Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXIII Number 4, April 2015

  Thursday, April 23, 8:00 PM. [NOTE NEW 
TIME!] 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, May 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, May 17, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "Now I Know Who My 
Comrades Are" by Emily Parker.


Hi All

Group 22 celebrated our POC Gao Zhisheng's 
birthday last week with a cake, candles, and 
Happy Birthday sung in Chinese and English!  
(Thanks to Wen for the translation.) Robert 
videotaped it and put it on You Tube!

Stevi was invited to speak to a political science 
class at PCC.  Read her article in this newsletter.

Con Carino,


Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting:
Sunday, May 17, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado, Pasadena

Emily Parker is the author of "Now I Know 
Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the 
Internet Underground" which was published 
by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & 
Giroux in 2014. 

"Now I Know Who My Comrades Are" tells 
the stories of Internet activists in China, 
Cuba and Russia. Mario Vargas Llosa, 
winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for 
Literature, wrote that the book is "a 
rigorously researched and reported account 
that reads like a thriller. It's been a while 
since I have read a book that is so 
entertaining, not to mention so encouraging 
for the culture of liberty." Vargas Llosa's full 
article about "Now I Know Who My 
Comrades Are" can be found here. "Now I 
Know Who My Comrades Are" has been 
assigned in courses at Harvard, Yale, 
Columbia and Tufts.  

Emily is currently digital diplomacy advisor and 
senior fellow at the New America Foundation. 
She spent over five years working for The Wall 
Street Journal, first as a writer in Hong Kong 
and later as a writer and editor in New York. 
From 2004 to 2005 she wrote a Wall Street 
Journal column called "Virtual Possibilities: 
China and the Internet." She is also a former 
editor at The New York Times. 
Previously, Emily was a member of Secretary 
Clinton's Policy Planning staff at the U.S. 
Department of State, where she covered 21st-
century statecraft, innovation, and technology. 
While at State she advised on issues related to 
Internet freedom and open government, and 
traveled to the Middle East to explore the role of 
new media in post-revolutionary Egypt. She no 
longer has any affiliation with the U.S. 
Emily is the creator of three digital diplomacy 
projects: Make Energy: A US-Mexico Innovation 
Challenge, Green Electronics: A US-China 
Maker Challenge and Code4Country, the first 
open government coding marathon between the 
United States and Russia. Code4Country 
brought together Russian and American 
software developers to identify technological 
solutions to challenges of government 
transparency. Emily is a former International 
Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign 
Relations, an Arthur Ross Fellow at Asia 
Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations and a 
Global Policy Fellow at Carnegie Moscow 
Center, where she researched the role of 
blogging and social media in today's Russia. 

She has written for The New York Times, The 
Wall Street Journal, Slate, The New Yorker, 
Politico, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, The New 
Republic and World Affairs. Her chapter on 
Chinese nationalism appeared in China's Great 
Leap: the Beijing Games and Olympian Human 
Rights Challenges (Seven Stories Press, May 
2008). In 2002 she worked at the Japan Business 
Federation (Keidanren) in Tokyo, where she 
researched how historical tensions between 
China and Japan would affect Sino-Japanese 
business relations. 

She has worked in China and Japan, and speaks 
Chinese, Japanese, French and Spanish. She 
graduated with Honors from Brown University 
with a double major in International Relations 
and Comparative Literature (French and 
Spanish). She has a Masters from Harvard in 
East Asian Studies.

Twitter: @emilydparker

BOOK REVIEW: 'Now I Know Who My 
Comrades Are' by Emily Parker

Authoritarian regimes use the Internet as a tool for 
repression, but dissidents around the world believe it can 
be a force for freedom.

By Luke Allnutt 
March 20, 2014 

Zhao Jing was working as a hotel receptionist in 
an eastern Chinese province when he 
downloaded a dissident newsletter from a proxy 
server in 1999. The firsthand accounts and 
bloody photographs of the Tiananmen Square 
massacre 10 years earlier changed everything for 
him. Whispered critiques that had previously 
gone no further than dinner-table conversations 
were suddenly confirmed, and he was no longer 
alone in his doubts about the Communist state. 
He began digging into online discussion forums 
and eventually started his own blog-until 
Microsoft, which hosted the site, shut it down in 
2005. Writing under the pen name Michael Anti, 
he is today one of China's most well-known 
bloggers. "The Internet made me know who I 
am," he tells Emily Parker. "Now I know who 
my comrades are." 

Mr. Anti's statement gave Ms. Parker the title for 
her investigation of the power of the Internet to 
empower political dissidents. Over the past few 
years, there has been a fierce debate among 
intellectuals and technologists over whether the 
Internet is an inherent force for democracy or 
whether the Web can just as easily be used as a 
tool of repressive regimes. Particularly after the 
so-called Arab Spring, there was hyperbolic talk 
of an era of Twitter uprisings-a decentralized 
new cyber-commons was, with the help of 
Silicon Valley, just a few clicks away from 
toppling despots. 

Ms. Parker doesn't discuss the Mideast much in 
"Now I Know Who My Comrades Are," 
concentrating instead on China, Cuba and 
Russia. In three sections respectively titled 
"Isolation," "Fear" and "Apathy," she shows the 
malign, sophisticated ways in which modern 
authoritarians operate. To do so, she profiles the 
charismatic dissidents who resist them. 

A Chinese speaker-and a former editorial 
writer for The Journal in Asia-Ms. Parker is at 
her best on China. For many Chinese citizens, 
the Internet circumvents traditional state-run 
media, just as samizdat once did in the Soviet 
Union. Despite the state's extensive surveillance 
and censorship of content, commonly referred to 
as the Great Firewall, more than 600 million 
Chinese are online.

Ms. Parker's portraits of Chinese bloggers 
complicate the caricature of brave, principled 
freedom fighters. These are spiky, sectarian 
personalities-and sometimes far from 
democratic. Many explain that their criticism of 
the system can only go so far. Direct calls for 
street protests are a red line. As Mr. Anti puts it: 
"If you want to be a public opinion leader, self-
censorship is part of your job."

It is not self-censorship but outright fear that 
characterizes Cuba. This is an old-fashioned 
authoritarian society in Ms. Parker's telling, with 
networks of citizen-informers keeping a 
watchful eye. Bloggers and their families are 
always being hauled in for "interviews" with 
security officials. Ms. Parker's reporting (she 
also speaks Spanish) captures well the online 
activists' pervasive feeling of being constantly 

The author experiences this herself when she 
meets with one Cuban blogger, Laritza 
Diversent. "Whenever I went out with Laritza, 
we were never quite alone. A man would sit 
down at a nearby table and stare straight ahead 
or thumb listlessly through a newspaper. 
Someone would come over to the table and ask 
for the time, or perhaps a cigarette," Ms. Parker 
writes. Brave bloggers like Ms. Diversent write 
about their country's social problems, like being 
forced into the black market to survive, yet with 
merely an estimated 5% of Cubans online, only a 
handful of Cubans will get to read their work.

Russia is a much freer place, where the Internet 
is widely available. Direct, Chinese-style 
censorship, where many websites are simply 
inaccessible, is relatively rare. Instead, the state 
relies on other tactics to limit dissent, such as 
armies of online commenters who propagate the 
Kremlin line. The challenge for activists in this 
context is apathy: A largely ineffectual 
opposition, relative economic stability compared 
with the chaos of the 1990s, and the relentless 
Putin propaganda machine have left Russians 
with little appetite for public protest.

One person who has tried to ignite ordinary 
Russians' sense of civic purpose is Alexei 
Navalny, a lawyer and anticorruption activist. 
By relentlessly blogging about high-level 
corruption in state-controlled companies, "he 
wanted to show Russians that they could fight 
corruption from the convenience of their living 
rooms, and that they could win," Ms. Parker 
writes. Mr. Navalny has paid a price for his 
activism: He is now under house arrest, while a 
probe continues against him for alleged money 
laundering-a charge he says is politically 

Ms. Parker is optimistic about the Internet's 
power to spread freedom. "Over the years," she 
writes, "blogs and social media helped to 
transform cowed, powerless individuals into 
revolutionaries." Yet governments, she 
acknowledges, are fighting back: "They censor 
content and block entire websites. They try to 
influence online discussions. They spy on 
troublemakers and intimidate and arrest 
bloggers." But the author doesn't cover these 
efforts in much detail, asserting that such 
countermeasures "are not nearly enough to 
reverse the psychological transformation taking 
place among citizens of the Web." She gives 
short shrift to the critics who have assailed the 
idea that the Internet is necessarily liberating, 
and she fails to show the exact nature and extent 
of the 'psychological transformation.'"

The key question Ms. Parker dodges is whether 
the so-called netizens who are emerging will be 
genuine liberals or whether they're just as likely 
to be ultra-nationalists-or something worse. 
Ordinary citizens may be "discovering their 
voices," as Ms. Parker writes. But these voices 
might not be what we expect.

[Mr. Allnutt is an editor at Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty.  Review from the Wall Street Journal.]


by Robert Adams

AIUSA released the following press release on April 
17, 2015:

Amnesty International USA Calls for Approval 
of Civilian Board to Oversee St. Louis Police
WASHINGTON- Amnesty International USA 
calls for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to 
establish a Civilian Oversight Board that would 
evaluate police shootings, as well as broader 
police practices.

The civilian review board was proposed in the 
wake of the killing of unarmed teenager Michael 
Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson 
and the subsequent Department of Justice 
investigation. While the DOJ did not press 
charges against Wilson, the report found that 
the Ferguson Police Department violated 
individuals' Fourth Amendment rights and 
exhibited racial bias when it stopped people 
without reasonable suspicion, arrested them 
without probable cause, and used unreasonable 
force against them. Alderman Terry Kennedy 
filed Bill 208 calling for the formation of a police 
civilian oversight board.

The DOJ report showed that the Ferguson police 
force was more concerned about generating 
revenue through unfair fines and tickets than 
they were with protecting the lives of the people 
they were sworn to serve," said Steven W. 
Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty 
International USA. "This legislation would be 
an important step in ensuring appropriate 
systems of oversight. It is critical that reforms at 
the national level follow suit, including 
guidelines for using deadly force in the U.S. that 
are in line with international standards."
If approved, the civilian review board would 
have the ability to investigate allegations of 
police misconduct; research and assess police 
policies, operations and procedures; and make 
findings and recommendations. The board 
could also independently review evidence and 
witness statements from investigations by police 
internal affairs. All findings will be reported to 
the city's public safety director and police 

To read On the Streets of America: Human Rights 
Abuses in Ferguson, go to:


by Stevi Carroll

On April 7, Brittany Conrad from the 
Department of Political Science at Pasadena City 
College contacted us to have someone come to 
speak to her class on World Government and 

When I got to PCC, the class was discussing 
terrorism.  It seemed like a good idea to follow 
that with some human rights.  A couple of 
students knew a little about AI, so when they 
finished, I filled in a little history of Amnesty 
that included the importance of the UN 
Declaration of Human Rights.  I passed out our 
bookmarks that enumerate the Rights.  I noticed 
a number of the students carefully reading 

The first big case I remember writing for is Ken 
Saro-Wiwa.  I told about getting involved with 
AI and how this case had touched me. I had 
some visuals including this one that makes what 
happened and by whom very clear.
The story of Gao Zhinsheng interested them.  I 
showed them our birthday photo as well as the 
Lego images from Ai WeiWei's installation on 
Alcatraz.  One of the students explained who Ai 
WeiWei is. What joy!

When I talked about our book group, I passed 
around a few of our past books.  Again, I 
noticed a number of the students looking at the 
text on the backs and flipping through the 
pages.  I did mention they could join us without 
having read the books.

I always figure letter writing is the one thing 
students might be able to do.  I asked them to 
join us and said the information was available in 
the newsletters each one of them got. During 
class, a number of recent Urgent Actions 
circulated around the room along with paper 
and envelopes. The Urgent Actions snagged five 
letters and the sign up sheet that was also 
wandering around room netted us six names 
and email addresses!

Many thanks to Brittany Conrad for inviting us 
to her class.

By Stevi Carroll

Free At Last

For Anthony Hinton, April 3, 2015, will be a 
lifelong day to celebrate; he became the 152 
person exonerated, freed from death row since 
1973.  After being imprisoned for 30 years, the 
charges against him were dismissed.  Mr. 
Hinton's original lawyer did not know they 
could have funds to hire a qualified firearms 
expert, so instead he hired one he knew was 
inadequate.  The results from testing bullets 
used in the killings Mr. Hinton was accused of 
and those fired from a gun found in Mr. 
Hinton's house led to his conviction.  Racial bias 
also played a part in the outcome of his trial.  
The prosecutor, who had a history of racial bias, 
said he could tell Mr. Hinton was guilty and 
'evil' by looking at him.

Bryan Stevenson and others from the Equal 
Justice Initiative (EJI) took Mr. Hinton's case. 
The three firearms experts employed by  EJI 
found no conclusive proof the six bullets used in 
the murders Mr. Hinton was convicted of 
committing were fired from the gun found at his 

Mr. Stevenson says Mr. Hinton faces challenges 
along with joy for his freedom. Thirty years is a 
long time to be removed from the world as we 
know it.

March 11, 2014, Glenn Ford walked out of 
Angola Prison's death row a free man. He, too, 
had endured 30 years of incarceration.  Mr. Ford 
was accused of killing Isadore Roseman.   His 
defense lawyers had little experience and had 
never been to court before, and he faced an all-
white jury.  Recently, Marty Stroud, the 
prosecutor in Mr. Ford's case wrote a letter of 
apology to The (Shreveport, LA) Times in which 
he said he was at the time of Mr. Ford's trial 
"arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full 
of myself". Later Mr. Ford and Mr. Stroud met 
for a formal apology. To see this moving 
encounter, go to

To read more about exonerated people, go to 10 
Astonishingly Cruel Tales of the Exonerated in 

What to Do?

We love our choices.  Pepsi or Coke? Compact car or 
SUV? Vegan or Paleo? Condo or free standing home? 
Our lists of choices are long. The world of choice has 
entered the means of dispatching those among us 
who have been sentenced to death.

As we know, those pesky Europeans decided they 
did not want their drugs used to kill people, so they 
stopped supplying the people who run our death 
chambers.  This led us to the compounding 
pharmacies where the pharmacists mixed up brews 
that could 'mercifully' put to death the convicted 
man or woman. Problems arose when some of these 
people writhed and groaned and took their time 
dying. The good news for Texas is that they have 
enough lethal injection drugs to kill their April 
offerings to Justice. The bad news for Texas is that the 
flow of drugs will not continue thus what to do?

Other states shine the light on options.  In 2004, 
Utah's Department of Corrections (DOC) stopped 
offering the firing squad for people sentenced to 
death (of course, someone convicted before that date 
still could request the firing squad).  In March 2015 
since the shortage of drugs might prevent the Utah 
DOC from executing people, Governor Gary R. 
Herbert signed a bill reinstating the firing squad.

 used with permission of Clay Jones 
( -

Oklahoma becomes the first state to approve the use 
of nitrogen gas because executions in the state are on 
hold while the US Supreme Court considers whether 
or not the state's three-drug protocol is 
constitutional.  Apparently, what happens with 
nitrogen gas is it induces hypoxia. This means a 
"deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the 
tissues" and is thus "a humane and painless method 
of execution that requires no medical expertise to 
perform" (Oklahoma governor signs bill allowing 
nitrogen in executions - AP - April 17, 2015).

Old Sparky, the electric chair, has been dusted off in 
a number of states: Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, 
and Virginia. So choice abounds in America. 

 used with permission of Rebecca Hendin 

Even though the authorities in Tennessee have 
reawakened Old Sparky, they now have decided to 
delay executions scheduled for this year.  Other 
states are doing the same. The Nebraska legislature 
has a bill that would replace the death penalty with 
life sentences.  Senate lawmakers in Delaware have 
voted to repeal the death penalty and face opposition 
from the House; although, the 15 death row inmates 
would still face execution.  

So choice does abound in America, and it might be a 
choice other than just how we execute.

Least Number of Executions in the US in 20 Years

In 2014, the US saw 'only' 35 executions, the lowest 
number in 20 years. Now with that said the US still 
ranks fifth for executions worldwide behind China, 
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.  We also have seen 
fewer states carrying out executions and a number of 
people exonerated of their capital crimes.  To read 
more on this, go to Did Death Sentences in US Increase 
or Decrease Last Year? By James Clark at

Life on Death Row

Of course, we think of the men and women who 
spend their lives in prison on death row.  But what 
about the people who work on death row? "This Is 
What It feels like to Spend Your Life Working on 
Death Row" lets us know what this experience has 
been for four of these people: The Warden, The 
Bureaucrat, The Chaplain, and The Executioner.

The Warden: "I grew up in the civil rights era, in a 
time when civil rights workers were being murdered. 
I worked in law enforcement, reluctantly 
fundamentally supporting the death penalty, until I 
became a superintendent of prisons. I'm not a softie 
on crime. Capital punishment was embedded in my 
psyche as an appropriate sanction."

The Bureaucrat: "I witnessed 32 executions. As 
regional director, I was on site in the control room.
During that time period, I was often asked my 
opinion on the death penalty. My response was, 'It's 
the law of the state, and I'm going to carry it out to 
the best of my ability.'"

The Chaplain: "Standing by the gurney almost 100 
times, and watching innocent men killed, watching 
repentant men killed, and seeing the pain among 
families and men and my employee friends, cannot 
leave my memories."

The Executioner: "One of your main jobs at the 
prison is to save lives. You're keeping them safe, 
preventing suicides. When I had to do executions, I 
would transform myself into a person who would 
take a life."
To read the rest of these stories, go to
23	Debra Milke		AZ	
       23 years on death row

3	Anthony Hinton	AL	
       30 years on death row

Stays of Execution
17	Lance Arrington	PA
17	Albert Perez		PA

9	Kent Srpouse		TX	
       Lethal Injection 1-drug
14	Andre Cole		MO	
       Lethal injection 1-drug
15	Manuel Garza		TX	
       Lethal injection 1-drug

UAs                        29
POC  (Birthday Card)        1
Total                      30
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.