Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVII Number 9, September 2009


UPCOMING EVENTS

Thursday, September 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 October 13,  7:30 PM. Letter writing 
meeting at Caltech Athenaeum if the downstairs 
Rathskeller has re-opened, otherwise at Panera 
Bread coffee house, 3521 E. Foothill, Pasadena. 
Please check Group 22 website for location. 
This informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty. 

Sunday, October 18, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. Vroman's 
Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  
This month we read "The Brief and Wondrous 
Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. 

Sunday, October 4, Monthly Movie Night.  
Time and location TBD.  


COORDINATOR'S CORNER

Hi everyone,

First off, I want to thank everyone for their offers 
of help and support when Robert was ill over 
Labor Day weekend. Gracias a Dios, he is 
completely recovered. It was a pretty scary 
experience, but I am thankful for the good 
medical care that he received and for friends and 
family.

This issue is turning out to be our China issue! 
Group 22 member Laura Brown spent part of her 
summer teaching in Xaioshan, China. Read of her 
experiences and observations in this newsletter.  
Wen Chen and Daniel Wang also have written a 
piece on the volunteer human rights lawyers in 
China who have assisted Falun Gong 
practictioners and others. 

Despite my resolution to finish Oscar Wao en 
espanol before the October book group meeting, I 
am less than half-way through the book! What is 
interesting about this novel is that it was 
originally written in English, and then translated 
into Spanish. Even my Spanish teacher, who is 
from Argentina and Spain, didn't know the 
Dominican slang!

Con carino,
Kathy


ERITREA UPDATE
By Joyce Wolf

In last month's column I wrote about a report that 
Group 22's adopted prisoner of conscience, 
Estifanos Seyoum, was one of nine G-15 prisoners 
who died in while in secret detention. I attributed 
the report to "Assena.com", which is an incorrect 
spelling of the organization's name. I apologize 
for any confusion caused by my error. The 
spelling is either Assenna or Asena, and the home 
page of their website is 
http://asena.samai.co.uk.  (You can go directly 
to the article about the G-15 prisoners using 
http://tinyurl.com/ojgw8q.) Amnesty has not 
yet confirmed the deaths of the nine G-15 POCs, 
but it seems probable that the reports are correct. 

My suggestion for this month's action is to 
support Palo Alto Group 19's efforts for 
Mattewos Habteab, an Eritrean journalist who 
was arrested in the 18 September 2001 
crackdown along with the G-15 POCs and other 
journalists. This month is the eighth anniversary 
of their arrest. Background information about 
Mattewos and Eritrea is available at	 
www.freeeritreanjournalists.org. Here is a sample 
letter that you can use as a guideline.

Mr. Simone Joseph
Foreign Affairs Officer on Africa 
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
U.S. State Department	
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 205200

Dear Sir,
I am very concerned about Mattewos Habteab 
and other independent journalists in Eritrea -
including Said Abdulkadir, Yosuf Mohamed Ali, 
Amanuel Asrat, Temesgen Gebreyesus, Dawit 
Habtemichael, Medhanie Haile Ali, Dawit Isaac, 
Seyoum Tsehaye, Saleh Al-Jezaeri, and Hamid 
Mohamed Said - who have been held for more 
than eight years in secret detention without 
charges or trial and with no access to their 
families or to legal counsel. Some of them have 
reportedly died in prison. Amnesty International 
considers them to be prisoners of conscience, 
imprisoned solely for carrying out their 
journalistic duties. 

I respectfully urge that US government engage in 
dialogue with the Eritrean government to bring 
about:
1. Eritrean authority's acknowledgement of the 
journalists' detention and the disclosure of their 
whereabouts.
2. An independent team visiting the prisons 
where the journalists are being held and reporting 
publicly on their conditions.
3. The granting of the families' visitation rights. 

Thank you for your attention to this urgent 
matter.

Sincerely,
[your name and address]


RIGHTS READERS
Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at 
http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday, October 18, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard
 in Pasadena

New York Times Book Review
Travails of an Outcast
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI 
Published: September 4, 2007

Junot Diaz's "Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar 
Wao" is a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that 
is so original it can only be described as Mario 
Vargas Llosa meets "Star Trek" meets David 
Foster Wallace meets Kanye West. It is funny, 
street-smart and keenly observed, and it unfolds 
from a comic portrait of a second-generation 
Dominican geek into a harrowing meditation on 
public and private history and the burdens of 
familial history. An extraordinarily vibrant book 
that's fueled by adrenaline-powered prose, it's 
confidently steered through several decades of 
history by a madcap, magpie voice that's equally 
at home talking about Tolkien and Trujillo, anime 
movies and ancient Dominican curses, sexual 
shenanigans at Rutgers University and secret 
police raids in Santo Domingo.
Mr. Diaz, the author of a critically acclaimed 
collection of short stories published in 1996 
("Drown"), writes in a sort of streetwise brand of 
Spanglish that even the most monolingual reader 
can easily inhale: lots of flash words and razzle-
dazzle talk, lots of body language on the 
sentences, lots of David Foster Wallace-esque 
footnotes and asides. And he conjures with 
seemingly effortless aplomb the two worlds his 
characters inhabit: the Dominican Republic, the 
ghost-haunted motherland that shapes their 
nightmares and their dreams; and America (a k a 
New Jersey), the land of freedom and hope and 
not-so-shiny possibilities that they've fled to as 
part of the great Dominican diaspora. 
Oscar, Mr. Diaz's homely homeboy hero, is 
"not one of those Dominican cats everybody's 
always going on about - he wasn't no home-run 
hitter or a fly bachatero, not a playboy" with a 
million hot girls on the line. No, Oscar is a fat, 
self-loathing dweeb and aspiring science fiction 
writer, who dreams of becoming "the Dominican 
Tolkien." He's one of those kids who tremble with 
fear during gym class and use "a lot of huge-
sounding nerd words like indefatigable and 
ubiquitous" when talking to kids who could 
barely finish high school. He moons after girls 
who won't give him the time of day and enters 
and leaves college a sad virgin. He wears "his 
nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber"; he 
"couldn't have passed for Normal if he'd wanted 
to."
Two of this novel's narrators, Oscar's 
beautiful sister, Lola - a "Banshees-loving punk 
chick," who becomes "one of those tough Jersey 
dominicanas" who order men about like 
houseboys - and Yunior, Oscar's college 
roommate and Lola's onetime boyfriend, do their 
best to try to get him to shape up. They exhort 
him to eat less and exercise more, to leave his 
dorm room and venture out into the world. 
Oscar makes a halfhearted effort and then tells 
Yunior to leave him alone. He goes back to his 
writing, his day-dreams, his suicidal thoughts. 
Yunior (who seems very much like the Yunior 
who appeared in some of Mr. Diaz's short stories) 
begins to think that Oscar may be living under a 
family curse, "a high-level fuku" not unlike the 
curse on the House of Atreus, which has doomed 
him, like his mother, to lasting unhappiness in 
love.
In due course we also hear the story of Oscar 
and Lola's mother, Beli, a tough, tough-talking 
woman whose hard-nosed street cred is rooted in 
a childhood of almost unimaginable pain and 
loss: her wealthy father, tortured and incarcerated 
by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo's thugs; 
her mother, run over by a truck after her 
husband's imprisonment; her two sisters, dead in 
freak, suspicious accidents. 
The orphaned Beli herself was abused and 
beaten before being rescued by her father's kindly 
cousin, and as a teenager she has a disastrous 
affair with a charismatic and dangerous man 
known as the Gangster - one of Trujillo's men, 
who happens to be married to Trujillo's sister. 
That affair culminates in a savage beating in the 
cane fields, a beating that nearly ends Beli's life 
and that will propel her toward a new life in exile 
in the United States.
Mr. Diaz writes about the Trujillo era of the 
Dominican Republic with the same authority he 
writes about contemporary New Jersey, the 
slangy, kinetic energy of his prose proving to be a 
remarkably effective tool for capturing the 
absurdities of the human condition, be they the 
true horrors of living in a dictatorship that can 
erase a person or a family on a whim, or the self-
indulgent difficulties of being a college student 
coping with issues of weight and self-esteem. 
Here is Mr. Diaz writing about Trujillo: 
"Homeboy dominated Santo Domingo like it was 
his very own private Mordor; not only did he lock 
the country away from the rest of the world, 
isolate it behind the Platano Curtain, he acted like 
it was his very own plantation, acted like he 
owned everything and everyone, killed 
whomever he wanted to kill, sons, brothers, 
fathers, mothers, took women away from their 
husbands on their wedding nights and then 
would brag publicly about 'the great honeymoon' 
he'd had the night before. His Eye was 
everywhere; he had a Secret Police that out-
Stasi'd the Stasi, that kept watch on everyone, 
even those everyones who lived in the States."
It is Mr. Diaz's achievement in this galvanic 
novel that he's fashioned both a big picture 
window that opens out on the sorrows of 
Dominican history, and a small, intimate window 
that reveals one family's life and loves. In doing 
so, he's written a book that decisively establishes 
him as one of contemporary fiction's most 
distinctive and irresistible new voices.

Author Biography

Junot Diaz was born in Santo Domingo, 
Dominican Republic and is the author of Drown 
and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao 
which won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, 
the National Book Critics Circle Award, the 
Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary 
Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. His 
fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African 
Voices, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 
1999, 2000), in Pushcart Prize XXII and in The 
O'Henry Prize Stories 2009. 
He has received a Eugene McDermott Award, 
a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim 
Memorial Foundation, a Lila Acheson Wallace 
Readers Digest Award, the 2002 Pen/Malamud 
Award, the 2003 US-Japan Creative Artist 
Fellowship from the National Endowment for the 
Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for 
Advanced Study at Harvard University and the 
Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts 
and Letters. He is the fiction editor at the Boston 
Review and the Rudge (1948) and Nancy Allen 
professor at the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology.
From http://wwwjunotdiaz.com


HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA
By Laura G. Brown
 
I spent five weeks in China this summer, 
touring Beijing and Shanghai and staying a month 
in Xiaoshan, to teach English to 8th graders. It 
was the first time I'd spent any length of time in a 
Communist country, and my misgivings were such 
that I kept a sharp eye on my passport - I found 
a secret hiding place in my hotel room as I 
traveled daily back and forth to school. I was 
careful not to bring up Falun Gong or the plight of 
Muslim Uighurs, even though Uighurs had rioted 
in Urumqi on July 5, the day I arrived.  Chinese 
officials immediately blocked Facebook, Twitter, 
and other internet sites; this lasted for the 
duration of our visit. Luckily, a computer whiz in 
our group had a program called Freegate, which 
bypassed the Chinese controls and let us access 
some of the sites. 

Interestingly, just when I returned to the USA, 
Chinese computer controls were again in the 
news. According to Peter Foster of The Daily 
Telegraph, China's information technology 
minister said that the so-called "Green Dam 
Youth Escort" software would now be 
"voluntary", leaving users free to decide whether 
or not to install it. Previously, China had said 
that all of its computers must have the Green 
Dam software, officially as a measure to protect 
children and combat pornography on the web. 
Internet users saw it as an attempt to tighten 
internet restrictions.

We saw this censorship daily at our campus, 
Xiaoshan Middle School, which boasts a 
computer, and projector in each classroom, and 
internet in the teacher's office (but not one flush 
toilet or reliable soap dispenser). Need a YouTube 
to illustrate a concept in English? Sorry. You can't 
go there. Want to check an attachment on one of 
your emails? You may not be able to open it. And 
so on.

Maybe internet censorship explains why the 
Chinese still revere Chairman Mao Zedong, 
widely credited with causing the deaths of 
40,000,000 people. You can find Mao's likeness 
everywhere in Beijing. His picture hung from our 
tour bus's rearview mirror. Our tour guide said 
his mother has his picture on her wall, and she 
regularly puts out cigarettes on a plate as homage 
to him, because Mao liked to smoke. His larger-
than-life portrait still hangs prominently in 
Tiananmen Square. He's on nearly every piece of 
currency (called RMB, or yuan). The middle 
school where I worked hangs his portrait in the 
conference room, along with another state hero: 
Josef Stalin. No Chinese person I spoke with had a 
harsh word for Mao.

What kind of misinformation are they getting? 
I wondered. I later found out that they don't 
know much about the United States - students in 
my class did not know the city of Los Angeles, or 
even Hollywood, for that matter. They had never 
heard about our 4th of July holiday. They had no 
idea what a schoolteacher's salary might be - and 
expressed amazement when told a teacher could 
earn $50,000 per year.

On a more serious note, China shows no 
inclination to slow down the pace of its 
executions.  When I mentioned this to my school 
liaison, a very educated Chinese man, he said that 
due to China's huge population of 1.3 billion 
people, they had to "make an example" of people 
who threatened social order. He also believed that 
China's one child policy, advertised on billboards 
everywhere, was necessary, and explained that 
both he and his girlfriend were only children. 
Because of this, they were allowed to have two 
children, if they desired. He seemed to accept 
unreservedly that the government should decide 
the size of his family.

The last thing I did before leaving China was 
to pick up a copy of the August 8-9 China Daily to 
read on my Beijing-Los Angeles flight. The lead 
story was Olympic Games chairman Jiang Xiayou 
saying, on the anniversary of the Beijing 
Olympics, that there was more press openness in 
China now. I had seen differently with internet 
sites being blocked at the onset of the Urumqi 
riots.

Continuing with the China Daily, I noticed a 
small "In Brief" item on page 2: "Airport Boss 
Executed." It seems that a corrupt official 
embezzled millions from the government. He was 
convicted in February. February to August--I 
commend China on its speedy resolution of 
capital cases. Mr. Li, the airport embezzler, was 
60. Were his organs usable? I say this because 
there are reports by mainstream publications that 
Falun Gong prisoners are being killed and their 
organs harvested. "Organ selling is a huge 
business for the Chinese. You can obtain organs in 
China as you can nowhere else: any type, and 
very speedily," reports Jay Nordlinger, senior 
editor of the National Review.

China is careening toward capitalism. The 
most striking phenomenon I observed during my 
visit was the stark contrast between ancient and 
modern. I especially noticed this in Beijing, where 
I saw donkey carts and bicycles carrying huge 
loads of scrap metal and cardboard weaving 
through lanes of new cars (mostly American 
models). People carried things to sell in yoke 
baskets. Laundry hung out to dry over Guess and 
Nike stores. Hammers and pickaxes do masonry 
work; bamboo scaffolding supports emerging 
high-rises. An army of cranes attempts to lift up 
seemingly all of China.

Yet the country pollutes on a grand scale. 
According to the New York Times, it has 
surpassed the U.S. as the leading producer of 
garbage, and its toxic incinerators threaten the air 
quality of the Pacific Coast. I saw dull, brown 
skies every day during my month I stayed in the 
industrial city of Xiaoshan.  Even after a daylong 
rain, the sky is hazy and dull. When I'd heard last 
year that athletes doubted they could compete in 
Beijing because of the air quality, I was skeptical. 
How could the air be that bad? I've changed my 
mind after seeing and smelling it up close.

China represses human rights. It engages in 
censorship, jailing of political opponents, and 
frequent use of the death penalty. They are slowly 
making changes in some of these areas 
(particularly those that affect them economically) 
but they're no Western democracy.

Yet, China is a beautiful country with friendly 
people. I say I'd like sugar in my rice porridge. A 
bowl of sugar appears every day from then on. I 
want to swim in a local pool. My school translator 
arranges a cab, takes me there, and works out all 
the details, since I can't speak Chinese.  I ran into 
this kind of hospitality time and time again. It's 
enough to make you want to return to China!


HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS IN CHINA
By Wen Chen and Daniel Wang

"Human rights lawyer" was a term that very 
few people in China knew about back ten years 
ago. Although people still remembered the 1989 
Tiananmen Massacre, most Chinese people 
already felt that it was hopeless to argue with the 
government, and younger generations did not 
even know the existence of the massacre since the 
incident was not allowed to be mentioned 
anywhere in public, except by the state-run 
media, which defined it as a "political riot". 
People just passively accepted all the 
mistreatments and abuses they received, and 
didn't even think about seeking for legal help.

When the crackdown on Falun Gong 
happened in 1999, millions of Falun Gong 
practitioners went to Beijing to appeal to the 
central government for their rights. The 
movement already surprised many Chinese 
people --how dare you appeal to the government, 
and what use is it? In the people's mind, when the 
communist party decides to wipe out an 
organization, it will for sure disappear within a 
couple of days.

But Falun Gong did not disappear. Their 
courageous efforts actually enlightened those 
who want to defend their rights without resorting 
to violence. Nowadays, Falun Gong practitioners 
have turned their efforts underground. Instead of 
appealing to the government and getting jailed 
right away, they print flyers and pass them out to 
every family, sometimes risking their lives to do 
so. 

However, nowadays there is an estimate of 
more than 20 million Chinese people appealing to 
the government for their rights, from farmers who 
lost their land to city home owners who lost their 
houses. People start to speak out and actively 
seek for legal assistance.  The internet has 
definitely helped a lot in spreading out 
information and awakening people's consciences.

It is encouraging to read stories of Chinese 
human rights lawyers. They are not political 
dissidents or human rights victims, but they dare 
to speak out for those victims. The first human 
rights lawyer I heard about was Mr. Gao 
Zhisheng. He was one of the first lawyers who 
did "non-guilty" defense for Falun Gong 
practitioners, while the government forbids any 
lawyer to do so. Mr. Gao is a Christian and one of 
the "ten most outstanding Chinese lawyers". He 
always allocates a third of his time to defend 
human rights cases free of charge. Besides 
defending the rights of Falun Gong practitioners, 
he also wrote open letters to high level Chinese 
government officials. His actions immediately 
caught attention. Soon his license was revoked 
and he was constantly monitored and then 
arrested by the Chinese secret police since 2006. 
His wife and two children escaped to the United 
States in March 2009, but Mr. Gao is still detained 
in China at this moment.

Gao Zhisheng's actions motivated many 
Chinese attorneys. Now there are at least several 
dozen well known Chinese attorneys actively 
working on human rights cases. Recently, the LA 
Times reported the story of a Chinese attorney, 
Mr. Xu Zhiyong, who represents the parents of 
children sickened or died last year as a result of 
dangerous milk additives.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/
la-fg-china-lawyer7-2009aug07,0,954498.story

The change of a society starts with the change 
of the individuals. The surge of Chinese human 
rights lawyers reflects the change of Chinese 
society. When more and more Chinese people 
step forward to defend their rights and more 
lawyers dare to help the victims, the dam of 
communist repression becomes fragile and may 
collapse soon.

(Falun Gong is a body and mind exercise 
based on the principle of "Truth-Compassion-
Tolerance". Originated in China, and now 
practiced by about 100 million people in over 100 
countries, Falun Gong has been well known for its 
health benefits and peaceful principles. However, 
the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started a 
crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999 as it regarded 
the group as threat to the power of CCP, who 
always maintains control of the thinking of the 
Chinese people, usually via media propaganda, 
information blockages and direct control of all 
organizations. By today, more than 3,000 death 
cases in police custody have been confirmed and 
more than one million Falun Gong practitioners 
are detained.)


DEATH PENALTY ACTION
From Stevi Carroll

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/a
dvocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179
&template=x.ascx&action=13118
UPDATE: On September 18, a Federal district 
court issued a 10-day restraining order which will 
prevent Ohio from carrying out the execution as 
scheduled on September 22. Romell Broom is still 
at risk of execution in the near future.

URGENT ACTION APPEAL
- From Amnesty International USA
18 September 2009 UA 245/09 - Death penalty USA 
 Romell Broom (m)

Romell Broom, a 53-year-old African 
American man, was taken to be executed on 15 
September, but the team administering the lethal 
injection failed to find a useable vein, and gave up 
after two hours. The State of Ohio has now 
rescheduled his execution for 22 September.

Romell Broom has been on death row for 
nearly a quarter of a century. He was sentenced to 
death in 1985 for the rape and murder of 14-year-
old Tryna Middleton in September 1984. After the 
death sentence was upheld on appeal, Broom 
sought to join a lawsuit challenging the 
constitutionality of Ohio's lethal injection process. 
However, the courts dismissed his attempt, ruling 
that the challenge was time-barred and should 
have been made earlier. 

Romell Broom's execution was set for 15 
September 2009 at 10am. The execution was 
delayed for several hours as a final appeal to the 
federal courts was awaited. Between 1 and 2pm, 
after the courts had lifted the stay of execution, 
the lethal injection team began preparations for 
the execution. After an hour of the team trying to 
find a suitable vein in his arms, Romell Broom 
tried to help them. According to Associated Press, 
"When his help made no difference, he turned 
onto his back and covered his face with both 
hands. His torso heaved up and down and his 
feet shook. He wiped his eyes and was handed a 
roll of toilet paper, which he used to wipe his 
brow."

Romell Broom's lawyer was in the attorney 
waiting room. When she questioned the delay she 
was taken to a room where she could watch the 
procedure on closed-circuit television. She has 
said that "it was perfectly apparent that the 
execution was going very wrong", and that 
Romell Broom was "wincing in pain" as the 
execution team held him down and tried to find a 
vein. At one point, she said, "they really hurt 
him", and he "grimaced in pain". She contacted 
her co-counsel to tell him what was happening  
that the execution team had been trying for two 
hours to find a vein and had apparently now 
taken a "break." The co-counsel sent a letter by fax 
and email to the state Governor and the Chief 
Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, urging that 
the execution be stopped. His letter to the court 
pointed out that in the ongoing legal challenge to 
Ohio's lethal injection protocol, the state's position 
had been that "the medical members of the 
execution team are skilled at obtaining IV access."

Governor Strickland, who had earlier denied 
Bloom clemency, issued a one-week reprieve. The 
warrant reads, "Difficulties in administering the 
execution protocol necessitate a temporary 
reprieve to allow the Department [of corrections] 
to recommend appropriate next steps to me... The 
Department should carry out Mr Broom's 
sentence [on 22 September] unless further 
reprieve or clemency is granted." On 17 
September, in relation to the Ohio lethal injection 
lawsuit, a federal judge ordered that by 21 
September a statement be taken from Romell 
Broom about the execution attempt, and that the 
state disclose relevant documents by 28 
September.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

On 3 May 1946, Willie Francis, an African 
American prisoner convicted of a murder committed 
when he was 17 years old, was taken to Louisiana's 
death chamber and placed in the electric chair, but due 
to some malfunction in the equipment, he survived 
and was returned to his cell. In January 1947, the US 
Supreme Court concluded that the prisoner's 
constitutional rights had not been violated, dismissing 
the argument that because he had undergone the 
mental strain of preparing for execution, to require him 
to undergo it again would be to subject him to a 
lingering and cruel punishment. The Court continued, 
"Even the fact that petitioner has already been 
subjected to a current of electricity does not make his 
subsequent execution any more cruel in the 
constitutional sense than any other execution. The 
cruelty against which the Constitution protects a 
convicted man is cruelty inherent in the method of 
punishment, not the necessary suffering involved in 
any method employed to extinguish life humanely. 
The fact that an unforeseeable accident prevented the 
prompt consummation of the sentence cannot, it seems 
to us, add an element of cruelty to a subsequent 
execution." Willie Francis was returned to the electric 
chair on 9 May 1947 and killed.

In the six decades since that chilling episode, the 
world has turned inexorably against the death penalty, 
recognizing its inherent flaws. Today, 139 countries are 
abolitionist in law or practice. The USA, in contrast, 
has carried out 1,174 executions since resuming 
judicial killing in 1977, with 1,003 carried out by lethal 
injection, the method currently promoted by advocates 
of the death penalty as "humane." In April 2007 the US 
Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of 
Kentucky's execution protocol. A majority of the USA's 
death penalty states, and the federal government, use 
the same three-drug combination as Kentucky to 
anaesthetize, paralyze and kill the condemned 
prisoner. In its Baze v. Rees ruling, the Court recalled 
its 1947 decision in the Francis case, noting that 
"simply because an execution method may result in 
pain, either by accident or as an inescapable 
consequence of death, does not establish the sort of 
objectively intolerable risk of harm that qualifies as 
cruel and unusual."

There have been regular "botched" lethal injections 
in the USA. In Ohio in May 2006, for example, it took 
the execution team 22 minutes to find a useable vein in 
Joseph Clark's arm for insertion of the catheter. A few 
minutes later, however, the vein collapsed, and Clark's 
arm began to swell. The team then tried for another 30 
minutes to find another vein, while witnesses heard 
"moaning, crying out and guttural noises" coming from 
behind the curtain. Death was pronounced about 90 
minutes after the execution began. The following year, 
also in Ohio, the execution team struggled to find 
useable veins in Christopher Newton's arms, and the 
prisoner was not declared dead until almost two hours 
after the execution process began.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty 
in all cases, unconditionally, regardless of the method 
chosen to kill the condemned prisoner. The death 
penalty is inherently cruel and degrading, 
incompatible with human dignity. 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 prolongs the suffering of the murder 
victim's family, and extends that suffering to the loved 
ones of the condemned prisoner. It diverts resources 
that could be better used to work against violent crime 
and assist those affected by it. 

There have been 38 executions in the USA this 
year, four of them in Ohio.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send 
appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- Pointing out the inherent cruelty of the death 
penalty, starkly illustrated in this case, with a 
man under sentence of death for nearly 25 years 
put through a failed execution attempt and now 
having to prepare for another execution date;
- Calling on the Governor to stop this 
execution and to reconsider his decision to deny 
Romell Bloom clemency;
- Explaining that you are not seeking to excuse 
violent crime or to downplay the suffering caused 
to its victims.

APPEALS TO:
Governor Ted Strickland, Governor's Office, 
Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Fax:           1 614 466 9354
Email:        
http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Assistance/Con
tacttheGovernor/tabid/150/Default.aspx
Salutation: Dear Governor
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if 
sending appeals after 22 September 2009.

MONTHLY LETTER COUNT
UAs          20                                                                  
Total        20
To add your letters to the total contact 
lwkamp@gmail.com.


Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code 5-62
Pasadena, CA 91125
www.its.caltech.edu/~aigp22/
http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com