Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XVIII Number 10, October 2010


Thursday, October 28, 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, November 9,  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, November 21, 6:30PM.  Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion group. 
This month we read "The Blessing next to the 
Wound" by Hector Aristizabal and Diane 


 Hi everyone

Wow! I can't believe it's almost the end of 
October ... the district merged East area nurses 
with Central and moved us downtown to 
Beaudry, a high-rise with 29 floors!  I am racking 
up the mileage (although not getting paid for it, 
there is no funding at the moment) traveling to my 
(now 20) schools.  I still don't have a desk or my 
computer set up and none of us have printers, but 
we're nurses, we're flexible and know how to 
improvise!! (ha ha).  And you thought us public 
employees weren't doing anything and had great 
working conditions ....

Those of you who plan to attend the Western 
Regional Conference take note that the venue has 
changed from the SF Hilton to Hastings Law 
School due to a labor dispute.  We changed our 
reservation to the Holiday Inn, as we really don't 
want to cross a picket line!

Our November author, Hector Aristizabal, is 
having a book signing at Vromans in Pasadena  
November 12 at 7 pm.  Everyone come out and 
support  Hector and Diane!

Con carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday November 21, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard
 In Pasadena


Hector Aristizabal was born and raised in 
Medellin, Colombia when it was the most 
dangerous city in the world. One of his brothers 
was seduced by the power of crack cocaine and 
another by the promises of revolutionary armed 
struggle. Hector's path was different. He worked 
his way out of poverty to become a theatre artist 
and pioneering psychologist with a Masters 
degree from Antioquia University, then survived 
civil war, arrest, and torture at the hands of the 
US-supported military. In 1989, violence and 
death threats forced him to leave his homeland. 
Since arriving in the US, he has won acclaim and 
awards as an artist and also received a second 
Masters degree, in Marriage and Family Therapy 
from Pacific Oaks College, leading him to combine 
his training in psychology and the arts with 
lessons gained from life experience in his 
therapeutic work. As an activist, he uses 
theatrical performance as part of the movement 
to end torture and to change US policy in Latin 
America. His nonprofit organization, 
ImaginAction, taps the power of creativity in 
social justice programs throughout the US and 
around the world as far afield as Afghanistan, 
India, and Palestine for community building and 
reconciliation, strategizing, and individual healing 
and liberation.

Diane Lefer is an author, playwright, and 
activist whose most recent short-story collection, 
California Transit, was awarded the Mary 
McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and published by 
Sarabande Books. She is also the author of two 
other collections -- Very Much Like Desire and The 
Circles I Move In, as well as the novel, Radiant 
Hunger. Her fiction has been recognized by the 
National Endowment for the Arts, the New York 
Foundation for the Arts, the City of Los Angeles, 
and the Library of Congress. For 23 years she 
taught in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont 
College of Fine Arts and has been a guest artist at 
colleges, writing conferences and festivals. She 
has facilitated creative workshops for high school 
students, adjudicated youth in lockup and on 
probation, and children in the foster-care system. 
Diane's ongoing collaboration with Hector 
Aristizabal includes work for the stage and for 
the page, and social-justice action workshops. 
She is a frequent contributor of articles to LA 


"Here we have a 'must read' as the military base 
at Palanquero, Colombia is taken over by the 
United State Air Force. Hector personifies the 
suffering of the Colombian people. But the 
biophilic love of life overcomes the necrophilic 
love of death and power, as the victims of torture, 
the victims of crass and brutal violence, elevate 
their suffering by seeing the world through eyes 
that have not yet been born." -- Blase Bonpane, 
Director, Office of the Americas

"This aptly titled book draws a spiritual path to 
transcend physical and psychic wounds, whether 
they come from political persecution, domestic 
abuse, gang violence, exile, or poverty. In this 
remarkable and powerful personal narrative, 
Hector Aristizabal portrays his own 
transformation -- from a torture victim to a 
spiritual guide strong enough, artistic enough, 
and, ultimately, blessed enough, to lift other lost 
souls into the light." -- Sue William Silverman, 
author, Fearless Confessions and Because I 
Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You

"Psychologist, internationally known actor, 
human rights activist. Any of these vocations 
could be a life's work but Hector Aristizabal's 
life's work encompasses all three. Here is an 
intimate view of his coming of age in the complex 
and violent society of Medellin, Colombia, and 
how his experiences gave him insight and 
compassion faced with the complex and violent 
society he found as an immigrant to the U.S. I 
have witnessed just a small part of his work: 
bringing hope and healing to those who -- like 
him -- are survivors of torture. This book now 
offers his dramatic story along with his powerful 
ideas of healing, art, and advocacy to a wider 
audience." -- Jose Quiroga, M.D., founder and 
medical director, Program for Torture Victims

Hector Aristizabal grew up in the barrios of 
Medellin, Colombia, where he and his siblings 
had to use all their wit, wiles, and wherewithal to 
survive poverty, the ever-present allure of cheap 
drugs and very dangerous money, and the 
endemic violence from leftwing guerrillas, 
rightwing death squads, cocaine cartels, and the 
armed power of the State. As a young actor and 
psychology student, Hector was seized by the 
military, held in secret, and tortured. He survived 
and went on to find meaning in his ordeal as he 
channeled his desire for revenge into nonviolent 
activism both in his homeland and during 
decades of exile in the United States.

While challenging the State-sponsored causes of 
much suffering in the world, Hector reached out 
to some of society's most marginalized -- at-risk 
and incarcerated youth, immigrants, and many 
others -- using his theatrical skills and 
psychotherapeutic training to help people shape 
their own stories and identities. He sought to 
understand his own identity as well as that of one 
brother who was a revolutionary and another 
who was gay -- and how his belief in personal 
integrity and political freedom might square with 
the realities of a country under the yoke of toxic 
ideologies. Hector was forced finally to examine 
his own motivations and commitments, and begin 
to heal his own gaping wounds.

Shockingly honest, heartbreaking, and vibrantly 
told, The Blessing Next to the Wound is a 
passionate and evocative memoir that, amid 
enormous suffering and loss, is a full-throated 
affirmation of life.


By Joyce Wolf

Group 22 has committed to work on the case of 
human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (pronounced 
Gow Jir-sheng). Gao disappeared for a year after 
he was detained by police in China in February 
2009. He reappeared for a few weeks, but has 
been missing since 20 April.

The Asia section of the Amnesty blog posted an 
article on 18 October titled "Human Rights 
Activists in China Locked Up for Speaking Out". 
Along with recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu 
Xiaobo, Gao Zhisheng is one of the imprisoned 
activists featured in the article.

An October 23 report in 
states, "The brother of missing prominent Chinese 
rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng said Friday he had 
travelled to Beijing to ask police about his 
sibling's whereabouts but was turned back 
without any news." Gao Zhiyi is quoted as 
saying, "I came to Beijing to find out his 
whereabouts and to report his disappearance. The 
Beijing Public Security Bureau told me they 
needed two months to investigate and verify this 

We last wrote to the Director of the Beijing Public 
Security Bureau in July. Perhaps it's time to do so 
again and add our voices to Gao Zhiyi's inquiry 
about his brother. Here is a sample letter that you 
can use as a guide. Postage is 98 cents.

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. 

Although Gao was named one of the top 10 
lawyers in 2001 by China's Justice Department, in 
2005 the government revoked his license and sent 
him to jail for three years, during which time he 
reportedly was tortured. 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]

By Cheri Dellelo

Yale Pledges Yell Rape Chant

The Yale fraternity DKE is under fire for a 
pledging ritual. It's not what they did, but what 
they said. Sometime in the past few weeks, the 
pledges of Delta Kappa Epsilon's Phi chapter 
marched through Yale's campus chanting rape-
trivializing phrases such as "no means yes, yes 
means anal." in the area of the campus where 
most of the first-year female students are housed. 
In response, the Yale Women's Center 
immediately issued the following statement --
"This action by DKE has made public that they 
see rape as a joke or, worse, something they 
support. That these calls may have been made in 
jest should not distract from the fact that they 
incite violence." Jordan Forney, DKE president, 
predictably made a public apology, 
acknowledging that his fraternity's actions 
demonstrated "a lapse in judgment and [were] in 
poor taste." The Yale Daily News published a 
controversial article that made light of the assault 
and discredited the Women's Center, with 
statements such as, "Feminists at Yale should 
remember that, on a campus as progressive as 
ours, most of their battles are already won: All of 
us agree on gender equality. The provocateurs 
knew their audience's sensibilities and how to 
offend them for a childish laugh. They went too 
far. But the Women's Center should have known 
better than to paint them as misogynistic 
strangers and attackers among us, instead of 
members of our community. . . ." I find it difficult 
to believe that a newspaper on a campus "as 
progressive as" Yale's would fail to realize that 
rape is never appropriate joke material and that 
rapists are often not strangers but people we may 
know, "members of our community."

UN-Backed Troops 'Murdering and Raping 
Villagers' in Congo

UN-backed Congolese troops have been accused 
of murdering and raping villagers and looting 
homes in the area in which rebel militias carried 
out mass rapes two months ago. In August, 
details emerged of the mass rape of 303 
civilians -- 235 women, 13 men, 52 girls and three 
boys -- in 13 villages in the Walikale area in the 
eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Even in 
eastern Congo, which has been described as the 
"rape capital of the world," such numbers are 
extraordinary. The UN -- which had a base 20 
miles from the scene of the attacks -- admitted 
failing to protect the victims. It now faces further 
embarrassment because it provides logistical 
support to the Congolese army, which stands 
accused of compounding terror inflicted by the 
Rwandan-led FDLR rebels and the Congolese 
Mai-Mai militia. In response to the mass rapes, 
the Congo president, Joseph Kabila, ordered a 
moratorium on mining in the mineral-rich area and 
sent thousands of army troops to reassert 
government control. The UN is being urged to 
impose sanctions against a Rwandan Hutu rebel 
commander over the mass rapes. Sanctions could 
include a financial freeze and a travel ban. 
(Congo's eastern provinces are under siege by 
Rwandan Hutu insurgents and Mai-Mai militia 
who have lingered in the vast, mineral-rich zone 
since Congo's 1998-2003 war.)

International Community Broadens Efforts to 
Help Victims of Human Trafficking

The United Nations has estimated that more than 
2.4 million people are currently being exploited as 
victims of human trafficking. Every year, 
thousands of women and children are exploited 
by criminals for forced labor or in the sex trade. 
No country is immune. Almost all play a part, as 
countries of origin, transit, or destination.
Recently, the Group of Friends against Human 
Trafficking, a coalition of 20 countries, held its 
first ministerial meeting in New York to step up 
efforts against modern-day slavery. The Group 
has played an important role in supporting the 
United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat 
Trafficking in Persons. Adopted by the General 
Assembly in July 2010, the Plan urges 
Governments to take coordinated, comprehensive 
and consistent steps to combat such trafficking 
and to adopt a human rights-based approach. 
The Plan called for the setting up of a United 
Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of 
trafficking, especially women and children. The 
fund would help Governments, as well as 
intergovernmental and non-governmental 
organizations, to protect and support victims of 
human trafficking so that they can recover from 
their physical and psychological scars. It would 
also afford them legal and financial aid. UNODC 
is currently working towards the establishment of 
the fund.

The African Union Declares 2010-2020 the 
African Women's Decade

Heads of state and government gathered at the 
XII Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the 
African Union on October 15 and declared 2010-
2020 the African Women's Decade. The main goal 
of the Decade is to enhance the implementation of 
commitments related to gender equality and 
women's empowerment. The vision is that the 
activities undertaken during the Decade will 
result in tangible positive change for African 
women at all levels. Under the theme, 
"Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and 
Women's Empowerment," the Decade 
emphasizes a bottom-up approach to 
development. The African Union looks forward 
to women and entire communities seizing 
ownership of the Decade and using it to mobilize, 
to work with their governments and to build 
institutions that will contribute to the 
achievement of the objectives of the Decade. The 
Decade should is also intended to be an 
opportunity for sharing good practices, lessons 
learned, and effective strategies to promote 
gender equality and women's empowerment. 

Women in Liberia: Fighting for Peace 

Last month, I mentioned a documentary called 
Women in Liberia: Fighting for Peace that follows 
the epic journey of five Liberian women after the 
war in their county. I thought there were going to 
be screening dates or DVDs made available, but I 
wasn't able to find any information to that effect 
on the AI website. However, I was able to find 
what appears to be the entire documentary on 
YouTube. It's only 20 minutes long. Please take a 
look when you have a few moments -- 


The death penalty continues.  October 10 came 
and went, but we here in sunny SoCal were 
unable to join in any of the anti-death penalty 
activities.  Because of location difficulties, All 
Saints Church was unable to host an event.  While 
we may not have been physically present, many 
of our hearts were in attendance around the world.

We - the State - do continue to execute, but we - 
Amnesty members - also have some bright spots 
shining out there.

Albert Greenwood Brown, Jr.

Last month we were waiting to hear whether 
Albert Brown would be executed or not here in 
California.  In what seemed to me to be a weird 
series of events, we were told a judge in Marin 
County ruled the ban on executions still stood.  
Then that was not the case.  As the time for his 
execution neared, Mr. Brown was asked to decide 
if he wanted the one-drug injection or the three-
drug death via needle.  This reminded me of the 
'go cut a switch for your beating' request some 
people from my mother's generation faced.  Mr. 
Brown refused to make a choice.  As the days 
moved on, we were told the expiration date on 
the drugs passed so the execution was again on 
hold.  By the first week of October, supporters of 
the death penalty could give a sigh of relief as we 
were told that the State had restocked the death 
chamber shelves with the key execution drug.  
And Albert Brown?  He may meet his fate in 2011.

From the AIUSA website
Drug Company: Stop Using Our Product for Executions
Death Penalty, United States | Posted by: Brian 
Evans, September 24, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Hospira, is the lone US company that 
manufactures sodium thiopental, the anesthetic 
used in all lethal injections (both the three drug 
and the new one drug methods).  Today, the 
company sent a letter to all states urging them to 
stop using the drug for executions.
According to Ohio's The Dispatch, which 
obtained a copy of the letter, Hospira vice 
president Dr. Kees Groenhout wrote:
Hospira provides these products because they 
improve or save lives and markets them solely for 
use as indicated on the product labeling. As such, 
we do not support the use of any of our products 
in capital-punishment procedures.
There is a worldwide shortage of the drug, which 
is due, according to Hospira, to "manufacturing 
issues," so its continued use for killing, rather 
than for its intended medical use, is especially 
abhorrent.  With an execution scheduled in 
Georgia tonight, and many more scheduled 
through the end of the year, it remains to be seen 
how the states, including Ohio, will respond, or, if 
there is no response, what legal action Hospira 
could take.

Upcoming execution: Jeffrey Landrigan

October 26, 2010, Jeffery Landrigan is scheduled 
to die in the Arizona death chamber.  Two items 
are interesting in this case: evidence not used in 
his trial and the drug to be used in his execution.

Mr. Landrigan's lawyer had never handled a 
death penalty case before and did not introduce 
mitigating evidence.  This evidence included his 
organic brain damage from fetal alcohol 
syndrome, abuse at the hands of his adoptive 
mother, and a 1998 report from a 
neuropsychologist who concluded he was severely 
impaired.  The judge who sentenced Mr. 
Landrigan to death now says that if she had been 
aware of this evidence she would have had 'no 
choice' but to call for leniency.

Then there are the drugs that will be used on 
October 26 to execute Mr. Landrigan.  Arizona 
has "acquired the execution drug sodium 
thiopental from a non-FDA approved source."

By this time next month, we will know whether or 
not Mr. Landrigran has been executed.  For an 
online action, go to

Does the death penalty make us safer?

Back in the day of 2008, Jeanne Woodford, 
former warden of San Quentin, made it clear that 
the death penalty does not make us safer.  The 
money used for the death penalty in California 
("in excess of $200 million-a-year more than 
simply condemning people to life without the 
possibility of parole") could be better spent 
dealing with the societal problems that lead to 
homicides and solving homicides thus taking 
murderers off the streets.  As warden of San 
Quentin, Ms Woodford presided over four 
executions and after each one did not believe the 
world was a safer place.  She also noted that in 
no way is she soft on crime, but she would rather 
we use our resources to fight crime both before 
when youngsters are mistreated, abused and 
neglected and after when pursuing criminals.

Ms. Woodford concludes her 2008 article with, 
"To take a life in order to prove how much we 
value another life does not strengthen our society. 
It is a public policy that devalues our very being 
and detracts crucial resources from programs that 
could truly make our communities safe."  

To read the entire article, go to 

Is the Death Penalty 'cruel and unusual'?

I'd never thought much about what might make a 
punishment fill the bill of cruel and unusual 
according to the 8th Amendment.  According to 
an article on the AIUSA website, the fact that 
since 2004 nine out of 10 counties around the 
country have NOT employed the death penalty 
might just bring the cruel and unusual into 
discussion.  Below is a map of those counties that 
do go for the DP and all the blank space for those 
that do not.  Our great 'liberal' state of California 
is right up there with the southern USofA.


DNA evidence frees Jerry Hobbs

In Illinois, Jerry Hobbs had been in prison since 
2005 until DNA evidence showed that he did not 
murder his eight-year-old daughter and her nine-
year-old friend.  

Cameron Todd Willingham: an innocent man executed

In 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed 
for the death of his three children in a house fire.  
The case against Mr. Willingham was founded on 
what was labeled "junk science," but Governor 
Rick Perry, Texas, went ahead with Mr. 
Willingham's execution anyway.  Presently, Gov. 
Perry has delayed a court hearing into this case.  
Should Mr. Williams be found to have been 
falsely executed, this will be the first time an 
official in Texas, the nation's most active death 
penalty state, will admit someone was wrongfully 

Fate of Two Iranian Women

As far as I can tell after searching for information,  
Zeynab Jalalian and Sakineh Mohammadi 
Ashtiani, mentioned in last month's newsletter, 
are still alive.  For an interesting article on women 
and punishment, go to Damsels in Distress: Using 
Victimized Women as Political Ploys, The 
Huffington Post,

Noble Laureate Elie Wiesel speaks out against 
the death penalty

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel will address the death 
penalty at Wesleyan University in Middletown, 
Connecticut, on October 26, 2010.  Professor 
Wiesel spent his teen years in Auschwitz where 
his mother, father and sister died.  The lecture at 
Wesleyan will be the first time Wiesel has spoken 
out against the death penalty.  His lecture is titled 
"Building an Ethical Society: The Death Penalty 
and Human Dignity."

In an article in The Middletown Press, Professor 
Wiesel is quoted as saying, "With every cell of my 
being and with every fiber of my memory I oppose 
the death penalty in all forms.  I do not believe 
any civilized society should be at the service of 
death. I don't think it's human to become an agent 
of the Angel of Death."  

For any of us who have read Professor Wiesel's 
writing from his autobiographical Night onward, 
we know he has intimate knowledge of the Angel 
of Death used by the State.


23	Teresa Lewis            Virginia	
	lethal injection
27	Brandon Rhode           Georgia	
	lethal injection

6	Michael Benge           Ohio		
	lethal injection
14	Donald Wackerly         Oklahoma	
	lethal injection
21	Larry Wooten            Texas		
	lethal injection

Executions Stayed

29	Albert Brown            California

Gov. Schwartzenegger granted a one-day (up to 
45 hrs.) reprieve from 12:01 AM on Sept. 29 until 
9:00 PM on Sept. 30 to allow more time for 
appeals on the method of execution.  U.S. Dist. 
Ct. Judge Fogel stayed the execution further to 
allow time to review the state's new execution 
protocol and for the supply of a lethal injection 
drug to be renewed.  The state Supreme Court 
said that review of new execution protocols did 
not have to be completed before the state's 
supply of lethal injection drugs expired, thus 
further insuring a stay of executions until 2011.

14	Gayland Bradford        Texas

Stayed by Justice Antonin Scalia to give 
Bradford's lawyers more time to file a full appeal 
on the constitutional issues surrounding his 
conviction and sentence based on claims that 
Bradford is mentally disabled.

16	Jeffery Matthews        Oklahoma

Federal District Court judge cited the utter 
confusion on the part of the state in deciding 
which sedative drug to use as part of the lethal 
injection.  Matthews stay was continued until 
Nov. 20, at which time a new date might be set.

19	Kenneth Hairston        Pennsylvania
20	Cletus Rivera           Pennsylvania
20	Roderick Nunley         Missouri

Federal District Court issued a stay to decide if 
Nunley was entitled to a jury for sentencing. State 
is appealing the stay.

21	Jerry Chambers          Pennsylvania

Life Without Parole

28	Gaile Owens             Tennessee


UA's    19
To add your letters to the total contact                                                                                                        

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