Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVI Number 4, April 2018

  Note: there is no monthly meeting on the 
fourth Thursday in April as several Group 22 
members were planning on attending the 
SoCal local groups meeting April 28. Now 
we've heard that that meeting has been 
  Tuesday, May 8, 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, May 20, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. This 
month we read "The Underground Railroad" 
by Colson Whitehead. 
  Thursday, May 24, 7:30-9:00 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. For the 
May meeting, we plan to watch a video on a 
human rights topic, title to be announced later.


Hi all

Robert and myself were planning to attend the 
SoCal local group planning meeting downtown 
next Saturday the 28th, but I received an email 
that our Eventbrite "tickets" were invalidated 
and that the meeting will be rescheduled.  This 
was last week and I haven't heard anything 
Hopefully this meeting will take place as it will 
be helpful to see what the other groups are 
doing, and to network and strategize. 

The book group has been reading some great 
books lately. I enjoyed "American War" by 
Omar el Akkad, "Divided We Stand" by 
Marjorie Spruill, and look forward to reading 
this month's book, which has been on the 
bestseller list.
Con Carino, 

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, May 20
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd 

The Underground Railroad 
by Colson Whitehead

[This book won the 2016 National Book Award 
for fiction. The following is taken from]


The Underground Railroad confirms Colson 
Whitehead's reputation as one of our most 
daring and inventive writers. A suspenseful tale 
of escape and pursuit, it combines elements of 
fantasy and the counter-factual with an 
unflinching, painfully truthful depiction of 
American slavery. Whitehead revisits the 
grotesque barbarities of our nation's history in 
the interest of our common stake in freedom and 
dignity. He has given us an electrifying 
narrative of the past, profoundly resonant with 
the present.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. 
Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad 
for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow 
Africans, she is coming into womanhood-
where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a 
recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the 
Underground Railroad, they decide to take a 
terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as 
planned-Cora kills a young white boy who 
tries to capture her. Though they manage to find 
a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the 
Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor-
engineers and conductors operate a secret 
network of tracks and tunnels beneath the 
Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is 
South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like 
a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an 
insidious scheme designed for its black 
denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the 
relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. 
Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a 
harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true 

Like the protagonist of Gulliver's Travels, Cora 
encounters different worlds at each stage of her 
journey-hers is an odyssey through time as 
well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-
creates the unique terrors for black people in the 
pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly 
weaves the saga of America from the brutal 
importation of Africans to the unfulfilled 
promises of the present day. The Underground 
Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of 
one woman's ferocious will to escape the 
horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful 
meditation on the history we all share.

Colson Whitehead is the New York Times 
bestselling author of The Noble Hustle, Zone One, 
Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, 
Apex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, 
The Colossus of New York. A Pulitzer Prize finalist 
and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim 
fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Security with Human Rights
By Robert Adams


Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick has been 
honored with Amnesty International's 
Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, the 
human rights organization announced today.

The award was officially presented at a 
ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on April 
21, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 
opening of Amnesty International's national 
section in the country.
"The Ambassador of Conscience award 
celebrates the spirit of activism and exceptional 
courage, as embodied by Colin Kaepernick. He 
is an athlete who is now widely recognized for 
his activism because of his refusal to ignore or 
accept racial discrimination," said Salil Shetty, 
Secretary General of Amnesty International.

 "Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience 
before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak 
out and inspire others despite the professional 
and personal risks. When high profile people 
choose to take a stand for human rights, it 
emboldens many others in their struggles 
against injustice. Kaepernick's commitment is all 
the more remarkable because of the alarming 
levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in 

During the 2016 pre-season of the National 
Football League, Kaepernick knelt during the 
national anthem, as a respectful way of calling 
for the country to protect and uphold the rights 
of all its people. The bold move was a response 
to the disproportionate numbers of black people 
being killed by police. It sparked a movement 
that follows a long tradition of non-violent 
protests that have made history.

While the polarized response to the "take-a-
knee" protest has ignited a debate about the 
right to protest and free speech, Kaepernick has 
remained focused on highlighting the injustices 
that moved him to act. His charity, the Colin 
Kaepernick Foundation, works to fight 
oppression around the world through education 
and social activism, including through free 
"Know Your Rights" camps which educate and 
empower young people.

 "I would like to thank Amnesty International 
for the Ambassador of Conscience Award. But 
in truth, this is an award that I share with all of 
the countless people throughout the world 
combating the human rights violations of police 
officers, and their uses of oppressive and 
excessive force. To quote Malcolm X, when he 
said that he, 'will join in with anyone - I don't 
care what color you are - as long as you want 
to change this miserable condition that exists on 
this earth,' I am here to join with you all in this 
battle against police violence," said Kaepernick.

 "While taking a knee is a physical display that 
challenges the merits of who is excluded from 
the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, 
the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my 
moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people."

Eric Reid, professional football player and 
Kaepernick's former teammate, continued to 
show his support, as he presented Kaepernick 
with the Ambassador of Conscience award.
The Ambassador of Conscience Award is 
Amnesty International's highest honor, 
recognizing individuals who have promoted 
and enhanced the cause of human rights 
through their lives and by example.

By Stevi Carroll

California and Executions

As we know, Proposition 66 passed in 2016. The 
citizens of California voted to speed up the 
execution process. Perhaps these voters thought 
this would clear out the nearly 750 people 
currently on California's death row.  Lethal 
injection is the execution method for California. 
Also as we know, some lethal-injection 
executions have not gone well.

The LA Times; KQED, public media in San 
Francisco; and the San Francisco Progressive 
Media Center, a nonprofit that publishes the 
website have joined forces to 
challenge some changes on death row at San 
Quentin State Prison.

San Quentin now has a new death chamber. 
This chamber shields the public from the 
preparation of the chemicals and their use in 
executions. According the an article in the LA 
Times April 12, 2018, "The lethal injection 
regulations also require a curtain on the viewing 
window to the execution room to be closed and 
the public address system turned off if the 
inmate does not die after receiving three doses 
of the lethal chemicals.

 "The public is thereby prevented from 
observing defendants' response when the 
execution does not proceed as intended," the 
suit said." 

In January, California Department of 
Corrections decided to use a one-drug protocol 
and determined two drugs, pentobarbital or 
thiopental, would now be used to kill people. 
The warden decides which one will be used, and 
he is not required to divulge what he's chosen.  
Now here's the rub: "Food and Drug 
Administration-approved manufacturers of 
pentobarbital have prohibited its use in 
executions, and thiopental is not available 
domestically, nor can it be lawfully imported 
into the country." So just how will the California 
Department of Corrections obtain the chemicals 
to kill people on death row?

Kent Scheidegger, the legal director for the 
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which 
supports the death penalty, said his group is 
fine with the curtain staying open even if the 
person being executed needs medical treatment 
for a botched execution, and he sees this lawsuit 
"as an attempt to prevent executions."

So will we in California begin to execute, or will 
we continue the trend from 2006 and not resume 
this practice? 

Kevin Cooper

In 1985, Kevin Cooper was convicted of 
murdering Doug and Peggy Ryen; their 10-year 
old daughter, Jessica; and her 11-year-old friend, 
Christopher Hughes. Josh Ryen, then 8 years 
old, survived. Kevin Cooper was sentenced to 
death, and when California begins once again 
executing, the State intends to execute him.

At Mr. Cooper's trial, evidence that might have 
exonerated him was withheld from the defense. 
Additionally in 2009, five federal judges of the 
9th Circuit Court of Appeals signed an opinion 
that begins, "The State of California may be 
about to execute an innocent man." Six more 9th 
Circuit judges have joined the dissent. They 
believe Mr. Cooper did not have a fair hearing.

Mr. Cooper's legal counsel has sent Governor 
Jerry Brown a clemency petition. The Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights 
received a petition from Mr. Cooper in 2011 and 
after reviewing this petition, the IACHR 
requested 'precautionary measures' for Mr. 
Cooper not to be executed while members of the 
commission investigated case. The United States 
ignored this letter. (To see the IACHR's full 
report, go to

In August 2016, Bryan Stevenson, executive 
director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said, 
"Based on my decades of experience 
representing condemned prisoners, Mr. 
Cooper's case presents exactly the situation for 
which clemency is intended-to avoid the 
ultimate injustice of executing an innocent 
person whom the criminal justice system has 
failed. ... I have represented scores of 
condemned men and women, all of whom are 
poor and who are disproportionately people of 
color. We now know that for every nine persons 
executed in the United States, one innocent 
person is exonerated and released from death 
row. This error rate in our capital system is 
unacceptable, yet it continues because so many 
people on death row were subjected to racial 
bias and did not have the means to defend 

In May 2017, Sister Helen Prejean stated, "This 
brings me to the case of Kevin Cooper, which is 
currently before you on his Petition for 
Executive Clemency. The law enforcement 
abuses and other misconduct by the San 
Bernardino sheriff's department and prosecutors 
in the '80s and 90s and mishandling of evidence 
subject to DNA testing in the early 2000s as well 
as the actions of a Republican appointed District 
Court Judge in San Diego that prevented Mr. 
Cooper from a fair opportunity to prove his 
innocence, are well set forth in detail in the 
Petition, the May, 2009 opinion of 9th Circuit 
Judge William Fletcher and the book 
"Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the 
Framing of Kevin Cooper" by J. Patrick 
O'Connor and articles and news videos by 
several others who have reviewed and studied 
the case.

These organizations and individuals include the 
most prominent and well-respected civil rights 
and human rights observers, commentators and 
participants, both nationally and internationally. 
I join them, most of whom have written 
personally to you regarding Kevin Cooper's 
wrongful conviction."
To sign Amnesty International USA's petition, 
go to

To learn more about this case, go to

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and 
Freedom On Death Row 

Anthony Ray Hinton spent decades on death 
row for murders he did not commit. According 
to a description of his book on the Vroman's 
Bookstore website:

 "In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and 
charged with two counts of capital murder in 
Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-
nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of 
mistaken identity and believed that the truth 
would prove his innocence and ultimately set 
him free.

But with no money and a different system of 
justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton 
was sentenced to death by electrocution. He 
spent his first three years on Death Row at 
Holman State Prison in agonizing silence--full of 
despair and anger toward all those who had 
sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton 
realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not 
only to survive, but find a way to live on Death 
Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a 
beacon--transforming not only his own spirit, 
but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of 
whom were executed mere feet from his cell. 
With the help of civil rights attorney and 
bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan 
Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does 
Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power 
of hope sustained through the darkest times. 
Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful 
imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton's 
memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey 
and shows how you can take away a man's 
freedom, but you can't take away his 
imagination, humor, or joy."

In an interview with Isaac Chotiner, Mr. Hinton 
says in answer to a question about his mother, 
Beulah Hinton, and forgiveness, "Well you 
know that's where I learned forgiveness-from 
my mother. My mother used to sit me down for 
whatever reason, and she used to always tell 
me, always remember, you are not responsible for 
how people treat you. But you are responsible for how 
you treat others. My mom would tell me, there are 
going to be some people. She didn't say white. She 
didn't say black. She didn't Mexican or 
whatever. She said, "There will be people that 
dislike you simply because of the color of your 
skin. You haven't done anything to them. They 
just don't like you because of the color of your 
skin. These are the people that you are still to 
pray for. These are the people that you are still 
to love, regardless of how they treat you."

And I couldn't understand that as a young boy, 
but as I got older and older and as I sat on death 
row, I finally understood what my mother was 
saying. I have learned in the years that I've been 
on this earth, you don't have to do anything to 
people. You just have to be of a different race, of 
a different gender, and people will dislike you. 
But you have to go on, and you have to live your 
life. You can't worry about why this person 
don't like you. You just have to continue to 
believe in the words that my mother gave me. 
Pray for them."

To read the entire interview, go to

I am hopeful our Rights Readers will read The 
Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom On 
Death Row. I look forward to the discussion.

Thank you, and let me say that I give all credit for 
who I am and what I am to my mother. I just want 
the world to know that my mother didn't raise and 
bring up a killer.  - Anthony Ray Hinton

Recent Exonerations

Ralph Lee and Eric Kelley 
 State: NJ - Date of Exoneration: 4/6/2018
In 1996, Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee were 
sentenced to life in prison after falsely 
confessing to murdering a video store clerk in 
Paterson, New Jersey. They were exonerated in 
2018 by DNA tests that identified the real killer.

Richard Phillips 
State: MI - Date of Exoneration: 3/29/2018
In 1972, Richard Phillips was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for a murder in Detroit, 
Michigan. He was exonerated in 2018 after a co-
defendant admitted that he and the 
prosecution's primary witness committed the 
murder and that Phillips was not involved.

Ru-El Sailor  
State: OH - Date of Exoneration: 3/28/2018
In 2003, Ru-El Sailor was sentenced to 25 years 
to life in prison for a murder in Cleveland, Ohio. 
He was exonerated in 2018 when three 
witnesses, including the real killer, said Sailor 
was not involved in the crime.

Ricardo Rodriguez  
State: IL - Date of Exoneration: 3/27/2018
In 1997, Ricardo Rodriguez was sentenced to 90 
years in prison for a drive-by shooting that 
killed a homeless man in Chicago, Illinois. He 
was exonerated in 2018 based on evidence that a 
corrupt police detective coerced witnesses to 
identify him.

Calvin Buari  
State: NY - Date of Exoneration: 3/21/2018
In 1995, Calvin Buari was sentenced to 50 years 
to life in prison for a double murder in the 
Bronx, New York. He was exonerated in 2018 
after the real killer admitted to the crime and 
three witnesses identified the real killer as the 

Hattie Tanner 
State: MI - Date of Exoneration: 3/19/2018
In 2000, Hattie Tanner was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for the murder of a 
bartender in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was 
exonerated in 2018 because her conviction was 
based on inaccurate testimony from the state's 
forensic expert.

Alfred Swinton  
State: CT - Date of Exoneration: 3/1/2018
In 2001, Alfred Swinton was sentenced to 60 
years in prison for a murder in Hartford, 
Connecticut based on testimony that his teeth 
matched bite marks on the victim. He was 
exonerated in 2018 by DNA testing that 
excluded him as the perpetrator.

Stays of Executions
20	Russell Bucklew		MO
	Stay granted by the U.S. Supreme Court 
on March 20, 2018, pending resolution of his 
petition for writ of certiorari on the question of 
whether his medical condition makes it 
unconstitutionally cruel to execute him by 
means of lethal injection.

11	Melvin Bonnell		OH
	Rescheduled for February 12, 2020 by 
Gov. John Kasich on September 1, 2017.


27	Rosendo Rodriguez III	TX
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 
	Years from sentence to execution - 9

19	Walter Leroy Moody		AL
	Lethal Injection 3-drug (Midazolam) 
	Years from sentence to execution - 22

Narges Mohammadi
By Joyce Wolf

On April 21, human rights defender Narges 
Mohammadi marked another birthday in Evin 
Prison in Iran. Group 22 members signed a 
birthday card for her, which we sent in care of 
the Amnesty International Iran Team in London. 
I posted an image of the card on Twitter:

We learned a few months ago that Narges was a 
2018 recipient of the Andrei Sakharov Prize 
awarded by the American Physical Society. (The 
prize recognizes outstanding leadership and/or 
achievements of scientists in upholding human 
rights.) Narges sent an acceptance speech to be 
read at the award ceremony on April 16. 
Following are excerpts from this article:

April 15, 2018 - Prisoner of conscience Narges 
Mohammadi was unable to accept the 2018 
Andrei Sakharov Prize in person in Columbus, 
Ohio where the American Physical Society 
(APS) awarded it to her but she sent a message 
of hope and strength in a powerful speech.

"The path to democracy in Iran lies not through 
violence, war, or military action by a foreign 
government, but through organizing and 
strengthening civil society institutions. The 
government knows this only too well," said 
Mohammadi in a speech obtained by the Center 
for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that will be 
read on April 16, 2018, by Iranian American 
academic Nayereh Tohidi, who accepted the 
award on Mohammadi's behalf.

"Sitting here in the prison, I am humbled by the 
honor you have bestowed on me and I will 
continue my efforts until we achieve peace, 
tolerance for a plurality of views, and human 
rights," added Mohammadi, who is serving a 
16-year prison sentence in Tehran's Evin Prison.

Mohammadi, 45, has a physics degree from 
Iran's Imam Khomeini University. In 2009, she 
was dismissed from her job as an engineer with 
the Iran Engineering Inspection Corporation and 
imprisoned due to her public advocacy of 
women's and human rights.
Letter by Prisoner of Conscience Narges 
Mohammadi From Evin Prison  

For me, as a civil rights and human rights 
activist, it is a great honor to be recognized by 
esteemed scientists like you in my field of 
physics and to be awarded the Andrei Sakharov 
Prize at the same time that another physicist Mr. 
Ravi Kuchimanchi is being awarded as well. His 
advocacy for human development, and 
specifically for the poor and disadvantaged in 
India has inspired many people world-wide.

I was filled with joy when studying quantum 
physics at the university as a means to 
understand the universe. But at the same time, I 
was preoccupied with the oppressive conditions 
in my country and the tyranny suffered by our 
universities, intellectuals, and the media. Like 
many others in our universities, I felt compelled 
to join the struggle for freedom. What we 
experience is a decades-old tyranny, that cannot 
tolerate freedom of speech and thought. In the 
name of religion, it restricts and punishes 
science, intellect, and even love. It labels as a 
threat to national security and toxic to society 
whatever is not compatible with its political and 
economic interests. It considers punishing 
unwelcome ideas as a positive thing.
[Narges ends her speech with this paragraph.]

Thoughts and dreams don't die. Belief in 
freedom and justice does not perish with 
imprisonment, torture or even death and 
tyranny do not prevail over freedom, even when 
they rely on the power of the state. Sitting here 
in the prison, I am deeply humbled by the honor 
you have bestowed on me and I will continue 
my efforts until we achieve peace, tolerance for a 
plurality of views, and human rights.

UAs                                              19
Birthday card for POC Narges                      1
Total                                            20

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.