Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XX Number 4, April 2012


UPCOMING EVENTS

Thursday, April 26, 7:30 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. (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 provided.

Tuesday, May 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, May 20, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "The Wayfinders: Why 
Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern 
World" by Wade Davis.


COORDINATOR'S CORNER

Hi All

Kathy is having a tough time dealing with the 
recent passing of her mother, so we are writing 
the column this month.

Last month's book, The Tiger's Wife, had a very 
small discussion group, a bit surprising for such 
a popular book.  Most of our group was not too 
thrilled with it, though. [I loved it!  Joyce, 
newsletter editor for this month]

Things have been quiet recently in AI-land, 
except for the AGM in Denver, CO -- see the 
separate report below.  Joyce and I (Lucas) took 
the train there, a 25-hour trip that involved 
much reading, watching the great scenery and 
good dining.  Sleeping was a bit tough, though.  
Downtown Denver turns out to be quite 
attractive, with a dedicated pedestrian area and 
some good restaurants.

Group 22 is skipping the Doo Dah this year.  
Not only did inspiration for a creative entry fail 
to strike, but it turns out that almost all our 
active members are unavailable that day (April 
28th).  We'll try again next year.

Cheers,
Stevi and Lucas 


Report on the 2012 AGM
by Lucas Kamp

The Annual General Meeting of AIUSA took 
place on March 30 through April 1 in Denver, 
Colorado.  Joyce and I took the train, which 
arrived quite late on the 30th, so we missed the 
opening events (training and rally).  However, 
the sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning 
were generally very useful and inspirational.

The opening remarks by AIUSA's new Executive 
Director, Suzanne Nossel, were very interesting 
-- she promises to be a forceful and effective 
leader.  The keynote addresses were by Robert 
Ford, a recent ambassador to Syria, and the 
three hikers who were detained by Iran for over 
two years;  all were very good.  

The plenary session following was less 
successful, I felt.  In the first program block, I 
attended the session on death penalty abolition, 
which had some very good speakers, including 
Troy Davis's nephew and his minister, as well as 
the mother of Reggie Clemons, another death-
row inmate on whose behalf AI is currently 
active.  

In the second block, I attended the session on 
campaign tactics, which was also quite 
interesting.  A highlight there was when Joe 
Baker (a SoCal veteran whom some of us 
remember from way back) described the 
"conflict diamonds" campaign that AI did in 
2001;  Group 22 was active in that and I well 
remember visiting jewelry stores in Pasadena 
and grilling the employees about the 
provenance of their wares.  Apparently, that 
campaign was quite a success and some 
important agreements were subsequently signed 
by de Beers and other companies.  The voting 
plenary on Sunday morning was quite lively, 
though none of the resolutions struck me as 
being of great significance.

In summary, I was pleased to have attended the 
meeting and believe I learned some useful 
things.  The one downside was the frequent talk 
of the financial problems that AI is going 
through -- it is starting to get depressing!  I hope 
that we can pull out of this trough.


RIGHTS READERS
Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at 
http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com

Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, May 20, 6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado 
Pasadena

The Wayfinders
by Wade Davis

For May, we have selected The Wayfinders: 
Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern 
World by Wade Davis, an award-winning 
anthropologist, ethnobotanist, filmmaker, and 
photographer. Davis currently holds the post of 
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

    Every culture is a unique answer to a 
fundamental question: What does it mean to be 
human and alive? Anthropologist and National 
Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis 
leads us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the 
wisdom of the world's indigenous cultures. 

    In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose 
ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before 
Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants 
of a true Lost Civilization, the people of the 
Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the 
Earth really is alive, while in the far reaches of 
Australia we experience Dreamtime, the all-
embracing philosophy of the first humans to 
walk out of Africa. We then travel to Nepal, 
where we encounter a wisdom hero, a 
Bodhisattva, who emerges from forty-five years 
of Buddhist retreat and solitude. And finally we 
settle in Borneo, where the last rainforest 
nomads struggle to survive. 

    Understanding the lessons of this journey will 
be our mission for the next century. For at risk is 
the human legacy - a vast archive of 
knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the 
imagination. Rediscovering a new appreciation 
for the diversity of the human spirit, as 
expressed by culture, is among the central 
challenges of our time.

    About the Author

Wade Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the 
National Geographic Society. Named by the 
NGS as one of the Explorers for the Millennium, 
he has been described as "a rare combination of 
scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender 
of all of life's diversity." In recent years his work 
has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, 
Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New 
Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, 
Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and 
Greenland.

An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and 
filmmaker, Davis holds degrees in anthropology 
and biology and received his Ph.D. in 
ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. 
Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, 
he spent over three years in the Amazon and 
Andes as a plant explorer, living among fifteen 
indigenous groups in eight Latin American 
nations while making some 6000 botanical 
collections. His work later took him to Haiti to 
investigate folk preparations implicated in the 
creation of zombies, an assignment that led to 
his writing Passage of Darkness (1988) and The 
Serpent and the Rainbow (1986), an 
international best seller later released by 
Universal as a motion picture.

A native of British Columbia, Davis, a licensed 
river guide, has worked as park ranger, forestry 
engineer, and conducted ethnographic 
fieldwork among several indigenous societies of 
northern Canada. He has published 185 
scientific and popular articles on subjects 
ranging from Haitian vodoun and Amazonian 
myth and religion to the global biodiversity 
crisis, the traditional use of psychotropic drugs, 
and the ethnobotany of South American Indians.

(Source: 
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/b
ios/wade-davis/)


PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
Gao Zhisheng

By Joyce Wolf

This month I have wonderful news: Group 22's 
adopted prisoner of conscience Gao Zhisheng is 
alive and well! Subjected to 20 months of 
enforced disappearance, Gao reportedly began 
serving a 3-year sentence in remote Shaya Prison 
in December 2011, but no one was allowed to 
contact him until a few weeks ago. Here is a 
report from http://www.ChinaAid.org:

"(Shaya, Xinjiang March 28, 2012) ChinaAid 
has confirmed that relatives of prominent 
Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng 
were finally allowed to visit him in prison last 
weekend, putting to rest fears that the pioneer in 
the growing Christian legal defense movement 
in China had died during the two-plus years of 
his forced disappearance into police custody.

Gao's older brother and his father-in-law were 
permitted a half-hour meeting with Gao on 
March 24 at the Shaya prison, in a remote part of 
Xinjiang in far western China. They were able to 
see each other through a glass window and 
converse using a prison phone.

Gao's wife, Geng He, telephoned ChinaAid's 
founder and president Rev. Bob Fu on Tuesday 
night confirming the meeting and providing 
details.

She said that her husband broke into tears when 
her father told Gao, 'My health is greatly 
improved now that I have seen you.' Gao, who 
has disappeared into police custody several 
times since 2006, was last seen by his family 
members in April 2010 when he briefly 
resurfaced after a previous long period of 
disappearance.  During that time, he gave an 
extensive interview to the Associated Press, an 
American wire service, in which he gave a 
detailed account of brutal torture inflicted on 
him by Chinese police.

Gao's wife said he looked fine during the 
weekend prison visit, which was conducted 
under the watchful eye of prison officials and 
Public Security Bureau officials. The PSB 
instructed Gao's family members not to talk to 
the outside world about the visit. PSB officers 
from Gao's hometown in Shaanxi province had 
accompanied Gao's older brother, Gao Zhiyi, on 
the entire trip from central China, a journey of 
more than 3000 kilometers (more than 2000 
miles) to Shaya."

According to the following press release at 
http://www.freedom-now.org/news, AIUSA and 
other organizations sent a birthday letter to Gao 
Zhisheng. I suggest that Group 22 members 
follow their example and also send birthday 
greetings. We have already sent some cards and 
letters of support to Gao, and none of them have 
yet been returned as undeliverable, so let's 
continue. You can use the text of the letter in the 
press release as a guide. Postage is $1.05.

For Immediate Release: International Human 
Rights Organizations Issue Letter to Gao 
Zhisheng on his 48th Birthday

Washington, D.C.: Today, Freedom Now, 
Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, 
and the International Bar Association's Human 
Rights Institute sent a letter, copied below, to 
imprisoned Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng 
in recognition of his 48th birthday.

Gao Zhisheng
Shaya Prison
Shaya County, Aksu Prefecture
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, 842208
People's Republic of China

Dear Mr. Gao,

We write to express our best wishes and support 
on the occasion of your 48th birthday.

As a prominent rights lawyer, you fought to 
protect the rule of law by representing some of 
China's most vulnerable citizens. As a result of 
this work, the government revoked your law 
license and repeatedly detained you - often with 
no due process whatsoever. In spite of this 
pressure, you continued to risk your own liberty 
and defend the rights of others. In recognition of 
your work, the American Bar Association 
awarded you its International Human Rights 
Lawyer Award in 2010.

We are saddened by the fact that you are 
spending another birthday imprisoned, away 
from your wife and children. In light of your 
recent reappearance, we can only hope that you 
will soon be released and reunited with your 
family.

Your courage and selfless legal advocacy are an 
inspiration and example to lawyers around the 
world and we wish you all the best on your 48th 
birthday.

Sincerely,


DEATH PENALTY NEWS

By Stevi Carroll

Forty-three people were executed in the USA in 
2011, down from 46 in 2010.  During that same 
year, Iran executed 360 people, Saudi Arabia 82, 
Iraq  68, Yemen 41, North Korea 30,  and China 
an unknown number perhaps in the thousands.  
We can notice that the USA is the only Western 
democracy on this list of the top-executing 
countries in the world.  Suzanne Nossel, 
executive director of Amnesty International 
USA, told the AP, "If you look at the company 
we're in globally, it's not the company we want 
to be in: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq." 

While Rick Perry received cheers when he said 
the 234 executions carried out during his time as 
governor of Texas represent "a form of ultimate 
justice", sixteen states and the District of 
Columbia have abolished the death penalty and 
as of this writing, both the House and the Senate 
of Connecticut have passed an abolition bill.  
Governor Dannel P. Malloy (D) has said he will 
sign it.  Those inmates who are already 
condemned to die will still be eligible for 
execution and future convicts who are sentenced 
to life without of parole will be subjected to 
"death row conditions".  I haven't seen an 
explanation of those conditions, but I'm thinking 
that means, among other things, 23-hour 
lockdown.

In 2011, legislators in Oregon issued a 
moratorium on executions and have used this 
time to study alternatives to the death penalty.  
Pennsylvania lawmakers have also started to 
study the application of the death penalty in that 
state.  Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire and 
Washington have bills to end capital 
punishment pending. 

As we know here in California, the SAFE 
California campaign has an initiative on the 
November 2012 ballot to make life without 
possibility of parole the harshest sentence and to 
convert the sentences of present death row 
inmates to life without of parole, with work 
when applicable and payment of restitution to 
the victims' families as part of their sentences.

    The Science of the Death Penalty

A study sponsored by Tides Foundation, the 
Proteus Action League, and the National 
Institute of Justice found that the available 
research on the death penalty "offers no useful 
information for policymakers."  After reviewing 
dozens of other studies, this panel of 
independent experts found fundamental flaws 
in them.  For one example, none of the studies 
took into account the possible effect of penalties 
other than death.  "The key question, the report 
says, is whether capital punishment is less or 
more effective as a deterrent than alternative 
punishments, such as a life sentence without the 
possibility of parole.  Yet none of the research 
that has been done accounted for the possible 
effect of noncapital punishments on homicide 
rates."  Another area of weakness is that prior 
studies made unsupported assumptions about 
how murders would perceive and respond to 
the threat of capital punishment. 

While better designed studies may give insight 
into whether or not the death penalty has a 
deterrent effect, they will take time to carry out 
and will be difficult to create.  To read more 
about this report, go to "Current Research Not 
Sufficient to Assess Deterrent Effect of the Death 
Penalty" at  
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/n
ewsitem.aspx?RecordID=13363.

Perhaps the studies Oregon and Pennsylvania 
are undertaking will be steps in the right 
direction.

    SAFE California Campaign

The SAFE California Campaign would like 
people to throw house parties to raise funds for 
the November election.  Even though I'm always 
up for a good partying time, I wonder if we 
want to have a physical one or call this plea a 
virtual house party and show our support.  Let 
me know, if we'd like to party down somewhere 
and let's plan away.

If we cyber party, we have a couple of options.  
To donate online, go to 
https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1265/p/sal
sa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY
=8141.  

If you'd rather use snail mail, donations can be 
sent to 
SAFE California Campaign Headquarters
237 Kearny Street, #334 
San Francisco, CA 94108
The website says we must include a contributor 
card that can be found at 
https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1265/imag
es/SAFE CA Contributor Form.pdf.  

Thomas Arthur: Stay of Execution
Thomas Arthur is a 70-year-old death row 
prisoner in Alabama who recently received a 
stay of execution from a federal court.  He was 
sentenced to death for the murder of Troy 
Wicker in 1982.  For more than 25 years, he has 
been on death row and has had four previous 
stays of execution.  He is not seeking executive 
clemency but rather maintains his innocence 
and continues to request DNA testing of crime 
scene evidence.

Clemency for Daniel Greene
Daniel Greene was sentenced to death in 
December 1992 for the stabbing death of 
Bernard Walker.  Mr. Greene was scheduled to 
die April 19, 2012, but on April 17, he was 
granted clemency and will now serve a sentence 
of life without parole.  This is the fourth death 
sentence the Georgia Parole Board has 
commuted since 2002.

   Stays of Execution

March 2012
18	Briley Piper		South Dakota
29	Tommy Arthur		Alabama

April 
12	Garry Allen		Oklahoma
	Carey Grayson		Alabama

   Executions

March 2012
20	Larry Puckett (35)	Mississippi
	Lethal Injection (3 drug)

22	William Mitchell (61)	Mississippi
	Lethal Injection (3 drug)

28	Jesse Hernandez (47)	Texas	
	Lethal Injection (3 drug)

April 2012
12	David Gore (58)		Florida	
	Lethal Injection (3 drug)

18	Mark Wiles (49)		Ohio	
	Lethal Injection (1 drug)

20	Shannon Johnson* (28) 	Delaware 
	Lethal Injection  (3 drug)

* volunteer - an inmate who has waived 
ordinary appeals that remain at the time of his 
or her execution


GROUP 22 MONTHLY LETTER COUNT
UAs     25
POC      2
Total   27
To add your letters to the total contact  
lwkamp@gmail.com.


MORE LETTERS AND CARDS FROM 
PASADENA EARTH FESTIVAL

Group 22 had a table at the Pasadena Earth and 
Arts Festival on April 14. Kids and a few grown-
ups decorated 57 cards for Tan Zuoren, some of 
them real works of art. 

Tan Zuoren is a Chinese environmental activist 
who was arrested in 2009 after he tried to 
publicize the number of children that died 
during the Sichuan earthquake and the 
corruption behind substandard construction that 
contributed to their deaths. He is now serving a 
5-year prison sentence. The AIUSA China co-
group provided us with his prison address so 
we could send cards of support.

For the Niger Delta action to Shell Oil we got 32 
petition signatures and 12 letters signed. It's 
not too late  you can still ask Shell Oil to "Own 
Up and Pay Up". Go to www.amnestyusa.org or 
click http://tinyurl.com/72hyxjc.

Many thanks to Candy, Lucas, Paula, Carol and 
Jim, Kai, and Stevi for staffing the Group 22 
table.  Thanks also to Veronica, who initiated 
Group 22's participation in Earth Day events 
over 10 years ago at the Arboretum, and to 
Martha, who expertly coordinated Group 22's 
Earth Day events in following years.
--Joyce


Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code C1-128
Pasadena, CA 91125
www.its.caltech.edu/~aigp22/
http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com