Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 6, June 2008


Thursday, June 26, 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, July 8, 7:30 PM. Letter writing 
meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner of Hill 
and California in Pasadena. This informal 
gathering is a great way for newcomers to get 
acquainted with Amnesty! 

Sunday, July 20, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. Vroman's 
Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., 
Pasadena.  This month we read "China Road" 
by Rob Gifford.


Hi everyone,
Hot enough for you?!  Hope everyone is able to 
keep cool under this sweltering heat. We have the 
blinds closed and fans on in all the rooms in an 
attempt to save money by not running the air-con, 
but sometimes have to break down and use it!  
Well, school is finally out and I am looking 
forward to catching up with my reading 
(including Lost City Radio, our June book, which 
I forgot to buy!), going to the pool, Spanish 
lessons, painting, and relaxing. Because of the 
high gas prices, we aren't planning any lengthy 
vacations, but do intend to spend a little time in 
Vegas and maybe Napa Valley on the "wine 
In this issue Lucas writes about his visit to the 
AGM back east and also the Tiananmen 
Commemoration events he attended.
Egypt continues to deport Eritrean refugees 
despite criticism from the UNHCR, human rights 
organizations, and Eritrean activists. Please take 
action by sending the letter that follows this 
column. Source:
Please join us at any of our meetings this summer 
-- letter writing is outside on the Athenaeum lawn 
at Caltech, which is always fun, and in August we  
always read a mystery!  Hope to see some more 
new faces!
Con carino,


Thanks to quick action by hard-working Amnesty 
activists, hundreds of Eritrean refugees in Egypt 
may now have their claims for asylum evaluated 
by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees 
(UNHCR). In response to the mass deportation 
that Egypt began on June 11, AIUSA posted an 
online urgent action on June 13. Egypt announced 
on June 15 that UNHCR would be granted access 
to the remaining Eritrean refugees.

Please participate in this follow-up action for the 
900 Eritrean asylum-seekers still in Egypt. If they 
are forcibly returned to Eritrea, they may be 
subject to the same fate as Group 22's adopted 
prisoner of conscience, Estifanos Seyoum, who 
was arrested in 2001 and has been tortured and 
held incommunicado without charge or trial. 

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 12/013/2008 16 June 2008
Further Information on UA 165/08 (MDE 
12/011/2008, 12 June 2008) - Forcible return / 
Fear of torture or other ill-treatment

EGYPT Up to 900 Eritrean asylum-seekers

A further 490 Eritrean asylum-seekers were 
deported to Massawa in Eritrea, on special daily 
Egypt Air flights from Aswan International 
airport. Hundreds more are apparently detained 
at Central Security Forces camp in Shallal, south 
of Aswan. The camp has served as a gathering 
point for asylum-seekers before they are taken to 
Aswan airport. On 12 June, a security official 
confirmed that 200 Eritreans had been "sent back 
home" the previous day.
On 15 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 
Egypt announced that the office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt 
would be granted access to the Eritreans to assess 
their asylum claims.
According to information available to Amnesty 
International, about 270 Eritreans have been 
transported to Shallal camp from police stations 
in the Red Sea cities of Hurghada, Halayeb and 
Shalateen, and 35 from Aswan police station. All 
police stations near Aswan as well as Idfu police 
station, north of Aswan, are now empty of 
Eritrean asylum-seekers; most of them were 
deported but some are still detained in Shallal 
camp. Among those who had been detained in 
Idfu and are now believed to have been deported 
are about 25 Eritreans who had been awaiting a 
court ruling on charges of illegal entry to Egypt, 
scheduled for 21 June.
On 12 June, 200 Eritrean asylum-seekers were 
reportedly deported, and a further 90 on 15 June, 
all on Egypt Air flights. On 13 and 14 June, 200 
were similarly reportedly deported on two flights 
carrying 100 each.
The asylum-seekers were told they were being 
deported. Some begged the security forces not to 
deport them and even threatened to kill 
themselves. They were searched to make sure they 
were not carrying anything they could use to harm 
themselves. They did not physically resist being 
put on the plane, but continued to cry and beg for 
mercy. Among the asylum-seekers were women 
and children.
Since 11 June, the Egyptian authorities have 
organized mass deportation of Eritrean asylum-
seekers. So far about 690 have been reportedly 
deported; up to 900 more are at risk of deportation.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) has issued guidelines to all 
governments opposing return to Eritrea of rejected 
Eritrean asylum seekers on the grounds of the 
record of serious human rights violations in 
Eritrea. These guidelines are still in force.
Refugees and asylum-seekers returned to 
Eritrea have been detained incommunicado, and 
tortured. Two asylum-seekers returned to Eritrea 
by the German authorities on 14 May are believed 
to have been arrested on arrival, and have not 
been seen since. Another asylum-seeker returned 
from the UK in November 2007 was detained in 
inhumane conditions and ill-treated before being 
Thousands of people are detained 
incommunicado in Eritrea, in secret and 
indefinitely, without charge or trial. They have 
been arrested for suspected opposition to the 
government, practicing their religious beliefs as 
members of banned evangelical or other churches, 
evading military conscription or trying to flee the 

appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in 
Arabic or your own language:
- welcoming the authorities' 15 June decision to 
give the UNHCR access to the Eritrean asylum-
seekers held at the Central Security Forces camp 
in Shallat, but expressing concern that they have 
deported a further 490 Eritreans since 12 June;
- calling on the authorities to stop all forcible 
returns of asylum-seekers to Eritrea immediately;
- urging them to respect Egypt's international 
obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention 
and the UN Convention Against Torture not to 
forcibly return asylum-seekers to Eritrea, where 
they would be at risk of torture and other serious 
human rights abuses.


Minister of Interior
Minister Habib Ibrahim El Adly
Ministry of the Interior
25 Al-Sheikh Rihan Street
Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +20 2 279 0682
Salutation: Dear Minister


Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Corniche al-Nil, Maspiro
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +20 22 574 8822
+20 22 390 8159
+20 22 574 9533
Salutation: Dear Minister

EgyptAir Holding Company Headquarters
Captain Tawfik Assy,
Chairman & CEO of EgyptAir Holding Company
EgyptAir Administrative Complex
Fax: +202 24183715 / +202 26964229
Salutation: Dear Captain

Egypt Air offices in your country
Web site:
And to diplomatic representatives of Egypt
Accredited to your country.

Check with the International Secretariat, or your 
section office, if sending appeals after 28 July 

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at
Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, July 20, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard

"China Road" By Rob Gifford

Publisher's Comments:
Route 312 is the Chinese Route 66. It flows three 
thousand miles from east to west, passing 
through the factory towns of the coastal areas, 
through the rural heart of China, then up into the 
Gobi Desert, where it merges with the Old Silk 
Road. The highway witnesses every part of the 
social and economic revolution that is turning 
China upside down.
In this utterly surprising and deeply personal 
book, acclaimed National Public Radio reporter 
Rob Gifford, a fluent Mandarin speaker, takes the 
dramatic journey along Route 312 from its start in 
the boomtown of Shanghai to its end on the 
border with Kazakhstan. Gifford reveals the rich 
mosaic of modern Chinese life in all its 
contradictions, as he poses the crucial questions 
that all of us are asking about China: Will it really 
be the next global superpower? Is it as solid and 
as powerful as it looks from the outside? And 
who are the ordinary Chinese people, to whom 
the twenty-first century is supposed to belong? 
Gifford is not alone on his journey. The largest 
migration in human history is taking place along 
highways such as Route 312, as tens of millions of 
people leave their homes in search of work. He 
sees signs of the booming urban economy 
everywhere, but he also uncovers many of the 
country's frailties, and some of the deep-seated 
problems that could derail China's rise. 
The whole compelling adventure is told through 
the cast of colorful characters Gifford meets: 
garrulous talk-show hosts and ambitious yuppies, 
impoverished peasants and tragic prostitutes, 
cell-phone salesmen, AIDS patients, and Tibetan 
monks. He rides with members of a Shanghai jeep 
club, hitchhikes across the Gobi desert, and sings 
karaoke with migrant workers at truck stops 
along the way.
As he recounts his travels along Route 312, Rob 
Gifford gives a face to what has historically, for 
Westerners, been a faceless country and breathes 
life into a nation that is so often reduced to 
economic statistics. Finally, he sounds a warning 
that all is not well in the Chinese heartlands, that 
serious problems lie ahead, and that the future of 
the West has become inextricably linked with the 
fate of 1.3 billion Chinese people.

Author Biography
Rob Gifford is currently NPR's London 
Correspondent. He came to London in 2005, after 
six years as NPR's correspondent in Beijing.
Gifford has reported from around the world for 
NPR, especially in Asia and Europe. Two days 
after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 
September 2001, Gifford flew to Pakistan for the 
first of many reporting trips to the Muslim world. 
Born and raised in the UK, Gifford worked for 
three years at the BBC World Service, before 
moving to the US in 1994 to attend graduate 
school. He also spent two years at NPR member 
station WGBH in Boston.
Gifford holds a BA in Chinese Studies from 
Durham University, UK, and an MA in Regional 
Studies (East Asia) 


I attended AIUSA's 2008 Annual General Meeting 
in Arlington, VA, on 26-27 April, on the return leg 
of a trip to Europe.  Some highlights were:  a 
session on Defending Individuals at Risk that 
featured individuals from Russia, Ethiopia and 
Mexico who talked about their experiences of 
being tortured and harassed in those countries; 
the Focus Plenary session at which Executive 
Director Larry Cox spoke and which had an 
interview (via satellite) with former Guantanamo 
detainee Moazzam Begg; and the Resolutions 
Voting Plenary, in which I had a chance to see 
AI's decision-making process in action.  
Unfortunately, I missed the evening events since I 
had friends in the area to visit.


I attended the 19th annual Tiananmen 
Commemorative Awards Dinner sponsored by 
the Visual Artists Guild on 24 May in LA's 
Chinatown.  This year, besides two imprisoned 
Chinese dissidents, several awards were given to 
Pasadena city officials and journalists for their 
support of the movement to protest the Beijing 
Olympic float in last January's Rose parade.  A 
number of speeches were given, including one by 
myself on behalf of AI.  The next week, on the 
anniversary of the event on 4 June, I attended a 
rally at the Chinese consulate in LA.  About 100 
people were present and there was singing, 
speeches and a candlelight vigil.  A short speech 
on behalf of AI was given by Tracy Gore, a well-
known local activist, and she and I held an AI 
banner that was the object of much interest.


11 June 2008
Further information on UA 123/08 (09 May 2008)
- Death penalty / Legal concern USA (Virginia) 

Percy Levar Walton (m), black, aged 29

Levar Walton has had the death sentence against 
him commuted by the Governor of Virginia, 
Timothy Kaine. Walton, who suffers from serious 
mental illness, including paranoid schizophrenia, 
was due to be executed in Virginia on 10 June. He 
was sentenced to death in 1997 for the murders 
of an elderly white couple, Elizabeth and Jesse 
Hendrick, aged 81 and 80, and a 33-year-old 
black man, Archie Moore, in the town of Danville 
in November 1996. 

On 9 June, Governor Timothy Kaine issued a 
statement that "the question of Walton's mental 
status is of the utmost importance in assessing 
whether the Commonwealth [of Virginia] may 
carry out his death sentence. For this reason, the 
court system has wrestled with the question of 
whether Walton's mental capacity imposes a bar 
to his execution. Notwithstanding consistent 
decisions upholding his conviction, the courts 
found it necessary to carefully examine whether 
Walton's death sentence could be carried out 
consistent with the U.S. Constitution."

Governor Timothy Kaine noted that in 2006, 
when he had previously delayed Walton's 
execution so that his competence could be 
evaluated, "I was compelled to conclude that 
Walton was seriously mentally impaired and that 
he met the Supreme Court's definition of mental 
incompetence. Because one could not reasonably 
conclude that Walton was fully aware of the 
punishment he was about to suffer and why he 
was to suffer it, I decided that his execution could 
not proceed at that time."

Governor Timothy Kaine said that he had 
concluded that commutation was not appropriate 
at that time because it was "within the realm of 
possibility" that Levar Walton's mental health 
could improve. However, in the time since then, 
"there has been no discernible improvement in 
Walton's condition and no evidence that his 
mental impairment is temporary. Walton differs 
in fundamental ways from other death row 
offenders. He lives in a self-imposed state of 
isolation that includes virtually no interest in 
receiving or understanding information. Walton 
communicates only infrequently, almost 
invariably in response to direct questions, and 
those responses are minimal in nature. He has 
nothing in his cell other than a mattress, a pillow 
and a blanket. He shows no interest in contact 
with the outside world and has no television, 
radio, magazines, books or stationery. He has no 
personal effects of any kind. This minimal 
existence has been in evidence for the past five 

Governor Timothy Kaine concluded that "In light 
of this information, I am again compelled to find 
that one cannot reasonably conclude that Walton 
is fully aware of the punishment he is about to 
suffer and why he is to suffer it. Given the 
extended period of time over which Walton has 
exhibited this lack of mental competence, I must 
conclude that a commutation of his sentence to 
life in prison without possibility of parole is now 
the only constitutionally appropriate course of 

Governor Timothy Kaine stated that although 
Walton's mental incompetence was enough on its 
own to warrant commutation, there were other 
issues that he had considered when making the 
clemency decision. He noted that since Walton's 
trial the US Supreme Court had ruled that the 
execution of someone with mental retardation or 
someone who was under 18 years old at the time 
of the crime was unconstitutional. Walton was 
less than two months past his 18th birthday 
when he committed the crimes, and was already 
suffering from mental illness at the time. Governor 
Timothy Kaine also noted that in his most recent 
IQ test, Walton's IQ had been assessed at 66, 
within the mental retardation range.

In reaching his decision to commute the death 
sentence to life imprisonment without the 
possibility of parole, Governor Timothy Kaine 
said "I remain mindful of the terrible injustice that 
Walton perpetrated against Jessie E. Kendrick, 
Elizabeth W. Kendrick, and Archie D. Moore, Jr. 
My  thoughts and prayers are with the families of 
these honorable people."

Many thanks to all who sent appeals. Please 
consider going online to send a thank-you 
message to Gov. Kaine.

Use this link to thank Gov. Kaine:

Death Penalty 	 3
Eritrea 	 9
Other UAs 	18
Total: 	30

To add your letters to the total contact

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