Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XIX Number 9, September 2011


Thursday, September 22, 7:30 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. Note new location, at private home (this 
month only). Help us plan future actions on 
Sudan, the 'War on Terror', death penalty and 
more.  Call 626-795-1785 for more information.

Tuesday, October 11, 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, October 16, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This month 
we read "Your Republic is Calling You" by Young 


Hi everyone

This month we have omitted the Violence Against 
Women section and substituted information on the 
Western Regional Conference that is happening 
near LAX Nov 4-6.  Cheri is out of town and I've been 
so exhausted from the first weeks of school that I 
haven't had time to find anything on VAW.   I did 
get some actions on Troy Davis, who is scheduled to 
be executed this week, from my email and have 
included them in this newsletter.

Con cario, Kathy

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday, October 16, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard
 In Pasadena

Your Republic Is Calling You
By Kim Young-ha

About the Author
Born in 1968, Kim Young-ha kicked off his writing 
career with his first novel "I have the right to 
destroy myself", which won him the much-coveted 
Munhak-dongne prize in 1996. Since then, he has 
gained a reputation as the most talented and 
prolific Korean writer of his generation, publishing 
five novels and four collections of short stories.

Kim's novels and stories focus on articulating a new 
mode of sensitivity to life's thrills and horrors as 
experienced by Koreans in the ever-changing context 
of a modern, globalized culture. In his search for a 
literary style, as is often the case with 
internationally renowned post-modern novelists, 
Kim attempts to embark on exhilarating and 
provoking crossing of the boundaries of high and low 
genres of narratives. His historical novel "Black 
Flower" tells the story of the first generation of the 
Korean diaspora forced into slave labor in a 
Mexican plantation and later involved in a Pancho 
Villa-led military uprising in a style. Sources of 
inspiration for this novel came from classical 
"Bildungsroman", stories of sea trips as illustrated 
by the popular film Titanic, ethnography of 
religion, as well as Korean histories of exile and 
immigration. Another instance of Kim's fabulously 
mixed style is found in "The Empire of Light", his 
fourth novel, in which he raises the question of 
human identity in a democratic and consumerist 
Korean society by presenting a North Korean spy 
and his family in Seoul in the manner of a crime 
fiction combined with a truncated family saga and 
naturalist depiction of everyday life. The novel was 
published in the United States under a different 
title, "Your Republic Is Calling You" in 2010.

Each of Kim's novels has received acclaims from 
both critics and readers alike, and most have earned 
him major awards. In 2004--his "grand slam" year--
he won three of the most prestigious literary prizes 
in Korea. With some 20 of his novels and stories 
being translated into more than 10 languages, he has 
begun to be recognized by critics overseas as well as 
in his country as representative of a literary 
breakthrough that occurred in the wake of 
democratization and post-industrialization in 
South Korea.

Kim began to earn his international recognition 
with a French translation of his first novel, "I have 
the right to destroy myself", which was published 
by Philippe Picquier in February 1998; the novel is 
set to be published in nine other languages, including 
English and German. A French version of "The 
Empire of Light" came out early in 2009 and gained 
favorable attention from such leading newspapers 
as Le Monde and Liberation.

As a young Korean master of storytelling, Kim is 
especially popular with Korean film directors, who 
have found in his works to be a repository of plots 
and characters that make for superb film-making. 
Two films have already been based on his fiction, 
and the cinematic adaptation of The Empire of 
Light is currently in progress. His latest novel, The 
Quiz Show, was also made into a musical in 2009.
Kim previously worked as a professor in the Drama 
School at Korean National University of Arts and 
on a regular basis hosted a book-themed radio 
program. In autumn 2008, he resigned all his jobs to 
devote himself exclusively to writing.

Currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University 
in the City of New York, he lives in New York City, 


A Kafkaesque Spy Thriller Straddles Two Koreas 
by John Powers

September 30, 2010 
When I was growing up, there was no more famous 
symbol of the Cold War than the Berlin Wall. But 
in fact, the Wall could never really compare to the 
demilitarized zone that divides North and South 
Korea. Still going strong after 57 years, it has 
created a parallel reality worthy of Philip K. Dick.

By now, most people know that North Korea may 
the strangest country on Earth - an Orwellian 
dystopia complete with starving citizens, nuclear 
weapons, a goofball dictator, and public displays 
seemingly choreographed by Busby Berkeley. But in 
the West, it's less well known that South Korea is a 
booming modern democracy with an infrastructure 
more advanced than our own. It's also an outward-
looking cultural player. Even as South Korea's TV 
soaps dominate Asia, it also boasts one of the 
world's most exciting movie cultures - it had five 
films at Cannes last May.

From the outside, the split between the Koreas is 
usually seen in terms of geopolitical menace. But 
from the inside, it's lived as a bizarre form of 
identity crisis. This is precisely the subject of Your 
Republic Is Calling You, a smart new literary thriller 
by Young-ha Kim, who at 41 is one of South Korea's 
best and most worldly writers, with a knack for 
Kafkaesque surrealism and irony.

Taking place over a single day, the novel tells the 
story of Ki-yong, who seems to be an ordinary, 
middle-class guy in his 40s. He imports foreign films 
and has an attractive wife, Ma-ri, who sells VWs, 
and a brainy daughter who is just discovering boys. 
But Ki-yong has a secret: He's a North Korean spy 
who has been sleeping with the enemy for the past 
two decades. And on this day, he gets a chilling 
message from his masters back in Pyongyang: He has 
24 hours to liquidate everything and return home.  
Terrified, Ki-yong doesn't know whether he's been 
found out by the South Korean authorities or 
whether the North is calling him back to liquidate 

Unsure whether to go back, Ki-yong spends the day 
wandering around Seoul and remembering his time 
there, basking in what he calls "premature 
nostalgia" for the city he may be leaving. He 
doesn't have a clue that Ma-ri also has secrets - 
she's trying to decide whether to partake in a 
threesome with her young lover.

Fueled by paranoia, Your Republic Is Calling You 
pulls you along like a thriller, yet Kim is after more 
than suspense. A keenly observant writer, he turns 
his story into an amusingly bleak X-ray of present-
day South Korea that's as interested in Bart 
Simpson as in Kim Jong Il. Along the way, we meet a 
huge array of sharply drawn social types - 
comedians and tax cheats, porn addicts and 
schoolteachers, spoiled college kids and former 
student radicals like Ma-ri who find their 
generational dreams of national reunification 
curdling into desperate adulteries. She wonders how 
it all went wrong.

Nobody is more lost than Ki-yong, whom we see 
living in three different countries. He spends his 
first 21 years in North Korea being force-fed 
ideology, eventually training to be a spy in a crazy 
underground simulacrum of Seoul. The second country 
is '80s South Korea, starting to prosper but not yet 
democratic - it was exploding with protests like 
the American '60s. The third country is today's go-
go South Korea, devoured by a run-amok selfishness 
and materialism that Ki-yong both enjoys and holds 
in contempt. Adapting to these very different 
realities, Ki-yong feels less like a spy than a 
cyborg, one programmed to adopt whichever self the 
society of the moment demands.

He feels trapped, and so do those around him. 
Although South Korea is wealthier and freer than 
ever before, the novel suggests that the country's 
apparent freedom is far from liberating. Like the 
Berglund family in Jonathan Franzen's new novel, 
Freedom, its characters wind up buffeted by confusion 
and regret, boundless yearning and fierce isolation.

It would spoil things to say what Ki-yong winds up 
doing, but suffice it to say that, by the end, he and 
Ma-ri have gained a cruel wisdom. They discover 
that the choices they think they're making freely 
aren't really free after all. In fact, they are hostage 
to forces - personal, historical and existential  
that they can't control and don't fully understand. 
They're adrift. Children of a fractured republic, 
they forever hear something calling them back 
home, but they don't know where home is.

Gao Zhisheng

by Joyce Wolf

China is proposing changes to its laws that would 
legalize enforced disappearances such as that of 
human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Group 22's 
adopted prisoner of conscience, who has been missing 
since April 2010.

According to an L.A. Times article of Aug. 28, current 
Chinese law permits someone suspected of a crime 
but not formally charged to be put under house arrest 
for six months. The change would apply to special 
cases involving national security or corruption and 
would allow the place of detention to be a secret 
location, not a police station or a regular detention 

The New York Times put the matter succinctly: 
"China is answering complaints by rights activists 
that the disappearances ... are unlawful and 
potentially inhumane: It is rewriting the national 
criminal procedure code to make them legal."

Some other proposed changes to the legal code are 
actually encouraging. The use of evidence obtained 
by torture would be barred, and most criminal 
suspects would have an unqualified right to see a 
lawyer. All the proposed changes are under review 
and are expected to be approved by the National 
People's Congress by the end of September.

Activists are concerned that suspects held in secret 
locations that are not lawfully supervised places of 
detention would be at great risk of torture.

 The N.Y. Times article concluded, "Many of China's 
disappeared eventually resurface, some showing 
signs of having undergone arduous treatment while 
in captivity. Others have vanished without 
explanation for extended periods, including the 
Nobel Prize winning writer and dissident Liu 
Xiaobo, who vanished for six months in 2008 and 
2009. And some do not return at all, like the 
prominent human-rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who 
has not been heard from since he disappeared in 
April 2010."

International Day of the Disappeared was August 
30, but you can still do Amnesty's online action for 
Gao Zhisheng by clicking


Dear Amnesty Family,
The Global Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis kicked 
off in Hong Kong last night and events are 
happening in over 300 cities around the world to lift 
up the case of Troy Davis. Thank you for your role in 
making this happen!

Over 663,000 petitions were delivered in Georgia 
yesterday, and today Amnesty and our allies will be 
marching down historic Auburn Avenue in Atlanta 
at 6pm to Dr. King's church, Ebenezer Baptist.  At 
the 7pm Prayer Service at Ebenezer, Larry Cox will 
be speaking along with Ben Jealous, Andy Young, 
Rev. Sharpton, death row exonerees, a murder 
victim family member and Georgia clergy and 
lawmakers. Three buses from Savannah, one from 
Columbus, GA, four from North Carolina and a group 
from Chicago will be coming into the city to be part 
of this witness. The thunderous chorus in support of 
clemency for Troy is being heard loudly and clearly 
in Atlanta and around the world!

Troy Davis sent this message via phone to Seattle 

"I want to personally thank each and every one of 
you... You lift my spirits everyday single day. 
When I wake up and feel helpless, I thank God 
there are people like you taking on My Cause. I am 
asking you to do this for me on September 16th, raise 
your voice LOUD because I cannot. Raise your voice so 
VERY LOUD that you are heard all the way here 
to Georgia... Raise your voice for me, for my 

What we need now is for everyone to take this new 
online action directed at Larry Chisolm, the 
District Attorney for Chatham County, Georgia. 
Please share the action with your networks and 
groups, and keep up to date on Amnesty's blog and 
Twitter using the hashtag #toomuchdoubt.

In solidarity,
Rini Chakraborty
Western Regional Director
Amnesty International USA



Amnesty West invites you to attend the 2011 
Western Regional Conference. Join hundreds of 
human rights activists from across the region in 
sunny California for expert panel discussions, skills-
building workshops, and networking with leaders 
from across the Western region. Find out more today!

This year's conference theme, Human Rights for All: 
One Movement, One World, underscores the 
momentous human rights victories and struggles of 
the past year and spotlights the growing grassroots 
movement to fight human rights abuses around the 
world. Over 500 committed Amnesty activists from 
across the thirteen Western states are expected to 
converge in Los Angeles to participate in skills-
building and content-focused workshops, expert 
panel discussions, and direct actions for human 
rights. The conference will feature prominent human 
rights defenders and leaders in the field who will 
discuss the most pressing human rights concerns of 
today: the uprisings in the Middle East and North 
Africa, the growing movement to abolish the death 
penalty; protecting migrant rights; ending poverty; 
the torture debate; and much more. The conference 
will also include a special human rights track with 
partners and allies in the broader human rights 
community. Register for the conference today and 
visit this site for more information about content, 
Ideas Fair, group sales, subsidies, and more.


by Stevi Carroll

Troy Davis

Despite a worldwide campaign to save him from 
execution, Troy Davis is scheduled to die September 
21, 2011. He has exhausted his appeals and the 
courts say he has not proven his innocence.  The 
recantation of seven defense witnesses was 
considered inconsequential.  Amnesty International's 
position is "Given the doubts that persist in this 
case, the Board cannot in good conscience allow this 
execution to go ahead," said Amnesty 
International's USA researcher Rob Freer. 
"While we oppose all executions whatever the 
state's case, even ardent proponents of this 
irrevocable punishment should be troubled by the 
state of the evidence against Troy Davis." 
Photo: James Clark, ACLU and Los Angeles Country 
Coalition for Death Penalty Alternatives, June 22, 

Rick Perry

At the Republican debate September 7, 2011, Rick 
Perry was asked by moderator Brian Williams if he 
loses sleep over the many executions, 234 on that 
date, carried out during his governorship.  Mr.  Perry 
said, "I've never struggled with that at all."  The 
audience response was resounding applause.  

The case of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed on 
February 17, 2004, would make most of us toss and 
turn during our dream time.  In August 1992, Mr. 
Willingham was convicted of murdering his three 
young children in a house fire.  He was offered a life 
sentence if he confessed to the crime.  He declined 
because he said he was innocent. 

Before Mr. Willingham's execution, questions about 
his guilt were raised when Dr. Gerald Hurst, an 
arson expert, wrote a report that stated there was 
serious doubt about credence of arson in the fire that 
killed Mr. Willingham's children.  The Governor's 
Office and the Board of Pardons and Paroles ignored 
this analysis.  In 2005, the Texas Forensic Science 
Commission hired Craig Beyler, a nationally known 
fire scientist, to evaluate this case.  His findings 
agreed that there was no credible scientific basis for 
the conclusion that arson had been committed. In 
October 2009,  Mr. Beyler was to appear before the 
Texas Forensic Science Commission with his 
findings, but Governor Perry stopped it two days 

As the applause replayed in his mind, I'm sure Mr. 
Perry snuggled into a sound sleep this past 
September 7.  September 13, 2011, Steven Woods 
became the 235th person executed in Texas during 
Mr. Perry's governorship. His was the 10th 
execution in Texas this year.  Three additional 
executions are scheduled in Texas this month, 
September 15, 20, 21.

SB 490

On August 25, 2011, state Senator Loni Hancock (D-
Oakland) withdrew SB 490 from consideration by 
the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  Despite 
the appearance of former Attorney General John 
Van de Kamp and Law Professor Laurie Levenson in 
support of the bill before the Committee, the votes 
were not there to move it out and onto the floor.

What this means for death penalty opponents in 
California is a petition drive to garner enough 
signatures to get an initiative on the November 2012 
ballot.  As I said last month, this initiative would 
not abolish the death penalty but make district 
attorneys try cases with the harshest sentence of 
life without possibility of parole.  When I know 
more about how to get involved in the initiative 
effort, I will let you know.

Manuel Valle

Last month Manuel Valle, a foreign national, was 
granted a stay of execution for a hearing on the new 
use of a drug, pentobarbital. The Florida Supreme 
Court then allowed his execution to go forward.  He 
had an additional brief stay because a federal 
appeals court in Atlanta wanted to see if he should 
have have received a clemency hearing.  His current 
date for execution is September 28, 2011; although, 
he does still have a case in the Jacksonville federal 
court and an appeal awaiting decision before the U. 
S. Supreme Court.

Stays of Execution

September 2011
Scheduled date of execution	
	Name				State
13	Joel Schmeiderer		Tennessee
20	Billy Slagle (until 2013)	Ohio


September 2011
13	Steven Woods			Texas


UAs                                    15 
DP(Troy Davis)                         8 
Total                                  22

To add your letters to the total contact

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