Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News Volume XXIII Number 6, June 2015 UPCOMING EVENTS Thursday, June 25, 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 summer. Please join us! Tasty snacks will be served. Tuesday, July 14, 7:30 PM. Letter writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner of Hill and California in Pasadena. In the summer we meet outdoors at the "Rath al Fresco," on the lawn behind the building. This informal gathering is a great way for newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty. Sunday, July 19, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion group. This month we read "The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited" by Louisa Lim. COORDINATOR'S CORNER Hi everyone, Well it's finally summer and the end of school! I've been going through all our stuff, making piles to take to the recycling center and Goodwill plus trying to fit in some time for relaxation and just plain flaking off! Words fail me and others in response to the shooting in Charleston, S. Carolina this week. Cries for gun control are heard anew, but I read that the perpetrator obtained his gun legally and passed a background check. What is the answer? I liked what David Brooks said on the PBS newshour Friday evening: we have to reach out to these angry young (white - they seem to be mostly white) men in order to prevent this kind of thing happening again. 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, July 19, 6:30 PM Vroman's Bookstore 695 E. Colorado, Pasadena BOOK REVIEW [From the Economist online 3-31-14] The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited. By Louisa Lim ON THE night of June 3rd-4th 1989 the Chinese army unleashed its tanks in the centre of Beijing to crush a protest that had begun seven weeks earlier against the Communist Party's autocratic rule. Ever since, Chinese officials grow nervous in the run-up to the anniversary of the crackdown. This year they are especially jittery, fearful that the symbolic passage of a quarter of a century might encourage some dissidents to be more daring than usual in their public remembrance of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, who were killed. Security forces around the country are on heightened alert, particularly in Tiananmen Square, the plaza that has become synonymous with the unrest. Ageing rebels, bitter victims Louisa Lim, a correspondent for America's National Public Radio, writes in her new book, "The People's Republic of Amnesia", that China's modern history "pivots on that night" of bloodshed in 1989. Yet a new generation of young Chinese has since grown up that knows little of what happened, and appears not to care. Ms Lim showed students at leading Beijing universities the iconic photograph of the man standing in front of a column of tanks close to the square (above). The party's memory- eradication campaign has been so effective that only 15 out of 100 of them correctly identified the picture. As Ms Lim notes, many young Chinese see today's prosperity as justification for the crackdown. This year's anniversary will not be mentioned by party-controlled Chinese-language media. Two years ago censors even tried to block online references to the Shanghai stock exchange when it fell 64.89 points in a day, a number that sounds like June 4th 1989. Few will notice this year's information blackout, other than the rebels of the era, some elderly intellectuals and the relatives of those who died. No one expects more than a handful of small-scale isolated efforts to mark the occasion inside China; the only exception may be Hong Kong, where controls are much lighter. But the memories that remain are potent, as Ms Lim shows, which is why the party still expends so much effort in trying to suppress them. The author offers a series of meticulously (and often daringly) reported portraits of participants, beginning with one of the least-told stories of all: what the soldiers who took part in the killings felt about their mission. Chen Guang, now an artist in Beijing, was then a 17-year-old soldier with the martial-law troops. He describes how, in order to avoid being detected by the demonstrators, he and his fellow soldiers dressed as civilians and made their way by subway, bus or on foot to the Great Hall of the People overlooking the square. Others stormed their way into the city, shooting indiscriminately. Inside the cavernous building "nerves were so taut that there were numerous accidental discharges, bullets flying through the ceiling of the hall", Ms Lim writes. Mr Chen's hands trembled so much as he gripped his gun preparing to move into the square that he was given a camera instead to record the event. He later recalls seeing hundreds of injured soldiers on the floor of the Great Hall of the People, many of them bleeding profusely after being beaten up by angry crowds. The party, ever paranoid about the army's loyalty, does not want people like Mr Chen to dwell on such horrors. Another, unnamed, ex- soldier tells Ms Lim that every soldier in his company had to hand in his ammunition after the square was cleared. He believed this was because the army feared the soldiers might rebel. One of Ms Lim's most revealing portraits is of Bao Tong, an outspoken former senior official in Beijing who was imprisoned for seven years after the crackdown and still lives under constant surveillance. She says that from Mr Bao's perspective the suppression of the protests was the "defining act" of modern-day China, accounting for its major ills today: rampant corruption, lack of trust in the government, a widespread morality crisis and the ascendancy of the security apparatus. The Chinese may not be so quick to blame the 1989 bloodshed, but most would recognise these symptoms. Ms Lim's book is a meticulously reported account of the events of that night and what has followed. It is particularly good at showing the extent of the pro-democracy movement-and the reaction to it. Protests erupted in more than 80 Chinese cities. Ms Lim writes at length about previously unreported unrest in Chengdu. She has painstakingly assembled detailed evidence of the beating of dozens of protesters in a hotel courtyard by Chinese police, many of them apparently to death. In Chengdu, as elsewhere outside the capital, the authorities found they were not constrained by foreign television footage when they drafted their official versions of what happened. Ms Lim says Chengdu provides "nearly the perfect case study in first re-writing history, then excising it altogether". It is a sad reflection on the outside world's ability to monitor a country of China's size and secretiveness that it has taken 25 years for the record of this one provincial city to be set at least somewhat straighter. AUTHOR BIO Louisa Lim is an award-winning journalist who has reported from China for a decade, most recently for National Public Radio. Previously she was the BBC's Beijing Correspondent. She lives with her husband and two children in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Group 22 Remembers Tiananmen On May 30, 8 members of Group 22 attended Visual Artists Guild's annual commemoration dinner. Stevi and Kathy accepted a posthumous "Spirit of Tiananmen" award to Lucas Kamp, former leader of Group 22. On June 4, three of us participated in the vigil at the Chinese Consulate. Photos are posted on the Group 22 Facebook page. http://tinyurl.com/ps6usds NAACP Guest at Meeting By Stevi Carroll Mr. Gary Moody, president of the Pasadena branch of the NAACP, joined us at our monthly meeting on May 28. Along with recruiting younger members into the NAACP, the local organization also works with the inter- denomination faith community. One area Mr. Moody and his group addresses is violence. The NAACP is involved in mediation. Mr. Moody told us a beautiful story about some young men who were having a disagreement and sought out counsel at the group's office. He said that after hours of talking, the situation was resolved without rancor. We also discussed the Kendrec McDade case. Mr. Moody said that he and others have worked with the police department to find less lethal ways to handle encounters between the police and young African-Americans. At this time when the media are filled with news of violence not only within our culture as a whole but also in the African-American community as we've seen most recently at the the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, building bridges within our own community seems essential. Many thanks to Gary Moody for sharing his insights and wit with us. DEATH PENALTY NEWS By Stevi Carroll The Supremes and the Death Penalty Perhaps by the time you are reading this the US Supreme Court will have ruled on Glossip vs. Gross, the case concerned with lethal injection as a method of execution. Four inmates on Oklahoma's death row filed a case that the Supreme Court agreed to hear. The case calls into question the use of midazolam instead of sodium thiopental as anesthetic administered first in the three-drug protocol. Executions such as Clayton Lockett's have made people consider the efficacy of midazolam and thus the three-drug cocktail. After the drugs, one of which is supposed to paralyze the person being executed, were administered, Mr. Lockett tried to sit up and speak. As we know, should the Supremes rule five to four in favor of the drugs, state government officials can reintroduce other methods of killing the condemned. Oklahoma has given the go ahead to the use of nitrogen gas and Utah the firing squad (again). As we can see from the executions below, states embrace the one-drug protocol with pentobarbital. Although the one-drug protocol is used and since this case is about one of the drugs in the three-drug protocol, Justice Samuel Alito believes death penalty abolitionists are at fault for the lack of drugs with which people can be dispatched by the State. Of course, it was advocates of the anti-death penalty movement who moved pharmaceutical companies to stop selling these drugs to states that use them to kill people. Four of the Justices had to agree to have this case heard. Sadly Charles Warner, one of the inmates involved, needed five Justices to stay his execution until after they ruled. Instead, Mr. Warner was executed January 16, 2015. After midazolam was administered, he said, "My body is on fire." We await the Justices decision, and its aftermath. Exoneration June 8 Alfred Brown (#154) TX Charges Dismissed Years after conviction: 10 154. Alfred Brown: Texas conviction: 2005, Charges Dismissed: 2015 Harris County, Texas prosecutors announced on June 8, 2015 that they have dismissed charges against Alfred Dewayne Brown, who had been sentenced to death in 2005 for the murders of a Houston police officer and a store clerk during a robbery. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had overturned Brown's conviction last year because prosecutors withheld a phone record that supported Brown's alibi. Prosecutors in 2013 said that the phone record had been inadvertently misplaced. Brown had long maintained that he had been alone at his girlfriend's apartment at the time of the murder, and that he had called her after seeing reports of the shooting on television. Defense lawyers argued that the time of the phone call established that Brown could not have been at the store when the murder occurred. There was no physical evidence against Brown, and a series of Pulitzer prize-winning columns by Houston Chronicle writer Lisa Falkenberg disclosed irregularities in the grand jury process, that Brown's girlfriend had faced intimidating questioning and threats of perjury by a police officer who was the grand jury foreman, and that she had been jailed for seven weeks until she changed her testimony to implicate Brown. Since 2007, Brown's attorneys have compiled strong evidence that the murder was committed by another man with a history of robbery and connections to the co-defendants in the crime. Despite a 2008 motion to test the alternate suspect's DNA, such a test has not been carried out. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/4900#154 From: Death Penalty Information Center - Innocence Cases Stays of Execution June 5 Hubert Michael PA 18 Robin Myers AL 23 Charles Wright TN Executions June 3 Lester Bower TX Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 9 Richard Strong MO Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) 18 Gregory Russeau TX Lethal Injection 1-drug (pentobarbital) GROUP 22 MONTHLY LETTER COUNT [Special thanks to Paul and Paula, who braved a rainy evening at Caltech to write these.] UAs 10 Total 10 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.