Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XX Number 11, November-December 2012


Thursday, November 29, 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.

Saturday, December 8, 9 AM to 3 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 Cafe. (This 
replaces our usual letter-writing session on the 
2nd Tuesday of the month.)

Sunday, December 16, 6:30 PM.  Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
group. This month we discuss "Scenes from 
Village Life" by Amos Oz.  Note change of 
location - the meeting will not be held at 
Vromans Bookstore, but at a private home. for location.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 7:30 PM.  Letter 
writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner 
of Hill and California in Pasadena. The 
Rathskeller is in the Athenaeum basement; 
take the stairs to the right of the main 



Finally, a few days off in which to rest.  We 
have the week of Thanksgiving off due to 
furlough days (which will be rescinded due to 
Prop 30 passing!  We've had 4 years of 

Group 22 members Joyce and Lucas attended 
the Western Regional meeting in San Francisco 
last Saturday.  See their articles about the 
conference in this newsletter.  The conference 
had been from Friday night to Sunday afternoon 
in the past.  Amnesty has had to implement 
budget cuts like everyone else, although some 
would argue that AI's priorities have changed, 
and not for the better.  See this controversial 
article sent by Lucas:

What do you think?  Personally, I think AI 
should not be involved in controversial issues 
such as abortion, and should have retained the 
emphasis on individual POCs, rather than 
general campaigns.

New member Michael has been tabling at the 
Friday night farmer's market and fair in 
Monrovia the last few weeks... way to go, 
Michael!   Joyce and Larry tabled at the Caltech 
Y Community Advocacy Fair earlier this month.
Con carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, December 16 6:30 pm 

Scenes from Village Life
By Amos Oz

Note:  meeting will be held at a private home:  
See Group 22's website for location.

Book Review:

 If you can imagine a tenement building with a 
view into all the different windows you would 
see multiple, contrasting lives in private 
moments. Amos Oz's latest collection of eight 
stories uses this short-cut technique. However 
his panorama is not the city but the fictional 
Israeli village of Tel Ilan. Although the scenes are 
set today, he evokes a Chekhovian atmosphere 
of tragic lives misled on haunted ground.
His protagonists are recognisably Chekhovian: 
the mayor; the schoolteacher; the eternal student 
(in this case, Arab); the self-made businessman; 
the postmistress; the jaded radical. Surrounding 
all these people is an individual sense of loss: 
the loss of hope between Arab and Jew; the loss 
of potential between a young boy and an older 
woman; the death of a marriage after an 
abortion. Oz's fast-paced dramas are gripping. 
A wife goes missing. A son blows his head off 
under his parents' bed.

Oz is also powerful in his evocation of the 
inexplicable. There are neo-Gothic moments as 
buildings almost become breathing characters. A 
house has a strange knocking underneath it. 
Another has a maze of mysterious underground 
rooms where a middle-aged man can be lost in 
an erotic journey with a young woman. The 
recurring theme of property - who owned it 
before 1948, and who is now is entitled to it - 
gives a throbbing tension. There is an implicit 
questioning of what the country was set up to 
do and how it has failed, both politically and 
personally. The accretion of sadness and waste, 
in each story, has an almost hypnotic effect.
Oz leaves us no resolution. His device of 
connecting separate lives by having a leading 
character in one tale turn up as a bit player in 
another offers a kind of symmetry. But what is 
most arresting is the cumulative effect of his 
narratives and the relationships between three 
generations of Israelis in a territory that has too 
many ghosts.

Oz's mythical Tel Ilan is a microcosm of a 
modern Israeli village and, although his stories 
are fiction, there is a kind of documentary 
element - as with Chekhov. These Israelis may 
be living in a new land but they are also 
suffused with the sense of inner exile which 
makes these stories so arresting. The last tale, 
"In a faraway place at another time", shocks us 
into the future - or the past. In this unnamed 
village, the young grow old before their time. 
Here death and putrefaction rule. Is this the 
Europe of the Hitler years or is it the end of the 

Author Biography
Amos Oz was born in 1939 in Jerusalem. At the 
age of 15 he went to live on a kibbutz. He 
studied philosophy and literature at the Hebrew 
University in Jerusalem, and was visiting fellow 
at Oxford University, author-in- residence at the 
Hebrew University and writer-in-residence at 
Colorado College. He has been named Officer of 
Arts and Letters of France. An author of prose 
for both children and adults, as well as an 
essayist, he has been widely translated and is 
internationally acclaimed. He has been honoured 
with the French Prix Femina and the 1992 
Frankfurt Peace Prize. He lives in the southern 
town Arad and teaches literature at Ben Gurion 
University of the Negev. 
Amos Oz has rooted his writing in the 
tempestuous history of his homeland. Through 
his writing, both fiction and nonfiction, runs a 
common thread: examining human nature, 
recognizing its frailty but glorying in its variety, 
Oz consistently makes the plea for an end to 
ambivalence, for dialogue, for a channelling of 
passions towards faith in the future. With an 
economy of words, Oz presents the people of 
Israel, its political tribulations and biblical 
landscape. Newsweek writes, "Eloquent, 
humane, even religious in the deepest sense, 
[Oz] emerges as a kind of Zionist Orwell: a 
complex man obsessed with simple decency and 
determined above all to tell the truth, regardless 
of whom it offends." 

Report on Amnesty West Conference
by Joyce Wolf

Lucas and I attended the Amnesty Western 
Regional conference in San Francisco. This year 
it was just one day, Saturday, Nov 10. Carroll 
Pearson from New Mexico and our talented 
team of Amnesty West field organizers were 
responsible for putting the event together.

The opening keynote speaker was Lhamo Tso, 
wife of imprisoned Tibetan film-maker 
Dhondup Wangchen. (I will bring some 
postcards for Dhondup to our ucoming Write-a-
thon.) We might want to arrange a group 
viewing of his documentary "Leaving Fear 
Behind". Lhamo Tso was followed by a panel of 
AIUSA board members, who attempted to 
explain the new AIUSA Strategic Business Plan. 
They stressed youth recruitment and quick 
response to breaking human rights crises. In 
response to a question, we were told that 
AIUSA did not plan a complete overhaul of its 
website, but would try to make improvements.

Lucas attended the Local Groups Caucus and 
said it was quite interesting this time. At lunch 
the efforts of workers for Prop 34 were 
recognized and we were exhorted to keep up our 
DP work, because "this is just the beginning!" I 
did my bit of networking with visiting 
Business/Environment specialist Tony Cruz. He 
was one of the activists who attended Chevron 
shareholder meetings and actually met with the 
Chevron CEO.

Lucas attended an Infoshop on Middle East and 
North Africa, facilitated by our local Country 
Specialist Alireza Azizi. I went to the session on 
Afghan women's human rights and picked up a 
copy of their new activist toolkit, which I will 
share with anyone interested. Then came a 
grueling 3-hour Resolutions Voting Plenary. 
After lots of debate and amendments and 
appeals to obscure bits of Robert's Rules of 
Order, none of the three member-originated 
resolutions passed.

The concluding speaker was our own Bu 
Dongwei, a former prisoner of conscience who 
visited Group 22 back in March 2010 along with 
his wife and little daughter. He never tires of 
thanking Amnesty activists for all the letters 
which helped protect him from the worst forms 
of abuse during his ordeal in a Chinese labor 
camp. (Write-a-thon is coming up -- you can still 
watch his video at

Lucas and I agreed that the conference turned 
out quite well, thanks to the hard-working 
organizers, who coped successfully with the new 
budget and schedule constraints.

Supplement to Joyce's Report on  
Amnesty West Conference
by Lucas Kamp

I attended the Local Groups Caucus, which was 
very well run by Carroll Pearson.  Groups were 
asked to present notable successes from the 
past year and there were a number of interesting 
items, including film events and visits by POCs 
who had been set free and on whom the groups 
had worked.  I thought of Bu Dongwei's visit to 
our group a few years ago, but didn't mention it 
since it was not in the past year.  Another 
noteworthy discussion topic was whether there 
is a difference in scale between groups in big 
cities and in smaller towns.  Contrary to 
expectations, it emerged that Carroll's group in 
Las Vegas, NM, which is very small, has a 
regular monthly attendance of at least 15 
people, whereas most of the groups in the SF 
and LA areas have at most 10 people at their 
meetings.  One other item that was mentioned 
was that AIUSA still has a Special Initiatives 
Fund that will give a subsidy to a project that a 
group wants to work on.  The budget is much 
smaller than it used to be, a maximum of $1500 
per group, but it can still be quite useful.

The Infoshop on Middle East and North Africa 
was very informative, but ran into time 
constraint problems.

As Joyce said, we were pleasantly surprised by 
how well the conference went, given that it was 
squeezed into just one day.

- Lucas

Gao Zhisheng

by Joyce Wolf

Our Amnesty colleagues in the United Kingdom 
have put together a great action website for Gao 
Zhisheng, Group 22's adopted prisoner of 
conscience. If you visit
Gao, you can send an interactive appeal for 
Gao's release and also watch a "Gangnam 
Style" video. (Thanks to Martha at rightsreaders 
for bringing this to our attention!)

It's very important to keep a steady stream of 
cards and letters arriving for Gao Zhisheng at 
the prison where he is detained. Even if he does 
not receive the letters himself, the officials will 
be aware of the international concern for him. 
Released prisoner Bu Dongwei stressed this 
point. It was also the advice given by Dr. Perry 
Link, editor of Nobel Peace laureate Liu 
Xiaobo's book of selected essays and poems, 
when I asked his opinion on the most effective 
actions our group could take for Gao. (Group 
members Kathy and Stevi also attended Dr. 
Link's excellent talk at the Pacific Asia Museum 
last month.) 

Gao Zhisheng is one of the featured cases of the 
December Write-a-thon, but you can send a card 
to Gao any time, the more the better. Postage is 

Gao Zhisheng, Shaya Prison
P.O. Box 15, Sub-box 16
Shaya County, Aksu Prefecture
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, 842208
People's Republic of China

Gender Defenders in the Slums of Nairobi, Kenya
by Paula Tavrow

In October 2012, I spent several weeks in the 
Nairobi slums in an effort to design an 
evaluation for a project to reduce coerced sex of 
schoolgirls by teaching them self-defense 
techniques.  While there, I learned about the 
highly-regarded Gender Defenders program 
begun by Amnesty International in 2010.  Many 
of the self-defense trainers I interviewed 
"moonlighted" as volunteer Gender Defenders in 
some of the most violent slums.

How does the Gender Defenders activity work?  
As it was described to me, any adult resident of 
the Nairobi slums could participate in a free 
training program conducted in community 
centers (e.g., churches or schools) in the slums.  

The training consisted of three modules (each of 
about 3 hours in length) which were held over 
three Saturdays: (1) human rights; (2) legal and 
medical issues; and (3) child rights.  The first 
module focused on Kenyans' rights to safety, 
bodily integrity, consensual marriage, and so on.  
The second module explained what to do if 
someone had been assaulted and/or raped 
(such as how to get medical documentation 
and/or a rape kit performed, how to file a 
police report, how to get legal assistance).  The 
third module described specific rights of 
children (up to age 18) and special issues in 
dealing with traumatized and/or abused 

Those who successfully completed the training 
and wanted to join the gender-based violence 
network provided their name, location and cell 
phone information to the trainers.  The trainers 
then compiled a master list of "Gender 
Defenders" and circulated it back to all people 
on the list.  

If someone in one of the slums experiences 
gender-based violence, such as rape, community 
members can call a hotline or main number.  The 
operators of the hotline then try to locate a 
Gender Defender who resides within walking 
distance of the incident.  This Gender Defender, 
who is a volunteer, may be contacted any time 
day or night.  (One person told me that she was 
called at 11 PM the night before.)   If the 
Defender is in the vicinity he or she will be the 
"first responder" and assist the victim to get to 
the nearest clinic or police station.  

In cases of domestic violence, the Gender 
Defender usually rounds up a small group of 
Defenders to go en masse to a home and take 
the husband (who is usually drunk) to the 
nearest police station.  I was told that the 
Defenders sometimes perform their own "citizen 
arrest" and remain at the police station to make 
sure that the man is arrested and charged.   In 
the less common situations where a woman was 
violent, too, she may also be taken to the police 

While it is difficult to be "on call" as a Gender 
Defender, the Defenders who I met were all very 
proud to be members and felt that they were 
providing a valuable service to the community.  
They felt that the training had opened their eyes 
to their rights.  Most referred to themselves as 
"human rights activists."  

Gender Defenders felt that they were helping to 
make their communities safer and to reduce 
domestic violence, because husbands who had 
been humiliated by the Defenders were less 
likely to re-attack their spouses.  They said that 
that the training by Amnesty International was 
very understandable and interactive.  They also 
felt that they could sustain the program and 
that it was respected by their neighbors.  Some 
of the Defenders were also trying to mobilize for 
better lighting and sanitation (latrines) in the 

On a sad note, the Defenders did tell me that 
rapists of female minors often go free in the 
slums shortly after they have been arrested.  
Ironically, the Defenders attribute this situation 
to the very harsh laws on rape that exist in 
Kenya.  A man who has been convicted of 
raping a minor is sentenced to life imprisonment.  
What this means in practice is that the family of 
an accused rapist (when the facts are 
incontrovertible) will be desperate to free the 
man from jail, and will raise money to "bribe" 
the family of the girl to drop the case.  

Because slum families are very poor, parents are 
often quick to accept a "bribe" (usually of $150-
350), rationalizing that "the damage has already 
been done."  The family will then cajole the girl 
who had been raped to recant her testimony.  
This leads to further torment for the girl, because 
she usually will soon see again in the 
neighborhood the very man who had raped her.  
In some cases, he is an authority figure (teacher, 
relative, pastor) with whom the poor girl is in 
regular contact.    

The Gender Defenders did not have any good 
strategies for how to change this situation, other 
than possibly penalizing parents who took 
"bribes."  However, they did feel that it was 
possible that having to come up with a 
significant sum of money will anger the family of 
the rapist and make them disinclined to bail him 
out again.  So this might discourage future rape 
or lead to more convictions.

Overall, I was pleased to know that Amnesty 
International is supporting such a worthwhile 
and sustainable activity.  And kudos to all of us 
for being members of such an organization!    

By Stevi Carroll

Proposition 34 

Voters November 6, 2012, dealt a death blow to 
Proposition 34. 

Jeanne Woodford, former warden, San Quentin, 
who oversaw four executions, endorsed Prop 
34.  So did Ron Briggs who'd been the lead 
proponent of the initiative to reestablish the 
death penalty in California in 1978.  Former LA 
District Attorney Gil Garcetti made his support 
public as did retired police officer Steve 
Fajardo.  The stories of Obie Anthony, released 
after serving 17 for a murder he didn't commit; 
Franky Carrillo, released after serving 19 years 
for a murder he didn't commit; and Maurice 
Caldwell, released after serving 21 years for a 
murder he didn't commit, did not convince 
Californians we need to replace the death 
penalty.  Same goes for the story Ronnie 
Carmona Sandoval whose son was murdered; 
she, too, supported Prop 34. In these times of 
fiscal uncertainty, one would think money 
would influence votes, but even the savings of 
over $100-$130 million a year didn't persuade 
enough voters to pass the proposition.  

Now with that said, 47.8% of the population 
voted to replace the death penalty with life 
without parole; that's 5,514,080 of our brothers 
and sisters who voted YES on Prop 34.  Many 
thanks to them.  Perhaps when we Californians 
have to pay for a new death row, more people 
will see that change in sentencing to life without 
parole is an advantage for their wallets. If the 
people who want to speed up the appeals 
process get some traction, we Californians will 
have to pay for the increased number of lawyers 
needed to handle the caseload quickly so we can 
speed up to more timely executions. Whose 
wallet will that chunk of change come from?  

The California Death Row currently houses 14 
inmates who have exhausted their appeals. 
Now that the death penalty has received a 
bump in its acceptance, we Californians will 
have to decide on the use of the one-drug lethal 
injection method of State killing.  

McGregor Scott, a former US Attorney in 
Sacramento and a leader in the NO on Prop 34 
campaign, said, "If the Legislature continues to 
abandon its responsibility by refusing to 
implement common-sense reforms then we will 
put our full support behind a ballot initiative to 
get the job done in 2014." And if the one-drug 
procedure isn't quickly adopted, death penalty 
supporters will pitch an initiative to ensure its 

All the same, Prop 34 lost with 52.2% of our 
brothers and sisters voting against it.  
Compared to the 71% of the electorate who 
voted in 1978 to reinstate the death penalty, the 
support for State sanctioned murder seems on 
the wane by almost 20 percentage points.  
Maybe all the stories, personal and economic, 
paid off.

We Amnesty members will continue to petition 
for clemency for inmates sentenced to die, and 
we will continue to educate our brothers and 
sisters about the realities of the death penalty. 
As James Clark from the SAFE California 
campaign said after the election, "We haven't 
won yet, but California will never be the same."

Two Hundred Fifty - Go Texas

When Donnie Roberts died in the Texas death 
chamber October 31, 2012, he was 250th human 
being to be executed in that fair state.  Amnesty 
International USA issued this statement:

250th Execution to Occur Tonight in Texas
Contact: Sharon Singh,, 202-
675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) - Amnesty International 
USA executive director Suzanne Nossel issued 
the following statement as the state of Texas 
plans to execute the 250th person this evening 
under Governor Rick Perry's tenure:
"When Governor Perry took office, he suggested 
that Texas justice 'can be better,' but 250 state 
killings later - including executions of teenage 
offenders, the mentally disabled and likely 
innocent - it is clear little effort has been made 
to improve things under his leadership.

"Governor Perry's anachronistic enthusiasm for 
state killing is in stark contrast to the clear trend 
away from the death penalty exhibited by 
ordinary Texans in juries, where death sentences 
have declined dramatically over the last dozen years.
"Amnesty International calls on the governor to 
support clemency in this and future cases along 
with working to end the death penalty in Texas.
"Perhaps Mr. Perry needs to spend more time 
paying heed to his constituents and less time as 
the Grim Reaper."


Stays of execution

23	John Ferguson		Florida

9	Hubert Michael		Pennsylvania


24	Bobby Hines		Texas
			1-drug lethal injection
30	Donald Moeller		South Dakota
			1-drug lethal injection
31	Donnie Roberts		Texas
			1-drug lethal injection

6	Garry Allen		Oklahoma
			3-drug lethal injection
8	Mario Swain		Texas
			1-drug lethal injection
13	Brett Hartman		Ohio
			1-drug lethal injection
14	Ramon Hernandez		Texas
			1-drug lethal injection
15	Preston Hughes		Texas
		1-drug lethal injection


UAs               18
Tibet postcards    5
Total             23

To add your letters to the total contact

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