Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XV Number 11, November/December 2008


Thursday, December 4, 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, December 13, 8 AM to 2 PM. Letter 
writing marathon at Cafe' Culture, 1359 N. 
Altadena Dr., Pasadena, 91107, 626-398-8654. 
Note:  this meeting replaces our usual letter 
writing meeting on Dec. 9th.

Sunday, December 21, 6:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group. 
Note:  this month's meeting will be held at a 
member's residence, 187 S. Catalina, Unit 2. 
Call 626-795-1785 or email 
for directions. Bring your favorite holiday treat.
 We are reading "The Successor:  A Novel" by 
Ismail Kadare.  


Hi everyone,
Hope you all are having a restful holiday 
weekend and didn't eat too much turkey and pie 
The Amnesty International Western Regional 
Conference was held at the Pasadena Hilton Nov 
7-9.  Group 22 members Joyce, Christina, Marie-
Helene, Lucas, Robert, Stevi, and Laura and her 
husband attended.  See Laura's report later in this 
newsletter. It sounds like it was really great! 
Unfortunately, yours truly was at home Friday 
and Saturday (I did manage to rouse myself to 
drop by briefly Sunday am) in bed with viral 
gastroenteritis (the "stomach flu").  But I was 
cheered to hear that several of our fund raising 
items had sold, including one of the denim 
grocery bags I had made as well as several of the 
necklaces made by the group!
CSUN student Esha Momeni, an Iranian-
American, was imprisoned in Iran in October 
2008 and has been recently released but is still in 
Iran.  Thanks to Azadeh for alerting us to this 
situation. A rally was held on her behalf at CSUN, 
and Amnesty and other human rights groups 
wrote letters. There is an update in this newsletter 
on the case. See for latest 
Please note time and date changes of our monthly 
meetings. (See upcoming event section) due to 
holiday schedules.
Hope to see you at one of our meetings soon!
Con carino, 


"Torture, Terror, and the American Way": 
Workshop at Amnesty International's 2008 
Western Regional Conference, Nov. 8, 2008
By Laura G. Brown

It certainly was grand to hear President-elect 
Obama say on 60 Minutes: "We don't torture," 
and to add that he wants to close Guantanamo. 
"Yay!" I cheered, watching the Nov. 16 Steve 
Kroft interview. "Alright!" added my husband 
and daughter (she started an AI chapter at her 
high school, with Group 22's help.)
Is a new era for human rights in the making? 
These are two of Amnesty International's top 
priorities for the new U.S. president, as 
delineated in its "First 100 Days" petition - a 
checklist of actions AI is asking Mr. Obama to 
take during his first 100 days in office. If you 
haven't signed it yet, download the postcard at:
Panelist Michael Heflin focused on the letter 
during the "Torture, Terror, and the American 
Way" workshop at the Pasadena Hilton this 
month. Other presenters included Banafsheh 
Akhlaghi, Western Regional Director, and Dalia 
Hashad, Director, USA Domestic Human Rights 
Program. Stevi, Marie-Helene, Joyce, Robert, 
Christina, and Ted Brown were also at the conference 
representing Group 22. (Coordinators Kathy and 
Lucas were able to attend only the Sunday 
morning session.)
Ms. Hashad opened the workshop passionately 
and personally, relating how she represented 
people from "suspect" groups during government 
questioning after 9-11. She told about an 18-year-
old boy being questioned by the FBI, and being 
asked: "Do you know Osama bin Laden?" She 
described a cold afternoon in New York, standing 
with the youth outside the FBI building after the 
interrogation. The youth confided in her that, 
since 9-11, he'd felt self-conscious on the subway 
because of his foreign face and long beard. He 
didn't want to make people frightened or 
uncomfortable, "so I pretend to be asleep," he 
told his counsel, Ms. Hashad. "Dalia, I'm so tired 
of pretending to be asleep," he added.
Ms. Akhlaghi focused on the Patriot Act and 
similar abuses of the Bill of Rights, and how they 
are affecting people in the U.S. - particularly 
Michael Heflin urged all attendees and interested 
persons to sign the "First 100 Days" letter to the 
Obama administration.
Not billed as a panelist, but nonetheless giving a 
compelling speech, was a practicing psycho-
therapist who has made it his mission to expose 
those who have perverted the profession to aid in 
physical and psychological torture at 
Guantanamo and elsewhere. He cited John Yu, 
author of the memo that Bush officials used to 
justify crimes against detainees, as working as a 
professor at the University of California, 
Berkeley. He suggested putting pressure on alumni 
associations to protest the employment of Yu and 
others who advocate and use torture. "Contact 
them and say: 'I won't be contributing any money 
while you employ John Yu,' "he said. An audience 
member, who said he was a professor at 
California State University, Los Angeles, added 
that students could simply refuse to sign up for 
Yu's classes, or the classes of other academics like 
With a new administration coming on board, one 
which may be more inclined to respect basic 
human rights, the conference seemed infused with 
energy and hope. There was a preponderance of 
young people, which indicates Amnesty is wisely 
growing its base. If you missed this regional 
conference, make it a point to go next year. 
Exciting things are happening right in our own 


By Joyce Wolf

One of the resolutions submitted to the recent AI 
Western Regional Conference carried the title 
"The New Forgotten Prisoners". The sponsor of 
this resolution was Samson Tu from Group 19 in 
Palo Alto. Group 19 works very actively for their 
adopted Prisoner of Conscience, an Eritrea 
journalist who was arrested in the same 
September 2001 crackdown as Estifanos Seyoum, 
our group's adopted POC. The title alludes to AI 
founder Peter Benenson's 1961 newspaper article 
"The Forgotten Prisoners".
Many AI groups with Eritrea POCs have been 
deeply concerned and unhappy about AI's 
decision to close nearly all the Eritrea individual 
case files. This decision is not limited to Eritrea 
cases, but reflects AI's current strategic priorities. 
Samson's resolution instructs the AIUSA Board to 
make various specific requests to the AI Executive 
Committee regarding restoration of AI's historical 
emphasis on individual POCs. With minor 
changes to wording, the resolution passed both 
the Working Party and the Voting Plenary Session 
by near-unanimous votes. We'll see what happens 
at the AIUSA annual meeting in March and then 
at the International Council Meeting later in the 
Group 22 continues to work for Estifanos and 
other Eritrea POCs. (Background information 
about Estifanos is available on the Group 22 
website.) Patriarch Abune Antonios of Eritrea has 
been selected as one of the AIUSA 2008 Write-a-
thon cases. Visit  and 
click on Writeathon Cases Now Available, or join 
Group 22 in our letter writing event on Dec. 13. 
When you write to President Issayas about the 
Patriarch, you can also mention Estifanos!

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 

Sunday, December 21,  6:30 PM
187 S. Catalina, Unit 2.   

"The Successor:  A Novel"
By Ismail Kadare
Publisher Comments:
A powerful political novel based on the sudden, 
mysterious death of the man who had been 
handpicked to succeed the hated Albanian 
dictator Enver Hoxha. 
Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? That 
is the burning question. The man who died by his 
own hand, or another's, was Mehmet Shehu, the 
presumed heir to the ailing dictator, Enver 
Hoxha. So sure was the world that he was next in 
line, he was known as The Successor. And then, 
shortly before he was to assume power, he was 
found dead. 
The Successor is simultaneously a mystery novel, 
a historical novel - based on actual events and 
buttressed by the author's private conversations 
with the son of the real-life Mehmet Shehu - and 
a psychological novel (How do you live when 
nothing is sure?). Vintage Kadare, The Successor 
seamlessly blends dream and reality, legendary 
past, and contemporary history. 

Author Biography

Ismail Kadare 1936-, Albanian novelist and poet, 
widely regarded as his country's most important 
contemporary writer, b. Gjirokaster, studied Univ. 
of Tirana, Gorky Institute of World Literature, 
Moscow. He began as a journalist, and also wrote 
poetry, which was first published in the 1950s. 
During the following decade he increasingly 
turned to prose and was celebrated in his 
homeland after the publication of his first novel, 
The General of the Dead Army (1963, tr. 1972), 
about an Italian general who must retrieve his 
soldiers' bodies from Albania after World War II. 
Kadare at first supported Communist dictator 
Enver Hoxha , but after the mid-1970s he became 
increasingly critical of the regime and several of 
his books were banned. After he sought political 
asylum in France and moved (1990) to Paris, his 
books became more widely known 
internationally. Kadare's fiction concerns 
Albanian history, culture, folklore, and politics 
and often employs the storytelling techniques of 
allegory and fable. His many novels include The 
Castle (1970, tr. 1974), Chronicle in Stone (1971, tr. 
1987), The Three-Arched Bridge (1978, tr. 1991), 
The Palace of Dreams (1981, tr. 1993), The Concert 
(1988, tr. 1994), The Pyramid (1991, tr. 1996), 
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost (2001, tr. 2002), and 
The Successor (2003, tr. 2005). In 2005 Kadare was 
awarded the first Man Booker International Prize. 


Esha had a flight back to Los Angeles scheduled 
on November 21, 2008. Although the officials had 
given her a glimpse of hope that she would be 
able to use her ticket, she did not receive her 
passport and therefore was not able to leave the 
country. Friends were looking forward to 
spending Thanksgiving with her. "We're all 
spending time with friends and family this week 
and we were hoping we'd be giving thanks for 
having Esha back in L.A.," CSUN mass 
communication graduate student Vanessa Mora 
said in a statement sent to the press. 

Amnesty: Iran frees American-born grad 
student, CSUN's Esha Momeni
(November 11, 2008)
CNN) - Iranian authorities have released an 
American-born graduate student on bail after 
holding her in prison for nearly a month, an 
Amnesty International spokeswoman said 
Esha Momeni, 28, had been working on a project 
on the women's movement in Iran when she was 
arrested October 15 for an alleged traffic 
violation, according to California State 
University-Northridge and Change For Equality, 
an Iranian women's movement.  She had been 
held in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious 
Evin Prison, Change For Equality said.
"We're really happy she's been released on bail," 
Elise Auerbach of Amnesty International said 
Tuesday. She said she learned of Momeni's 
release Monday through Amnesty's researchers in 
London, England, and from Momeni's family and 
Melissa Wall, a journalism professor at the 
university and an academic adviser to Momeni, 
confirmed the young woman's release in an e-
mail. Wall said they were waiting to see what will 
"happen next in terms of charges or conditions or 
sentencing." The university will hold a rally and 
vigil Wednesday calling for Momeni's return to 
California, she said. The event had been planned 
before Momeni's release.
Auerbach, the Iran specialist for Amnesty 
International USA, said she did not know the 
exact bail amount, only that Momeni's parents 
had handed over the deed to their home in Iran in 
return for their daughter's release. "This is a real 
problem for her family because the state of their 
home is in doubt," Auerbach said, adding that if 
the Iranian government determines Momeni has 
violated the bail conditions, it can take her 
family's home. Auerbach said Momeni has not 
been charged, "but there is some indication that 
they're planning on charging her."
Tehran's deputy general prosecutor, Hasan 
Hadad, has "deliberately leaked" to the state-run 
media his intentions to charge Momeni with 
propaganda against the state, Auerbach said. The 
Iranian judiciary has not commented on Momeni's 
A lot of people have faced that charge," 
Auerbach said. "It's kind of a vague, loosely 
worded charge that's kind of convenient. They 
can use it against whomever they want basically."
Auerbach said Momeni is not the only woman 
involved with Change for Equality who has been 
jailed recently; at least three women who worked 
with the group are being detained, she said. 
Ronak Safarzadeh was arrested in October 2007 
and charged with enmity with God, a charge akin 
to treason, and is being held in Sanandaj Prison; 
Hana Abdi, 21, recently was sentenced to 18 
months at Sanandaj for gathering and colluding to 
commit a crime against national security; and 
Zeynab Beyezidi, 26, was sentenced in August to 
four years at Mahabad Central Prison for 
belonging to an illegal group, the Human Rights 
Organization of Kurdistan, Auerbach said.
As of Tuesday morning, the Iranian government 
had not returned Momeni's passport and travel 
papers, Auerbach said, adding that "there is a 
pattern that after people are released from 
detention they are still kept in Iran."
Among the examples, Auerbach said, are Haleh 
Esfandiari, an Iranian-American scholar with the 
Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, and 
Mehrnoushe Solouki, a French-Iranian journalism 
student at the University of Quebec.  Esfandiari, 
67, was arrested in 2007 while visiting her ailing 
mother in Iran. She was charged with harming 
national security and held for 105 days in Evin 
Prison. She was released August 21, 2007, after 
her mother posted $330,000 bail, but did not 
leave Iran until September 2, 2007.  Solouki was 
arrested in February 2007 and accused of "trying 
to make a propaganda film," according to 
Reporters Without Borders. She was released 
from Evin Prison the following month after her 
parents' house was offered as bail, but Solouki 
was not allowed to leave Iran until January, the 
group reported.
Momeni's father, Gholamreza Momeni, initially 
condemned his daughter's arrest, saying that even 
if she confessed to a crime, "anything my 
daughter may say in solitary confinement is 
worthless," according to, a news 
Web site run by exiled Iranian journalists.
The father gave a different account to the state-
run Islamic Republic News Agency last week, 
however, and said he was angry that his daughter 
had engaged in "illegal activities." "I got so angry 
that I and her mother decided not visit her," he 
told IRNA on Friday. "I deny all that has been 
attributed to me by Web sites and believe them to 
be the personal interpretations of the reporters."
He added, "As an Iranian, I love my country and 
do not wish any harm to the Islamic republic."
Hadi Ghaemi, coordinator for the International 
Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said it was 
not clear under what circumstances Momeni's 
father talked to IRNA, but the remarks seem 
"very suspect." "It really doesn't make any sense 
for him to make a verdict on his daughter's guilt," 
Ghaemi said Saturday, the day after the IRNA 
report was published. CNN could not reach 
Gholamreza Momeni for comment Tuesday.
Since Momeni's arrest became public, Amnesty 
International, other human rights organizations 
and her university have called for her immediate 
"We have concern for this young person because, 
like many young people, she is a dreamer, she's a 
thinker, she's a researcher," university Provost 
Harry Hellenbrand said last month. Momeni "has 
the best interests of young people and women in 
her mind," he said.
The Los Angeles-born graduate student had been 
filming footage for a project on the women's rights 
movement, and interviewing volunteers for the 
One Million Signature campaign, launched in 2006 
by Change for Equality. The campaign seeks to 
collect signatures on a petition demanding that 
Iran rewrite its constitution to recognize men and 
women as equal. 
According to the CSU-Northridge newspaper, the 
Daily Sundial, fellow graduate student Peyman 
Malaz said Momeni was "determined to better 
the lives of Iranian citizens."
Nayereh Tohidi, chairwoman of the school's 
gender and women's studies department, told the 
paper she, too, was involved in the campaign and 
had advised Momeni on her work. "She has not 
been a part of any political parties, any 
clandestine movements," Tohidi said. "She has 
done nothing wrong."
Ghaemi said he believes Tehran wants to stifle the 
women's rights movement, and Momeni's arrest 
was meant to intimidate like-minded scholars or 
activists.  "We see here detention as a method of 
pressuring that movement on a broader scale," he 
said. "The government would very much like to 
quiet these women." 
CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this 
report. All AboutIran - Amnesty International 
USA - Publication: CNN International


 UN reinforces call to end executions
20 November 2008 

A record number of countries have given their 
support to the campaign to end capital 
On Thursday, a large majority of states from all 
regions adopted a second United Nations 
resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of 
the death penalty.   
Amnesty International has welcomed the 
breakthrough for the resolution, which was 
adopted in the UN General Assembly (Third 
Committee). The number of co-sponsors has risen 
to 89, two more than last year. 
The increased support for this resolution is yet 
further evidence of the worldwide trend towards 
the abolition of the death penalty.
105 countries voted in favour of the draft 
resolution, 48 voted against and 31 abstained.  A 
range of amendments proposed by a small 
minority of pro-death penalty countries were 
overwhelmingly defeated.
"We urge all states that still carry out executions 
to take immediate steps to implement the 
resolution and establish a moratorium on 
executions," says Amnesty International's Yvonne 
137 countries have abolished the death penalty in 
law or practice, as of November 2008.  During 
2007, at least 1,252 people were executed in 24 
countries. At least 3,347 people were sentenced to 
death in 51 countries.
The decrease in countries carrying out executions 
is dramatic. In 1989, executions were carried out 
in 100 states. In 2007, Amnesty International 
recorded executions in 24 countries. 
The draft resolution adopted on Thursday by the 
Third Committee of the General Assembly has 
still to be adopted by the General Assembly 
sitting in plenary in December.



Document - USA: Maryland Commission on 
Capital Punishment votes for abolition
13 November 2008
AI Index: AMR 51/139/2008

On 12 November 2008, by a vote of 13 to 7, the 
Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment 
voted to recommend abolition of the state's death 
penalty. The Commission's final report on its 
findings and recommendations is due to go to the 
Maryland legislature on or before 15 December 
The Commission was established under an Act 
signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley on 
13 May 2008. Its mandate was to study the 
following areas in relation to the capital justice 
system in Maryland:
     -      Racial disparities;
     -      Jurisdictional disparities;
     -      Socio-economic disparities;
     -      A comparison of the costs associated with 
death sentences and the costs associated with 
sentences of life imprisonment without the 
possibility of parole;
     -      A comparison of the effects of prolonged 
court cases involving capital punishment and 
those involving life imprisonment without the 
possibility of parole;
     -      The risk of innocent people being 
     -      The impact of DNA evidence in assuring 
the fairness and accuracy of capital cases.

The commission is chaired by former US Attorney 
General Benjamin Civiletti, and includes two 
members of the Maryland Senate and two of the 
lower House of Delegates, as well as a former 
judge, members of the police and prison 
authorities, a state prosecutor and a public 
defender, relatives of murder victims, religious 
leaders, a former Maryland death row prisoner 
who was later exonerated, and individuals 
representing the general public.
The commission held a series of public hearings 
in July, August and September 2008 at which it 
heard testimony from an array of expert and 
other witnesses.
In response to the Commission's vote in favour of 
abolition, Chairperson Civilietti is quoted in the 
Maryland press as saying that "I would hope the 
recommendation of the commission ... would have 
some persuasive merit before the legislature." The 
vote, he said, reflected the majority's view that 
"the capital punishment system as it is 
administered and exists in Maryland doesn't 
really work", and is "arbitrary and capricious."
Amnesty International welcomes the 
Commission's vote in favour of abolition and 
looks forward to this recommendation becoming 
a reality in Maryland. The organization opposes 
the death penalty in all cases, unconditionally. To 
end the death penalty is to abandon a destructive, 
diversionary and divisive public policy that is not 
consistent with widely held values. It not only 
runs the risk of irrevocable error, it is also costly, 
to the public purse as well as in social and 
psychological terms. It has not been proved to 
have a special deterrent effect. It tends to be 
applied in a discriminatory way, on grounds of 
race and class. It denies the possibility of 
reconciliation and rehabilitation. It promotes 
simplistic responses to complex human problems, 
rather than pursuing explanations that could 
inform positive strategies. It diverts resources that 
could be better used to work against violent crime 
and assist those affected by it. It is an affront to 
human dignity.
Today, some 137 countries are abolitionist in law 
or practice. In 2007, the United Nations General 
Assembly called for a worldwide moratorium on 
executions and for retentionist countries to work 
towards abolition. The Maryland Commission's 
recommendation follows the recommendation for 
abolition made by a special commission in New 
Jersey in 2007. Among other things, the New 
Jersey commission concluded that there was no 
compelling evidence that the state death penalty 
rationally served a legitimate purpose; that there 
was increasing evidence that the death penalty is 
inconsistent with evolving standards of decency; 
that abolition would eliminate the risk of 
disproportionality in capital sentencing; and that 
the state's interest in executing a small number of 
people guilty of murder did not justify the risk of 
making an irreversible mistake. The state 
legislature responded by passing an abolitionist 
bill, which was signed into law by the New Jersey 
governor in December 2007.
Today, 14 states in the USA plus the District of 
Columbia are abolitionist. Thirty eight 
jurisdictions - 36 states, the federal government 
and the US military - retain the death penalty. 
Since the USA resumed executions in 1977 after 
nearly a decade without them, there have been 
1,131 executions nationwide. A few states account 
for the majority of executions. Texas alone has put 
421 prisoners to death. So far this year there have 
been 32 executions in the USA, half of them in 
Maryland has carried out five executions since 
1977. The last execution in Maryland was in 
December 2005.



DP          2 
UAs        12
Total:	   14
To add your letters to the total contact

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

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and 
ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and 
expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all 
human rights.