Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVIII Number 7, July 2010


Thursday, July 22, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting 
at Caltech Y, which 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, August 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! 
During the summer we are outside on the lawn 
next to the Athenaeum.

Sunday, August 15, 6:30PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "The Girl who Played With 
Fire" by Steig Larsson.


 Hi everyone

Hot enough for you?!!  We're trying to be good 
citizens (and save money) and not overuse our 
air-con, so we have fans everywhere, but I'm still 
sweatingÉ.hopefully it will be cooler next week.
Its summer and we always read a mystery in 
August for the book group.  Don't know about the 
rest of you, but I haven't been able to put down 
the series of 3 books written by our August 
author, Steig Larsson.  I just finished the 3rd book 
in the series, "The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's 
Nest" a few days ago, reading in bed until after 
midnight!  We saw the first movie, Girl with the 
Dragon Tattoo, and are looking forward to seeing 
the 2nd one based on our August book!

Group 22 members Laura and Ted Brown, myself, 
Robert, and Yuny Parada attended the forum at 
All Saints Church June 28, "First do no Harm", 
about medical professionals participation in 
torture.  See Laura's article about the event in this 

Enjoy your summer activities, whatever they may 
be.  We are driving to Oregon next month to see 
Shakespeare in Ashland and Rob's family in 

Con carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday, August 15, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard
 In Pasadena



Stieg's grandfather, an inspiring role model
Stieg Larsson was born in Vasterbotten in 
northern Sweden in 1954. At the time of his birth, 
his parents were too young and too poor to keep 
him, so he was raised by his grandparents in a 
small village in the north of Sweden. Stieg's 
grandfather, Severin Bostrom, became the male 
role model for the young Stieg. Severin was 
strongly anti-fascist [and during the Second 
World War he was imprisoned in the work camp 
in Storsien for his anti-Nazi opinions]*. Had he 
been Danish, he would no doubt have been 
placed in a German Concentration Camp. The 
fate of his grandfather deeply affected and 
shaped Stieg's character. He wanted to protect 
equal rights and fight for democracy and freedom 
of speech in order to prevent history, and what 
happened to his grand father, from repeating 

* Stieg's father, Erland Larsson, says to that nobody in the family can 
confirm the information about the camp.

Youth, left-wing movement and far travels

When Stieg was nine years old, his grandfather 
died and he moved to live with his parents and 
his younger brother. Stieg was given a typewriter 
for his 12th birthday, and he spent most nights of 
his youth staying up writing, keeping his family 
awake with the drumming sound. At 18 years of 
age he met Eva Gabrielsson at an anti-Vietnam 
War meeting in Umea. Eva was to become his life 
long companion. With some short exceptions, 
mainly due to the fact that Stieg was sometimes 
too obsessed with his work, they lived together 
until Stiegs death the 9th November 2004. After 
his military service, Stieg travelled in Africa and 
has been described as "an early backpacker". He 
rarely had enough money on his travels, in an 
interview with Norra Vasterbotten in 2006, his 
father describes how he had to work as a 
dishwasher and sell his clothes to afford a ticket 
home from Algeria.

Stieg Larsson was also interested in Science 
Fiction. Among other things was he the chairman 
of the Scandinavian science fiction society and 
published two magazines.

A life under constant threat

During the last 15 years of his life, he and his life 
companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant 
threat from right-wing violence. When a labor-
union leader was murdered in his home by neo-
Nazis in 1999, the police discovered photos of 
and information about the couple in the 
murderer's apartment. So it was not without 
reason that the couple took precautionary 
measures. They were never seen together outside 
the house, they moved mirrors in the hall and they 
always kept the blinds down. Those are just a 
few examples. Stieg was an expert in the area, 
and wrote a book of instructions on how 
journalists should respond to threats for the 
Swedish Union of Journalists ("Overleva 
Deadline", 2000).

Writing as a relaxation

The situation created a contrast between Stieg's 
work at Expo and his night-time novel writing. He 
regarded his writing of detective novels as 
relaxing. Keeping track of loose ends, characters 
and made up conspiracies posed no problem 
since it was, after all, fiction and no one would 
threaten either Eva or himself because of it.

TIMES JULY 16, 2009


Lisbeth Salander, the angry punk hacker in Stieg 
Larsson's 2008 best seller, "The Girl With the 
Dragon Tattoo," was one of the most original and 
memorable heroines to surface in a recent thriller: 
picture Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft endowed with 
Mr. Spock's intense braininess and Scarlett 
O'Hara's spunky instinct for survival. She and 
the middle-aged, down-on-his-luck reporter 
Mikael Blomkvist made quite the odd couple, and 
their chemistry fueled that earlier novel, driving it 
through its hurried, contrived ending. 

 Now Salander is back in "The Girl Who Played 
With Fire" in an even more central role. This time 
she is less detective than quarry, as she becomes 
the chief suspect in three murders. Hunted by the 
police and enemies from her past, she goes 
underground, while Blomkvist, one of the few 
people to believe in her innocence, races to find 
her - and clues to the real killer.

Though this novel lacks the sexual and romantic 
tension that helped spark "Dragon Tattoo" - 
Salander and Blomkvist share few scenes here - 
it boasts an intricate, puzzle like story line that 
attests to Mr. Larsson's improved plotting 
abilities, a story line that simultaneously moves 
backward into Salander's traumatic past, even as 
it accelerates toward its startling and violent 

The three people murdered are Nils Erik Bjurman, 
a lawyer and Salander's guardian, who once 
brutally raped her; Dag Svensson, a writer 
finishing an explosive article about the sex trade 
for Blomkvist's magazine (an article that 
threatens to ruin the reputations of several 
policemen, five lawyers, a prosecutor, a judge and 
three journalists); and Svensson's girlfriend and 
researcher, Mia Johansson. In his last conversation 
with Blomkvist, Svensson mentioned he had a 
new lead on a mysterious gangster, known as 
Zala, whom he wanted to track down before his 
article went to press.

Like many thriller writers, Mr. Larsson - who 
died in 2004, shortly after turning in this novel, 
"Dragon Tattoo" and a third companion volume 
- is overly fond of coincidence, and this is 
certainly the case here. Salander has just come 
back from a year of traveling: she had left 
Stockholm after falling in love with Blomkvist, 
who had taken up with another woman, and was 
furious with herself for falling prey to an emotion 
that goes against her image of herself as 
unsentimental and tough as nails. 

Upon returning, she hacks into Blomkvist's 
computer to check up on him and discovers an e-
mail message from Svensson mentioning Zala, 
who just happens to be a dreaded figure from her 
own past. Hours before Svensson and Johansson 
are found dead - by Blomkvist, of all people - 
Salander pays them a surprise visit, determined 
to find out what they know about Zala. The 
police discover her fingerprints on the gun used to 
kill them - a gun, we learn, that belonged to her 
former guardian, Bjurman, who is later found 
dead in his apartment, naked and draped over 
his bed. 

By cutting cinematically from one set of 
characters to another, Mr. Larsson builds 
suspense, while tracking the progress of several 
simultaneous investigations: the campaign of a 
likable criminal inspector named Bublanski and 
his team to track down Salander, whom they 
regard as their chief suspect; Blomkvist's quest to 
exonerate Salander and find the real killer, who 
he suspects must have had something at stake in 
the pending publication of Svensson's exposŽ; the 
efforts of a private security investigator named 
Armansky, who once employed Salander, to track 
down her whereabouts; and Salander's own 
crusade to find Zala, exact revenge and finally 
come to terms with the horrors of her childhood.

As he did in "Dragon Tattoo," Mr. Larsson - a 
former journalist and magazine editor - mixes 
precise, reportorial descriptions with lurid 
melodramatics lifted straight from the stock 
horror and thriller cupboard. He gives us an 
immediate sense of the sleek, yuppified world 
inhabited by Blomkvist and his married business 
associate and sometime lover, Erika Berger and 
the daily rigors of publishing a monthly magazine. 
He gives us a detailed, "CSI"-type understanding 
of the investigative methods employed by the 
police and the computer pyrotechnics performed 
by Salander. At the same time Mr. Larsson has 
his characters talk in portentous tones of things 
like "All the Evil." And he gives us two cartoony 
James Bondian villains: a hulking blond giant, 
incapable of feeling pain, and his evil, physically 
disfigured master, who happens to be a former 
Soviet agent with ties to the underworld. 

The ending of "The Girl Who Played With Fire" 
- like the revelation about Salander's past, 
which gives the book its title - comes straight out 
of a horror movie: it's gory, harrowing and 
operatically over the top. The reason it works is 
the same reason that "Dragon Tattoo" worked: 
Mr. Larsson's two central characters, Salander 
and Blomkvist, transcend their genre and 
insinuate themselves in the reader's mind through 
their oddball individuality, their professional 
competence and, surprisingly, their emotional 


by Joyce Wolf

Group 22 continues to work on the case of human 
rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (pronounced Gow 
Jir-sheng). Detained by the Chinese authorities in 
February 2009, he was missing for over a year 
before he reappeared for a month in March. He 
vanished again on April 20. The Washington Post 
published an editorial about him on July 9, saying 
"He took on sensitive cases most other lawyers 
avoided, even asserting the rights of detained 
Falun Gong members to judicial review. As a 
result of his activism, he has been kidnapped, 
tortured and disappeared." 

The Epoch Times wrote an article on July 9 about 
Gao's second disappearance. "Gao's family said 
that Gao has been missing for nearly three 
months now and no one knows where he is. 
... Gao's family did not understand what was 
going on, but they thought Gao was detained 
somewhere." (

This month let's write again to the Director of the 
Beijing Public Security Bureau. Here is a sample 
letter that you can use as a guide. Postage is 98 

MA Zhenchuan Juzhang
Beijingshi Gong'anju
9 Qianmen Dongdajie
Beijingshi 100740

Dear Director,

I am deeply concerned about Gao Zhisheng,
a Beijing-based human rights lawyer 
who was detained in Shaanxi Province on 
February 4, 2009. His current whereabouts has 
been unknown since April 20, 2010.

A highly respected lawyer, Gao Zhisheng has 
represented a number of human rights defenders, 
including members of the spiritual group Falun 
Gong. His law license was revoked in 2005, and in 
December 2006 he received a suspended three-
year prison sentence for "inciting subversion." 
According to Gao, he was tortured during the 
period of detention before his trial. I respectfully 
urge that the authorities open a full and impartial 
investigation into allegations that Gao Zhisheng 
suffered ill-treatment in detention, including 
beatings and inadequate access to medical 
treatment, and bring those responsible to justice. 

Thank you for your attention to this important 
[your name and address]


All Saints Church hosted a panel discussion June 
28 about physicians' involvement in torture before 
about 50 people. John Bradshaw, Director of 
Policy for Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), 
spoke first on the theme that health professionals 
are bound by ethics to never participate in 
torture, though some do. Following him was 
David Gangsei, Ph.D., who spoke about 
psychological abuses, and an ACLU attorney 
whose client was detained and tortured in Dubai 
at the behest of the U.S.

Bradshaw's focus was PHR's June 2010 report, 
which says little is being done to stop the use of 
torture as standard practice. President Obama's 
policy is one of "looking forward, not backward", 
Bradshaw said, which translates to no 
prosecution for past or current authors of torture 
policies, in violation of international law.

The report's most shocking revelation is that 
health professionals, including doctors who 
worked for the CIA, did experiments on 
prisoners, took notes about how much pain 
victims could withstand, and used the results to 
make torture techniques more effective. The CIA 
dubbed its new, improved near-drowning 
"Waterboarding 2.0."

Psychologist David Gangsei relayed that 
psychological torture, so-called "Torture Light", 
is becoming more popular because it doesn't leave 
marks. One strategy is to make prisoners listen to 
the screams of people being beaten and to tell 
them: "That's going to happen to your wife; that's 
going to happen to your child." Bradshaw added 
that there's no proof that psychological or 
physical torture elicits accurate information, and 
that a technique known as "rapport building", or 
gaining the confidence of the prisoner, works best.

Ed Bacon, All Saints Rector, said torture's toll 
isn't limited to the victims, but that the 
perpetrators also become damaged and are prone 
to depression and suicide. He agreed with an 
audience member that it is a good idea to present 
a positive model of the United States which we 
would like to have - a nation which stands for 
principles like the Bill of Rights and the value of 
each human life.

Event organizer Virginia Classick had two actions 
for participants. People could sign on to the PHR 
complaint to the Office of Human Research 
Protections of Health & Human Services, and 
send postcards to Congress asking them to 
guarantee Red Cross access to all 
detainees. These can be completed online at  and at, 
click on Torture Awareness Month.



Troy Davis

June 22, 2010, Lucas, Candy and I joined people 
from the ACLU and Amnesty gathered at the Los 
Angeles City Hall.  While the group was relatively 
small - fewer than 30 I think - its members knew 
they stood with people throughout the world who 
were in turn standing publicly in their blue "I AM 
TROY DAVIS" T-Shirts.  

To see video of events for Troy Davis in 
Savannah, Georgia and London, England, go to

An evidentiary hearing for Troy Davis' case was 
held in Savannah, Georgia on June 23, 2010.  Both 
the Attorney General's brief and Troy Davis' brief 
were filed in the U. S. District Court in Savannah 
on July 7, 2010.  Amnesty's "Archive for the 
'Death Penalty' Category" says, 
"The Troy Davis case is buried in doubts.  
Doubts from the witnesses whose recantations 
were are the heart of last month's hearing, doubts 
from jurors..., doubts from a former Georgia 
Supreme Court Justice who originally upheld his 
conviction, and even - with over 130 exonerations 
from death row since the 1970s - doubts about 
the reliability of the criminal justice system itself."

A verdict in the case may be soon and may be 
followed by further action by the U. S. Supreme 

Gaile Owens

In a few months, I thought I would be reporting 
the execution of Gaile Owens since she was 
scheduled to die September 28, 2010.  July 14, 
2010, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen 
commuted her death sentence to life in prison.  As 
the story of her abuse at the hands of her 
husband - whom she had killed - became public, 
many Nashvillians worked for her case to be 
reconsidered.  She now may be eligible for parole 
by Spring of 2012.  For an article as this case, go to

Stay of execution:
Ivan Teleguz

Execution reprieve:
Jonathan Green 

 1 Michael Perry - Texas
13 William Garner - Ohio

"For centuries the death penalty, often 
accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been 
trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists."
				Albert Camus, 
Resistance, Rebellion and Death


UAs     29
POC      6                                                                           
Total   35

To add your letters to the total contact:                                                                                                        

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