Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXIV Number 2, February 2016

  Thursday, February 25, 8:00 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, March 8, 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, March 20, 6:30 PM.  Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion group. This 
month we read "If the Oceans Were Ink" by 
Carla Power.

Hi everyone

Group 22 member Alexi has been very active 
lately in support of our new POC, Narges 
Mohammadi. You can read about her advocacy 
efforts in Joyce's column in this newsletter.

Con Carino,

Human Rights Book Discussion Group

Keep up with Rights Readers at

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday March 20, 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd

If the Oceans Were Ink
by Carla Power

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2015
"If the Oceans Were Ink" by Carla Power

An award-winning journalist's account of the 
year she spent probing the meaning of the 
Quran with a conservative Muslim religious 

St. Louis native Power spent many years living 
in cities like Tehran, Kabul, Delhi and Cairo 
when she was a child and teenager. Eventually, 
she went on to study Middle Eastern societies in 
college and graduate school and file news 
reports about Islamic culture and politics for 
magazines like Time and Newsweek. But the 
more she wrote about the Middle East, the more 
she realized how little she really knew about 
"the piety [Muslims] claimed inspired them." So 
she went to a friend and Oxford professor of 
religion, Mohammad Akram Nadwi, and asked 
him to enlighten her on the Quran. The lively 
dialogue that ensued between them covered 
such hot-button Western obsessions as women's 
rights, polygamy and Sharia law. At the same 
time, it also delved into more personal topics, 
such as which Quranic themes her friend found 
the most important in his own life. The 
journalist and her friend debated each other in 
Oxford cafes, lecture halls and Indian madrassas 
and bonded over shared human experiences, 
like the deaths of their respective mothers. 
While Nadwi made God the center of his world, 
he also supported basic human rights and the 
importance of "individual conscience over state-
mandated laws." His religious expansiveness 
had its limits, however, especially where 
women's domestic roles and homosexuality 
were concerned. Power eventually came to see 
that her friend's faith derived from 
understanding the letter of the Quran as bound 
to historical context and its spirit to evolving 
human truths. By the end of their year together, 
she realized that "opposition between [her] own 
post-Enlightenment worldview and [Nadwi's] 
Muslim one" was a false construction that not 
only prevented her from seeing her friend's 
world clearly, but also her own.

Intelligent and exceptionally informative.

A journalist specializing in Muslim societies, 
global social issues and culture, Carla Power is 
the author of If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely 
Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran  
(Henry Holt, 2015), an account of her year spent 
studying with the traditional Islamic scholar 
Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi. 
She writes for Time and is a former 
correspondent for Newsweek, where she 
produced award-winning stories, reporting 
from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Her 
essays have appeared in a wide range of 
publications, from Vogue and O: The Oprah 
Magazine to The New York Times Magazine, The 
Guardian, and Foreign Policy.

Power holds an M.Phil. from St. Antony's 
College, Oxford University in Modern Middle 
Eastern Studies, as well as degrees from Yale 
and Columbia. Married, with two children, she 
lives in England.

Narges Mohammadi

by Joyce Wolf (for Alexi Daher)

Alexi has been so busy this month with 
organizing and planning actions for Narges 
that she didn't have time to write for the 
newsletter, so I offered to summarize our 
current work and future plans.

At our letter-writing meeting on Feb. 9, we used 
the actions that Alexi brought and wrote 22 
letters for Narges. We took time out to pose for a 
group photo with the colorful sign created by 
Alexi and her daughter Noor. (The sign is in 
Farsi and wishes a Happy New Year to Narges.) 
L to R, front, Noor, Rosemary, Robert, Paul; back, 
April, Christine, Joyce, Alexi, Wen, Laura, Kathy, 
Arthur, Stevi. Not pictured, Paula. Photo by Stevi. 

Group 22 is joining with Amnesty groups in 
Belgium, Denmark, and other countries in an 
international action to send photo greetings to 
Narges on Nowruz, the Iranian New Year 
celebration on the first day of spring, March 21. 
We hope it will lift her spirits to see all the 
people around the world who are working for 
her right to medical treatment in prison and for 
her freedom.

Last week Alexi submitted a detailed proposal 
to the international Amnesty groups for a 
worldwide action on Narges's birthday, April 
21. With the help of Group 22 member Christine, 
Alexi outlined a social media campaign 
culminating in vigils for Narges on April 21. We 
plan to hold our vigil at Caltech. We will have a 
Twitter account for Group 22, probably named 
@AmnestyPasadena. We'll start tweeting about 
two weeks before the vigil, gradually increasing 
the frequency of our tweets, with the goal of 
getting our hashtag #UnitedforNarges to make 
the Twitter Trending list on April 21. We will 
also use Facebook and traditional methods such 
as press releases to publicize our event.

If this sounds like a lot of work, you're right! 
Alexi can't do it all by herself. At our monthly 
meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25, she'll be asking 
for volunteers to help with some of the tasks in 
her proposal. Also at the monthly meeting, 
Christine will be leading a Twitter workshop. 
You can bring your laptop and learn how to set 
up an account and tweet and retweet. I know 
some of you are already accomplished tweeters, 
and it would be wonderful if you could give 
some help to those of us who are total beginners. 

One last tidbit: I didn't realize that Narges has a 
degree in Physics! She'd fit right in at Caltech! 
The Committee of Concerned Scientists wrote a 
letter about her to the President of Iran on Oct. 

El Monte Resident Visited Group 22 
Asking for Help for Her Sister in China

by Wen Chen

Group 22 has been working on Chinese POCs 
for many years with great success. Recently an 
El Monte resident, April Song, visited our group 
and brought the case of her sister Song Huichan, 
former AI POC Zhou Xiangyang and his wife Li 
Shanshan. All three of them were arrested in 
China in March 2015 for practicing Falun Gong. 
They were tried in Nov. and Dec, respectively, 
and are now facing prison terms. 

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa 
(, is a peaceful body and 
mind practice based on the principle of 
Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. Famous 
for its health benefits, Falun Gong is practiced 
by over 100 million people in more than 114 
countries. Before the Chinese Communist Party 
started to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, it was 
estimated that there were ~70 million Falun 
Gong practitioners in China. The popularity of 
Falun Gong, and its independent ideology from 
Communism, are the main reasons of the 

According to previous Amnesty International 
reports, Falun Gong practitioners occupy 60% - 
80% of population in Chinese labor camps. It is 
the largest group of prisoners of conscience in 
China. Most of victims were severely tortured to 
give up their beliefs, and forced to do 12-16 
hours of slave labor per day. Because of their 
healthy life style, Falun Gong practitioners are 
the major victims of state sanctioned forced 
organ harvesting in China 

Zhou Xiangyan used to be a railway designer. 
This is the third time that he was detained. 
During his previous detention, Amnesty 
International published a press release for his 
case, which may have contributed to his release 
in 2012: 
gong-releases). You may find out more about 
this amazing couple from the following article:
Young Couple Arrested Again after 10 Years 
Spent Trying to Rescue Each Other from Prison

April's sister, Song Huichan, was a caregiver for 
her elderly parents. Chinese police broke into 
her home and arrested her when she was 
watching her 2-year-old grandson. During the 
arrest, police broke the fingers of her 83-year-old 
mother. Song Huichan has been detained for 
more than 10 months, but her family were never 
allowed to visit her. 

1. Elderly Couple Sue Police over Daughter's 
Arrest in Tianjin
2. Lawyer Demands Acquittal of Tianjin Woman 
Tried for Practicing Falun Gong

We contacted the China co-group of Amnesty 
International for an Urgent Action for Zhou 
Xiangyang, Li Shanshan and Song Huichan. 
Unfortunately the China co-group said they 
cannot have an UA for these three POCs due to 
their limited resources. They said Group 22 can 
work on these cases by ourselves.

April Song has mailed 54 holiday cards to her 
sister between Christmas and Chinese New 
Year. Stay tuned for more actions about these 
three Chinese POCs.


by Robert Adams

To be a Muslim in America Right Now
By Naureen Shah 
February 20, 2016
To be a Muslim in America right now is to fear 
that your best days - your most ordinary days 
- are behind you. Anti-Muslim hate and fear-
mongering is going mainstream, and the future 
is a startling unknown.

Many fear that the vicious rhetoric we are 
hearing is a harbinger of things to come: 
discrimination, harassment and violent attacks 
on Muslims, or people who look Muslim that 
spreads and even becomes a new normal. That 
could set the stage, one day in the not-so-distant 
future, for government policies like mandatory r
egistration of Muslims and internment.

Could that really happen? Perhaps my 
background as an American Muslim makes me 
more sensitive to the possibility.

When I was growing up, pre-9/11, I felt the 
invisible minority. My struggle with identity, 
my sense of in-betweeness, was not reflected in 
any TV show or book that I knew of.  Now, 
there are far more representations of Muslims 
on TV. But Muslims are nearly always depicted 
as threatening. The post-9/11 genre of national 
security thriller builds suspense around the 
possibility that even the Good Muslim may 
turn into a violent one.

But as many have pointed out, Muslims are not 
just these individual characters, they are an 
existential menace referenced over and over 
again on the news and in politics. They are the 
latest in a long line of "foreigners" in the 
American imagination. Muslim men are among 
the brutes, in black and brown skin, whose 
appearance of civility hardly contains their 
capacity for violence and duplicity.

How did this happen? As Moustafa Bayoumi 
puts it in his new book This Muslim American 

 "Absent ordinary personal contact, most 
Americans will get their views of Islam through 
television, cable news, talk radio, the Internet, 
and really bad action movies...Muslims 
themselves are often rendered mute or suspect."

In this context, I am increasingly conscious that I 
don't "look" Muslim because I don't wear a 
headscarf. But instead of breaking the 
Dangerous Muslim stereotype, I wonder if 
outing myself as Muslim merely feeds the fear 
of a camouflaged, creeping threat.

Earlier this month, President Obama spoke 
eloquently about American Muslims and 
freedom of religion in what many hailed as a 
landmark address. In some ways, his speech 
tried to build a dam against the flood of anti-
Muslim sentiment. But this sentiment is already 
undammed. It's evident in the NYPD's 
classification of mosques as "terrorist 
enterprises" without evidence of criminal 
activity. It underlies the insistence that 
waterboarding is not torture - and need not be 
prosecuted as a crime.

We are living through a frightening cultural 
moment. We all want security from attacks by 
armed groups, and we don't want to have live in 
fear of terrorism.

Hate and fear are being offered as a way to 
make everyone feel safer. But it is all too likely 
that they will make some people - perhaps 
even me - less safe.

(Breaking News from AIUSA)

Today (2.19.16), Louisiana prisoner Albert 
Woodfox walked free, 44 years after he was first 
put into solitary confinement.

He was the United States' longest serving 
prisoner held in isolation. Nearly every day for 
more than half of his life, Albert Woodfox woke 
up in a cell the size of a parking space, 
surrounded by concrete and steel. 
Tomorrow morning, for the first time in more 
than four decades, he will be able to walk 
outside and look up into the sky. 

Over the course of nearly five years working on 
Albert Woodfox's case at Amnesty, I heard 
many times that the odds were insurmountable. 

But I always knew that Albert Woodfox would 
go home. 

I have seen the incredible power of our 
movement when we work together. 

I have seen the courage humility, and 
determination of so many of you who have 
played big and small roles to help this historic 
human rights victory come to fruition. 

I have seen the unbelievable strength of the 
Angola 3: Robert King, Herman Wallace, and 
Albert Woodfox himself-all three of whom 
endured nightmares but persevered with 
humor, dignity, and resolve to wage a relentless 
fight against the cruel, inhuman and degrading 
practice of prolonged solitary confinement in the 
United States. 
With the knowledge of his release, Albert had 
this message for those who have helped him 
secure his freedom:

"I want to thank my brother Michael for sticking 
with me all these years, and Robert King, who 
wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary. I 
could not have survived without their 
courageous support, along with the support of 
my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed 
away in 2013. I also wish to thank the many 
members of the International Coalition to Free 
the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the 
Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me 
through this long struggle. Lastly, I thank 
William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers 
at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler 
Kimpel for never giving up. Although I was 
looking forward to proving my innocence at a 
new trial, concerns about my health and my age 
have caused me to resolve this case now and 
obtain my release with this no-contest plea to 
lesser charges. I hope the events of today will 
bring closure to many."

I'm carrying those words with me today as we 
celebrate this victory.

Today Albert Woodfox walks free-February 19, 
2016, his 69th Birthday.

In Solidarity,
Jasmine Heiss

By Stevi Carroll

The Justice That Works Act of 2016

I am still trying to find out how we can be 
involved in the effort to get The Justice That 
Works Act of 2016 measure on the 2016 ballot.  
This past week James Clark gave me the name 
and email address of a contact person so 
perhaps by next month we can roll up our 

One concern about both the petition process and 
the day of the vote is that two competing 
initiatives may be on the ballot.  If you are 
approached to sign a petition regarding the 
death penalty, be sure it's for The Justice That 
Works Act of 2016 and not the pro-death penalty 

To read Mike Farrell's letter to the initiative 
coordinator and the text of the initiative, go to

Justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently 
died.  In a speech at Rhodes College on 
September 22, 2015, and again at the University 
of Minnesota Law School on October 20, 2015, 
Justice Scalia said he "wouldn't be surprised" if 
the U.S. Supreme Court found the death penalty 

Now with that said, let's walk down a little 
death penalty memory lane with Justice Scalia.

Rather than have the evidence of Troy Davis' 
innocence explored in a new trial after seven of 
the nine witnesses in his trial either recanted or 
changed their testimony, Justice Scalia argued 
that "mere innocence is no reason not to carry 
out a death sentence."  When Henry McCollum 
needed a new trial in the case of the rape and 
murder of an 11-year old girl, Justice Scalia 
voted against the petition and said that case was 
a 'prime reason' for the death penalty because it 
is a "quiet death by lethal injection" and an 
"enviable" fate.  In 2014, DNA evidence proved 
Mr. McCollum innocent.  After 30 years in 
prison, he was released.

In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the Supreme Court 
ruled 6-3 that people who are "mentally 
retarded" (IQ 70 and below) cannot be executed. 
Justice Scalia dissented along with Justices 
Rehnquist and Thomas.  In his dissent, Justice 
Scalia said, "seldom has an opinion of this court 
rested so obviously upon nothing but the 
personal views of its members."

In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Supreme Court 
ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional to impose 
capital punishment for crimes that are 
committed by people under the age of 18.  
Justice Scalia was one of three Justices who 
dissented along with Justices Rehnquist and 

I am (perhaps) looking forward to who the new 
Justice will be to join the Supremes.

Recent Exonerations

Teshome Campbell - State: IL
Date of Exoneration: 1/29/2016
In 1998, Teshome Campbell was sentenced to 55 
years in prison as one of a group that beat a man 
to death in Champaign, Illinois. He was 
exonerated in 2016 after witnesses testified that 
he was not involved in the crime.

Willie Donald - State: IN
Date of Exoneration: 1/27/2016
In 1992, Willie Donald was convicted of murder 
and robbery in Gary, Indiana, and sentenced to 
60 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2016 
after the robbery victim testified that she saw 
the robber on the street at a time when police 
were talking to Donald at his work.
source: The National Registry of Exonerations 

Stays of Execution
11	Michael Ray Lambrix		FL
19	Raymond Tibbetts	 	OH ^^

27	James Freeman	TX
 	Lethal Injection 1- drug (Pentobarbital)

3	Brandon Jones		GA
	Lethal Injection 1- drug (Pentobarbital)
16	Gustavo Garcia	TX
	Lethal Injection 1- drug (Pentobarbital)
17	Travis Hittson		GA
	Lethal Injection 1- drug (Pentobarbital)

^^ On October 19, 2015 the Ohio Department of 
Corrections issued a statement that Gov. Kasich 
granted reprieves postponing all executions that 
the state had scheduled in 2016. Ohio has been 
unable to obtain the execution drugs required to 
conduct executions under state law. All 
execution dates have been rescheduled by the 

POC                         22
UAs                         27
Total                       49
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.