Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVIII Number 6, June 2010


Thursday, June 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. This month we are 
showing a 30-minute film, "The Response," a 
courtroom drama based upon the actual 
transcripts of the Guantanamo military 
tribunals. A discussion will follow.  Please join 
us! Refreshments, Fair Trade included, will be 

Tuesday, July 13, 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 

Sunday, July 18, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "Strength in What Remains" by 
Tracy Kidder.


 Hi everyone

Happy Father's Day! Hope everyone has had a 
good day. My family will have a joint mother's 
birthday and Father's Day celebration next 

School is almost out and I look forward to 
summer plans - working 17 days, driving to 
Oregon to see Rob's family, and finding time for 
fun and relaxation!

Here's some activities you may want to 
participate in:

There will be a candlelight march and rally for 
Troy Davis at the LA City Hall June 22.  For 
further information, see the Death Penalty section 
of this newsletter.

Another event of interest is happening June 27 in 
Pasadena.  "First Do No Harm:  the Role of 
Medical Professionals in US-Sponsored Torture" 
is from 7-8:30 pm at All Saints Church, 132 N. 
Euclid, Pasadena, 91101.  The keynote speaker is 
John Bradshaw, J.D., Director of Policy 
Physicians for Human Rights.  There will be a 
panel discussion.  For more information, call 818-
225-0410 or email 

Con carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

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

Author Biography
Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and 
studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the 
Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the 
Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other 
literary prizes. The author of Strength in What 
Remains, Mountains Beyond Mountains, My 
Detachment, Home Town, Old Friends, Among 
Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New 
Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and 


By Tracy Kidder

Dwight Garner's Review of 'Strength in What 
Remains' (September 2, 2009) New York Times 
Of course, most writers, from daily reporters to 
best-selling authors, get paid for something else: 
knowing what they want early on, getting the 
goods and then anxiously turning them into 
something worth reading. The reason this model 
tends to miss more than hit is that the most 
precious gems gathered in any journalistic journey 
are frequently those found around the edges of a 

Kidder has become a high priest of the narrative 
arts by diving deep into an improbable subject or 
character with little more than a hunch as to what 
he might eventually find. Since 1981, when "The 
Soul of a New Machine" - the story of a team 
creating that era's cutting-edge computer - won 
him a Pulitzer and commercial success, he has 
worked relentlessly to carry on the tradition of 
John McPhee, sublimating ego in a tireless search 
for somewhere to hide, for a subject into which to 
vanish and live, sometimes for years. Few have 
been better at this than Kidder. He has followed a 
team of home builders ("House," 1985), a fifth-
grade teacher ("Among School_children," 1989) 
and nursing home residents ("Old Friends," 
1993), and in each case emerged - sooty, 
battered, blinking in the sunlight - to write books 
illuminated by a glowing humanism. This is a feat 
of increasing difficulty as an author's fame grows. 
The transaction between writer and subject can 
easily be stage-managed for market_place effect 
- moments overplayed to guide readers to tears 
or elation or preordained insights - and prose 
often takes on the weight of sentimentality, the 
great enemy of good writing, as J. D. Salinger put 
it, giving something "more tenderness than God 
gives to it." 

What happened in this case? While reporting his 
2003 best seller, "Mountains Beyond Mountains," 
a fitfully earnest book about a character almost 
impossible to love too much - Dr. Paul Farmer, 
leader of a global campaign to eradicate 
preventable disease - Kidder stumbled across a 
spectral African refugee who had signed on with 
the doctor's organization, Partners in Health, as a 
bit player, a guy helping out, answering e-mail, 
"performing any jobs that needed doing." His 
name was Deogratias, or "thanks be to God" in 

"Strength in What Remains" is Deo's story. And 
what a tale it is, opening from a passenger seat in 
an airliner in war-torn Burundi, where Deo, then 
24, is leaving behind what once seemed a 
promising life in Africa as a third-year medical 
student. It was 1994. Burundi and neighboring 
Rwanda were exploding in civil wars, in which 
Hutu and Tutsi were slaughtering one another in 
one of the 20th century's most horrifying conflicts. 
With the help of the privileged family of one of 
his med-school friends, Deo is able to escape the 
carnage, bound for America.

Soon, with only $200 and no English, Deo is 
struggling to survive on the streets of New York. 
With remarkable acuity, Kidder puts the reader in 
the young man's place, as he sleeps in an 
abandoned tenement in Harlem and gets a job for 
$15 a day (yes, you read that right) delivering 
groceries for Gristedes, the supermarket chain. 
Kidder lets the story unfold, staying out of the 
way, letting Deo's reactions and insights carry 
each page. Though the reader is informed that 
Deo witnessed horrors in Burundi, and is haunted 
by them, snatches from his past are unearthed 
solely to show what he relies on to survive - 
backward glances that testify to his resilience. 

With many thousands of Africans fleeing their 
continent's widening nightmares for America, 
Deo's experience can feel like this era's version of 
the Ellis Island migration - a story, then and 
now, of trauma and forward motion. The reader 
is pulled along, feeling rage when the Gristedes 
manager pokes at him with a stick "sometimes, it 
seemed, just for fun"; shame when the young man 
goes tipless, day after day, delivering groceries to 
Park Avenue. "You had to get tips," explained a 
friend at the store. "You lingered in doorways, 
you cleared your throat, sometimes you asked for 
a tip outright. But this was the same as begging, 
Deo thought." A reader also feels a strange kind 
of relief when Deo enters Central Park, sees it 
through the eyes of someone who grew up in 
forests, and finds an ideally concealed patch of 
grass where he can sleep. He falls into a routine, 
working days and living nights in the park, a 
canopy of stars providing a link to the fields of 
Africa and anything he once knew.

The story seems to tell itself, but that's never the 
way it really happens. Strategic decisions have to 
be made, and Kidder seems to make all the right 
ones, first taking readers for a flashback to 
Burundi, showing the rural landscape where 
Deo's family farmed and tended cows, and the 
grandfather who told him he would get his first 
cow only "when you finish school" - all of it, 
surely, a world that would be washed away.

Then it's the mid-'90s in New York, where a nun, 
Sharon McKenna, takes an interest in the 
homeless Deo. He is grateful, though he worries 
that he's building up a debt to her - "borrowed 
salt," he calls it - leaving him with a childlike 
neediness. One day, when she points out the 
birds and flowers in Central Park, he fumes, sotto 
voce: "I'm not 5 years old. I know what a bird is. 
Yes, I know that is a flower. And I know Central 
Park better than you do. I sleep here." This is 
Kidder's great feat, one that has eluded him in 
some of his later work: trusting the reader enough 
to present characters in the full splatter of 
unsettling complexity. This is not about 
presenting a holy man, a hero. His protagonist is 
bold, insecure, foolish, inspiring and, as the young 
man's memories race to catch him, there are hints 
that even more shades of personality will soon be 

Ron Suskind is the author of "The Way of the 
World" and "A Hope in the Unseen," among 
other books.


By Joyce Wolf

Group 22 is committed to working on the case of 
Prisoner of Conscience Gao Zhisheng 
(pronounced Gow Jir-sheng). He is a human-
rights lawyer who was detained by the Chinese 
authorities in February 2009. His whereabouts 
were unknown for over a year, causing great 
anxiety among his family and friends and 
provoking confusing, bizarre statements from 
Chinese authorities. He reappeared on 28 March 
2010 and stated sadly that he was giving up his 
human rights work and wished only to be 
reunited with his family. On April 20 (which 
happens to be his birthday) he disappeared again.

In a May 31 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, 
Jerome A. Cohen and Beth Schwanke wrote: 
  We have little doubt that the Chinese 
  government intended Mr. Gao's brief 
  reappearance this spring to relieve the 
  increasing international pressure surrounding 
  his mysterious detention. Now, however, it 
  appears that the government fears Mr. Gao, 
  even under house arrest, more than it fears the 
  international community's condemnation of 
  his renewed "disappearance." It is willing to 
  blatantly violate its own domestic law, not to 
  mention international law, to silence the man 
  known to many as "the conscience of China." 
  Mr. Gao's case is about far more than the 
  tragedy of one man and his family. It is about 
  the rule of law in China. If the government can 
  act with impunity toward a lawyer as 
  prominent as Gao Zhisheng, then...other 
  dissidents will continue to be "disappeared". 

Before we get to this month's action for Gao 
Zhisheng, here's an update on Tan Zuoren, the 
environmental activist who was the focus of 
Group 22's Earth Day action in April. The good 
news is that we picked up two more pages of 
signatures on our Tan Zuoren petition at the 
Visual Arts Guild's annual Tiananmen 
commemorative dinner, but the bad news is that 
Tan lost his appeal. The Sichuan Provincial High 
People's Court announced on June 9 that it 
upheld his sentence of five years in prison, with 
an additional three years' deprivation of political 

Amnesty suggests we write regularly to the 
Director of the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau 
on behalf of Gao Zhisheng. Here's a sample letter 
that you can use as a guide. Postage is 98 cents.

WU Yuhua Juzhang
Beijingshi Sifaju
12 Xinjiekouwaidajie
Beijingshi 100088

Dear Director,
I am writing about human rights lawyer Gao 
Zhisheng. I call for all restrictions to his freedom 
of movement to be lifted and for any continued 
surveillance to be stopped.
I respectfully urge the authorities to guarantee 
that he will be free from any kind of torture and 
ill-treatment, and to order a full and impartial 
investigation into allegations that Gao Zhisheng 
has suffered ill treatment in detention, including 
beatings and inadequate access to medical 
treatment, and to bring those responsible to 
I further urge that the authorities allow peaceful 
work by human rights defenders, and also 
exercise of rights to freedom of assembly and 
expression, in line with their international 
Thank you for your attention to this urgent 

By Stevi Carroll

The death penalty continues to execute people 
here in the USA and around the world.

On June 18, Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by 
firing squad in Utah.  This is the third execution 
by firing squad in Utah since 1976.  One article I 
read included, "Amnesty International, which has 
long called for a worldwide repeal of the death 
penalty, said shooting had also been used in 
China, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Vietnam this past 
year."  The use of the firing squad in Utah has 
roots in a Mormon practice of blood atonement; 
although, the Church of Latter Day Saints no 
longer endorses this form of execution.  According 
to an Amnesty International article, three of the 
jurors from Mr. Gardner's 1985 trial no longer 
supported his death sentence. 
week-in-pointless-executions/) To read more 
about Mr. Gardner's execution written by an 
Associated Press witness, to go

In support of Troy Davis' evidentiary hearing 
scheduled for June 23, 2010, rallies for him will be 
held around the world on June 22.  I am planning 
on going to the one in Los Angeles.  

The following people have recently been executed 
in the US:
In May 
25 - John Alba - Texas
27 - Thomas Whisenhant - Alabama
In June
2 - George Jones - Texas
9 - Melbert Ford - Georgia
10 - John Forrest Parker - Alabama
15 - David Powell - Texas
18 - Ronnie Lee Gardner

"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

-Stevi Carroll


Troy Davis Campaign: June 22 Global Day of Solidarity. 
Troy Davis has a hearing date (June 23, 2010)  

Candlelight March and Rally in support of Troy 
Davis Tuesday, June 22, 2010 (6pm). (This is the 
day before the hearing) at Los Angeles City Hall 
(200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA)

Troy Davis has been on death row for more than 
18 years for the murder of police officer Mark 
Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia. His 
compelling case of innocence raises critical 
questions about the death penalty and the larger 
criminal justice system.

If you would like to take show your solidarity at 
the LA City Hall Rally on June 22nd please 
contact Kalayaan (Kala) Mendoza, Field 
Organizer for Southern California for more 

Kalayaan Mendoza:
Tel # 415.288.1862

To take action online please go to the Justice For 
Troy page at:

To invite your friends and family on Facebook 
please go to the Justice for Troy Facebook Event 


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