Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVIII Number 11, November/December 2010


Thursday, December 2, 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.  

Saturday, December 11, 8AM to 2PM. 1359 
N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena 91107 626-398-
8654.  Letter writing marathon for International 
Human Rights Day.  Drop by and help us write 
letters and postcards and enjoy Cafe Culture's 
great food and drink!   

Sunday, December 19, 6:30PM.  Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion group. 
This month we read "The Protest Singer:  an 
Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger" by Alec 
Wilkinson. See coordinator's column regarding 
change of location.


Hi everyone

A lot to write about this month...

Group 22 members Lucas, Joyce, my husband 
Robert and I attended the AI Western Regional 
Conference in San Francisco November 5-7.   The 
conference's theme was "Shine a Light -- Fifty 
Years of Activism".  It was fun to be in one of my 
favorite cities, even though it was raining and the 
conference had been moved due to a labor dispute 
to another venue.  See Lucas's report later in 
this newsletter regarding the conference.

I attended workshops on maternal mortality, part 
of the Demand Dignity campaign, and Welcome 
to the Boardroom, information on how the 
AIUSA Board of Directors works.  Amy 
Goodman of Democracy Now spoke on Sunday 
and we also heard Rebiya Kadeer.  Joyce 
attended the rally for Aun San Suu Kyi that 
ended up on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. 

Our friend Kala Mendoza, the Western Regional 
office organizer for Colorado, Idaho, So. Cal, and 
Wyoming regions, was there.  To our great 
surprise, at the ending awards ceremony, he 
presented Group 22 with the award for the Best 
Local Group.  Then Laura, one of our members, 
wrote up a little blurb and sent it to the Pasadena 
Weekly with a photo.  Here's the link for our 15 
minutes of fame:

Take note that we are not meeting at Vroman's 
bookstore for our December book group as they 
are using our meeting space for Christmas 
merchandise!  The meeting will be at a private 
home.  Contact Lucas Kamp for more information 
at 626-795-1785 or go to our website at:

Enjoy the holidays!

Con carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday December 19, 6:30 PM
"The Protest Singer -- An Intimate Portrait of Pete
Seeger", by Alec Wilkinson.


A true American original is brought to life in this 
rich and lively portrait of Pete Seeger, who, with 
his musical grace and inextinguishable passion for 
social justice, transformed folk singing into a high 
form of peaceful protest in the second half of the 
twentieth century. Drawing on his extensive talks 
with Seeger, New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson lets 
us experience the man's unique blend of 
independence and commitment, charm, courage, 
energy, and belief in human equality and 
American democracy. 
We see Seeger instilled with a love of music by his 
parents, both classically trained musicians; as a 
teenager, hearing real folk music for the first time; 
and as a young man, singing with Woody Guthrie 
and with the Weavers. We learn of his 
harassment by the government for his political 
beliefs and his testimony before the House Un-
American Activities Committee in 1949. And we 
follow his engagement with civil rights, the peace 
movement, and the environment -- especially his 
work saving the Hudson River and building the 
ship Clearwater. He talks ardently about his own 
music and that of others, and about the power of 
music to connect people and bind them to a 
cause. Finally, we meet Toshi, his wife of nearly 
sixty years, and members of his family, at the 
house he built on a mountainside in upstate New 
The Protest Singer is as spirited and captivating as 
its subject -- an American icon, celebrating his 
ninetieth birthday.


Alec Wilkinson began writing for The New Yorker 
in 1980. Before that, he was a policeman in 
Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and before that a rock-
and-roll musician. He has published eight other 
books -- two memoirs, two collections of essays, 
two biographical portraits, and two pieces of 
reporting. His honors include a Guggenheim 
Fellowship, a Lyndhurst Prize, and a Robert F. 
Kennedy Book Award. He lives with his wife and 
son in New York City.


By Joyce Wolf

Group 22's adopted prisoner of conscience, Gao 
Zhisheng, has been in the news this past month. 
His name has often been paired with imprisoned 
Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Wall Street Journal Editorial, Oct. 27: "Liu Xiaobo's 
Nobel Peace Prize has brought much-need 
attention to the struggle of others working for 
liberty in China. Gao Zhisheng, a human-rights 
lawyer who has been missing since April, is 
another example of how Beijing silences 
troublemakers. Mr. Gao hasn't had the privilege 
of courts and jails but has simply disappeared, 
without any official word on the circumstances of 
what his family and most observers believe to be 
his detention by the government."

Wall Street Journal, Opinion Asia, Nov. 12: "... Gao 
Zhisheng, one of China's most courageous 
human-rights defenders, who has been kept 
under house arrest, harassed, imprisoned, 
tortured and humiliated since 2006. At present he 
has literally "been disappeared" -- authorities 
won't say whether he is in jail again and, if so, 
why; or where he is; or even if he is still alive."

Twenty-nine U.S. members of Congress signed a 
letter to President Obama, asking him to bring up 
the cases of Liu and Gao with China's President 
Hu Jintao during the G20 summit on Nov.11-12. 
Their letter began, "We write to ask that you urge 
President Hu to release two emblematic Chinese 
prisoners of conscience, Liu Xiaobo and Gao 
Zhisheng." They went on to say, "Mr Gao's case 
is the most egregious example of China's growing 
pressure on human rights lawyers. ... If lawyers 
are hauled away for the 'crime' of defending their 
clients, then even the pretense of rule of law has 

Links to the full articles quoted above are available 

Closer to home, former prisoner of conscience Bu 
Dongwei, who visited our group last March, 
reminds us that our letters really are effective in 
lessening the abuse of prisoners of conscience. See 
his video at This 
video is featured in Amnesty's 2010 Write-a-thon 
campaign. (By the way, I attended Bu Dongwei's 
presentation at the Western Regional workshop 
on Individuals At Risk. It was good to see him 
again, and it's wonderful that he continues to 
share his experience in order to help other 
prisoners of conscience.)

This month let's participate in the Amnesty action 
for Liu Xiaobo at

When writing for Liu Xiaobo, we can add our 
concern for Gao Zhisheng, as did the Members of 
Congress and the writers of the Wall Street 
Journal editorials. 


I missed the rally for Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday 
evening because I went up by train and arrived 
after it was over.

Here are the sessions that I attended:

- Workshop on the Art of Campaigning.  This was 
well run and we had an interesting exercise to 
practice on.

- Caucus with the Regional Planning Group.  This 
group has not existed for many years, but is now 
being reconstituted.  I was invited to serve on it 
for 1 year.  This session was mainly devoted to 
what the purpose of this group is to be, which 
was not clear to all.  We will have our first 
meeting in early Dec., by telecon.  During the 
discussion, it was mentioned that there has been 
a severe reduction in the number of Local Groups 
over the past few years.  We were unable to come 
up with a good explanation of this, or a way of 
counteracting it; presumably, this will be a topic 
for future discussion.  Interestingly, Student 
Groups at the high school and college level seem 
to be flourishing.  We also discussed the lack of 
any resolutions submitted to this WRC.  It was 
pointed out that the Resolutions Committee will 
help draft a resolution -- all you need to do is to 
submit a rough idea and they will help write up 
the formal language for the resolution.

- Workshop on Building and Revitalizing Local 
Groups.  This was a well organized workshop 
that came up with a number of useful suggestions 
for our group.  Here is a useful tidbit for those 
who are asked what good the letters that we write 
ever do:  go to 
for a list of actions that have had positive results.

The other panels and plenary sessions were 
generally very instructive, especially the talk by 
Amy Goodman.  As usual, the conference was an 
inspiration for the coming year.


By Cheri Dellelo

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms 
of Discrimination Against Women  

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms 
of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is 
getting its third shot at ratification after lying 
dormant in U.S. Senate subcommittees for the 
past 30 years. With the Obama administration's 
support and a Democratic majority in the Senate, 
the timing for what's known as the Women's 
Treaty or the International Women's Bill of Rights 
could be right. Since 1979, 186 out of 193 U.N. 
member states have ratified the treaty, leaving the 
U.S., Sudan, Somalia, Iran and three small Pacific 
Island nations -- Nauru, Palau and Tonga -- as the 
sole hold-outs. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee twice cleared CEDAW, the last time 
in 2002, but the treaty never made it to the actual 
Senate floor.
On Nov. 18, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on 
women's human rights at which they listened to 
testimony related to CEDAW. This was the first 
time in eight years that the U.S. Senate focused 
solely on the Convention on the Elimination of All 
Forms of Discrimination Against Women 
(CEDAW). While hearing was the beginning of a 
critical dialogue, it's up to Senator John Kerry as 
the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee to turn this talk into action. Senator 
Kerry can schedule the all-important vote that 
could finally result in the ratification of CEDAW.  
Please send a quick message to Senator Kerry 
asking him to take action to ratify CEDAW. You 
can do so through the Amnesty International USA
website at or Senator
Kerry's website at,
or you can send a letter by post to his office in
Washington, D.C.:

Senator John Kerry
218 Russell Bldg., 2nd Floor  
Washington D.C. 20510 



While we in the US  and in other countries 
continue to execute human beings, I'd like to take 
a moment to mention my gratitude for the award-
winning AIUSA Pasadena group 22. In the fall of 
2004 when I moved to Pasadena, I took 
advantage of the lectures at Caltech.  As I went 
inside one event, I saw Lucas at the Amnesty 
information table.  Always welcoming new 
members, he invited me to join them, and I did for 
writing letters, discussing books, and sharing and 
planning our work.  As I read the news about our 
world's many woes, I begin to feel downhearted 
and discouraged. Although the news demoralizes 
me, getting together with my Amnesty friends 
buoys my spirits.  November gives us the Day to 
Give Thanks, so I'd like to thank the members of 
AIUSA Pasadena group 22 for welcoming me and 
for giving me something concrete to do.  

- Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

The secretary-general of Iran's human rights 
council, Mohammed Javad Larijani, said Sakineh 
Mohammadi Ashtiani's execution orders could be 

In an article at, Mr. Larijani is quoted as 
saying, "Iran's council of human rights has helped 
a lot to reduce her sentence and we think there is 
a good chance that her life could be saved."

While US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, 
spoke out that she was "deeply troubled" by Ms 
Ashtiani's possible execution, Mr. Larijani 
denounced the international attention paid to the 
case and said the US's record for capital 
punishment was largely ignored.

- U. N. votes on resolution to halt the death 

Some people want the US out of the United 
Nations.  I sometimes wonder what that body of 
member states does.  I think of the Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights (a document dear to 
Amnesty members), Peacekeepers (guys with blue 
helmets and weapons to protect the helpless), 
and UNICEF (people who, according the 
program's website, "believe that nurturing and 
caring for children are the cornerstones of human 

Recently, the UN adopted a non-binding 
resolution on a moratorium on the use of the 
death penalty.  Although 107 countries voted in 
favor of the resolution, 38 opposed it, and 36 
abstained.  Five countries that voted against a 
similar resolution in 2007 joined the ayes this 
year.  The nay countries in 2010 include, among 
others, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the 
United States. 

In 1945 when the UN was founded, only eight 
member states had abolished the death penalty 
for all crimes.  According to Amnesty 
International, 137 countries have abolished the 
death penalty.

- New death drug for executions

Last month we talked about how Hospira, the 
company that makes sodium thiopental - the 
anesthetic used in all lethal injections, couldn't 
make more because of "manufacturing issues."  
Recent news reports state that the company is 
having trouble finding the raw materials for 
manufacture of the drug. The company also does 
not like its drug used in executions. 

Prison supplies of the drug are expiring thus 
curtailing executions.  To remedy the dilemma in 
Oklahoma, a federal judge ruled that the drug 
pentobarbital can be used as the first of a three-
drug cocktail.  Pentobarbital is the same drug 
used for animal euthanasias and physician-
assisted suicide in Oregon and the Netherlands.

Death penalty opponents object to a drug whose 
use is an unknown factor as to whether or not it 
will mask the pain felt from the other two drugs 
before the condemned person dies.

In Oklahoma the planned dosage of pentobarbital 
is five grams which should be enough to stop 
breath.  The executioner will wait five minutes 
before administrating the other two drugs.  Dr. 
David Waisel, an opponent to the use of 
pentobarbital, says five grams of the drug would 
cause unconsciousness and death.  His concern is 
that with inmates the executioners have no 
medical evidence about how much of the drug to 
use or how long it should be administered.

Jeffery Matthews, a death row inmate in 
Oklahoma, may be the test case soon.

- Online Action

Stop the Execution of Stephen West in Tennessee

- Ron McAndrew: Former Prison Warden

Ron McAndrew oversaw the executions of eight 
people in his tenure as prison warden in Florida 
and Texas.  When he became warden in Florida 
after his first execution, he continued the tradition 
of going out to breakfast with the 'death team.'  In 
the restaurant that morning, everyone present was 
somehow connected with the prison system.  The 
high fives and general celebratory tone of the 
gathering tempered by the sad face of the 
condemned man's lawyer made him begin to 
understand the solemnity of the situation. That 
was Mr. McAndrew's last post-execution 

After the botched execution of Pedro Medina, Mr. 
McAndrew said, "The memory of telling the 
executioner to continue with the killing, despite 
the malfunctioning electric chair, and being at a 
point of no-return, plagues me still."  

He continued to support the death penalty until 
he said, "these men came and started sitting at 
the edge of my bed at night."  In an article at the 
Death Penalty Focus website, he said, "During 
the renewal of my faith and my conversion to the 
Catholic Church, I was asked to speak out about 
my feelings on the death penalty."

Since October 2009, the New Hampshire 
Commission to Study the Death Penalty has 
heard testimony, both pro and con.  Last August, 
Mr. McAndrew spoke to a New Hampshire 
commission. In an interview after his testimony, 
he's quoted as saying, 
"It's (the death penalty) nothing but a 
premeditated, ceremonial killing, and we do it to 
appease politicians who are tough on crime. ... 
The state has no right to ask people to kill others 
on their behalf."

May Ron McAndrew's nights be free of ghosts.

(To read more, join us on Face book - Amnesty 
International - Pasadena, Group 22)

- Executions

October 26  	Jeffrey Landrigan
 		Arizona	lethal injection

November 4	Phillip Lallford		
		Alabama	lethal injection

- Execution Stayed

 Stephen West		Tennessee		
	Rescheduled for November 30, 2010

- Stay of Execution Expired  

Jeffery Matthews	Oklahoma
Court of Criminal Appeals will reschedule

- Life without Parole

Sidney Cornwell	Ohio


UA's  15
POC    4
Special Mexico Action  11
Total  30

To add your letters to the total contact                                                                                                        

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