sentenced has been used
regularly to silence freedom of expression in Myanmar and to imprison
critics of the government. The Unlawful Associations Act provides for
detention of any person who has had contact with any organization
deemed by authorities to be against state interests. The Printers and
Publishers Registration Law requires the approval by a censor of
anything that is written and distributed in the country, including
all books, magazines, other periodicals, song lyrics, and motion
picture scripts - in most cases before the material is distributed,
and sometimes before it is printed. The 1950 Emergency Provisions Act
confers sweeping powers on the authorities to silence and punish any
act of real or perceived dissent, and also has been used extensively
to imprison thousands of people for their peaceful opposition.
Concerned that this legislation circumscribes rights and freedoms
more than is needed to preserve security, Amnesty International has
called on authorities to carry out a review of all legislation that
is being used to criminalize peaceful dissent and freedom of
assembly, expression and association, and to revoke or amend it to
ensure conformity with international standards.

Please appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of Ko Aung
Htun and all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.

Senior General Than Shwe
State Peace and Development Council
Ministry of Defense
Union of Myanmar (for US Postal Service, "Burma" should appear in
parentheses after "Myanmar", on envelope only, not in the letter

Salutation: Dear Senior General
Minister Counselor U Myint Lwin
Charge' d'Affaires Ad Interim
Embassy of Myanmar
2300 S Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Justice for Louisiana Inmate

In view of the recent demonstrations in Jena, Louisiana against
racial discrimination in our justice system (see
for press releases on the Jena 6), here is another reminder that Jena
is hardly an isolated case. 

Gary Tyler, a 49 year old African American man, has been in prison in
Louisiana since the age of 17 as a result of an unfair trial infected
with racial prejudice. In 1975 Tyler was sentenced to death for the
murder of Timothy Weber, a 13 year old white schoolboy, who was shot
outside of his Destrehan, Louisiana school during racial

Gary Tyler was one of many African American students on a bus on his
way home from school when it came under attack by white people
throwing stones and bottles. A shot was fired, allegedly from within
the bus, and Timothy Weber was killed. Following the shooting, all
male students on the bus were searched and the bus was searched
twice. No gun was found. One female student at the police station
said she had been sitting next to Tyler and saw him fire a gun into
the crowd. Following this testimony, the police "found" a gun stuffed
through a long visible tear in the seat. The same seat had previously
been searched, shaken and turned upside down several times and
nothing had been found. Tyler was detained at the police station
where there is strong evidence that he was savagely beaten.

Tyler was tried by an all white jury from which members of the
African American community were deliberately excluded. He received
seriously deficient legal representation from a white lawyer who
specialized in civil cases and who spent only one hour with Tyler
during the entire year prior to his trial. Since the trial, evidence
has come to light that Tyler did not shoot the victim, including
witnesses who testified against Tyler at trial and later recanted,
saying that they were coerced by the police into making statements
against him.

Tyler's original death sentence was overturned in 1997 following a US
Supreme Court ruling that declared the Louisiana death penalty
illegal. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without
parole for 20 years.

A federal appeals court has ruled that Tyler has been "convicted on
the basis of an unconstitutional charge" and that his trial was
"fundamentally unfair", however, Tyler has never been granted a
retrial. On three occasions the Louisiana Board of Pardons
recommended to two separate Louisiana governors that Tyler's sentence
should be reduced but these recommendations were rejected.

Amnesty International is calling on Governor Kathleen Blanco to
rectify this injustice by granting a pardon to Gary Tyler and
ordering an independent investigation into his case so that anyone
found to have been involved in any cover-up or abuse is brought to

The Honorable Kathleen Blanco
Governor of the State of Louisiana
Kathleen Blanco
Office of the Governor
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Dear Kathleen Blanco:

I am writing to express concern about the case of Gary Tyler, who is
serving a life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in
Angola. This is a case which Amnesty International has investigated
for many years, and about which it has previously expressed serious
concern. There is considerable evidence that casts doubt on Gary
Tyler's role in the 1974 shooting of the victim, Timothy Weber.
Furthermore there is credible evidence that Gary Tyler, who was 16 at
the time of the crime, was seriously beaten while under interrogation
in police custody.

Amnesty International believes a serious miscarriage of justice
occurred either as a result of or exacerbated by Tyler's race and the
racially charged atmosphere at the time of the events. Additionally,
Gary Tyler received seriously deficient legal representation at his
trial before an all-white jury.
The U.S. Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit held in two decisions
that Gary Tyler had been ''convicted on the basis of an
unconstitutional charge'' which had ''infected the trial'' making it
''fundamentally unfair.'' Gary Tyler's conviction was upheld on a
technical point only: that his trial lawyer failed to present an
objection at the right time. In addition, and on three separate
occasions, the Louisiana Board of Pardons recommended to two
Louisiana governors that Gary Tyler's sentence be reduced.

I urge you to review the case and grant Gary Tyler a pardon and
release him. In doing so, please launch a full and impartial
investigation into his case to bring to justice anyone found to have
been involved in any abuse or obstruction of justice.
Sincerely  (Your Name and Address)

Send Support to Student Activist

Maureen Kademaunga is a sociology student and Secretary general of
the University of Zimbabwe Students executive Council who has been
arrested on more than six occasions for leading demonstrations
against exorbitant education fees, mass forced evictions, and poor
social services delivery. As a result of her efforts, she has
suffered physical assault while in police custody and was also
suspended twice for her activism. Only after taking university
authorities to court was she later reinstated.

On February 13, 2007, Ms. Kademaunga was arrested and detained along
with approximately 30 others from the Harare Polytechnical College
while taking part in a meeting to map a way forward for the higher
education sector in Zimbabwe. She remained in detention until
February 16. Her case has yet to be heard by the magistrate's court.

On March 29, 2007, she was arrested at the headquarters of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main political opposition
in Zimbabwe. While detained, she was denied access to lawyers,
received no food or drink, and was not allowed to go to the toilet.
She was released the next day without charge.

Maureen Kademaunga is an example of the many human rights defenders
that are under sustained attack by authorities and police in
Zimbabwe. Repressive legislation continues to be used to obstruct
their work. In 2006 alone, hundreds were subjected to arbitrary
arrest, torture, ill-treatment and harassment.

Please send cards of support. Suggested Message:
"In solidarity with the important human rights work that you are
doing. Keep it up!" Write to:

Maureen Kademaunga
Zimbabwe National Student Union
P.O. Box 3951

Urgent Actions    31
Eritrea      6
Total:    37
To add your letters to the total contact