Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXV Number 8, August 2017

  Tuesday, September 12, 7:30-9:00 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 next to the building. This 
informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty.
  Sunday, September 17, 6:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. This month we read "Until We Are 
Free" by Shirin Ebadi.
  Thursday, September 28, 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.

Hi everyone

The first two weeks of school have finished for 
LAUSD and hopefully the pace will slow down 
soon...our secretary's position was eliminated 
due to budget cuts and now I am answering the 
phone in addition to my regular duties!

Last month we read a mystery novel set in the 
Philippines, which was very interesting to me as 
many of my fellow school nurses are Filipinos.  
The novel dealt with the killing of young boys 
from a Manila slum and the Jesuit priests who 
help discover and bring the killer to justice. 

In real life, since Rodrigo Duterte became 
president of the Philippines, he has waged an all 
out war against drug and crime suspects, 
allowing the police to gun them down 
indiscriminately. Most Filipinos are devout 
Catholics and the Archbishop expressed 
opposition to the extrajudicial killings by having 
church bells rung nightly for 3 months.  A 
statement was also read last Sunday in churches 
opposing Duterte's actions. 

Here's the latest AI release on the situation:
Con Carino, Kathy

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, September 17 
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E Colorado Blvd.

Until We Are Free

by Shirin Ebadi

By Jenny Nordberg, March 20, 2016, 
New York Times Sunday Review of Books. 

My Fight for Human Rights in Iran 
By Shirin Ebadi 

The nuclear deal with Iran has been reached, 
and sanctions have been lifted. In Iran's recent 
parliamentary election, reformists took more 
seats. To the outside world, it may appear as 
though the country could be on the verge of 
taking a new turn. But this is still a place where 
those who say the wrong thing risk being 
thrown into solitary confinement, where women 
are not allowed to work or hold a passport 
without permission from their husbands, and 
where the charge of "insulting sanctities" by 
writing poetry could be punished by a public 

Through a powerful and deeply disturbing 
account of her own work as a human rights 
lawyer and activist, Shirin Ebadi's latest 
memoir, "Until We Are Free: My Fight for 
Human Rights in Iran," offers little optimism 
that more personal freedoms and rights for 
Iranians will come anytime soon. Rather, her 
chilling description of how the country treats its 
own citizens - including her, its Nobel Peace 
Prize laureate - builds on the fear expressed by 
many Iranians at this moment: that precisely 
because of the nuclear deal, the religious 
leadership may feel a need to crack down even 
harder on its own people to reassert power and 
demonstrate its autonomy.

A former judge (and Iran's first female judge), 
Ebadi was deemed too "fickle and indecisive 
and unfit" to issue legal rulings after the 1979 
revolution because she was a woman. But unlike 
the Iranians who emigrated in the decades that 
followed, Ebadi found it necessary to stay 
behind, and navigate the "duplicity and 
compromises" required for survival in Iran to 
this day.

Armed with her training in both Sharia and civil 
law, and taking on the cases of persecuted 
reporters, dissidents and minorities, she enters a 
trench war within Iran's deteriorating and 
corrupt legal system. At times, she can only offer 
"words and tea" to her clients and their families, 
like the parents of a blogger whose mysterious 
death was ruled a suicide, or the wife of a 
journalist who slowly starves himself to death in 
prison. But as she speaks publicly about such 
cases, she also becomes a credible whistle-
blower; her words advocate for freedom of 
expression, both to Iranians and to the outside 

After Ebadi was awarded the Peace Prize in 
2003, Iran's intelligence apparatus ramped up its 
endlessly creative battery of intimidations. 
Ebadi writes that she was surveilled, 
interrogated, detained and threatened. The 
human rights organization she created with the 
Nobel money was raided and shut down. Her 
home was attacked by a mob. One after another, 
her colleagues and members of her staff left, 
went into hiding or ended up in prison.
That is still only a prelude to the cruelty she is 
later subjected to, in her "second life." After 
remaining in post-revolutionary Iran for three 
decades, by the time of the student protests and 
their violent dissolution in 2009, she decided not 
to return after a trip abroad, knowing that she 
had long been on an official kill list.

Set against the backdrop of her mournful and 
intense struggle for her country in exile, the 
second half of her book continues to describe 
many interesting contradictions of the religious 
leadership and its foot soldiers, its infighting 
and the dangerous paranoia that permeates the 
country. Ebadi also puts Iranian involvement in 
the Syrian civil war into context, arguing that 
Iran's leadership not only wants to advance its 
geopolitical interests but also aims to 
demonstrate to its own people how a popular 
uprising at home would be mercilessly struck 

Her excruciating personal story, glimpsed 
through her restrained and careful prose, tells of 
the almost unthinkable human cost of one 
person's battle against a much stronger and very 
sophisticated enemy. The Islamic Republic 
eventually found a new way to get to Ebadi in 
exile when they targeted the family she left 
behind. To have one's sister taken away at night 
and imprisoned; to be humiliated by the 
betrayal of a lonely husband who has lost his 
dignity - such degradations feel like lashes to 
the soul.

"This is what they do," she writes of her 

In the end, although her memoir underscores 
that a slow change will have to come from 
within Iran, it is also proof of the stunning 
effects of her nonviolent struggle on behalf of 
those who bravely, and at a very high cost, keep 
pushing for the most basic rights.

Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian human rights lawyer. 
She has represented clients who have fallen foul 
of the Iranian political system, and has been 
subject to intense scrutiny from her own 

As a practicing lawyer, Ebadi has been willing 
to take up the cases of unpopular dissident 
figures who have fallen out of favor with the 
political and judicial establishment.

In 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 
for her work in promoting human rights in the 
face of difficult conditions.
"For her efforts for democracy and human 
rights. She has focused especially on the 
struggle for the rights of women and children"

Since receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Ebadi has 
used her highly public profile to travel around 
the world speaking on human rights. With other 
female Nobel Peace prize winners, she formed 
the Nobel Women's initiative. She has also 
agreed to represent political dissidents and 
members of Iran's minority Baha'i community.

Although Ebadi is critical of the Iranian regime 
she has supported Iran's right to pursue nuclear 
technology. She is against forced regime change 
and has stated the most important goal is to 
promote democracy and human rights in Iran.

Ebadi is a Muslim and argues that the religion of 
Islam is compatible with human and women 
rights, but in Iran, the authorities have been 
highly selective.
"It is not religion that binds women, but the 
selective dictates of those who wish them 
cloistered. That belief, along with the conviction 
that change in Iran must come peacefully and 
from within, has underpinned my work."

In 2012, she sought to launch an international 
campaign for human rights in Iran - in 
particular stressing the need to work for the 
release of three opposition leaders.

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. "Biography of Shirin 
Ebadi ", Oxford, UK -
Last updated 12th Aug 2014

By Stevi Carroll

The Good News

Just a few hours before Marcellus Williams was 
scheduled to die by lethal injection, Missouri 
Governor Eric Greitens issued a stay of 
execution. DNA evidence found on the murder 
weapon belongs to someone other than Mr. 
Williams. In a statement, Governor Greitens 
said, "A sentence of death is the ultimate, 
permanent punishment, [...] To carry out the 
death penalty, the people of Missouri must have 
confidence in the judgment of guilt."

Missouri's attorney general, Joshua D. Hawley, 
believes compelling non-DNA evidence supplies 
enough facts to find Mr. Williams guilty.

At this point, Governor Greitens has appointed 
a board of inquiry to consider Mr. Williams's 
clemency request. This board will issue a report 
about whether he should be executed or have 
his sentence commuted.

Missouri officials have had their own set of 
problems with the drugs they use for executions 
because of an ongoing shortage of these drugs.

For now though, Mr. Williams's case has new 
life breathed into it.

The Bad News

As we know, Proposition 66 passed last 
November. This proposition's main point is to 
speed up executions. August 24, 2017, the 
California Supreme Court upheld the measure, 
but "severely diluted a key provision aimed at 
ending a backlog of appeals." As we know, one 
part of Prop 66 is that all death penalty appeals 
must be decided within five years. The court 
decided these deadlines are more "directives" 
than requirements. 

Executions could begin again in a few months 
unless Governor Brown decides to commute 
death sentences. Because Governor Brown is 
ending his time in office, Michael Rushford, 
president of the pro-death penalty Criminal 
Justice Legal Foundation, which helped write 
the ballot measure, is concerned the governor 
will commute the sentences of death row 
inmates before he leaves office. Inmates who 
have exhausted their appeals will not have too 
much time before they will be executed.

To read more on this, go to


Jabber Washington - State: NY - Date of 
Exoneration: 7/12/2017
In 1997, Jabbar Washington was sentenced to 25 
years to life in prison for murder, attempted 
murder, and armed robbery in New York City. 
He was exonerated in 2017 after an investigation 
into the detective who handled his case revealed 
a long-standing pattern of misconduct and 
because the prosecution had withheld critical 
evidence of his innocence.

Fred Weichel - State: MA - Date of Exoneration: 
In 1981, Fred Weichel was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for a murder in Braintree, 
Massachusetts. He was exonerated in 2017 by 
evidence concealed by police that pointed to 
another man as the killer.

Frederick Clay - State: MA - Date of 
Exoneration: 8/8/2017
In 1981, Frederick Clay was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for murdering a cab 
driver at age 16 in Boston, Massachusetts. He 
was exonerated in 2017 after evidence showed 
the eyewitness identifications of him were 
unreliable and pointed to other, more likely 

Lamarr Monson - State: MI - Date of 
Exoneration: 8/25/2017
In 1997, Lamarr Monson was sentenced to 30 to 
50 years in prison for murdering a 12-year-old 
girl. He was exonerated in 2017 after a bloody 
fingerprint of the real killer was identified on 
the murder weapon.

Stays of Executions
15	Omar Shariff Cash	PA
22	Marcellus Williams	MO
30	Steven Long		TX

26		Ronald R. Phillips	OH
	Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam)
27		TaiChin Preyor	TX
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital)

24		Mark James Asay 	FL
	Lethal Injection 3-drug (etomidate)

Urgent Actions            31
POC                       17
Total                     48

Narges Mohammadi
By Joyce Wolf

At our letter-writing meeting on August 8, Alexi 
told us about a new campaign for Narges 
Mohammadi, Group 22's adopted Prisoner of 
Conscience in Iran. We will join with a number 
of other Amnesty groups in the US and Europe 
to appeal to female members of the Iran 
Parliament and ask them to convey our 
messages of support to Narges in Evin Prison in 
Tehran. We got started by writing 9 requests to 
two female Iran MPs to deliver enclosed 
messages to Narges. Alexi will keep us updated 
about this campaign.

On Twitter, FreeNarges reported on August 20 
that Narges had started a hunger strike on 
August 17, but I could not find any recent 
updates as to whether she was still on hunger 
strike. (Search hashtag #FreeNarges)

Amnesty has issued a new report about human 
rights defenders in Iran, Caught in a web of 
state repression: Iran's human rights defenders 
under attack, 2 August 2017.

I'm looking forward to reading our September 
book selection by Nobel Peace laureate Shirin 
Ebadi and learning more about the background 
of human rights in Iran. (See the review in this 
newsletter.) I'm also anticipating the 
opportunity to learn more about women's rights 
in the Middle East from Simin Taylor, a 
Pepperdine student who is doing a project on 
this topic and plans to work with Alexi and 
participate in Group 22 meetings this fall.   

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.