Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXII Number 11, November-December 2014

  There will be no monthly meeting due to the 
holidays. Our regular schedule of meetings 
will resume in January.
  Saturday, December 6, Letter writing 
marathon for Human Rights Day from 10am 
to 4pm at Zephyr Cafe, 2419 E. Colorado 
Blvd., Pasadena, 91107.  Phone 626-793-7330.
  Sunday, December 14, 6:30pm. Book group 
meeting and holiday potluck at Joyce's house 
in Montrose. RSVP to or 
call Joyce at 818-354-7361. We are reading 
"Visitation" by Jenny Erpenbeck.


Hi All

I can't believe that Christmas is only a few 
weeks away!  Here's hoping everyone has a 
restful holiday.  We will be spending the holiday 
in SoCal this year with my father, sister and her 

Con Carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, December 14, 6:30 PM

by Jenny Erpenbeck



By Jenny Erpenbeck

(The Telegraph,
published 9 Dec 2010)

Kasia Boddy on the new offering from one of 
Germany's most experimental young writers, 
Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck

By Kasia Boddy

Over the past 10 years, Jenny Erpenbeck has 
gained a reputation as one of Germany's most 
adventurous young writers, exploring personal 
and national secrets through allegory (The Old 
Child) and fable (The Book of Words). 

Visitation, her third book, is set on a lake in the 
Brandenburg forest. A prologue enacts the 
violent drama of its Ice Age creation, while 
reminding us that even lakes are "temporary". 
The next great rupture comes at the end of the 
19th century, for it is only then that a steady 
chain of inheritance, dating back to 1650, comes 
to an end. 

Erpenbeck narrates the fairy tale of the mayor's 
four daughters, brought up according to what 
"may and must" be done. But the fiancˇ of one 
departs for Australia; another has a stillborn 
child with a workman; a third should have been 
"born a man"; and the youngest, Klara, goes 
mad and commits suicide. Modernity has 

Klara's Wood is sold off as "parcels of land" and 
in 1936 holiday homes are built. The rest of the 
book considers what happens to a group of 
characters who live in or visit this "particular bit 
of earth located not terribly far from Berlin" 
from the Thirties through to the recent past. 
As the land is divided up, so is Erpenbeck's 
book. Each character initially seems to be 
isolated into a discrete story, just as most are, at 
one time or other, enclosed in a confined space - 
a wardrobe, an oven, a prison cell. The most 
poignant version is, inevitably, that of Jewish 
Doris, who hides, and dies, in a pitch-black 
closet in the Warsaw Ghetto. 

But while Doris's world "had gone on shrinking 
as the end approached", other characters 
experience the pain of exile. Her uncle endures 
"expulsion to" (rather than from) an Indian 
Ocean paradise, while "The Writer" carries her 
typewriter from Berlin to Prague to Moscow to 
Ufa and back. That all suffering is more or less 
equal is the dubious implication. 

No story is given priority but each instead hints 
at the connections that place forges between 
various owners, renters and subtenants. 
Erpenbeck encourages us to act like detectives, 
noting the re-emergence of previously 
insignificant details in new contexts. 

As "The Architect" prepares to flee to the West 
in 1951, we learn that his wife's room 
"emanates" the scent of camphor and 
peppermint. It's a smell that lingers to the end of 
the book, evoking many of the house's other, 
less mundane, ghosts. 

Present throughout is "The Gardener", who 
silently rakes his way through the book and 
through history. From his perspective, and that 
of the 24,000 years since the ice arrived in 
Brandenburg, the Nazis and Stasis are no worse 
than the potato beetle infestation. They're all just 

Jenny Erpenbeck was born into a family of writers in 
East Berlin in 1967. Her grandparents, Hedda Zinner 
and Fritz Erpenbeck, both prominent cultural figures 
in the GDR, as well as her parents, John Erpenbeck 
and Doris Kilias, all worked as writers.

After her schooling, Erpenbeck completed an 
apprenticeship as a bookbinder. She worked as a 
prop-maker and dresser at the Staatsoper Berlin 
before studying theatre and stage direction for 
musical theatre. Since 1998 she has staged operas as a 
freelance director - including Acis und Galathea at the 
Staatsoper Berlin (2003); Orpheus in der Unterwelt in 
Palais Potsdam (2004), and Mozart's Zaide in 
Erlangen (2006). She staged her first original play, 
Katzen haben sieben Leben (t: Cats have seven lives), at 
the Grazer Schauspielhaus. In 2007 she wrote a 
column for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Erpenbeck's novels have been translated into over 
fourteen languages. She has been awarded numerous 
prizes, including the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for 
her short story Sibirien (2001; t: Siberia). She was the 
Island Guest Writer of the kunst:raum sylt quelle 
Foundation in 2006. In 2008 she was awarded the 
Heimito von Doderer Literature Prize, the Solothurn 
Literature Award for her complete works, and 
Heimsuchung was nominated for the Prize of the 
Leipzig Book Fair. Erpenbeck lives with her son in 

AIUSA Executive Director 
Visits Pasadena
By Laura Brown

On Election Night, 2014, Steve Hawkins, 
Executive Director of Amnesty International 
(AI) USA, met with local activists in Pasadena to 
lay out his priorities and tell about the group's 
national goals. Stephen and Susan Chandler 
hosted the event, billed as "dinner and 
conversation" for a varied group of 20 AI 

(Steven Hawkins is second from right. Ted and Laura 
Brown are at back left.)

Hawkins told the group that he and other 
Amnesty workers had been present during the 
Ferguson, MO standoff between police and 
those protesting the shooting of Michael Brown. 
He felt the stinging effects of tear gas firsthand, 
and lamented the presence of militarized police 
officers. He alluded to the book by Radley 
Balko, "Rise of the Warrior Cop," and one of the 
guests who was familiar with the book said the 
author describes how the Drug War and the War 
on Terror since 9-11 has led to new levels of 
SWAT type police units with heavy equipment 
like those seen at Ferguson. Hawkins has since 
returned to Ferguson after a grand jury did not 
indict Darren Wilson for Brown's killing, which 
has ignited protests in large U.S. cities including 
New York and San Francisco. He has reported 
that Amnesty International observers have been 
aimed at and gassed by riot police there. "Police 
raid safe space. Amnesty observers gassed," 
Steven Hawkins said November 25 on his 
official Twitter account.

Other topics discussed by the Pasadena group 
on election night included immigration and 
solitary confinement.  Three of the guests, two 
from Iran and one from Canada, voiced their 
frustration about applying for legal status for 
years without success. Another guest pointed 
out that unaccompanied migrant children had 
been met in Murietta, CA by protesters who 
wanted them sent back, and that this attitude is 
un-American. A group member who had 
worked more than 20 years as a probation 
officer said that he has witnessed more people 
being doomed to long terms in solitary 
confinement, sometimes based solely on an 
accusation by another inmate. Young people are 
given no hope of rehabilitation and risk wasting 
their lives away with no one to advocate for 
them, he said.

The evening was a chance to meet with Hawkins 
on a personal level, as well as to converse with 
fellow AI members. Tracey Kardash, AI Director 
of Development, thanked the hosts for 
providing the forum and said she hoped the 
conversation would continue among the 
attendees and their circle of influence.

By Stevi Carroll

Michael Brown

The grand jury in Ferguson MO ruled not to 
indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the 
shooting death of Michael Brown.  From soon 
after the shooting, AIUSA has had volunteers on 
the ground in Ferguson as peacekeepers, 
observers, and nonviolence teachers.  

Steven Hawkins, AIUSA's executive Director, 
posted a blog shortly after the decision was 
announced. He explained that Amnesty had a 
delegation in Ferguson to insure that people's 
human rights, including the right to freely 
express themselves in peaceful protest be 
protected.  He also said, "We are calling on them 
(law enforcement officers) to bear in mind their 
role as partners and protectors of community, 
seeking to do no harm.  We are calling on them 
to protect peaceful assemblies, even if a small 
minority tries to turn a peaceful protest into a 
violent one. That's what human rights looks 

As I write this, violence has broken out in 
Ferguson. Mr. Hawkins said he was on his way 
to Ferguson to 'stand in solidarity' with the 
people and he asks us to remember the human 
rights of boys like the one in the photo 
accompanying his post. 


David McCallum

October 15, 2014, was David McCallum's day of 
freedom.  After 28 years in prison for a murder 
he did not commit, he was exonerated and freed 
thanks in part to work done by Brooklyn District 
Attorney Kenneth Thompson and the team of 
prosecutors now has working on his conviction 
review unit.

Mr. McCallum was 16 years old when he and 
Willie Stuckey, also 16, were arrested, tried, and 
convicted of the abduction and murder of 
Nathan Blenner.  Despite no evidence linking 
them to the crime, they confessed to it.  When 
DA Thompson took office, Mr. McCallum's 
lawyer sent him a letter asking him to review 
the case.

What Mr, Thompson found was that while Mr. 
McCallum's and Mr. Stuckey's confessions were 
there, they were very short and contained false-
fed facts.  This led Mr. Thompson and his 
conviction review team to believe the 
confessions themselves were false.

Mr. McCallum said he's been preparing himself 
for his eventual release.  While in prison he 
learned the masonry trade and basic building 
and property maintenance, including electrical 
work.  He also spent his time working with 
other inmates in substance abuse and mentor 
programs and helping them learn alternatives to 
avoid altercations that can lead to violence. Of 
his new life, Mr. McCallum said, "I am in shock, 
but I am not afraid of it. I embrace it."

William Stuckey did not live to see freedom 
come his way; he died in prison. Not only did 
DA Thompson have to tell the family of Nathan 
Blenner that his killer is still free, but he also had 
to tell Mr. Stuckey's mother that he'd been 
falsely imprisoned. In an interview on NPR, Mr. 
Thompson said that when he told Mr. Stuckey's 
mother that his conviction was to be vacated, all 
he could hear "was her crying hysterically 
because she said her son was actually 15 when 
he was arrested, not 16, and he lost his life in 

When I read stories of human beings freed 
because of innocence from prison after long 
imprisonments, I am always thankful they were 
not sentenced to death - and executed.


Recently, a friend of mine spent a few weeks in 
Rome.  While she was there, she blogged about 
her experience.  One of her stops was the 
Coliseum.  From her blog:

 "In more recent times, the Colosseo became the 
scene for activists against capital punishment, 
abolished in Italy in 1948. When a death 
sentence is commuted somewhere in the world, 
the elliptical ruin is illuminated at night with 
gold light. As it was when New Mexico 
abolished the death penalty in 2009."

Perhaps one day all of the United States will 
have abolished the death penalty.


28	Miguel Paredes	Texas	
	1-drug - pentobarbital
29	Mark Christeson	Missouri
	3-drug - w/ midazolam hydrochloride

19	Leon Taylor		Missouri
	1-drug - pentobarbital

Stays of Execution

13	Charles Warner	Oklahoma
19	Gregory Lott		Ohio
20	Richard Glossip	Oklahoma

Gao Zhisheng

by Joyce Wolf

Recently many organizations sent open letters to 
President Obama asking him to raise the case of 
Gao Zhisheng during his visit with Chinese 
leader Xi Jinping Nov 10-12. I have not been able 
to find any reports indicating that he did so.

Our own California Senator Barbara Boxer 
joined with a bipartisan group of 10 senators to 
urge President Obama to take up Gao 
Zhisheng's case. On October 3, the senators 
 "Dear Mr. President: 
We write to express our profound concern 
regarding the health and welfare of Chinese 
human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and to ask 
that you use all available diplomatic means to 
urge the Chinese government to immediately 
allow him to relocate to the United States on 
humanitarian grounds due to his critical medical 

I suggest that we thank Senator Boxer for 
advocating for Gao Zhisheng, and ask whether 
President Obama responded to the letter from 
her and the other senators. Contact information 
for Senator Boxer is available on her website:

UAs                        21
Total                      21
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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.