Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVII  Number 1, January 2009


Thursday, January 22, 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 10, 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, February 15, 6:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group. 
Vroman's Book Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado 
Blvd., Pasadena.  This month we read "This 
Human Season" by Louise Dean. 


Hi everyone,

Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season 
and are ready to enjoy the New Year!  Robert and 
I never made it to Corvallis, Oregon as the Pacific 
Northwest had the worst snowstorm in 50 years! 
Our flight to Portland was cancelled, so we had a 
mini-celebration at home with Rob's brother John 
and his family. We devoured a huge pot of 
home-made turkey chili and cornbread. The 
"Adams family" is planning to have a reunion 
this summer, probably on the Oregon coast.  We 
got lots of rest, and I cooked a lot and read some 

I am very excited about our new President 
Barack Obama, and what changes he will 
bring ... I will be watching the inauguration at 
work Tuesday morning and wearing my Obama 
T-shirt.  AI has some suggestions for Obama for 
the first 100 days -- see this newsletter for more 

AI group 22 participated in the Doo Dah  
parade, the spoof of the Rose Parade Sunday Jan 
18, in Old Town Pasadena. The theme was 
ending sex trafficking and slavery -- illustrated by 
on the spot auctions of lovely "ladies" (guys in 
drag) by mean looking "guys" in suits (women).  
Not sure if the crowd got it, but it was really fun!  
There should be photos on soon and also 
on the rightsreaders blog Thanks to 
Group 22 member Marie-Helene, her husband 
Robert and their friends for this clever idea for 
Doo Dah!  Group 22 member Stevi has written 
her thoughts about the parade in this newsletter 

Ann Lau, China activist and founder of the 
Visual Artists Guild, was this year's thorny rose 
queen.  The thorny rose queen is the person who 
was a thorn in the side of Pasadena this past 
year. Ann was tireless in urging the Pasadena 
city council to boycott the Rose Parade entry by 
China and to make a statement regarding human 
rights in China. Many of us have met Ann in 
conjunction with AI 22's Chinese human rights 

Have a great new year! 
ĮProspero ano nuevo!

Con carino,


15 January 2009 
The inauguration of US President-elect Barack 
Obama on 20 January 2009 will be accompanied 
by widespread expectation of change. The world 
will be watching and hoping for positive 
outcomes on many different issues.
Ahead of his inauguration, Amnesty 
International's new film First 100 days is asking 
the President-elect to take concrete steps to 
demonstrate his commitment to international 
human rights standards, including in the context 
of countering terrorism.
Since the attacks on the USA on 11 September 
2001, the US authorities have authorized and 
justified human rights violations in the name of 
national security:  illegal transfers and 
detentions; enforced disappearance; torture and 
other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
The new administration and Congress must 
break with the past. President-elect Obama has 
already said that he will close Guantanamo and 
end torture. We're not asking the impossible.
We have a checklist for President Obama's first 
100 days in office. His first steps should be to:
     „  announce a plan and date to close 
     „  ban torture and other ill-treatment, as 
defined under international law
     „  ensure an independent commission of 
enquiry in US 'war on terror' abuses is set up
These things are possible and you can help. Visit today, sign the petition 
and support the challenge for Obama.  



As the young men, and Lucas, slipped into their 
dresses, applied lipstick and rouge, and pulled 
on their wigs, the rest of us got our assignments 
and milled around checking out the Doo Dah 
action.  In front of us, a huge stogy rose up from 
a flatbed truck and billowed smoke while a 
number of guys with big ones puffed away in its 
shadow.  Behind us members of NORML (a 
nonprofit lobbying organization working to 
legalize marijuana, stop arrests of smokers, 
provide educational research, and legal 
information ...) assembled with the crew you 
might suspect as well as the woman with one leg 
in the wheelchair and the gaunt man with the 
prematurely bald head on the mechanized 
medical scooter, balancing his metal cuffed 

 Behind our Amnesty banner and the SLAVERY 
IS NOT HISTORY, YET!  banner, our hustlers 
trafficked our women to those on the sidelines 
while 'THE LAW' turned a blind eye.  Some 
women were kidnapped into service; Lucas got 
pulled from the crowd.  Sign carriers sent our 
message out to the spectators.  As we walked, 
many in the crowd applauded and shouted out 
respect for AI.  As I gave a woman one of our 
bright pink info cards, she said, "I contribute to 
Amnesty."  One of our best handouts, in my 
opinion, is a bookmark with the articles of the 
Declaration of Human Rights on it.  My favorite 
targets for these were the kids.  With even the 
little ones, I'd say, "I bet you have a book.  You 
can put this bookmark in it."  One guy who 
looked about 13 told me he doesn't read.  I told 
him then for sure he should have a bookmark 
because he's just the kind of guy who needs to 
read.  Most of the parents seemed pretty happy 
someone was pushing reading.  I finished the 
parade empty handed: YAY!

Marie-Helene, Robert, Dan, Brooke, and their 
wonderful friends did another great job in 
planning, organizing and executing this event.  I 
get a giant kick out of working with them.  
Their energy and creativity not only give me a 
charge, but they also, to use a recently overused 
but nonetheless true word, hope for the future of 
our country and our world.  Thanx, kiddos.

I think it's okay for me to speak for everyone who 
participated: We had so much fun.
January 19, 2009

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting:

  Sunday, February 15, 6:30 PM

  Vroman's Bookstore
  695 E. Colorado Boulevard

  "This Human Season"
  By Louise Dean

Parallel Lives Among Tumultuous Times
A review by Yvonne Zipp 

Literature is full of midlife crises, but few 
characters have as good a reason to indulge as 
Kathleen Moran. The mother of four has nothing 
but contempt for her alcoholic husband, who 
likes to boast about his imaginary exploits at the 
corner pub; her part-time job is drying up and 
money is tight; one of her children is in prison for 
killing a police officer; and there's a giant hole in 
her living room ceiling where a soldier put his 
foot through it while searching her home. Said 
home is located in Belfast in 1979, and her son is 
a member of the Irish Republican Army. 

This Human Season, Louise Dean's second novel, 
is set during the run-up to the hunger strikes in 
the Maze prison that killed 10 strikers and were 
part of a worsening wave of terrorist violence 
during Northern Ireland's 30-year "Troubles." The 
bleak, grimly funny novel is the story of two 39-
year-olds, Moran and one of the prison guards in 
her son Sean's H-block, and gives new meaning to 
the phrase scatological humor. 

John Dunn spent 22 years in the British Army, 
including three tours in Northern Ireland. He 
figures this has been ample training for life as a 
guard. The smell is the first indication that he 
may have underestimated his new line of work. 
As part of the "dirty blanket" protests, IRA 
prisoners striking for a return of their political 
status smeared their own excrement all over the 
walls of their cells. A strong stomach is a 
requirement for his job. (It's also a requirement 
for readers of this book. After a few chapters, I 
wanted to hit the showers.) 

The two protagonists' only connection is Sean, 
and their story lines never intersect. Instead of 
cobbling together fictional contrivances, Dean 
draws parallels between the two that strengthen 
each half of the novel. Both are preoccupied with 
their teenage sons (Dunn has a boy Sean's age 
whom he's never met). The bathroom is the only 
peaceful place either can locate -- Kathleen hides 
in her soap-scented one at home, while Dunn 
locks himself in a stall at work to cry over the 
brutalities he witnesses every day. 

Dean, who is English and who conducted 
extensive interviews for the novel, is 
dispassionate in her portrayal of both sides of the 
conflict. There are plenty of crimes to go round, 
as well as plenty of humanity. She also nails the 
profane camaraderie of the prison guards as well 
as she does the kitchen-table talk between 
Kathleen and her neighbors. 

When Dunn starts work he has almost nothing in 
common with the Metaphysical poet of (almost) 
the same name. He fell in love with Northern 
Ireland during his time as a soldier, a fact he 
calls his "guilty secret." 

Dunn signed on at the prison because he was 
used to following orders, and the pay was good. 
(It had to be, since the IRA was targeting 

In the Army, "there was no personal point of 
view. There was agreement and silence and both 
meant agreement in any case. By being there, by 
wearing the uniform, you were in agreement with 
it all. You were a fool if you put it on and you 
were not." 

But after a few days in the Maze, Dunn starts 
philosophizing -- an uncomfortable feeling for a 
man who readily admits that he isn't "deep." 

"Was killing educational? Perhaps briefly, as a 
generation is brief. The young sowed horror in 
their springtime with high hopes for the crop and 
it rotted down through a long summer. They 
harvest grief in the autumn of their lives. And 
did they believe, even as they held their 
grandchildren, that there would be an end to it 
all? After a hard winter killed what was left of 
them off, it came again, this human season, this 
springtime of hatred." 

Rather than philosophy, Kathleen relies on 
gallows humor, cigarettes, and alcohol to get 
through daily life in a war zone. The novel's 
ready wit offers a lifeline to readers, even as it 
does its characters. To get back at the British 
soldiers who search their purses, Kathleen and 
her neighbor buy the bags that have the most 
zippers and stuff each compartment with 
sanitary products. 

When the soldiers search her house, ripping up 
the floorboards with a crow bar and vowing not 
to leave until they find guns, she tells her 13-
year-old, "Liam, show the man your water 

Kathleen's friend Roisin cleans house for one of 
the few Jewish families left in Belfast. "I wish I 
was a Jew," she tells Kathleen. "I said to her I 
might become one myself, just for the peace and 

This Human Season builds to a climax in 
December, which finds Dunn celebrating 
Christmas with his son for the first time, while 
Kathleen must endure the first of many without 

Dean offers her characters a measure of grace, 
but alert readers know that the novel ends just as 
the Troubles began an even more devastating 
phase. A certain amount of knowledge of history 
is helpful, since while Dean provides some 
background, she isn't writing a treatise of either 
how the Troubles began, or how life in Belfast has 
improved immeasurably since the 1980s. 

This Human Season is about dispassionately 
dissecting both sides of the divide, and doesn't 
extend forward in time to the days when that 
chasm will finally be bridged. It's a rare case 
where a reader can look to the real world for an 
ending that is happier than the fictional version. 

From Powell's Bookstore Review-a-Day, originally from the 
Christian Science Monitor, Feb 2007.

About the Author

Louise Dean was born in Hastings, East Sussex 
in  June 1970; she grew up in Kent and went to 
Cranbrook Grammar School.

She received a BA Hons. in History from 
Downing College, Cambridge University in 1991, 
focusing her  studies on 'Sexual Deviance in the 
Victorian era'. As she says in her website 
biography, "Not many people have spent a whole 
month on masturbation in the university library. 
A good interview warmer I found."
She ended up working for the consumer goods 
giant, Unilever, as a brand manager "squeezing 
margins and losing millions by mismanaging 
sales promotions" before spending a year in the 
advertising industry in London.  In 1995 she 
moved to Hong Kong "to try and sell revolting 
things to mostly good people." After that she 
spent six years in New York, four in France and 
produced three novels and three children.  


Fifty-three death sentences commuted in Zambia

16 January 2009 

Following the commutation of the death 
sentences of 53 prisoners to custodial sentences 
by the President of Zambia, Amnesty 
International renewed its call for the government 
to join the worldwide trend towards the abolition 
of the death penalty.   

"We are encouraged by the commutation of these 
sentences by President Banda. The next move 
should be to take all the necessary steps to end 
capital punishment and bring about legislative 
changes to abolish the death penalty in Zambia" 
said Amy Agnew, Amnesty International's 
Zambia campaigner.

The decision to commute the death sentences 
was announced by the Vice-President, George 
Kunda, in a statement released in the capital 
Lusaka on Tuesday.

"His excellency the President, Rupiah Bwezani 
Banda, has pardoned and commuted sentences 
of 53 prisoners on death row at Mukobeko 
prison, Kabwe, to terminable custodial sentences 
or life imprisonment pursuant to Article 59 of the 
Republican Constitution," Mr Kunda was 
reported to have said.

Article 59 of the constitution states that the 
President may inter alia "substitute a less severe 
form of punishment for any punishment 
imposed on any person for any offence."

In Zambia, the death penalty is provided for 
under various offences. Despite the fact that 
Zambia has not executed anybody since 1997, it 
unfortunately did not vote in favour of UN 
General Assembly resolution 63/168, in 
December 2008, calling for a moratorium on 

In August, 2007, President Mwanawasa 
commuted the death sentences of 97 prisoners 
who were on death row to life imprisonment. 

As of today, 138 countries have abolished the 
death penalty in law or in practice. The continent 
of Africa is largely free of executions, with only 
seven of the 53 African Union member states 
known to have carried out executions in 2007: 
Botswana, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, 
Libya, Somalia and Sudan.



December Write-a-thon:  126
January UAs:  24
Total:  150
To add your letters to the total contact

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