Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVIII Number 5, May 2010


Thursday, May 27, 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.  Special guest Emily 
Fernandez of Fair Trade Pasadena will give a 
presentation and bring samples of fair trade 

Tuesday, June 8, 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, June 20, 6:30PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "The Right of Thirst" by Frank 


Hi everyone
This will be short and sweet as it is Monday 
evening already and I'm still working on the 
Although Group 22 members did not participate 
in the annual Doo-Dah parade this year, we did 
have a table at the Pasadena Earth Day Fair. Tons 
of kids made cards decorated with stickers and 
stamped designs to send to a Chinese prisoner of 
conscience, Tan Zuoren , who spoke out against 
the shoddy school building construction in China 
that caused so many children to die in the May 
2009 Sichuan earthquake.  Thanks to Joyce and 
Stevi for organizing this and to those who helped 
at the table.
Amnesty members have the opportunity to staff 
information tables for AI at local rock and other 
music concerts.  Read the article by Laura Brown 
in this newsletter for details!  

Con carino,


Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday, June 20, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard
 In Pasadena

Author Biography

An emergency physician in 
Albuquerque, New Mexico, 
Frank Huyler is the author 
of the essay collection The 
Blood of Strangers as well as 
the novel The Laws of 
Invisible Things. He grew up 
in Iran, Brazil, and Japan. 


By Frank Huyler

Book Review from the New York Times:

Frank Huyler has said that being a doctor is "the 
best day job that a writer can have." You can see 
his reasoning. A doctor has access to material 
other novelists might only dream of: dealing 
intimately with strangers, encountering people at 
moments of high drama, observing close-up the 
interplay of flesh and spirit. And in "Right of 
Thirst," Huyler the novelist shows many of the 
gifts - observation, precision, tact - you might 
hope for in Huyler the doctor. 
The novel's narrator, Charles Anderson, is a 
cardiologist in his late 50s, modestly successful in 
his career but not in other areas of his life. The 
book opens with the death of his wife after a long 
illness. Charles has assisted in hastening that end, 
though this is discreetly alluded to rather than 
stated outright, and the whole episode is 
described in spare, enviably efficient prose. 
Stricken with grief and remorse - for the death, 
for his inadequacies as a husband - Charles 
attends a lecture on the plight of earthquake 
victims and is inspired to volunteer for work in a 
refugee camp.
And yet once there, high in a remote mountain 
valley, any notion he might have of redemption 
through good works begins to evaporate. The 
camp is inadequately equipped to receive a mass 
of refugees, who in any case show no signs of 
turning up. Charles's attempt to recast his 
mission, providing medical help to nearby 
villagers, is sabotaged by fatalism and poverty. 
Frustration is interrupted by drama: he amputates 
a young girl's gangrenous foot, saving her life 
while knowing that as a cripple she hasn't much 
of a life to look forward to. Then the camp's 
army-issue tents attract the wrong kind of 
attention from neighboring hostile forces, and a 
near-farcical flight ensues.
Although the country where all this takes place is 
unnamed, it isn't hard to identify. In a literal 
sense it is Kashmir, but in a figurative one it is the 
shadowy territory known as Greeneland. With his 
sense of failure, his detachment, his 
stereotypically American habit of trying to solve 
problems with money, Charles could walk into 
any Graham Greene novel, no questions asked. 
Greene-ish tinges are also noticeable in several of 
the other characters - notably the jauntily 
sinister general who tries to threaten Charles into 
silence about events taking place in the mountains 
- and in the novel's tone, which is not so much 
disillusioned as determined not to entertain 
After a while, though, this tone starts to seem like 
a disguise. "Right of Thirst" gives the initial 
impression of being a deeply serious book, but 
nothing in it is examined very deeply or very 
seriously. Huyler's descriptions of externals - 
landscape, weather, the operation on the girl - 
are frequently marvelous, but at times he slips 
into cliche (a helicopter hovers "like a dragonfly") 
and his characters sometimes fail to talk like real 
people. "Who are you, Charles?" his wife asks in 
a remembered argument. "Who are you really?" I 
don't know about you, but my marital rows 
rarely get that existential. 
Charles himself is curiously shallow: you never 
get a clear sense of what it was in his marriage he 
feels so guilty about. His feelings on other matters 
are often so nuanced you can't work them out, 
and for all his talk of remorse, his encounters tend 
to end on a note of self-justification. There's 
material for comedy here, if only Huyler had 
spotted it. In the end, "Right of Thirst" serves as a 
reminder that one quality you don't necessarily 
look for in a doctor is essential in a novelist: 
Robert Hanks is a freelance critic based in London.


By Joyce Wolf

Group 22 has now completed the process of 
adopting 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. 
We received Gao's case file from the AI 
Individuals at Risk program on March 26. At that 
time Gao's whereabouts were unknown. A few 
days later, the New York Times published an 
article stating, "Gao Zhisheng, the Chinese rights 
activist who has been missing for more than a 
year, has resurfaced near his hometown in 
northern China." The article reported that Gao in 
a brief telephone conversation said that he was 
fine, that he had been sentenced and released 
from custody. 
Two weeks later in an interview with Associated 
Press in Beijing, Gao said that he was giving up 
activism and wished only to be reunited with his 
family. (His wife and children have been in the 
U.S. for about a year.) On May 1 the New York 
Times reported that Gao had again disappeared. 
"Associates said Mr. Gao failed to return to a 
Beijing apartment on April 20 after spending 
more than a week in Urumqi, the capital of 
western China's Xinjiang region, where he had 
been visiting his father-in-law. Mr. Gao had 
telephoned his father-in-law as his plane left 
Urumqi, saying he would call upon his arrival 
in Beijing, they said. That was his last contact 
with the outside world."

There's a lot of mystery and confusion 
surrounding the story of Gao Zhisheng, but one 
thing is quite clear: China is attempting to 
intimidate lawyers who take up human rights 
cases. See, for example, AI's public statement 
concerning Liu Wei and Tang Jitian, two lawyers 
who just had their law licenses revoked.
"These lawyers constitute an important part of 
the weiquan ('rights defense') movement, 
which is using Chinese law to protect rights of 
individuals. Like other human rights 
defenders in China, these individual weiquan 
lawyers have been harassed, assaulted, kept 
under surveillance and prosecuted for 
protecting the rights of others."

Another lawyer in China who has suffered 
retribution for his human rights work is Wang 
Yonghong, who defended Cong Rixu, an 
imprisoned Falun Gong practitioner whose wife 
is now in Pasadena and has attended Group 22 
meetings. For more information see her blog at (scroll down 
for the English if your Chinese is a bit weak).

Let's get started working for Gao Zhisheng. AI 
suggests writing to the Director of the Beijing 
Public Security Bureau:

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

Letters should call for the authorities to:
- release Gao Zhisheng immediately and 
- guarantee that he will be free from any kind of 
torture and ill-treatment;
- 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 bring 
those responsible to justice;
- allow peaceful work by human rights 
defenders, and also exercise of rights to freedom 
of assembly and expression, in line with their 
international commitments.


By Laura G. Brown

Two Pasadena AI activists answered organizer 
Kelly Giles' plea to work the Amnesty table at the 
Peter Gabriel concert May 7 at the Hollywood 
Bowl. Vincent De Stefano and Laura Brown 
reached out to concertgoers before, during, and 
after the concert, urging them to sign petitions on 
behalf of prisoners of conscience. According to 
Giles, the actions for prisoners in Tibet, Myanmar, 
Laos, and Eritrea garnered a total of 817 
signatures from Peter Gabriel fans, with the Tibet 
action attracting the most interest. In that case, 
Buddhist monks and nuns in Tibet are being held 
in terrible conditions in Chinese-run jails.

Peter Gabriel has long been a friend of AI. He also 
sponsors his own project called Witness, which 
gives video cameras to crusaders against political 
abuse. Gabriel helped found the group nearly 20 
years ago, and it now works in more than 60 
countries bringing previously unrecorded voices 
and images to decision makers' attention, 
according the to the group's website.

I asked Giles about his role in the Amnesty 
actions at local concerts, and he said: "My 
informal title might be something along the lines 
of  'Southern California volunteer coordinator for 
Rhythm n Rights', which coordinates all of 
Amnesty's tabling opportunities with a lot of 
great, socially-conscious bands." Rhythm n Rights 
is coordinating efforts at the Sting concert in June, 
and also for the next leg of U2's tour.

When asked how AI activists and music lovers 
could assist in Rhythm n Right's outreach, Giles 

"We typically do not find out which tours 
Amnesty will be tabling until about a month or 
two before the actual concerts. On average, I 
would say that Amnesty usually gets invited to 
table anywhere from 8 to 12 shows a year, and 
that I am usually lead volunteer for at least half of 
those shows, either in LA or Orange County.  For 
example, besides Peter Gabriel this past weekend, 
I will be lead volunteer for Sting in Orange 
County next month, and there is a good chance I 
will be lead volunteer for both Santana in July 
and Dave Matthews Band in August."

Interested in acquainting the public with 
Amnesty's important mission and collecting 
scores of signatures on urgent actions? Not to 
mention drinking in the glorious strains of your 
favorite rock group's music on a warm Southern 
California night at no extra charge? Contact Kelly 
Giles at

By Stevi Carroll

May has flown by and the death penalty 
continues alive and active in the United States.  
First the good news for one death row inmate.

Richard Smith (m)
On 19 May, the Governor of Oklahoma 
commuted the death sentence of Richard Smith to 
life imprisonment without the possibility of 
parole, accepting the state Pardon and Parole 
Board's recommendation to him to do so. Richard 
Smith had been due to be executed on 25 May.

Stays of Execution
Stacey Johnson, Arkansas; Melbert Ford, Georgia; 
Marlon Kiser, Tennessee; Richard Tabler, Texas; 
and Jack Jones, Arkansas have had stays of 
execution for now.

May executions
The following individuals were executed in May:
	Kevin Varga, Texas, May 12; 
Michael Beuke, Ohio, May 13; 
Billy Galloway, Texas, May 13; 
Rogello Cannaday, Texas, May 19; 
Paul Woodward, Mississippi, May 19; 
Gerald Holland, Mississippi, May 20; and
 Darick Walker, Virginia, May 20.

Scheduled executions for the end of May include 
John Alba, Texas, May 25 and Thomas 
Whisenhant, Alabama, May 27.

Upcoming in June
Ten executions are scheduled for June.  One 
person, Ronnie Lee Gardner (Utah), has requested 
and been granted to be executed by firing squad.  
Mr. Gardner has been on death row for 25 years.  
According to an Amnesty Urgent Action, both the 
father and the fiancee of Michael Burdnell, the 
murder victim, are on record, through sworn 
statements, that they do not want Mr. Gardner 
executed.  Amnesty quotes Mr. Burdnell's father 
as saying, "I do not believe Gardner should be 
executed.  I do not believe my son, Michael 
Burdnell, would want Gardner to be executed.  I 
do not believe Gardner should be executed 
because I do not believe the murder was 
premeditated. Gardner himself had been shot and 
his shooting my son was a spur of the moment 
reaction. Furthermore, I do not believe Gardner is 
the same person today that he was in 1985. My 
son was a caring and generous person who tried 
to help others. It would not have been in his 
nature to condone Gardner's execution. He would 
not have approved of it at all."

An online Amnesty action on Mr. Gardner's 
behalf is available at

Troy Davis
An evidentiary hearing for Troy Davis is 
scheduled for June 23, 2010.  Information about 
Mr. Davis' case and action opportunities are 
available at

Web Links
Martha sent us a couple of interesting links to 
check out:

I know that the death penalty continues around 
the world, too, and we often write on behalf of 
these individuals; however, for me, action in my 
own country is so important.  Since the US 
reinstated the death penalty in 1976, over 1,200 
executions have been carried out.


UAs    10                                                                           
Total  10
To add your letters to the total contact                                                                                                        

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