Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXI Number 10, October 2013

  Thursday, October 24, 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, November 12, 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, November 17, 6:30 PM.  Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
group. This month we read "Looking for 
Trans-Wonderland - Travels in Nigeria" by 
Noo Saro-Wiwa.


Hi All

This year Amnesty International's Western 
Regional Conference will be held in Los Angeles 
November 1-3, at the Sheraton Four Points near 
LAX.   It is too late to get the discounted hotel 
rate for AI members, but not too late to register 
for the conference itself. Go to

The deadline to register online is Monday 
October 28th.  You can also show up and register 
at the conference.

We will be out of town for a family emergency 
that weekend.  I expect a report from those who 
attend for our next newsletter!

Con Carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, Nov.17, 6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado, Pasadena

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in 

By Noo Saro-Wiwa


A Nigerian-born English journalist makes peace 
with the land that killed her father.
Ken Saro-Wiwa was a Nigerian nonviolent 
political activist campaigning against 
government corruption and environmental 
degradation when he was falsely accused by the 
military regime and executed in 1995. His 
daughter Noo, a twin to her sister, Zina, born in 
1976 and educated in England and the United 
States, maintained a mostly antagonistic 
relationship toward the land of her Ogoni 
parents, who sent the children on summer 
holidays back to the family compound where 
the heat, disorder, lack of running water and 
electricity consumed the author with dread. 
Now a young woman self-admittedly spoiled by 
the amenities of English life, the author allows 
her love-hate relationship with Nigeria to flavor 
this thoughtful travel journal, lending it irony, 
wit and frankness, yet also an undertone of 
bitterness. Starting in Lagos, staying at the home 
of her mother's friend, she was overwhelmed by 
the noise and tumult of the city, teeming with 
300-odd ethnic groups that were miraculously 
not worn down by quotidian inconveniences 
such as five-hour commutes, poorly paid jobs 
($2 at most per day) and a constant need for 
haggling and hustling to make ends meet. 
Indeed, a Pentecostal faith inspired many 
Nigerians, rendering them by one account the 
happiest people in the world. From Lagos, "feral 
and impenetrable," Saro-Wiwa trekked through 
Nigerian land and history, to the university 
town of Ibadan, the modern urban metropolis of 
Abuja, Kano and the Islamic northern recesses, 
national parks and nature preserves, civic-
minded Calabar and formerly glorious Benin, 
before facing the "tense oil-city" and difficult 
childhood memories of Port Harcourt.
A vigorous, scathing look at Nigeria then and 

From Kirkus Reviews


Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria in 1976 and 
raised in England. She attended King's College 
London and Columbia University in New York 
and has written travel guides for Rough Guide 
and Lonely Planet. She currently lives in 

Her first book Looking for Transwonderland: 
Travels in Nigeria was published by Granta in 
January 2012 to brilliant reviews and 
was chosen by the Financial Times Life & Arts as 
one of the best books of the year, and by The 
Sunday Times as Travel Book of the Year 2


by Robert Adams

US has killed far more civilians with 
drones than it admits, says UN
By Michael Isikoff 
NBC News National Investigative 

A new report from a special U.N. 
investigator says drone strikes have killed 
far more civilians than U.S. officials have 
publicly acknowledged - at least 400 in 
Pakistan and as many as 58 in Yemen - and 
chides the U.S. for failing to aid the 
investigation by disclosing its own figures.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, 
who issued the "interim" report, said the 
U.S. had created "an almost insurmountable 
obstacle to transparency."

"The Special Rapporteur does not accept 
that considerations of national security 
justify withholding statistical and basic 
methodological data of this kind," wrote 
Emmerson in the report, which is due to be 
presented to the U.N. General Assembly 
next Friday.

U.S. intelligence officials have consistently 
downplayed the number of civilian deaths 
from drone strikes. In a June 2011 speech, 
White House counter-terrorism advisor John 
Brennan, who is now CIA director, said that 
"for nearly the past year, there hasn't been a 
single collateral death because of the 
exceptional proficiency [and] precision" of 
U.S. counter-terror strikes.

Later, the CIA acknowledged some civilian 
casualties, but told Congress that they were 
in the "single digits," according to a 
February 2013 statement by Senate 
Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Diane 
Feinstein, D.-Calif.

In a major speech on drone strikes this May, 
President Obama openly acknowledged 
civilian deaths, saying "they will haunt us 
for as long as we live" -- but didn't provide 
any hard numbers or estimates.

"It is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have 
resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that 
exist in every war," Obama said. "And for 
the families of those civilians, no words or 
legal construct can justify their loss."

According to Emmerson, the Pakistani 
government provided him with new 
casualty numbers for strikes in the country's 
Federally Administered Tribal Areas 
(FATA), where the U.S. government has 
targeted Al Qaeda operatives and their 
associates since 2004. While acknowledging 
the difficulty in compiling precise figures in 
a region largely beyond government control, 
he states that Pakistani officials confirmed 
"at least 400 civilians had been killed as a 
result of remotely piloted aircraft strikes and 
a further 200 individuals [killed] were 
regarded as probably non-combatants." He 
added that Pakistani officials said those 
figures were likely to be an underestimate, 
due to "underreporting and obstacles to 
effective investigation."

Emmerson told NBC News that there is no 
reason "on the face of it" to question the 
Pakistani government's number because 
they were broadly in line with the lower end 
of figures compiled by non-governmental 
groups and independent media monitoring. 
He said one major difficulty in calculating 
any numbers is a differing view of who 
constitutes a civilian. Pakistani officials, he 
said, tend to view the owner of a home 
where suspected al Qaeda operatives are 
staying as a non-combatant, an assessment 
not generally shared by U.S. officials.

Emmerson also said that he and his 
researchers had identified 33 "sample 
remotely piloted aircraft strikes that appear 
to have resulted in civilian casualties." Most 
of these were by the U.S., he said, but about 
"eight or nine" were Israeli strikes in Gaza. 
He did not identify the strikes, saying he is 
still investigating them and plans to present 
his findings to the U.N. Human Rights 

The highest level of civilian casualties, 
Emmerson said, occurred when the CIA 
ramped up drone strikes in Pakistan 
between 2008 and 2010. Since then, he said, 
drone strikes in Pakistan have steadily 
declined and "the number of civilian deaths 
has dropped dramatically."

Emmerson's estimate of civilian casualties 
from drone strikes in Yemen ranged from 21 
to 58.

A former Pakistani official told NBC News 
that the figures the Pakistani government 
supplied to Emmerson were much higher 
than earlier estimates and could have been 
influenced by domestic politics, given 
mounting domestic resistance in that 
country to U.S. drone operations.
The number is still "significant," said Letta 
Taylor, a senior counter-terrorism researcher 
for Human Rights Watch, because it is the 
first time a United Nations investigator has 
attached specific numbers to the issue of 
civilian death. She acknowledged, however, 
that "all the figures are estimates. We're all 
operating in an information blackout."

In a statement, White House spokesperson 
Laura Magnuson said, "We are aware that 
this report has been released and are 
reviewing it carefully."

She noted that at the National Defense 
University on May 23, "[T]he President 
spoke at length about the policy and legal 
rationale for how the United States takes 
action against al Qaeda and its associated 
forces. As the President emphasized, the use 
of lethal force, including from remotely 
piloted aircraft, commands the highest level 
of attention and care. Of particular note, 
before we take any counter-terrorism strike, 
there must be near-certainty that no civilians 
will be killed or injured - the highest 
standard we can set." 

Gao Zhisheng

by Joyce Wolf

Human Rights Watch identified Gao Zhisheng, 
Group 22's adopted prisoner of conscience, as an 
example of a human rights defender singled out 
for particularly harsh treatment by the Chinese 

This statement from HRW is for the Universal 
Periodic Review (UPR) of China by the United 
Nations Human Rights Council, scheduled for 
October 22 in Geneva. The UPR is "a unique 
process which involves a review of the human 
rights records of all UN Member States. With the 
UN Human Rights Council's support, the UPR 
provides the opportunity for each State to 
declare what actions they have taken to improve 
the human rights situations in their countries 
and to fulfill their human rights obligations. It 
also provides the opportunity for civil society 
organisations to engage in the process, which 
aims at reminding States of their responsibility 
to fully respect and implement all human rights 
and fundamental freedoms."

The documentary film, Transcending Fear: The 
Story of Gao Zhisheng, now has its own 
where you can read a statement from director 
Wenjing Ma telling how she came to make the 
film. It's showing Nov. 3 in Ottawa, Canada, at 
the 4th annual festival of the Free Thinking Film 
Society. Unfortunately the film is not available 
on Netflix. We might consider contacting 
Wenjing Ma about showing the film in the Los 
Angeles area, if we can get the involvement of 
other local human rights organizations. In the 
meantime, you can "like" the film on its 
facebook page
Group 22's photo of our action to send birthday 
cards to Gao Zhisheng's 10-year old son was 
retweeted on the Twitter account dedicated to 
Gao Zhisheng. Visit (and retweet if you wish)

By Stevi Carroll

Herman Wallace

Herman Wallace lived 41 years in solitary 
confinement.  In 1971, Mr. Wallace and two 
other men were convicted of armed robbery and  
sentenced to the Louisiana State Prison at 
Angola.  Because of the conditions at the prison, 
including sexual assault and enslavement, Mr. 
Wallace joined the Black Panthers and began 
protesting for improved conditions and 
protecting newly arrived inmates.  

When Brent Miller, a prison guard, was 
murdered, Associated Warden Hayden Dees 
thought "A certain type of militant or 
revolutionary inmate, maybe even a communist 
type" should be locked down at all times.  A 
member of the Black Panthers definitely would 
have fit that description.

Brent Miller's case had intrigue.  The murdered 
guard was born on the prison grounds in a 
community made up of prison employees.  The 
star witness against Mr. Wallace and his co-
defendant, Albert Woodfox, was known 
jailhouse snitch.  The grand jury was not 'of his 

Mr. Wallace was found guilty of Mr. Miller's 
murder.  At the time of his conviction, the 
Supreme Court had ruled the death penalty to 
be cruel and unusual; therefore, Mr. Wallace 
received life without parole.

Mr. Wallace spent decades in solitary 
confinement.  A judge finally overturned his 
sentence on constitutional grounds.  He was 
released from prison October 1, 2013.  Three days 
later Herman Wallace died a free man.

To learn more about this case, go to

Before Mr. Wallace died, Democracy NOW! did 
segment on his release. This set of interviews 
clarifies many of the details of this case.

Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox, a co-defendant with Herman 
Wallace, continues to live in solitary 
confinement where he has been for more than 40 
years.  He reports being strip searched, 
including cavity searches, as many as six times a 
day.  According to Amnesty International, Mr. 
Woodfox's conviction has been overturned three 
times and yet he languishes in the SHU.

To read more on his case, go to
To take an online action, go to

Harry Mitts, Jr.

Harry Mitts, Jr. isn't as well known as Paris 
Hilton or Sarah Palin, but what happened to 
him is an historical event.  He is the last man 
Ohio executed before its supply of pentobarbital 
expired the end of September, and Ohio and 
other states won't be able to get any more of 
their execution drug of choice.  The Danish 
manufacturer Lundbeck won't sell pentobarbital 
to states that use it for executions and plans to 
support this decision in accordance with Danish 
law and European human rights law.  Since 
Ohio has an execution scheduled for November 
14, they must find a solution to this problem.  
But for Harry Mitts, Jr. - well, someone has to be 
last, but he may not be the last person executed 
in Ohio since a new plan for getting execution 
drugs seems available.

Compounding Pharmacies

Compounding pharmacies may be the savior for 
the execution business.  That's what at least five 
states, South Dakota; Texas; Ohio; Georgia; and 
Colorado, hope.  Apparently, three 
compounding pharmacies are ready to supply 
executioners with the drugs needed.  October 
9th, Michael Yowell died from a dose of 
pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy.  
One problem with compounded drugs is that 
they may not be safe or they may cause other 
infections, diseases, or problems.  In 2012, a 
Massachusetts compounding pharmacy created 
tainted drugs that caused an outbreak of a rare 
type of meningitis.  Fifty people died and more 
than 700 other people were sickened in 20 states. 
In the case of Michael Yowell, U. S. District 
Judge Lynn Hughes succinctly put it, 
"Pentobarbital will kill Yowell in five to eighteen 
minutes and his consciousness will be 
diminished almost immediately; therefore, 
infections like meningitis will not hurt him 
because they require weeks to incubate."

David Ball, a spokesman for the compounding 
industry, has said that only three pharmacies 
have supplied compounded drugs for lethal 
injection at this point.  He also said that no 
compounding pharmacy actively seeks the 
business of making drugs to kill people.  Mr. 
Ball said,  "Every pharmacist that I know chose 
their profession in part out of a desire to help 
people, and that is what they focus on in their 
work."  Maybe this is why the owner of 
Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy sent a 
letter to Texas corrections officials telling them 
he wanted the pentobarbital his pharmacy had 
created and they'd purchased back.  

We will have to see what happens with the 
compounding pharmacies and state sanctioned 
murder in the USA.

I Am Troy Davis

Many of us remember the months, weeks, days 
and hours that led up to September 21, 2011, 
when Troy Davis was executed.  In September, 
new book, I Am Troy Davis by Jen Marlowe, 
Martina-Correia Davis, and Troy Davis, was 
published by Haymarkets Books.   Sister Helen 
Prejean, long-time anti-death penalty activist 
and author of Dead Man Walking, wrote the 

To read more about the book and its authors, go 

Stays of execution
16	Larry Hatton		Texas
23	Allen Nicklasson	Missouri

25		Harry Mitts		Ohio
       		1-drug lethal injection1
26		Arturo Diaz		Texas
			1-drug lethal injection

1		Marshall Gore		Florida
			3-drug lethal injection2
9		Edward Schad		Arizona
 			1-drug lethal injection
9		Michael Yowell	Texas
       		1-drug lethal injection
15		William Happ3	Florida
       		3-drug lethal injection4

1. Pentobarbital
2 Pentobarbital - I don't know why only one drug is 
3. volunteer - an inmate who waived ordinary 
appeals that remained at the time of his execution.  
Mr. Happ had been on death row for 24 years.
4. midazolam hydrochloride 

UAs          17
POC Cards     6
Total        23
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.