Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVI Number 1, January 2008


Thursday, January 24, 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, February 12, 7:30 PM.  Letter 
writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner of 
Hill and California in Pasadena.

Sunday, February 17, 6:30 PM. Rights Read-
ers Human Rights Book Discussion Group at 
Vromans Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd. in 
Pasadena. 626-449-5320. The featured book is 
"The Yacoubian Building", by Alaa Al Aswany.


Hi everyone,

Happy New Year!  Hard to believe that it's 2008 
already.  We spend the holidays in Oregon (where 
it was cold and wet) and returned to cold and 
wet southern California!  I worked on my Masters 
project up until the end of December, and finally 
got my instructor's approval and drove it to 
Ontario, CA on December 31!!  Now I can get 
back to my regular routine (which includes 
cooking Đ we have enjoyed home-made soup and 
other goodies lately!) and catch up with friends 
and family.  Whew!!
     Some Group 22 members (as individuals, as 
we all realize that Amnesty officially does not 
take a position for or against the float, but 
against HR abuses in China) were involved in 
varying degrees in the protests against the Rose 
Parade, even just turning their backs as the 
Chinese float passed.  Robert and I attended a 
New Year's Eve service at All Saints Church in 
Pasadena that had the Universal Declaration of 
Human Rights as its theme. Various members of 
the Pasadena community participated, including 
Mayor Bogaard and other city officials, 
representatives from other human rights groups 
such as the United Nations Association 
Pasadena chapter, Ann Lau from the Visual 
Artists Guild (who has been active in the protest 
against the float), and yours truly representing 
Group 22.  We each read selected portions of the 
declaration.  It was an opportunity for the 
concerns of all involved with this issue to be  
recognized and expressed.  Thanks to Ed Bacon, 
rector of All Saints, for proposing this service.
     Unfortunately, the New Year, instead of 
ushering in peace, has seen violence continuing 
throughout the world - especially in Pakistan 
(with the murder of Benazir Bhutto) and Kenya 
(with the continuing violence that has occurred 
after recent elections).  Paula, our Africa visitor 
and expert, has some comments on Kenya later in 
this newsletter.
      And last but not least, don't miss the Doo-
Dah parade January 20 in Old Town Pasadena at 
11:30am, starting at Memorial Park.  Group 22 is 
participating this year, with a really hilarious 
float on a serious theme (torture, specifically 
water boarding).  Check our website post-parade 
for photos!

Con cari–o, 


In early 2006 Group 22 adopted Eritrean Prisoner 
of Conscience Estifanos Seyoum. We remain 
committed to working for him and for other 
Eritrean POCs who were arrested during the 
crackdown of September 2001. Estifanos and the 
other detainees have been held incommunicado in 
secret locations with no access to their families or 
lawyers or international humanitarian 
organizations. Several are reported to have died 
as a result of the harsh conditions and denial of 
medical treatment.

In December Reporters Without Borders 
announced the award of "Journalist of the Year 
2007" to Seyoum Tsehaye, another Eritrean POC 
imprisoned since 2001. Their press release 
says: "The panel of judges sought to highlight not 
only the case of this brave journalist held in 
Eritrea's appalling jails since September 2001 but 
also the catastrophic state of press freedom in 
this small Horn of Africa country. At least four 
journalists have died in prison in Eritrea over the 
last few years. The blame lies chiefly at the door 
of Issaias Afeworki, the highly authoritarian and 
obdurate president of the country since its 
independence in 1993."

We hope to use the publicity generated by this 
award to bring more attention to the deplorable 
human rights situation in Eritrea and to the plight 
of our adopted POC and his fellow detainees. 

This month let's write once again to obdurate 
President Issayas. Here is a sample letter that you 
can copy or use as a guideline. Postage is 90 

His Excellency
President Issayas Afewerki
Office of the President
P. O. Box 257
Asmara, Eritrea

Your Excellency,

I am deeply concerned about Estifanos Seyoum 
and Seyoum Tsehaye and other former 
government officials and journalists who were 
arrested in September 2001. These detainees have 
been held incommunicado for over six years in 
life-threatening conditions. Several of them, such 
as former army chief General Ogba Abraha and 
journalist Fessahaye Yohannes, are alleged to 
have died in prison due to torture and denial of 
medical treatment.

I call upon the Eritrean authorities to clarify the 
fate of the detainees who are feared to have died 
in custody. I appeal for the immediate release of 
all prisoners of conscience who are imprisoned in 
Eritrea solely for the peaceful expression of their 
opinions or beliefs. I urge that the government of 
Eritrea issue a public declaration against torture 
and release information concerning the health and 
status of Estifanos Seyoum and the others who 
have been detained in secret locations since their 
arrest in 2001.

Thank you for your attention to these important 

[Your name and address]  

-Joyce Wolf, Eritrea Coordinator

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at
Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, February 17, 6:30 PM
Vromans Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd
in Pasadena 
(See Upcoming Events section)

 "The Yacoubian Building", by Alaa Al Aswany.  
This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab 
world reveals the political corruption, sexual 
repression, religious extremism, and modern 
hopes of Egypt today. 
All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside 
in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple 
of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the 
smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading 
aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of 
women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout 
young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward 
fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in 
love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent 
politician, twisting the Koran to justify his 
These disparate lives careen toward an explosive 
conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable 
international bestseller. Teeming with frank 
sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is 
an important window on to the experience of loss 
and love in the Arab world. 

About the Author
Alaa Al Aswany is the bestselling author of three 
previous books published in Arabic. He is a 
journalist who writes a monthly opposition 
newspaper column, and he makes his living as a 
dentist in Cairo, Egypt, where his first office was 
in the Yacoubian Building. The Yacoubian 
Building, which caused an immediate scandal due 
to its sexual frankness when first published in 
Egypt, has been translated into nine languages 
and was made into a film. It had the largest 
budget in Egyptian cinema and has been screened 
at various international film festivals. 


As a frequent traveler to Kenya for public health
research (about 2-3 times per year since 1997), I 
was asked to share some thoughts with you about 
the current situation in that country.  As many of 
you know, Kenya is considered a stable country 
with a growing economy, which has never fought 
a war with its neighbors.  It serves as the regional 
base for many aid organizations as well as safari 
companies, and has an extremely active port 
(Mombasa) that serves the whole region.  Yet 
Kenya is still extremely poor: The gross national 
income per capita is about $530, only about 50% 
of youths enter secondary school, the HIV
rate of about 6%, the life expectancy is only 48
years, and it has an estimated 2.3 million orphans 
(of a population of 36 million).

For 22 years, Kenya was ruled by an 
authoritarian leader (Daniel Arap Moi) from the 
Kalenjin tribe (11% of the population), who was 
seen as a "compromise" because he did not come 
from either of the two dominant tribes (Kikuyu 
22% or Luo 12%).  However, his leadership was 
marred by corruption, cronyism, and tight control 
over the press and assembly. Moi finally decided 
to step down in 2002 and put forward a 
successor.  But Kenyans, in their first real election, 
voted not for Moi's hand-picked successor but for 
Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu. Prominent Luos, such as 
Raila Odinga, supported Kibaki in this historic 

Kibaki made good on some of his campaign 
promises, such as universal primary education to 
8th grade for all Kenyans, as well as freedom of 
press and assembly.  However, he still had 
numerous corrupt officials in his administration.  
Moreover, the economy, albeit growing, was still 
considered to be needlessly hindered.  A major 
contentious issue was his failure to support 
efforts by a Constitutional Committee to revise 
the constitution to limit the authority of the 
presidency.  Kibaki backed a very strong 
presidency, although not a dictatorship like
Moi's.  So the Constitutional Committee 
constantly was thwarted, causing opposition to 
Kibaki to grow.  Also, people felt that he wasn't 
doing enough to improve the lot of the 
impoverished and of non-Kikuyu citizens.

So the populace become hungry for "change"--a
relatively new concept in Kenya.  People generally 
tolerate leaders far longer than we do in the West, 
in part because many people liken them to 
"chiefs" who are elder statesmen and should not 
be challenged.  However, many started to think 
that "change" might be worthwhile if the new 
leader was well-known, charismatic, with some 
fresh ideas and a concern for the poor.  Odinga fit 
the bill.  He also was skillful in appealing to non-
Luos (although not Kikuyus),  particularly Luhyas 
who represent about 14% of the population.

On December 27th, Kenya held its election.  The
turn-out was massive.  Every adult I know voted. 
Polls of voters leading up to the election showed 
that Odinga a lead of about 3-4% over Kibaki, 
which was very significant considering Kenyans 
predilections (in the past) to support traditional 

 Unfortunately, indications exist that both 
Odinga and Kibaki engaged in some vote rigging, 
but that Kibaki's was more serious and gave him 
the presidency.  Since the vote in Kenya is a "head 
count", Odinga supporters may have stuffed the 
ballot boxes in some Luo areas.  But it looks like 
Kibaki supporters were much more brazen: 
actually changing the final counts on the tally 
sheets for some districts.  This is why the 
European Union, the US, Kenya's neighbors 
(Tanzania and Uganda) and other Western 
observers declared the final outcome as unfair.  
According to the AP, thirteen donors, including 
the European Union and the United States, have 
now threatened to withdraw direct aid to the 
government if its commitment to "good 
governance, democracy, the rule of law and 
human rights" weakens.

Kibaki has been resistant to a hand count of 
ballots.  In fact, we now know that he and his 
supporters put pressure on the Kenya Election 
Commission to declare him as the victor only two 
days after the election, on December 29th.  In less 
than 30 minutes after the declaration, Kibaki was 
sworn in for a second 5-year term, even though 
the swearing-in occurred on a Saturday night with 
almost no one in attendance.  

This absolutely enraged Odinga supporters and 
his party, the ODM (Orange Democratic 
Movement).  They felt that the election had been 
stolen from them and that they would now have 
to endure another 5 years of Kibaki, which they 
found intolerable.  Odinga urged his supporters to 
take to the streets in protest, even though the 
government declared this unlawful.  

As we all know, if people are not allowed to 
protest peacefully, this can lead to violence.  
Angry members of the Luo and supporting tribes 
started to attack innocent Kikuyus, and in one 
horrific case burned about 40 Kikuyus in a church 
where they had gone for refuge.  Others did take 
to the streets, only to be met by soldiers and 
policemen with live ammunition.  At last count, 
600 Kenyans have died (about 500 at the hands 
of police/army) and another 250,000 (largely 
Kikuyu) have fled their homes.   

Odinga's party has the majority now in 
Parliament, which will ultimately hamstring 
Kibaki.  But Kibaki will not back down from his 
position, except to offer some "power-sharing" 
which Odinga derides, since he believes that he is 
the rightful president.  Various prominent 
individuals, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 
have been trying to mediate.  However, until 
either Kibaki concedes or Odinga agrees to a
power-sharing, there is likely to be a stand-off.  
And more people, yearning for justice and fair 
elections, will be protesting or attacking others 
who they resent.  A very sad situation for all 

At the same time, I do see a few hopeful signs
in this.  While the tribal clashes are clearly 
disturbing, it is noteworthy that Kenyans now 
take elections very seriously and consider them 
important in effecting change in government 
policy.  Most are willing to vote for someone not 
of their tribe (recall that the Luos are only 13% of 
the population). They are not passively going to 
accept the results of an unfair election (unlike 
many Americans in 2000).  The unfettered press 
has been reporting 'round the clock and Kenyans 
have been glued to the TV, radio and 
newspapers. Police attacks on protesting civilians 
are being widely condemned and challenged.  It is 
very possible that Kenya's human rights record 
and organizations will be strengthened after this 
period has passed. 

So let us all hope for a fair resolution of the 
political crisis: either with a hand count of the 
ballots (which we never obtained in Florida) or 
possibly a new election (which is very costly).  

And let us also support--in any way we can--
efforts over the coming months to rebuild 
friendship, love, trust and caring between 
Kikuyus and other tribes (especially Luos, Luhyas 
and Kalinjins).

Paula Tavrow


January 18, 2008

Amnesty International Condemns Lethal Force by 
Police in Kenya; Death Toll in Protests Rises to 12 

(New York)--Amnesty International today 
condemned the reckless and excessive use of 
lethal force by Kenyan police, including firing live 
ammunition into crowds, as reports emerged that 
police killed at least 12 people, including a 13-
year-old boy, during protests called by the 
opposition Orange Democratic Movement 

"We recognize that the Kenyan police are trying to 
contain what in some cases have been violent 
protests in Kenya. However, by firing live 
ammunition into crowds the police have far 
exceeded what is acceptable use of force. The 
firing of live ammunition into crowds can not be 
justified," said Erwin van der Borght, director of 
Amnesty International's Africa Program.
In one incident, captured on video by a local 
television station, an unarmed protestor in 
Kisumu was shot at close range by a Kenyan 
police officer, who then kicked the protestor as he 
lay wounded on the ground. The man reportedly 
died later from the bullet wound.

In a number of other incidents, protestors and 
bystanders in Kibera, in Nairobi, were reported to 
have been shot by police preventing residents 
from travelling to the city center for the mass 
protest rally called by the opposition. Kibera, 
inhabited by many opposition party supporters, 
has been the site of considerable post-election 

"The government must immediately send clear 
instructions to the police to stop this excessive 
use of force, conduct an independent and 
impartial inquiry into the police killings, and 
prosecute any police officers who have used 
excessive force against protesters," said van der 
Amnesty International is also concerned over 
reports that police have harassed journalists 
covering the protests, and that human rights 
defenders protesting the use of excessive force by 
Kenyan security forces have been arrested.

"The Kenyan government must respect the right to 
freedom of expression and peaceful assembly 
throughout Kenya," said van der Borght. "It is 
only through the respect for human rights that the 
country will be able to resolve the political crisis it 
is now facing."

"U.S. government officials--along with other key 
allies of Kenya--must use their considerable 
influence with Kenyan government and party 
leaders and support regional initiatives to prevent 
further devastating violations of human rights 
across the country," added Lynn Fredriksson, 
Amnesty International USA's advocacy director 
for Africa.

Amnesty International has called on both Kenyan 
government and opposition party leaders to 
refrain from behavior that could be perceived as 
condoning violence by their supporters against 

Background information on Kenya situation 
from the AIUSA website:

Since December 30, 2007, more than 600 people 
are reported to have been killed and thousands 
injured during violence that erupted following the 
announcement of disputed election results. More 
than 250,000 have been internally displaced.
Under the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law 
Enforcement Officials and the U.N. Basic 
Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by 
Law Enforcement Officials, police may use force 
only when strictly necessary, and only to the 
extent required for the performance of their duty. 
Firearms should not be used except to defend 
people against the imminent threat of death or 
serious injury or to prevent a grave threat to life, 
and only when less extreme means are 
insufficient. Intentional lethal force should not be 
used except when strictly unavoidable.


 Background on Action for Pakistani Supreme 
Court Justices

On December 27, 2007, Pakistan's former Prime 
Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated while 
leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi. The 
presumed gunman and at least 20 others were 
killed moments later in an apparent suicide 
bombing. She had survived a similar attempt on 
her life in October, shortly after returning to the 
country after an extended period of exile. At the 
time of her death, she was campaigning for a 
national election scheduled for January 8, 2008. 
Amnesty International condemns in the strongest 
possible terms the murder of Benazir Bhutto, and 
any other targets of political violence.

Unfortunately, Ms. Bhutto's assassination is but 
the most recent incident marking a steady 
deterioration in Pakistan's political stability. On 
November 3, 2007, a State of Emergency was 
declared and much of the Constitution was 
suspended. Within hours, the arrests began. 
Hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists, and 
other perceived opponents of General Pervez 
Musharaff's government were detained under 
provisions allowing detention without charge or 
trial. Courts were expressly prohibited against 
issuing any order against the President, Prime 
Minister or any person exercising powers under 
their authority. Lawyers opposing these measures 
were arrested en masse, and a number of Supreme 
Court and Provincial High Court justices were 
suspended and placed under house arrest for 
refusing to take an oath to uphold the new 
Provisional Constitution Order. Human rights 
activists were also targeted and imprisoned, and 
peaceful demonstrations met with violence. All 
private local and international news broadcasts 
were suspended, and new laws impose heavy 
restrictions on all forms of media.

This crisis has occurred amidst longstanding 
concerns about human rights in Pakistan, 
including patterns of arbitrary detention, torture 
in custody, imposition of the death penalty, and 
abuses committed during the course of the "War 
on Terror." Vulnerable and marginalized groups, 
including women and religious minorities, have 
faced particular threats. As a major recipient of 
US military aid, Amnesty International USA has 
also opposed American military assistance that 
may contribute to these human rights violations. 

While many emergency rule provisions have been 
lifted and many of those imprisoned have been 
released, others remain under detention and the 
legal system has been purged of independent 
judges and lawyers. A return to full rule of law is 
essential to restoring democracy, human rights, 
and stability in Pakistan.

Here's a sample letter to President Bush:  

President Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush,

  The assassination of Pakistan's former Prime 
Minister Benazir Bhutto was devastating and 
further evidence that the situation continues to 
deteriorate in Pakistan.  I urge you to publicly call 
on General Pervez Musharraf to immediately 
restore the constitution and rule of law, and to 
release and reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar 
Muhammad Chaudhry and the other justices of 
the Supreme Court. This measure is critical to 
ensuring the independence of Pakistan's judiciary 
and maintaining stability and basic human rights 
in the country.  Without an independent judiciary, 
any investigation into the assassination of Bhutto 
may lack credibility.

Although General Musharraf has sought to justify 
the suspension of the constitution as a response 
to terrorism and extremism, martial law, from the 
start, has constituted an attack on the 
independence of the judiciary and on civil society. 
As you know, President Musharraf has purged 
the Supreme Court of independent-minded 
judges. The arrests have targeted moderate and 
democratic critics of his rule: human rights 
activists, lawyers, and members of opposition 
political parties. It is critical for the United States 
government to condemn these serious human 
rights violations, and for senior U.S. officials to 
express these concerns clearly and forcefully.  
Without a lifting of the emergency and a return to 
the rule of law it is not possible for the country to 
proceed to free and fair elections which General 
Musharraf has indicated he will hold in early 

The human rights community is in full support of 
effective and appropriate multilateral 
counterterrorism measures. However, even tacit 
support for this imposition of martial law and the 
sacking and imprisoning of justices in Pakistan 
can be expected to set back efforts to address 
terrorism in that country and throughout the 

For these reasons, I urge you to publicly call on 
General  Musharraf to release and reinstate Chief 
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the 
other justices in the Supreme Court. It is our duty 
to advocate the independence of the judiciary 
and the basic human rights of the Pakistani 
people- and do everything we can to bring 
stability back to the country.

Thank you for your attention on this matter.

(your name and address)

Urgent Actions	30
Total:	30

To add your letters to the total contact

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