Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIX Number 11, November-December 2011


Thursday, December 1, 7:30 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. (Normally the 4th Thursday of every 
month, but moved up for Thanksgiving.) We 
meet at the Caltech Y (505 South Wilson Ave), 
in the Living Room. (This is just south of the 
corner with San Pasqual. Signs will be posted.) 
We will be planning our activities for the 
coming months. Please join us! Refreshments 

Saturday, December 10, 9 AM - 4 PM.	 
Global Human Rights Write-a-Thon, at 
Zephyr Cafe, 2419 E. Colorado Blvd, 
Pasadena. (Tel. 626-793-7330) This is part of 
a global effort by Amnesty International to 
commemorate Human Rights Day (10 Dec). 
Please join us to write cards to victims of 
human-rights abuses all over the world, but 
also to engage in friendly conversation and 
enjoy the delicious food at Zephyr Cafˇ. (This 
replaces our normal December letter-writing 
session on the 2nd Tuesday of the month.)

Saturday, December 17, 6:30 PM.  Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group. 
(Normally the 3rd Sunday of every month, but 
changed to suit members' holiday schedules.) 
This month we discuss "After the Quake: 
Stories" by Haruki Murakami. Vroman's 
Bookstore, our usual meeting place, is not 
available for us in December, so we will meet 
at a private residence: 187 South Catalina 
Ave., Unit 2, Pasadena. Call 626-795-1785 or 
email for more 


Hi all --

Kathy's schedule prevented her from writing the 
column this time, so I'm doing it instead.

This past month has been a busy one for Group 
22. During the first weekend of November we 
had the Western Regional Conference at the 
Sheraton Hotel near LAX.  About 8 members of 
our group attended part or all of it. It was very 
successful, with over 500 attendees.  Some of 
the highlights for me were a very enlightening 
panel on migrant rights, a fascinating workshop 
on "AI around the world", led by the Chair of 
AIUSA's board of directors, Carole Nagengast, 
and some outstanding speakers at several 
plenaries.  Notable among the latter were Palden 
Gyatso, a Tibetan monk who was imprisoned 
for 33 years by the Chinese and whose 
autobiography our book group read back in 
2001;  Melissa Roxas, active in health care for 
the poor, who was detained and tortured by the 
Philippine army;  and the three hikers who were 
imprisoned by Iran for up to 2 years, the last 
having been released just last September:  Sarah 
Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.  All gave 
very moving accounts of their experiences, which 
were not only very informative, but also very 
inspiring in their messages about the need to 
avoid becoming embittered by their experiences 
and to forgive those who had inflicted suffering 
upon them.

During the following week, we had a very well 
attended letter-writing meeting in the 
Athenaeum and a table at Caltech's Community 
Service and Advocacy Fair.  The week after that 
was our book group, where we discussed The 
Honor Code by Kwame Appiah.  Again, the 
attendance was way higher than usual, and the 
discussion was very interesting, as the book was 
liked by all and contained much new material to 

This coming month will be a bit less energetic, 
but there will be our Human Rights Day Write-a-
thon at the Zephyr Cafe on Dec. 10.  I hope 
many of you will attend!


Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Saturday, Dec. 17, 6:30 PM Pasadena 
(Location details are in Upcoming Events)

(from The New York Times)
By Jeff Giles
Published: August 18, 2002

After the Quake: Stories
By Haruki Murakami

Translated by Jay Rubin.
181 pp. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf. $21.

Haruki Murakami's surreal, metaphysical 
detective novel, ''The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle'' 
(1997), was a sort of test of his readers' 
allegiance: when a character spends 50 pages 
just sitting at the bottom of a well and trying to 
clear his head, you're either in or you're out. The 
novel turned out to be the author's most 
transfixing work, its prose as plain-spoken as 
ever but its appetites surprisingly epic and dark, 
particularly for a book about a guy trying to find 
his cat. Murakami has released three slim novels 
here in the last few years, if you count the long-
delayed American publication of 1987's 
''Norwegian Wood.'' All of them were moving in 
their way. None were entirely nourishing. Given 
the scope of ''The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,'' the 
minor-key love stories felt like subplots that had 
sneaked out of town under cover of darkness 
and were trying to make a go of it alone.

Murakami's new book, ''After the Quake,'' is 
unexpectedly powerful, a collection of stories, 
slender and small as a hand, about the 
emotional aftershocks of the 1995 earthquake in 
Kobe. Murakami has said that he considers 
himself a novelist above and beyond all else, 
telling his translator and biographer, Jay Rubin, 
''I think it's important to write short stories, and 
I enjoy doing so, but I believe strongly that if you 
take away my novels, there is no me.'' Pay no 
attention to that man behind the curtain. Even if 
''After the Quake'' had nothing to say about 
Murakami, which it certainly does, I'd gladly 
settle for what it says about us.

Kobe lies in western Japan, a considerable 
distance from the country's twitchiest fault lines, 
and was always thought to be fairly safe as far 
as earthquakes were concerned. But at 5:46 on a 
Tuesday morning in January, a quake struck 
nonetheless, causing tens of thousands of old 
blue and brown tile roofs to fall in, killing more 
than 4,000 people and leaving nearly 300,000 
homeless, including Murakami's parents. It took 
20 seconds. I'm laying all this out, like a sixth 
grader's oral report, because it will be hard for 
Americans to read ''After the Quake'' without 
taking the earthquake as a metaphor for the 
attack on the World Trade Center. It's worth 
remembering that Murakami wrote these stories 
before Sept. 11, and that he wrote them not 
because he'd gotten his hands on a nifty literary 
device but because his homeland had taken a 
traumatizing shock to the system.

The six stories in ''After the Quake'' are all set in 
February 1995, a month after the earthquake 
and a month before cult members carried out a 
sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway. Which is 
to say that Murakami has chosen to freeze in 
time the moment when Japan was staggering 
away from the scene of one tragedy and, 
unknowingly, toward another. (The twin 
disasters moved the author himself to return to 
Japan after years of self-imposed exile in the 
United States and write the nonfiction book 
''Underground.'' Rubin investigates the 
intersection of the author's life and art in a lively 
and eccentric new critical study called ''Haruki 
Murakami and the Music of Words.'') The 
characters in ''After the Quake'' all live at a safe 
remove from Kobe, but the shock waves reach 
them daily via the newspaper and television. 
The opening story, ''U.F.O. in Kushiro,'' concerns 
Komura, a stereo salesman and a familiar 
Murakami hero in the sense that he's so 
straightforward, so decent -- ultimately so plain 
-- that weirdness seems drawn to him like a 
storm looking for a low-pressure area. For five 
days, Komura's wife watches earthquake 
reports around the clock, barely eating, never 
speaking. On the sixth day, she walks out on 
him, leaving a note that reads: ''The problem is 
that you never give me anything. Or, to put it 
more precisely, you have nothing inside that you 
can give me. You are good and kind and 
handsome, but living with you is like living with 
a chunk of air.'' What happens next is a classic 
bit of deadpan Murakami strangeness: Komura 
agrees to deliver a box for a friend and only 
after he's passed it along does he think to 
wonder what was inside. In the end, the mystery 
drives him close to violence. The box, 
presumably, is a symbol for Komura himself. 
Either it contains his soul, and he's just handed 
it to a stranger -- or it's been empty all along.

Murakami has always been drawn to characters 
who feel empty inside -- if you take away my 
novels, there is no me -- and the earthquake has 
only heightened their sense of dislocation. 
''Landscape With Flatiron'' is a melancholy story 
about a young woman and a middle-aged 
painter who apparently abandoned his wife and 
children in Kobe. The pair make hypnotic 
bonfires on a beach, form a bond and trade 
fears until, one night, the artist says: ''I don't 
know. We could die together. What do you 
say?'' ''Super-Frog Saves Tokyo'' is a wild story 
about a six-foot-tall frog who appears in the 
home of an ordinary bank officer named Mr. 
Katagiri. The frog tells Katagiri that he needs his 
aid in the battle against an enormous worm that 
lives beneath Tokyo and is planning to unleash a 
crippling earthquake. ''Super-Frog'' is such an 
engaging mix of realism and fantasy (''I am a 
genuine frog. Shall I croak for you?'') that it 
takes a while for you to realize what a sad 
undertow the story has and how much it says 
about Katagiri's solitary life, his feelings of 
powerlessness and his dread of another quake. I 
mean, unless there really was a six-foot frog. 
With Murakami, you never know.

The final story in ''After the Quake,'' ''Honey 
Pie,'' comes closest to spelling out Murakami's 
message, which, with apologies to Rilke, is 
something along the lines of: you must change 
your life, if you can even call it a life. An 
agonizingly passive writer named Junpei gets a 
second chance to marry a woman he's never 
once stopped thinking about. Astonishingly, he 
equivocates. Then the earthquake hits: ''He 
hadn't set foot on those streets since his 
graduation, but still, the sight of the destruction 
laid bare raw wounds hidden somewhere deep 
inside him. . . . Junpei felt an entirely new sense 
of isolation. I have no roots, he thought. I'm not 
connected to anything.'' Junpei's attempt to seize 
the day -- and the woman -- is fraught and 
painful and enormously affecting.

Yes, Murakami wrote these stories before Sept. 
11. Still, he must know how ''After the Quake'' 
will resonate in the United States. The collection 
was published in Japan as ''All God's Children 
Can Dance,'' but he changed the title for the 
English translation. One sliver of what makes 
the book so moving is the sense that on some 
level it is Murakami's deeply felt get-well card.

About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born January 12, 1949 in 
Kyoto, Japan. The son of two teachers of 
Japanese literature, Murakami grew up in Kobe, 
Japan, reading Western authors and listening to 
Western music. He attended Waseda University 
in Tokyo, where he studied theater and worked 
at a record shop. Before he graduated, he had 
opened a coffeehouse/jazz bar in Tokyo with 
his wife, Yoko, which they ran for seven years, 
from 1974 to 1981.

In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, 
Murakami recalls the exact moment in the Spring 
of 1978 when, lying on the grass at a Yakult 
Swallows baseball game in Jingu Stadium, it 
occurred to him for the first time to write a 

By Autumn, Murakami had written a 200-page 
novel entitled Hear the Wind Sing, which he 
entered into a new writers contest at a literary 
magazine. He won the contest, and his novel 
was published. He followed in 1980 with a 
second novel, entitled Pinball, 1973. Both novels 
were nominated for the Akutagawa Prize, and 
with this initial writing success, Murakami sold 
his club and devoted himself full-time to writing 
novels. In 1982, he published A Wild Sheep 
Chase, the third novel in his "Trilogy of the Rat."

In 1987 Murakami published Norwegian Wood, 
a bestseller in Japan. In 1995 he wrote the 
Yomiuri Prize-winning novel, The Wind-Up Bird 
Chronicle. Kafka on the Shore (2006) won 
Murakami the Czech Republic's Franz Kafka 

In 2011, Murakami released the English 
translation of 1Q84 (One Q Eighty-Four or ichi-
kew-hachi-yon), a 1,000 page epic work of 
magical realism that was originally published in 
three separate volumes to accolades in Japan.
Murakami is known for his blending of the 
fantastic realism in his novels, and it's this 
magical realism, in combination with his flowing 
use of language, that gives his novels an ethereal, 
dreamlike quality.

Murakami is also a devoted marathon runner, 
and he writes about both writing and running in 
his 2008 work of nonfiction, What I Talk About 
When I Talk About Running. Newcomers to his 
Murakami's fiction may want to start with 
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 
Murakami's the most surreal of Murakami's 
novels and widely regarded as his best.

by Stevi Carroll

This month blew by.  My shyness makes me 
about the worst signature gather for the SAFE 
campaign.  I'm hopeful we, as a group, will be 
able to help out with this.  The Amnesty 
Western Regional Conference made me realize 
how many of us there are who care about human 
rights.  The young people who attended made 
my heart leap with joy because I know they will 
carry on with the good fight as I wind down 
over the years.

Rais Bhuiyan

Rais Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi Muslim, was shot 
and blinded by Mark Stroman shortly after the  
September 11, 2001, when criminals crashed jets 
in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a 
field in Pennsylvania.  During his shooting spree, 
Mr. Stroman killed two other men he thought 
were Muslims.  He was caught, tried, convicted 
and sentenced to death.

Prior to Mr. Stroman's execution, Mr. Bhuiyan 
completed the hajj to Mecca.  As he prayed, he 
decided he needed to do something to help 
lessen the hatred in the world.  When he 
returned, he contacted Mr. Stroman and worked 
to have Texas grant him clemency.  His plea fell 
on deaf ears, and on July 20, 2011, the state of 
Texas carried out Mr. Stroman's execution.  
Before he died, Mr. Stroman told Mr. Bhuiyan, 
"Hate brings a lifetime of pain."

Mr. Bhuiyan now spends his life working for a 
world without hate, including the death penalty.  
A video is available at Rais Bhuiyan - World 
Without Hate

Execution in Idaho

Idaho hasn't executed anyone for 17 years until 
the 18th of November with the execution of Paul 
Rhoades.  According to Idaho Governor C. L. 
"Butch" Otter "(t)he State of Idaho has done its 
best to fulfill this most solemn responsibility 
with respect, professionalism and most of all 
dignity for everyone involved."

The Amnesty International USA website states 
that many other inmates wrote letters requesting 
clemency because Mr. Rhoades helped them look 
at their lives and 'turn away from violence.'  Rob 
Freer, Amnesty International's USA researcher 
said, "The death penalty rejects any notion of 
reconciliation or rehabilitation, labeling the 
condemned prisoner as an object to be toyed 
with and discarded. This is a punish-ment that 
offers no constructive solutions to violent 

Execution in Oregon

Just as Oregon was about to break its 14-year 
hiatus of state-sponsored murder December 6 
with the execution of Gary Haugen, Governor 
John Kitzhaber announced he will allow no more 
executions in the state as long as he is governor.

In the comment thread following one of the 
articles I read about this announcement, some 
people expressed caustic comments disparaging 
the governor's change of thought.

When 26 states outlaw the death penalty, it will 
then be considered 'unusual' and will be open 
for national review.

SAFE California

As I said earlier, I am the wimpiest person in the 
world to collect signatures on petitions.  Now 
with that said, if each of us have a petition in 
hand, we can ask for people we know to 
consider the issue and perhaps sign on the line.  
Two women I've asked about it, both of whom 
did sign the petition, said they'd heard nothing 
about the initiative and were glad to know 
something is being done.  I have petitions to 
share and more information is available at SAFE 
California - Savings Accountability Full 
Enforcement. .

Saudi Arabia

I have concentrated completely on the death 
penalty in the USA, and of course, we know 
that while 139 countries have abolished the 
death penalty, others continue.  Since Saudi 
Arabia is the USA's ally, I thought I'd see 
what's been up with that country's death 

As many of us know, the method of execution in 
Saudi Arabia is public beheading.  On October 
6, 2011, eight Bangladeshi nationals were 
beheaded for killing an Egyptian man in 2007. 
The eight men executed were Ma'mun Abdul 
Mannan, Faruq Jamal, Sumon Miah, Mohammed 
Sumon, Shafiq al-Islam, Mas'ud Shamsul Haque, 
Abu al-Hussain Ahmed, Mutir al-Rahman.

Apparently in Saudi Arabia, the condemned 
person can pay blood money to the family of the 
victim but many of the convicted prisoners do 
not have the money to do this.  They could also 
secure a pardon by having connections which 
they also lack.  

By October, 58 people had been executed in 
Saudi Arabia causing the UN to call for a 
moratorium on executions in that country.  So 
far as of this writing, six more executions have 
been carried out.

To read more on this, go to

Stays of Execution

9	John Lesko		Pennsylvania
	Hank Skinner		Texas
10	Anthony Juniper		Virginia

Executions 2011

27	Frank Garcia		39
	Texas			Lethal Injection

15	Reginald Brooks		66
	Ohio			Lethal Injection

15	Oba Chandler		65
	Florida			Lethal Injection

16	Guadalupe Esparza	46
	Texas			Lethal Injection

18	Paul Rhoades		54
	Idaho			Lethal Injection

Gao Zhisheng
by Joyce Wolf

Each month as I begin to write this column, I do 
a Google search for news about Gao Zhisheng. 
Nearly always there is something new, usually 
an organization or an American or European 
official issuing a public appeal to the Chinese 
government to find and free human rights lawyer 
Gao Zhisheng. It has been encouraging to learn of 
these many efforts on behalf of our group's 
adopted prisoner of conscience. Today, 
however, my reaction to the search results was 
"No! Please, no!"

The Epoch Times reported on November 24,
"Twitter Post Claims Gao Zhisheng Is Dead: An 
unconfirmed report of human rights lawyer Gao 
Zhisheng's death has been posted to China's 
Internet. On Nov. 17 a netizen with the screen 
name GuaDai posted a message on Twitter 
saying 'It is believed that Gao Zhisheng passed 
away on Nov. 15 in Inner Mongolia where he 
was detained. Man will die eventually, and to 
die for the sake of freedom, although dead, he is 
still with us in spirit.' "

The twitter post has not been confirmed. Gao's 
family has not received any official notice of his 
death. On NDTV Beijing activist Hu Jia said he 
believes that Gao is still alive and urged the 
international community and human rights 
organizations to "keep paying attention to Gao 
Zhisheng's disappearance case and keep putting 
pressure on Chinese authorities."

Please join us at our Dec. 10 Write-a-thon and 
help us follow Hu Jia's suggestion. We'll hope 
for better news next month about Gao Zhisheng.


UAs    28
POC     2
Total  30

To add your letters to the total contact

Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code C1-128
Pasadena, CA 91125

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake 
research and action focused on preventing and 
ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and 
mental integrity, freedom of conscience and 
expression, and freedom from discrimination, 
within the context of its work to promote all 
human rights.