Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News Volume XXI Number 11, November-December 2013 UPCOMING EVENTS Thursday, December 5, 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 14, 10 AM to 4 PM. Letter writing marathon at Pasadena's Zephyr Cafe, 2419 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91107. Phone 626-793-7330. See you there! Sunday, December 15, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion group. This month we read "Beautiful Souls" by Eyal Press. COORDINATOR'S CORNER Hi All Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgivukkah (the first day of Hanukkah was on Thanksgiving day!) and are getting ready for Christmas! Only a few weeks away…Personally, I make a point to stay away from shopping malls from Thanksgiving until after Christmas and do my shopping online! This year only two of our members attended the Western Regional Conference in LA. Here's Stevi's photo of Kalaya'an Mendoza at the opening session. http://tinyurl.com/pfepff7 All of Stevi's photos and reports are on Group 22's Facebook page, http://tinyurl.com/n8ylgsj Con Carino, Kathy RIGHTS READERS Human Rights Book Discussion Group Keep up with Rights Readers at http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com Next Rights Readers meeting: Sunday, Dec. 15, 6:30 PM Beautiful Souls by Eval Press Note: Meeting will be held at private home, not Vroman's Bookstore. 187 S. Catalina Ave., Unit 2, Pasadena. 626-795-1785 KIRKUS REVIEW Press (Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict That Divided America, 2006) returns with a disquisition on conscience, "about the mystery of what impels people to…stop, say no, resist." The author builds his account on the foundation of social psychology and examines the stories of several people from a variety of times, cultures and situations. He begins--where else?--with the Nazis in Poland, 1942, when the German Order Police committed a mass execution of Jews, but about a dozen soldiers refused to participate. Press then moves to Paul Gruninger, a Swiss policeman who in 1938 admitted into the country a number of Jewish refugees-- ignoring official policy. Next the author looks at a Serb soldier who saved a number of Croats targeted for ethnic cleansing in 1991. Another case was an Israeli soldier who defied policy in an operation against the Palestinians. Press' final example is Leyla Wydler, a financial advisor employed by the Stanford Group Company in 2000 who reported to the SEC her company's gross deceptions. Throughout, Press notes the consequences of his principals' actions: ostracism, firing, psychological, social and financial losses. Interviewing those still living, he learns some surprising things. Not all are intellectuals, or even had rational reasons for behaving as they did (to some, it just didn't feel right); not all had religious or even moral reasons for their behavior. Some attribute their decision to family history or to simply looking in the mirror; none had regrets. Press believes that saying no is always possible, never easy and that the outcome is surely never certain. To buttress his analysis, he includes allusions to philosophers, psychologists and even relevant films--e.g., Silkwood. An intelligent though sometimes dense examination of moral courage and its consequences. Author Biography Eyal Press is a writer based in New York. His work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Nation, and the Raritan Review. He is the author of Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times (2012), and Absolute Convictions (2006), a narrative account of the abortion conflict. He is a past recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. FREEDOM FOR CHINA Rally in Long Beach By Wen Chen Oct. 20, 2013 was a beautiful day in Marina Green Park at Long Beach. At the other side of the Pacific Ocean, millions of people like me are still suffering in labor camps and jails for their belief. I am fortunate enough to live on the side of ocean with freedom, and able to join 4,000 Falun Gong practitioners from all over the world to do something to support our fellows in China. Many people came early and did mediation before the public rally started. At 11am, more than 100 victims from China gathered near the stage. Each of them only got a couple of minutes to tell their years of experience of torture in labor camps, jails or mental hospitals. The youngest victim was a teenager girl, she was jailed together with her parents when she was five years old. A woman described how she lost her baby after she was violently beaten during pregnancy. Many people were beaten up, shocked by electric batons, force fed or poisoned by unknown drugs via injection or feeding. A victim was shocked by 6 electric batons at the same time. A lot of them witnessed the death of their children, parents or friends from the persecution. All of them lost their jobs. Almost every victim described going through complicated physical checkups during detention, including blood tests, X-ray, function of their heart and lung, but they were never told the results. The police kept inquiring about their social connections. Those Falun Gong practitioners from rural area, with few relatives or friends, were numbered and taken to unknown places in truck loads. All of these reminded me the huge number of organ transplants in China, and the shocking statements from hospitals that "We will find matching organs for you within 24 hours." (http://stoporganharvesting.org). The most touching scene appeared at noon, when Congressman Dana Rohrabacher appeared in the crowd. He told a story about his father, who was in Shanghai during WWII as an American soldier. He was proud that Americans can do something to save the lives of Chinese again. As a member of the foreign relations committee he recalled that one of the most embarrassing hearings occurred when a great American computer company admitted designing and installing for the communist dictatorship a system to control Chinese people and even control criticism. At that hearing, a woman testified that her son, a journalist, was tracked down and arrested for criticizing the government over the internet via that system. Being a devout Christian, he sees the merits of Falun Gong. "... we know it is up to us, all of us, to perfect ourselves and I see that with the Falun Gong talking about those aspects (Truth, Compassion, Tolerance) of the human soul that will make us more tolerant and more forgiving and energetic towards helping others," he said. Rep. Rohrabacher(center) joined the victims and sang "Free China" (from the award-winning documentary Free China - Courage to Believe. http://freechina.ntdtv.org/). DEATH PENALTY NEWS By Stevi Carroll I'm writing this column on the day after Thanksgiving. While I have many things for which to be thankful, the important one here is that 18 US states and the District of Columbia do not use the death penalty. Additionally, six of these states have abolished the death penalty since 2007 and 'popularity' for the death penalty has fallen from 80% in 1994 to about 63% in 2012. RIP - Delbert Tibbs November 23, 2013, Delbert Tibbs died. In 1974 while walking across the country on a spiritual quest, Delbert Tibbs was arrested for the rape of Cynthia Nadeau and the murder of Terry Milroy, her traveling companion, in Florida. Both Ms Nadeau and Mr. Milroy were white and Mr. Tibbs was African-American. Although Mr. Tibbs was taller and had a lighter complexion than the person Ms Nadeau described, when she was shown Polaroid snapshots of Mr. Tibbs, she said he was the man who killed Mr. Milroy and raped her. Mr. Tibbs was tried before an all-white jury, found guilty and sentenced to death. Joan Baez and Pete Seeger raised money for the Delbert Tibbs Defense Committee so that Mr. Tibbs was able to hire legal representation. He was released in 1977 and in 1982, the Florida State Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Mr. Tibbs became an advocate for death penalty abolition and worked as an Assistant Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence, the country's only organization dedicated to empowering exonerated death row survivors. To see an interview with Mr. Tibbs, go to http://www.oneforten.com/delbert-tibbs. To see the lyrics of Pete Seeger's song "Delbert Tibbs" and the fundraising done for his case in Songwriter Magazine, go to www.peteseeger.net/songwriter_magazine.htm Reginald Griffin For Reginald Griffin, October 25, 2013, will be the day to remember. After spending almost 30 years on Missouri's death row, the prosecution dismissed the charges with which he'd been condemned, and although he'd been released on bond pending retrial since December 2012, in October 2013 Mr. Griffin became the 143rd person in the US to be exonerated and freed from death row since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973. His conviction for killing a fellow inmate in 1983 relied on testimony from two jailhouse snitches who received benefits from their testimonies and who later renounced them. Mr. Griffin is the 4th person in Missouri to be exonerated along with Clarence Dexter (exonerated 1999), Eric Clemmons (2000), and Joseph Amrine (2003). California and the Death Penalty As we remember last November 6th, Proposition 34 was defeated by a mere 250,000 votes. I've wondered if people voted 'no' on Prop 34 because they opposed the death penalty and did not realize that voting 'yes' was not in FAVOR of the death penalty but rather a vote for life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). Recently, Paula Mitchell, a career federal judicial law clerk for Senior Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcón on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, published 'California's Death Penalty: A Year in Review.' Here are a few highlights: * California has not carried out any more executions; there have been no executions now for nearly a decade. * California taxpayers continue to pay a surcharge of $184 million per year to house and provide medical care for over 740 inmates on California's death row, and to provide decades-long, publicly- funded counsel for those inmates. Those expenditures are not incurred under an LWOP system. * Over 135 men on death row are between 60 and 89 years old, many of whom have significant medical care needs. * Six more California death row inmates died from either natural causes or suicide, bringing the total non-execution deaths to 90. By contrast, a total of 13 inmates have been executed by the state since 1978. * For the 90 inmates who died while on death row, taxpayers provided the "lifetime housing/healthcare benefits" death penalty proponents warned voters they would be forced to pay if the state were to switch to LWOP as the state's toughest penalty. And those housing and healthcare costs come at a premium because we now know that death row costs more than other maximum security facilities. * Death penalty appeals continue to make up roughly one third of the California Supreme Court's caseload. * The backlog at the California Supreme Court is now so severe that it is taking almost 20 years for the court to decide direct appeals in death penalty cases. After that, death row inmates begin their state and federal habeas corpus proceedings, for which they are also provided publicly funded counsel, and which typically drag on for at least another ten years. To read the entire article, go to http://verdict.justia.com/2013/11/18/californias- death-penalty-year-review The Strange Case of Ronald Phillips In 1993, Ronald Phillips was sentenced to die for the rape and murder of his girlfriend's three- year-old daughter. With his legal options finished in mid-November this year, he was to be executed by lethal injection. His mother has kidney disease and his sister has a heart condition. Mr. Phillips has offered to donate his organs, and while this offer may be seen as a delay tactic, he says it is his 'attempt to make a final gesture for good.' Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to look into the possibility of organ donation not only of Mr. Phillips but also other condemned prisoners. Mr. Phillips is scheduled to be executed on July 2, 2014. At that time, we will see if organ donation becomes a part of executions in the USA. Stay of Execution November 14 Ronald Phillips Ohio Executions October 23 Robert Jones Arizona 1-drug lethal injection* November 12 Darius Kimbrough Florida 3-drug lethal injection** 12 Jamie McCoskey Texas 1-drug lethal injection* 20 Joseph Franklin Missouri 1-drug lethal injection* *pentobarbital - ** with midazolam (a sedative) hydrochloride (a painkiller) SECURITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS by Robert Adams The following email was received from Zeke Johnson, Director of Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights Program, on November 19, 2013: Dear Friends, With your help, we won a victory on Guantanamo tonight! See our release below! The good Guantanamo transfer provisions in the NDAA for 2014 made it through the amendment process! We defeated a bad amendment by Senator Ayotte and a watered down amendment by Levin and McCain that appeared to allow indefinite detention in the mainland US. However, now we begin the tough process of preserving the good provisions in the reconciliation process with the bad House provisions. Stay tuned for new actions! Thank you all for your support! All those lobby visits, op-eds, calls, emails, Tweets, rallies and educational events made a difference! Zeke For Immediate Release November 19, 2013 Amnesty International Welcomes Senate Result on NDAA Guantanamo Amendments In response to the Senate vote on the Guantanamo transfer provisions as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014 (S. 1197), Zeke Johnson, Director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights Program and an observer of the military commissions at Guantanamo, issued the following statement: "Finally, the Senate did the right thing on Guantanamo. The new detainee transfer provisions will help ensure that each detainee is either given a safe and fair trial in US federal court or is transferred to another country if cleared to leave. Section 1031 of the Senate bill would facilitate the transfer to other countries of cleared detainees; Section 1032 would allow transfers to the mainland US for medical treatment; and Section 1033 would allow transfers to the mainland US for trial. These provisions must be preserved through the reconciliation process with the House provisions. Furthermore, President Obama need not wait for final passage to move forward with transfers under current law. People like Shaker Aamer, cleared to leave with a safe place to go that wants him – the UK – should be transferred out immediately." Regarding the House bill for the 2014 NDAA, H.R 1960, which then passed to the Senate, it should be noted that in the House Republican Conference summary it states, "H.R. 1960 maintains the prohibition against the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States or to countries where it has been confirmed that previously released detainees have engaged in terrorist activity after their release." Thus, it will be a tough fight to maintain the above transfer provisions in the final legislation – as Zeke says, "Stay tuned!" PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE Gao Zhisheng by Joyce Wolf One year ago Amnesty International chose human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Group 22's adopted prisoner of conscience, to be one of the cases featured in the annual AI Write-a-thon. Just one month later, in January 2012, Gao Zhisheng's brother received permission to visit him in prison. This was only the second family visit permitted by the Chinese authorities during Gao's imprisonment, so it seems that letter-writing might have had some effect! Gao Zhisheng is not a featured AI case this year, but let's make sure that China realizes he is not forgotten. Please send cards of support and encouragement to him in prison: 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 Check our website for more information about Gao Zhisheng and a current sample letter to Chinese authorities about his case. http://tinyurl.com/GaoPOC AI Group 148 and the Visual Artists Guild sent an invitation to join them at an International Human Rights Day Rally on Saturday December 7 at 2 pm in Chinatown, followed by a protest at the Chinese Consulate to demand the release of all prisoners of conscience. http://visual-artists-guild.org If you are not able to attend a rally or letter- writing event, please consider participating as an individual. . You can find case descriptions and sample letters at http://tinyurl.com/WriteForRights Happy International Human Rights Day! GROUP 22 MONTHLY LETTER COUNT UAs 20 Total 20 To add your letters to the total contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Amnesty International Group 22 The Caltech Y Mail Code C1-128 Pasadena, CA 91125 www.its.caltech.edu/~aigp22/ http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com 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.