Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXII Number 3, March 2014


 UPCOMING EVENTS
  Thursday, March 27, 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 8, 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 27, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "On Saudi Arabia" by Karen 
Elliott House.

COORDINATOR'S CORNER

Hi All

Spring is officially here and I'm looking forward 
to a few more months of school, then summer! 
Mild weather and increased daylight hours 
mean more errands can get done after work, and 
I can go to the pool to exercise in the evening!

Easter falls on the same date as our April book 
groups meeting, so note the date change:  we 
moved it to the last Sunday in April.

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, April 27, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado, Pasadena





Book Review:   
from the New York Times

By Michael J. Totten, 
November 16, 2012

ON SAUDI ARABIA: 
Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines - and 
Future
By Karen Elliott House

In Peter Berg's whodunit "The Kingdom," a 
young F.B.I. agent boarding a plane to Riyadh 
asks a seasoned colleague what Saudi Arabia is 
like. "A bit like Mars," replies the more 
experienced man.
It's not Mars, exactly, but for most Americans 
Saudi Arabia is probably more like another 
world than any other inhabited part of this one. 
It is about as distinct from the freewheeling 
United States as a country can be - not a 
modern totalitarian "republic" like Communist 
North Korea, but another kind of dictatorial 
regime, a fanatically conservative society self-
oppressed by thousand-year-old rules, 
regulations, prescriptions and prohibitions. The 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is, as Christopher 
Hitchens once described the occluded realm 
ruled by the Kim family in Pyongyang, a place 
"where everything that is not absolutely 
compulsory is absolutely forbidden." 
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Karen 
Elliott House has been visiting the kingdom for 
more than 30 years, and in her new book, "On 
Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault 
Lines - and Future," she skillfully unveils this 
inscrutable place for regional specialists and 
general readers alike. "For millennia," she 
writes, "Saudis struggled to survive in a vast 
desert under searing sun and shearing winds 
that quickly devour a man's energy, as he 
searches for a wadi of shade trees and water, 
which are few and far between, living on only a 
few dates and camel's milk. These conditions 
bred a people suspicious of each other and 
especially of strangers, a culture largely devoid 
of art or enjoyment of beauty." 
Religious edicts are crushingly enforced by 
state, mosque and society. Movie theaters are 
banned, as are concerts and just about 
everything else related to entertainment. 
Women, even foreign women, must cover 
themselves in public. Unrelated women and 
men aren't allowed to mix anywhere. Even 
Starbucks coffee shops are segregated by 
gender. 
Men have it rough, but women have it much 
rougher. According to Wahhabi Islam, men 
must obey Allah and women must obey men. 
"Fortunately for men," House writes, "Allah is 
distant, but unfortunately for women, men are -
omnipresent." 
Western women like House, though, have an 
advantage, despite the fact that they're forced by 
the Muttawah, the religious police, to cover 
themselves. In Saudi Arabia they are treated as 
"honorary men," so House was able to interview 
whomever she liked - men and their wives, 
women and their husbands - something no 
foreign man or Saudi citizen of either gender is 
ever allowed to do. 
She describes the society as a maze "in which 
Saudis endlessly maneuver through winding 
paths between high walls of religious rules, 
government restrictions and cultural traditions." 
The labyrinth is not just a metaphor. Cities are 
claustrophobic places where even men but 
especially women live as shut-ins, socializing 
strictly with family. Walk down a residential 
street and in every direction you'll see not 
porches and yards but walls "that block people 
from outside view but, more important, separate 
them from one another." 
And the country as a whole is riven with virtual 
walls. The sterile interior highlands of the Nejd 
are at odds with the relatively cosmopolitan 
Hejaz on the coast of the Red Sea. In the Eastern 
Province, where the country's oil reserves are 
concentrated, Shia Muslims live under the boot, 
denounced by Wahhabis as heretics. The 
Ismailis in the destitute south, with their historic 
links to Yemen, are not-so-benignly neglected. 
Each of these regions in turn is divided by tribe, 
and each tribe is divided by family. Most Saudis 
marry one of their cousins. Hardly any of them 
marry outside their tribe, let alone region. 
But the highest wall of all - the information 
barrier restricting knowledge of the wider world 
and its ways - is crumbling fast. Thanks to the 
Internet, the young (and 60 percent of Saudis are 
20 or younger) know all about life in less 
cloistered Arab societies and in the West. And 
they're not buying into the Saudi system the 
way their parents and grandparents did. 
"Our minds are in a box," a middle-aged 
businessman explains to House. "But the young 
are being set free by the Internet and 
knowledge. They will not tolerate what we 
have." A single man in his 20s tells her: 
"Facebook opens the doors of our cages." And a 
university official says: "A young man has a car 
and money in his pocket, but what can he do? 
Nothing. He looks at TV and sees others doing 
things he can't do and wonders why." 
Even if their elders, the government and the 
religious establishment ease up and give young 
people a little additional space, there's a more 
serious problem that won't be so easily solved. 
What on earth will Saudi Arabia do when the 
wells run dry, when oil can no longer pay for 
the lavish welfare system that provides 
subsidized goods and free services to the middle 
class? 
Related Times Topic: Saudi Arabia
Millions of new jobs will need to be created in 
the coming years just to keep the economy from 
collapsing. Yet the education system, in the firm 
grip of Wahhabi fundamentalists, is 
spectacularly unable to prepare Saudis for 
professional jobs. And since most refuse blue-
collar and service work, 9 out of 10 private 
sector jobs are held by foreigners. 
The entire country, as House so clearly shows, 
needs a radical overhaul. But where is it going 
to come from? Not from the cautious and self-
interested government, at least not with the 
current royal cohort in charge. 
The Saudi state is an absolute monarchy, but it 
has a quirk of its own. Sons of the state's 
founder, Abdul Aziz bin Saud, who fathered 44 
boys, have been ruling the kingdom since his 
death in 1953. The throne keeps passing from 
brother to brother instead of from father to son. 
But the number of brothers is running out. The 
current king, Abdullah, is in his late 80s. Until 
this year, the next in line was Crown Prince 
Nayef, but he died in June, at the age of 78. The 
youngest brother is in his 60s. At some point, 
possibly soon, someone from the next 
generation will take charge. 
House repeatedly - and convincingly - 
compares the Saudi regime to the Soviet Union 
in its final days when Ronald Reagan said of the 
various premiers before Mikhail Gorbachev, 
"They keep dying on me." The country's 
calcified government, its sullen populace, its 
youth bulge, its outdated religious requirements 
and prohibitions, the collapse of the information 
bubble and the dying off of the current line of 
geriatric rulers are all bound to coalesce into a 
perfect storm sooner or later. 
But we should not expect liberalism, not now, 
not in this place. "For all their frustrations," 
House writes, "most Saudis do not crave 
democracy. . . . What unites conservatives and 
modernizers, and young and old, is a hunger 
not for freedom but for justice; for genuine rule 
of law, not rule by royal whim." 
Justice and the rule of law aren't at all likely to 
develop in a system that is not democratic. If 
House is right, then whatever happens, a new or 
post-Saudi Arabia may end up like post-Soviet 
Russia, at least in one way. A spring-like 
revolution for freedom, where human rights, 
justice, and the rule of law replace toppled 
labyrinth walls, will be a dream deferred to 
generations unborn. 

Michael J. Totten, a contributing editor at World 
Affairs and City Journal, is the author of "The Road 
to Fatima Gate" and "Where the West Ends."

Author Biography
Karen Elliott House, 64, retired in 2006 as 
Publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Senior Vice 
President of Dow Jones & Company, and a 
member of the company's executive committee.  
She is a broadly experienced business executive 
with particular expertise and experience in 
international affairs stemming from a 
distinguished career as a Pulitzer Prize winning 
reporter and editor.







PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
Gao Zhisheng

by Joyce Wolf


April 20 marks the 50th birthday of human rights 
lawyer Gao Zhisheng. For nearly a decade 
China has subjected him to arrest, torture, 
enforced disappearances and prison. He is now 
serving a 3-year sentence in remote Shaya Prison 
in western China, but his family has had no 
contact with him for over a year and is 
extremely concerned about his health and 
safety. Calling attention to his plight, Jared 
Genser wrote an article titled "Demanding 
Justice for Gao Zhisheng," published Feb. 27 in 
the Wall Street Journal. 
http://www.freedom-now.org/news/demanding-
justice-for-gao-zhisheng/

"A prominent legal activist has disappeared into 
the Chinese security system again. Gao 
Zhisheng, one of China's most prominent and 
courageous human-rights lawyers and prisoners 
of conscience, has again disappeared into the 
bowels of the Chinese state's security system. 
For more than a year, his family has desperately 
tried to access him in Shaya prison in Xinjiang, a 
remote province in western China. But all these 
efforts have been rebuffed and no one has seen 
or heard from him since January 2013." [You 
may remember that this last permitted family 
visit occurred just after Gao Zhisheng's case was 
featured in Amnesty's Dec. 2012 Write-a-thon.]

Jared Genser goes on to say, "The international 
community, including the United States and 
United Nations, must demand proof from the 
Chinese government that Mr. Gao is alive and 
insist that his family be granted monthly access 
to him as is required by Chinese law. The world 
must urge Mr. Gao's immediate and 
unconditional release. At a minimum, foreign 
leaders should press Beijing to release Mr. Gao 
on time instead of finding renewed excuses to 
extend his detention, as it has done in other 
cases." [22 August 2014 is the scheduled date for 
Gao Zhisheng's release.]

Please join Group 22 in sending birthday 
greetings in April to Gao Zhisheng in Shaya 
Prison. We will also have sample letters to 
Chinese government officials regarding his case. 
At our upcoming March meeting, a DVD of the 
film "Transcending Fear: The Story of Gao 
Zhisheng" will be available to view or borrow.


SECURITY WITH HUMAN 
RIGHTS 

by Robert Adams


In the Age of the Selfie, Privacy is 
Still Paramount
By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA 
Chair of the Board of Directors
March 19, 2014

As Americans and people around the world 
grow increasingly wary of the U.S. 
government's mass surveillance program, it is 
our obligation to speak up.

As a former prisoner of conscience in South 
Africa during the apartheid era, I know from 
personal experience just how important it is to 
protect our fundamental freedoms. And make 
no mistake: the right to privacy is absolutely 
fundamental to a free society. True, many of us 
broadcast selfies and personal details of our 
lives on social media every day. But that is our 
right and our choice. It does not give the 
government the right to collect and store every 
piece of data about us, without our consent.

The cost of widespread government surveillance 
is steep. The knowledge that everything we do 
can be monitored will change the way we act 
and what we say. This is how governments 
create a climate in which people fear the 
consequences of expressing themselves openly 
and worry their beliefs and activities can be 
used against them.

It turns ordinary, waking life into an Orwellian 
nightmare. It undermines our rights to freedom 
of expression, information and association, 
which are essential to a democracy.

The sheer scale of mass surveillance challenges 
our basic human right to liberty. It places every 
moment of our lives under scrutiny, and that is 
simply not acceptable. If the government has 
probable cause to believe that a crime has been 
committed, it has the legal right to intrude on 
our privacy to the extent necessary. But 
otherwise, our lives are our own.

In the past year, growing awareness of the scope 
and proximity of mass surveillance has caused a 
public uproar and fundamentally changed the 
way we think about the systems our 
government uses to protect us - but has it 
elicited any change in policy?

Not yet. To the contrary, last fall the FISA 
Improvements Act was introduced, which, if 
approved, would actually codify 
unconstitutional NSA programs, including mass 
surveillance and data collection. This bill also 
enables unidentified "law enforcement 
agencies" to conduct investigations without 
warrants. For me, that's a nonstarter.

The United States is one of the most powerful 
and influential nations in the world. It is 
absolutely crucial that we demonstrate to the 
global community that we value human 
liberties, including privacy. Our elected officials 
must steer away from ineffective, intrusive 
programs and focus on respecting the human 
rights of the people they were elected to 
represent and protect.

A few weeks ago, Amnesty International USA 
joined a campaign called, "The Day We Fight 
Back Against Mass Surveillance." The campaign 
was endorsed by a wide range of politicians, 
technology companies including Google and 
Twitter, and human rights and civil liberties 
organizations.

Tens of thousands of phone calls and hundreds 
of thousands of e-mail messages were delivered 
to Congress in support of the USA Freedom Act, 
a bipartisan bill that will end bulk data 
collection of our phone calls and require 
greater transparency from the Obama 
administration regarding surveillance. The bill is 
not perfect and fails to fully uphold the rights of 
people outside of the U.S. - who make up 95 
percent of the world. But it is a small, significant 
step in the right direction.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who 
introduced the bill, was also the primary author 
of the USA Patriot Act, parts of which seriously 
threatened human rights and civil liberties. Yet, 
even he says the NSA ignored legal restrictions, 
abused the public's trust, and assumed 
authority never imagined by Congress.

Elected officials should turn away from pushing 
legislation that jeopardizes fundamental 
liberties, and instead support the USA Freedom 
Act. Rather than exchanging freedom for safety, 
it guarantees that the two operate together, 
maintaining national security without sacrificing 
human rights. This USA Freedom Act isn't 
simply a reaction to NSA spying; it is a 
recommitment to protecting the right to privacy.



DEATH PENALTY NEWS
By Stevi Carroll


Glenn Ford

March 11, 2014, is a day Glenn Ford will always 
remember.  On that day, he walked out of the 
Louisiana State Prison at Angola a free man 
after spending 30 years on death row.  His case 
underscores the need for a lengthy and 
thorough appeals process.  The following 
reasons, posted on the National Coalition to 
Abolish the Death Penalty site, contributed to 
Mr. Ford's conviction and death sentence.

	He was represented by two attorneys chosen 
from an alphabetical listing of the local bar 
association.  One attorney was an oil and gas 
lawyer that had never worked civil or capital 
cases.  The second attorney was an insurance 
defense lawyer who had received her law license 
less than two years prior and had never 
participated in a jury trial before;
	His attorneys did not hire experts because they 
were under the impression that they would have 
to pay for the experts themselves; 
	The prosecutors withheld key evidence and hired 
faulty forensic "experts" who misled jurors about 
the facts of the case;
	Despite the fact that the main witness tying Mr. 
Ford to the crime recanted her own testimony on 
the stand in front of the jury, an all-white jury 
found him guilty of killing Isadore Rozeman in 
1982.

In 2013, a confidential informant for the Caddo 
Parish Sheriff's Office said Jake Robinson told 
him he killed Isadore Rozeman, not Mr. Ford.

With 144 people exonerated of all charges and 
released from death row since 1976, we need to 
consider the ramifications of limiting or 
speeding up the appeals process in capital cases.

Welcome to freedom, Glenn Ford.  You cannot 
reclaim the 30 years you spent on death row, but 
I dearly hope the remainder of your life will 
allow you joy and tranquility.

"Glenn Ford's First Day of Freedom After 30 
Years on Death Row" (The Atlantic Magazine) 
can be found at http://tinyurl.com/glenn-ford.

Cameron Todd Willingham's Exoneration 
Continues

Members of the Innocence Project continue to 
work for the exoneration of Cameron Todd 
Willingham, executed February 17, 2004, in 
Texas.  Since Mr. Willingham's execution, the 
Texas Forensic Science Commission has found 
problems with the arson investigators' opinions 
in the case.  A number of leaders in the field of 
fire investigation have concluded that no foul 
play was present in the fire and that his 
conviction was based on erroneous forensic 
analysis.  

Additionally, the jailhouse snitch who said Mr. 
Willingham confessed to the murders recanted 
his story in writing in 2000, but that Motion to 
Recant Testimony was not put in Mr. 
Willingham's case file; therefore, no one 
representing Mr. Willingham knew about the 
recantation.

Should the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles 
agrees with the advocates for Mr. Willingham 
regarding his exoneration, Governor Rick Perry 
has the final decision. Governor Perry has 
referred to Mr. Willingham as "a monster" who 
killed his children.  If this case goes into 2015, 
Governor Perry's successor will consider the 
case.

Mr. Willingham's family members watch the 
case closely.  His stepmother, Eugenia 
Willingham is thrilled and hopeful while his 
cousin, Patricia Cox has said that should 
exoneration occur, the family will not press for 
damages.  Ms. Cox said,  "We're not asking 
compensation. We're asking justice."

Executions
February
26	Michael Taylor	        Missouri 
	lethal injection - 1-drug pentobarbital

26	Paul Howell		Florida 
 	lethal injection - 3-drug w/ midazolam 
				hydrochloride
March
19	Ray Jasper		Texas	 
	lethal injection - 1-drug pentobarbital

20	Robert Henry		Florida	 
	lethal injection - 3-drug w/ midazolam 
 				hydrochloride



GROUP 22 MONTHLY LETTER COUNT
UAs    29
POC     5
DP      2
Total  36
To add your letters to the total contact 
aigp22@caltech.edu
   

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.