Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXV Number 9, September 2017

  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.
  Tuesday, October 10, 7:30-9:00 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, October 15, 6:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. This month we read a novel, "The 
Noise of Time" by Julian Barnes.

Hi everyone

It is now officially fall, my favorite season!
Time to snuggle under the covers with the kitty 
katters and take long walks in the (hopefully) 
cooler weather to come....

Is anyone going to the Western Regional 
Conference?  It's being held in Tempe, Arizona, 
November 4, at ASU (Arizona State University).  
For more info:

Action for September:  for the Rohingya people 
of Myanmar (formerly Burma) who are being 
forced out of their land by the Myanmar 
military.  I'm sure we've all seen the news about 
the burning of villages, rape and murder of 
civilians, etc. Take action here to ask Congress to 
condemn the violence:

Con Carino, 

Urgent Actions               14
POC                           2
Total                        16

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, October 15 
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E Colorado Blvd.

The Noise of Time

by Julian Barnes

By Alex Preston, Jan. 17, 2016, The Guardian. 
The Noise of Time review - Julian Barnes's 
masterpiece -- Shostakovich's battle with his 
conscience is explored in a magnificent 
fictionalised retelling of the composer's life 
under Stalin. 

'The breadth of a whole life within the pages of a slim 
book': Dmitri Shostakovich in 1950. Photograph: 
Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images

Julian Barnes's last novel, the Man Booker-winning 
The Sense of an Ending (2011), engaged in subtle and 
sustained dialogue with the book whose title it 
pilfered, Frank Kermode's brilliant 1967 work of 
narrative theory, also called The Sense of an Ending. 
Barnes's latest, The Noise of Time, borrows its title 
from Osip Mandelstam's memoirs, and again the 
earlier work casts interesting light upon Barnes's 
project. Mandlestam was one of Stalin's most 
outspoken critics, his fate sealed with the words of 
his 1933 Stalin Epigram. He was exiled in the Great 
Terror and died in a Vladivostok transit camp in 
1938. The subject of The Noise in Time is not the 
brave, doomed Mandelstam, though, but a rarer 
genius, one whose art continued to flourish despite 
the oppressive attentions of the Soviet authorities: 
Dmitri Shostakovich.

The Noise of Time initially appears to be the latest 
addition to a hybrid literary form with which we are 
increasingly familiar - the fictional biography. Recent 
examples range from Colm T—ibin's The Master 
(which presented a repressed and unhappy Henry 
James) to Nuala O'Connor's excellent Miss Emily 
(which gave us a wilful and tormented Emily 
Dickinson). As with all great novels, though - and 
make no mistake, this is a great novel, Barnes's 
masterpiece - the particular and intimate details of 
the life under consideration beget questions of 
universal significance: the operation of power upon 
art, the limits of courage and endurance, the 
sometimes intolerable demands of personal integrity 
and conscience.

This novel, like its predecessor, gives us the breadth 
of a whole life within the pages of a slim book, 
written in an intimately close third person. The 
reader visits the composer during three critical 
moments in his life, the decades between skipped 
over with extraordinary panache, a bravura 
performance of Italo Calvino's maxim that "time 
takes no time in a story". We first meet Shostakovich 
as "a man standing by a lift, at his feet a small case 
containing cigarettes, underwear and tooth powder; 
standing there and waiting to be taken away". A 
damning Pravda editorial, probably penned by 
Stalin, has denounced the composer's Lady Macbeth 
of the Mtsensk District as "non-political and 
confusing" because it "tickled the perverted taste of 
the bourgeois with its fidgety, neurotic music". 
Shostakovich waits for his first "Conversation with 
Power" - interrogation by the NKVD - and, 
presumably, exile or worse.
Our next encounter with Shostakovich is after the 
war, on a propaganda tour of the US. His visit is 
prompted by his second "Conversation with Power", 
this time a telephone call from Stalin himself that 
recalls a similar call in Vasily Grossman's Life and 
Fate (a novel that echoes within The Noise of Time). 
Restored to the party's good books by the success of 
his patriotic "Leningrad" Symphony, Shostakovich is 
delivering a series of speeches denouncing his own 
work and, particularly, that of Stravinsky, whom he 
likes and admires. He reads his speech in a 
"muttered monotone", hoping the words will be 
taken for what they are - dictations from the state. In 
the audience, though, is Nicolas Nabokov (Vladimir's 
cousin and in the pay of the CIA), who forces 
Shostakovich to reiterate his endorsement of the 
views of Zhdanov, the man "who had persecuted 
him since 1936, who had banned him and derided 
him and threatened him, who had compared his 
music to that of a road drill and a mobile gas 
chamber". It is a moment of abject, torturous 
humiliation for the composer.

The third section of the novel gives us an elderly 
Shostakovich, sitting in the back of a chauffeur-
driven car, made bitter by the inexhaustible demands 
of the party, even now that Stalin's terror has given 
way to the reign of "Nikita the Corncob". 
Shostakovich describes himself as a hunchback, 
"morally, spiritually", a man shattered in body and 
spirit: "He could not live with himself. It was just a 
phrase, but an exact one. Under the pressure of 
Power, the self cracks and splits." We witness his 
"final, most ruinous Conversation with Power", 
when the oleaginous functionary Pospelov forces 
him to join the party and take up a position entirely 
within the fold, as chairman of the Russian 
Federation Union of Composers. Shostakovich 
succinctly diagnoses his own greatest fault: "He had 
lived too long."

Around halfway through the novel there is a passage 
that operates as a kind of appeal to the reader, and 
also a statement about what kind of book this is: 
"There were those who understood a little better, 
who supported you, and yet at the same time were 
disappointed in you. Who did not grasp the one 
simple fact about the Soviet Union: that it was 
impossible to tell the truth here and live. Who 
imagined they knew how Power operated and 
wanted you to fight it as they believed they would do 
in your position. In other words, they wanted your 
blood." Here we sense the ghost of Osip 
Mandelstam, providing a heroic vision of what might 
have been for Shostakovich - an early death, lauded 
by some, forgotten by most. Instead, we get the old 
man, churning out bombastic, grandiloquent public 
music and composing his masterpieces - his late 
string quartets - in private, all the while knowing 
that "music is not like Chinese eggs: it does not 
improve by being kept underground for years and 

Jhroughout The Noise of Time, I kept thinking of JM 
Coetzee (not a writer I'd have associated Barnes with 
before). Most obviously Coetzee's underrated 
fictional biography of Dostoevsky, The Master of 
Petersburg, but more often and more interestingly, 
Disgrace. In that novel, the hero, David Lurie, is 
offered an easy way out of a tawdry fix at the 
beginning of the book; instead, driven by a stubborn 
sense of personal integrity, he subjects himself to 
untold privations until the novel's extraordinary, 
quasi-religious ending.

Shostakovich, like Lurie, understands that his 
torments have ancient roots: "He knew his Bible well. 
So he was familiar with the notion of sin; also with its 
public mechanism. The offence, the priest's judgment 
on the matter, the act of contrition, the forgiveness. 
Though there were occasions when the sin was too 
great and not even a priest could forgive it." Every 
morning, in lieu of a prayer, he recites to himself a 
poem by Evtushenko - "But time has a way of 
demonstrating / The most stubborn are the most 
intelligent... I shall therefore pursue my career / By 
trying not to pursue one."

The composer's decline into ill health, the withering 
of his spirit, his hope that "death would liberate his 
music... from his life" - Barnes presents 
Shostakovich's final downward spiral with a kind of 
ruthless inevitability (and inevitability is, as Susan 
Snyder says, the signal note of tragedy). Alexei 
Tolstoy wrote in Pravda of Shostakovich's Fifth 
Symphony: "Here the personality submerges itself in 
the great epoch that surrounds it, and begins to 
resonate with the epoch." Barnes has achieved a 
similar feat with a period of history, and a place, that 
despite their remoteness, are rendered in exquisite, 
intimate detail. He has given us a novel that is 
powerfully affecting, a condensed masterpiece that 
traces the lifelong battle of one man's conscience, one 
man's art, with the insupportable exigencies of 

 Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England on 
January 19, 1946. He was educated at the City of 
London School from 1957 to 1964 and at Magdalen 
College, Oxford, from which he graduated in modern 
languages (with honours) in 1968.

After graduation, he worked as a lexicographer for 
the Oxford English Dictionary supplement for three 
years. In 1977, Barnes began working as a reviewer 
and literary editor for the New Statesman and the New 
Review. From 1979 to 1986 he worked as a television 
critic, first for the New Statesman and then for the 

Barnes has received several awards and honours for 
his writing, including the 2011 Man Booker Prize for 
The Sense of an Ending. Three additional novels were 
shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (Flaubert's Parrot 
1984, England, England 1998, and Arthur & George 
2005). Barnes's other awards include the Somerset 
Maugham Award (Metroland 1981), Geoffrey Faber 
Memorial Prize (FP 1985); Prix Mˇdicis (FP 1986); E. 
M. Forster Award (American Academy and Institute 
of Arts and Letters, 1986); Gutenberg Prize (1987); 
Grinzane Cavour Prize (Italy, 1988); and the Prix 
Femina (Talking It Over 1992). Barnes was made a 
Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1988, 
Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995 and 
Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 
2004. In 1993 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize 
by the FVS Foundation and in 2004 won the Austrian 
State Prize for European Literature. In 2011 he was 
awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature. 
Awarded biennially, the prize honours a lifetime's 
achievement in literature for a writer in the English 
language who is a citizen of the United Kingdom or 
the Republic of Ireland. He received the Sunday 
Times Award for Literary Excellence in 2013 and the 
2015 Zinklar Award at the first annual Blixen 
Ceremony in Copenhagen. In 2016, the American 
Academy of Arts & Letters elected Barnes as an 
honorary foreign member. Also in 2016, Barnes was 
selected as the second recipient of the Siegfried Lenz 
Prize for his outstanding contributions as a European 
narrator and essayist. On 25 January 2017, the French 
President appointed Julian Barnes to the rank of 
Officier in the Ordre National de la Lˇgion 
d'Honneur. The citation from the French 
Ambassador in London, Sylvie Bermann, reads: 
'Through this award, France wants to recognize your 
immense talent and your contribution to raising the 
profile of French culture abroad, as well as your love 
of France.'

Julian Barnes has written numerous novels, short 
stories, and essays. He has also translated a book by 
French author Alphonse Daudet and a collection of 
German cartoons by Volker Kriegel. His writing has 
earned him considerable respect as an author who 
deals with the themes of history, reality, truth and 

Barnes lives in London.

By Robert Adams

Yemen: US-made bomb kills and maims 
children in deadly strike on residential homes
AIUSA press release issued September 21, 2017

The bomb that destroyed a residential building in 
Yemen's capital last month, killing 16 civilians and 
injuring 17 more - including five-year-old Buthaina 
whose photograph went viral in the aftermath of the 
strike - was made in the USA, Amnesty International 
reveals today.
Amnesty International's arms expert analyzed 
remnants of the weapon found it bore clear markings 
that matched US-made components commonly used 
in laser-guided air-dropped bombs.
The 25 August air strike hit a cluster of houses in 
Sana'a, severely damaging three of them, and killing 
seven children including all five of Buthaina's 
brothers and sisters. Eight other children were 
injured, amongst them was two-year-old Sam Bassim 
al-Hamdani, who lost both his parents.
"We can now conclusively say that the bomb that 
killed Buthaina's parents and siblings, and other 
civilians, was made in the USA," said Lynn Maalouf, 
Research director for the Middle East at Amnesty 
"There simply is no explanation the USA or other 
countries such as the UK and France can give to 
justify the continued flow of weapons to the Saudi 
Arabia-led coalition for use in the conflict in Yemen. 
It has time and time again committed serious 
violations of international law, including war crimes, 
over the past 30 months, with devastating 
consequences for the civilian population."
After examining photographic evidence provided by 
a local journalist who dug out the remaining 
fragments of the weapon at the site, Amnesty 
International's arms expert was able to positively 
identify the data plate from a US-made MAU-169L/B 
computer control group. It is a part used in several 
types of laser-guided air-dropped bombs.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation 
Agency, in 2015 the US government authorized the 
sale of 2,800 guided bombs to Saudi Arabia that were 
equipped with the MAU-169L/B computer control 
group, including GBU-48, GBU-54, and GBU-56 
guided bombs.
Amnesty International is calling for the immediate 
implementation of a comprehensive embargo to 
ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is 
supplied with weapons, munitions, military 
equipment and technology that can be used in the 
conflict. An independent, impartial inquiry into 
reported violations is urgently needed and all those 
responsible for crimes under international law must 
be brought to justice in fair trials.
Lives devastated forever 
"She had five siblings to play with. Now she has none," 
Ali al-Raymi
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched the 
devastating attacks at around 2AM in Faj Attan, a 
residential area in Yemen's capital Sana'a.
Ali al-Raymi, 32, lost his brother Mohamed al-Raymi 
along with his sister-in-law and his five nieces and 
nephews aged between two and 10 years. His niece, 
five-year-old Buthaina, was the sole survivor.
He told Amnesty International:
"When you ask her 'what do you want?', she says 'I 
want to go home'... She thinks that if she goes home, 
she will find them [her family] there... She had five 
siblings to play with. Now she has none... What kind 
of sorrow and pain could she be feeling in her 
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has admitted to 
carrying out the devastating attack, but maintains 
that the civilian casualties were the result of a 
"technical error". The coalition claims it targeted a 
"legitimate military objective," which belonged to the 
Huthi-Saleh forces.
According to local residents, one of the buildings in 
the area was frequented by a Huthi-aligned 
individual. Amnesty International was not able to 
confirm his identity, role or whether he was present 
at the time of the attack.
However, even if there were military objectives in the 
vicinity, international humanitarian law prohibits 
disproportionate attacks, including those expected to 
kill or injure civilians.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition spokesperson also 
said that the incident had been referred to the 
coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) 
for further investigations. To date, Amnesty 
International is not aware of any members of the 
coalition taking concrete steps to investigate, take 
disciplinary measures against or prosecute officers 
suspected of criminal responsibility for war crimes.
"The coalition's complete disregard for civilian lives, 
as well as their lack of commitment to effective 
investigations, highlights the need for an 
independent international inquiry to look into 
alleged violations of international law," said Lynn 
"It is shameful that instead of holding the coalition 
accountable for their actions in Yemen, key allies 
including the USA and the UK have continued to 
supply it with huge quantities of arms."

By Stevi Carroll

Ohio Executes

Governor John Kasich resumed Ohio's 
executions in July of this year.  September 13th 
Gary Otte was executed for the murders he 
committed 25 years ago.

One concern Mr. Otte and his attorney had 
about his execution was the drugs that would be 
used. According to an article on the Death 
Penalty Information website, one of Mr. Otte's 
lawyers, Carol Wright, said he "exhibited 
'abnormal' chest and stomach movements when 
he was injected with the execution drug, 
midazolam, showing signs of struggling for air 
and what she described as 'air hunger'." When 
she tried to leave the witness room to call to 
alert a federal judge about this possible problem, 
her exit from the room was delayed for several 
minutes and by the time she was able to contact 
a judge, Mr. Otte was dead. A spokesperson for 
the prison said that they were following "proper 
security protocol, and once [Wright's] identity 
and intention was verified she was given 
permission to exit the room." Journalists who 
witnessed the execution said they did not see 
any apparent breathing problems and the death 
was not prolonged.

Another concern for this execution was Mr. 
Otte's age at the time he committed these 
murders. He was 20 years old. In August of this 
year, a Kentucky trial court found that the brain 
development and maturation of people aged 
from 18-20 is similar to those of people under 18 
and, therefore, the death penalty for people 
under the age of 21 when they commit their 
crimes is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.

Prior to his execution, Mr. Otte apologized to 
the relatives of Robert Wasikowski and Sharon 
Kostura, his victims, and sang the hymn "The 
Greatest Thing." His lawyer, Vickie Werneke, 
said he was at peace. 

Mr. Otte's final words were "Father, forgive 
them for they know not what they're doing."

The state of Ohio has 24 executions scheduled 
between now and 2020.

 "Capital punishment is the most premeditated of 
murders." Albert Camus

Recent Exonerations

Victor Rosario 
State: MA Date of Exoneration: 9/8/2017
In 1983, Victor Rosario falsely confessed to 
setting a fire that killed eight people in Lowell, 
Massachusetts and was sentenced to life in 
prison. He was exonerated in 2017 based on 
evidence that the critical parts of the confession 
were fabricated by police and that the fire was 
an accident.

Krystal Voss 
State: CO Date of Exoneration: 9/8/2017
In 2004, Krystal Voss was sentenced to 20 years 
in prison for the death of her 17-month-old 
toddler in Alamosa County, Colorado. She was 
exonerated in 2017 by medical testimony 
showing that the boy was not a victim of Shaken 
Baby Syndrome, but likely died from injuries he 
suffered in a fall.

Stays of Execution

7	Juan Castillo		TX 	
The request was made due to the state of 
disaster declared by Governor Abbott for 30 
Texas counties due to Hurricane Harvey.  A 
concurrent order to set a new execution date of 
December 14, 2017, was issued as well.

13	Jeffrey A Wogenstahl		OH	
Stay granted by Ohio Supreme Court May 4, 
2016 on motion to vacate execution date and to 
reopen direct appeal.  Rescheduled for April 17, 
2019 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.

13	Alva Campbell, Jr.		OH
Rescheduled for November 15, 2017, by Gov. 
John Kasich on May 1, 2017.


13	Gary Otte	OH
	Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam)

Narges Mohammadi
By Joyce Wolf and Alexi Daher

Many thanks to group members Laura and Ted, 
who staffed an Amnesty table at yesterday's 
(Sep. 25) Tom Petty concert and obtained 31 
signatures on a petition to free Narges.

Our September book selection was Until We Are 
Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran by Nobel 
Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi. Narges was 
mentioned several times in the book. Stevi 
moderated our book discussion and messaged a 
photo to the author's Facebook page, writing, 
"We just wanted to let you know about how 
much we appreciate your book and the work 
you do. Also Narges Mohammadi is our 
Prisoner of Conscience. We've been writing on 
her behalf since 2015.."


Narges is one of the focus cases in the major 
new campaign for human rights defenders in 
Iran that Amnesty is launching on September 26. 
We'll look forward to Alexi's updates on this 
campaign and on other work for Narges by 
Amnesty groups in Europe.


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.