Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXI Number 3, March 2013


Thursday, March 28, 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, April 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, April 21, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "From the Memoirs of a Non-
Enemy Combatant" by Alex Gilvarry.


Hi All

It's another beautiful day in the 
neighborhood ... and I'm off! (Only because I'm on 
call for jury duty this week of our Spring Break.  
Obviously, I didn't have to go in today - let's 
see about the rest of this week ... ) Also had a 
few days off last week and Robert and I spent a 
few days on Catalina Island.  A nice change 
from the usual frantic pace!

This edition features a new and (hopefully) 
continuing column by Robert on homeland 
security issues.  Also check out the AGM report 
by Joyce.

Last night, at my EFM (Education for Ministry, 
a program thru the Episcopal Church) class, 
someone mentioned a campaign called "One 
Million Bones" designed to bring awareness to 
genocide.  Handmade "bones" will be displayed 
at the Capitol Mall in DC June 2013.  Each bone 
made will generate a dollar towards CARE's 
programs that work with survivors in Somalia 
and the DRC.  See this link for more info:
This sounds like a worthwhile thing Group 22 
could do - what do you think?

Con Carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, April 21, 6:30 pm 

From the Memoirs of a Non Enemy Combatant 
 by Alex Gilvarry

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado, Pasadena


Prisoner of Fashion
Alex Gilvarry's Debut Novel
Published: March 23, 2012 

The humor in this first novel is nothing to laugh 
at. Though you're not really supposed to get 
that until you're nearly done. 

That's because in the meantime you'll be too 
busy snickering. "From the Memoirs of a Non-
Enemy Combatant," by Alex Gilvarry, tells the 
story of Boyet Hernandez, a Filipino-born 
fashion designer wending his way through the 
flamboyantly fatuous world of Brooklyn 
couture. The narrative crackles with satire, even 
before Boyet innocently lands himself at 
Guantanamo as the first detainee captured on 
United States soil and decides to bring the place 
a little flair by removing the sleeves from his 
orange jumpsuit. The disjunction between Gitmo 
and Prada is too delicious not to put a 
sideways smile on your face. 

You'll also be twisting a lip upward at the 
Bellowesque brio of Gilvarry's language. 
Consider the colloquial oomph of these opening 
lines: "I would not, could not, nor did I ever 
raise a hand in anger against America. I love 
America, the golden bastard. It's where I was 
born again: propelled through the duct of J.F.K. 
International, out the rotating doors, push, push, 
dripping a post-U.S. Customs sweat down my 
back, and slithering out on my feet to a curb in 
Queens, breathe. Then into a yellow cab, thrown 
to the masses. Van Wyck, B.Q.E., Brooklyn 
Bridge, SoHo, West Side Highway, Riverside 
Drive - these are a few of my favorite things!" 

And yes, you'll snort at the novel's footnotes, 
many of which exist as supposed correctives to 
the text of this diminutive inmate's "confession" 
(in which he mis-attributes quotations to Coco 
Chanel that properly belong to Nietzsche, for 
example). Truly, you'll think, if the proverbial 
knock in the night can happen to this sweet 
Dummkopf, it can happen to anyone. 

Which is precisely the point. For the real 
purpose of the comedic bravura is not to amuse 
you. It's to soften you up for the horror that 
comes raining down in the final 50 pages, when 
Boyet, so lately the toast of the runway, is 
interrogated, humiliated and given a close-up 
view of state-sponsored brutality. The mirth is 
gone. Terror takes over. In one of our final 
glimpses of the narrator - whom we've been 
chuckled into feeling protective toward, even if 
we never quite like him - "his hair is matted 
down, he has been sweating, his face is gaunt 
and his eyes are concave from lack of sleep. His 
white shirt collar is stained yellow, either by 
sweat or puke." 

So much for the gussied-up jumpsuit. 
In many ways, this novel is a left-handed love 
letter to America. Whether describing New 
York's subway system ("a rubber band of sexual 
tension, stretched and twined around the 
boroughs, ready to snap") or the Bronxville 
campus of Sarah Lawrence (with its "imposing 
Tudor buildings magnificently lit" and "crisp 
fallen leaves, like cinnamon and dried flower 
petals"), Gilvarry shows that he cherishes a 
country he clearly feels is at risk. 

Even at the end, deported far from America, 
Boyet pines for New York. Rain heard from afar 
reminds him of "the screech of the Second 
Avenue bus in the wet. . . . The clicking inside 
the tin boxes that made the traffic signals 
switch." It is a measure of the book's sense of 
hope that for all the injustice meted out, 
America still looks good from a distance. 

Comedy, we're reminded, often has an ulterior 
motive. Here the intention could hardly be more 
serious - to scare the smirk off our mugs as we 
enter Year 10 of Guantanamo's use as a prison, 
with no end to the suffering in sight. 

A version of this review appeared in print on 
March 25, 2012, on page BR21 of the Sunday 
Book Review with the headline: Prisoner of 
Fashion.  From the New York Times.

Alex Gilvarry is a native of Staten Island, New 
York.  He has been a Norman Mailer fellow and 
has written for NPR's All Things Considered, 
Vogue, the Paris Review Daily, and other 
publications.  He is the founder and editor of 
the website, Tottenville Review, a book review 
collaborative.  From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy 
Combatant is his first novel.  He lives in 
Brooklyn, New York.

Gao Zhisheng

by Joyce Wolf

In our previous newsletter I suggested that we 
write Congressman Frank Wolf to say thank-you 
for his recent commitment to adopt the case of 
Gao Zhisheng, Group 22's own adopted prisoner 
of conscience.  

So at our March letter-writing, I brought a couple 
of cards with wolf images to send to Rep. Wolf 
to express our thanks. Hoping he had a sense of 
humor, I signed my card, "regards from one Wolf 
to another. 
At the Amnesty AGM March 22-24 in 
Washington DC, I attended a workshop on the 
Tom Lantos Commission for Human Rights, 
where one of the presenters was Kalinda 
Stephenson, an aide to Rep. Wolf. And guess 
what! She had with her my wolf card -- said the 
Congressman loved it! 

It was really great to see actual physical 
evidence that letters we mail do get where we 
send them! We'll look forward to coordinating 
Group 22's work for Gao Zhisheng along with 
Rep. Wolf's efforts in his behalf.  

During the three years that Group 22 has 
worked on Gao's case, we often felt that the 
Chinese government was singling him out for 
especially harsh treatment. This is quite true, 
according to a recent article in the Epoch Times.

   SAN FRANCISCO - Chen Guangcheng, 
   the well-known, blind, Chinese lawyer and 
   human rights activist who now lives in 
   exile in the United States, was recently 
   given an award for his legal advocacy 
   efforts by overseas Chinese in San 
   Francisco, and took the occasion to list a 
   range of rights violations by the Chinese 

   "This is how you figure it in China," Chen 
   said. "The ferocity with which someone 
   has been persecuted is a question of 
   whether or not they're really having a big 
   impact in their human rights work. The 
   more on point, the bigger the impact, the 
   more sincerely you do it, then the 
   Communist Party will absolutely use an 
   iron fist on you. Gao Zhisheng is that 

We need to keep lots of  mail arriving at Shaya 
Prison for Gao Zhisheng. His birthday is April 
20, so let's send birthday cards. Postage is now 

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

March 22-24, Washington DC
by Joyce Wolf

This year the theme of the annual Amnesty USA 
conference was "Use Your Power."  I brought 
back lots of material and actions, which I will be 
sharing at upcoming Group 22 meetings.  

Early arriving attendees had the opportunity to 
participate in a rally for the Arms Trade Treaty 
in Lafayette Square opposite the White House. I 
was there just for a bit, long enough to be proud 
of our enthusiastic young Amnesty marchers 
with their signs and slogans.  

Opening session Friday evening began with a 
video about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who 
was assassinated in El Salvador in 1980. In 
observance of the Day of Truth and 
Remembrance, there were tributes to several 
other slain human rights activists: Anna 
Politkovskaya (Russia, 2006), Munir Said Thalib 
(Indonesia, 2004) and Ken Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria, 
1995).  A moment of silence followed, during 
which many in the audience held aloft cell 
phones glowing with the AI candle.  

Friday's keynote speaker was  Mexican 
journalist Lydia Cacho. She strode back and 
forth across  the stage with the microphone, 
articulate, defiant, beautiful. She was not going 
to let rape and death threats keep her from 
continuing her work or from enjoying life to the 

Saturday's morning plenary included an 
appearance by Hyatt hotel housekeeper Cathy 
Youngblood, thanking Amnesty for moving our 
meeting from labor-hostile Hyatt to the 
Sheraton. Her website is  

Salil Shetty, AI Secretary-General, shared a 
story about how AI was surprised to learn of 
the existence of a local AI group in Egypt that 
met secretly for 30 years during Mubarak's 
regime. Released POC Htay Kywe spoke of his 
imprisonment in Burma and told us he was "here 
today because of You!" Three women from 
Bahrain, Tunisia, and Palestine explained 
current human rights issues in their countries.  

I attended a program on the plight of trans-
migrants in Mexico and the dangers besetting 
shelter workers such as Father Alejandro 
Solalinde. Lydia Cacho made some penetrating 
comments about the responsibility of US 
policies for the rise of the Zetas and the narco-
state. Father Solalinde expressed hope that 
Pope Francis would bring new emphasis in the 
Church to issues affecting the poor.  

Saturday evening plenary was devoted to LGBT 
issues in Uganda and Cameroon. Whew -- what 
a full day! And I have only mentioned a few of 
the program events! 

Voting on Resolutions started at 8 am Sunday. 
There was a lot of debate, intense but polite. 
Evidently the serious wrangling happened 
during the Resolution Working Parties on 
Saturday. We ended at 11:17, two minutes past 
the deadline, with unanimous passage of an 
Emergency Resolution that "this AGM pledges to 
move forward as one, Board, members and 
staff, to a healthy and vibrant AIUSA." 

by Robert Adams

The following is condensed from an article by 
Zeke Johnson on the AI USA website:

"What Needs to Happen Next on Drones?"

 What should happen next to make sure that no 
person - US citizen or anyone else - is killed 
outside the bounds of law with a drone or other 

1) The Obama administration must follow 
existing law on the use of lethal force. The law 
governing any state's use of lethal force -
whether with a drone or a gun or most other 
weapons - already exists: international human 
rights law and, in the exceptional circumstances 
where it applies, international humanitarian law 
as well. The US government must follow the 

2) The never-ending "global war" must end. 
A central problem with the administration's 
policy on armed drones and lethal force (and its 
policy on Guantanamo for that matter) is the 
idea that the world is a battlefield in a "global 
war" between the US and al Qaeda and other 
armed groups and individuals, and that only the 
law of armed conflict applies, to the exclusion 
of international human rights law. This "global 
war" theory basically says to the world, we can 
ignore your human rights when we see fit. To 
change course, Congress should withdraw the 
Authorization for Use of Military Force 
(AUMF) and the administration should 
withdraw this Office of Legal Counsel memo 
by John Yoo that says the executive branch 
cannot be constrained by the AUMF or other 
laws passed by Congress.

3) The US government must recognize that 
ALL people are equal in rights. As Archbishop 
Desmond Tutu put it recently: 
"Do the United States and its people really want to 
tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that 
our lives are not of the same value as yours? That 
President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us 
with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the 
target is an American? Would your Supreme Court 
really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave 
Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as 
you are? I cannot believe it."

4) The "kill court" idea must be rejected. If 
"global war" thinking hadn't permeated so 
much of the way the US thinks and talks about 
how to deal with the threat of terrorism, the 
proposal by some to establish a special pre-
strike "kill court" for US citizens would 
immediately be rejected as a non-starter that 
misses the point. Such a court would be 
fundamentally unfair and mean that the US 
government was breaking the rules for when a 
state can use lethal force. What we do need is 
to ensure independent and impartial 
investigations in all cases of alleged 
extrajudicial executions or other unlawful 
killings, respect for the rights of family 
members of those killed, and effective redress 
and remedy where killings are found to have 
been unlawful.

5) The administration must tell the truth and 
Congress must conduct oversight. The public 
has a right to know when the Obama 
administration thinks it can kill. President 
Obama should publicly disclose the secret 
drone memos with only the redactions truly 
necessary, as well as the facts about who has 
been killed. Congress must play a stronger role. 
More hearings in Congress are needed, with 
survivors of drone strikes and independent 
experts in human rights and international law.

You can help: 

Send this message to President Obama, your 
Senators and your Representative. 

By Stevi Carroll

Maryland: 18th State to abolish the death penalty

Hooray - Hallelujah - Right on - Amen

March 15 was a big day in Maryland as the 
House of Delegates passed (82-56) a bill to 
abolish the death penalty - for future crimes.  
The five people who are currently on death row 
are not affected by the legislation.  Governor 
Martin O'Malley did said, "I've felt compelled 
to do everything I could to change our law, 
repeal the death penalty, so that we could focus 
on doing the things that actually work to reduce 
violent crime."  The five inmates on death row 
may still be spared.

Five other states recently abolished the death 
penalty: New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, 
Illinois and Connecticut.  And stand by, even 
the great execution state of Texas is re-
considering the death penalty.

To thank Governor O'Malley, go to

Can the times be a-changin' in Texas?

A March 20 editorial in the Dallas Morning 
News, "With death penalty bans gaining steam, 
what's next for Texas?" , discusses Maryland's 
recent abolition of the death penalty and begins 
with, "There should be no debate that evolving 
standards of decency mold the justice system. If 
that were not the case, Texas judges could still 
hang horse thieves."  While Texas is far different 
from Maryland, the number of abolition states 
does make the writer wonder how Texas cannot 
move in that direction.  

A UT-Texas Tribune poll last year found that a 
majority of Texans continue to favor the death 
penalty, but now a number of bills that will 
influence death penalty cases are before both the 
Texas House and Senate.  Perhaps even Texans 
can change; although, April has seven executions 
scheduled country wide and six of them are in 

One sentence in the editorial sums up the death 
"At best, the death penalty is selectively used 
state-supported retribution, which has no place 
in a civilized society."

To read the entire editorial, go to

SAFE California Rises Again

SAFE California took a little break after last 
November's Proposition 34 defeat and is now 
ready to rock 'n' roll again.  The organization is 
asking Californians for suggestions for how we 
can move forward to get rid of the death 
penalty in our state.  To send your ideas, go to

One Thing That Deserves the Death Penalty

Recently on Facebook, Upworthy posted an 
Amnesty International video showing the one 
thing that does deserve the death penalty.  To 
see this video, go to

Stays of Execution
Date scheduled for execution
March 2013
6	Edward Schad		Arizona
March 2013
6	Frederick Treesh	Ohio	
			1-drug lethal injection
12	Steven Ray Thacker	Oklahoma	
			3-drug lethal injection

UAs    13
POC     4
Total  17                                                                       
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.