Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVII Number 2, February 2019

  Thursday, February 28, 7:30-9:00 PM. 
Monthly Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, 
Tyson House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena.  
This month we will watch and discuss "Saudi 
Arabia Uncovered". With undercover footage 
and on-the-ground reporting, FRONTLINE 
reveals a side of Saudi Arabia that's rarely 
seen, and traces the efforts of men and women 
who are working to bring about change. Light 
refreshments will be served. Please join us!
  Tuesday, March 12, 7:30 -  9:00 PM. Letter 
Writing meeting at the 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 17, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. This 
month we read "The Last Girl" by Nadia 
  SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, March 30. 
Group 22 will participate in the Environmental 
Fair at the Arboretum in Arcadia.


Hello all

Cold enough for you?! LOL - dragging out all 
my Northern California clothes - wool sweaters 
and berets, down jackets and vests, gloves and 
boots! And piling the blankets on the bed! (I 
really feel sorry for the homeless when the 
weather is like this. Hope they can find some 
shelter.) At least we're not in the Midwest!

Group 22's Vincent De Stefano has been asked to 
attend the Amnesty AGM in Chicago March 1-3 
to accept an award for writing and sending the 
most urgent actions ever!  Way to go Vinnie! 
(Letter writing attendees: we gotta crank it up, 
he's making us look bad!) Enjoy the conference, 

I'm looking forward to reading this month's 
book as I had heard about this young Iraqi 
Yazidi woman who was kidnapped and spent 3 
months in captivity by the Islamic State before 
she escaped. She was awarded the Nobel peace 
prize in 2018 jointly along with Denis Mukwege, 
a Congolese OB-Gyn who specializes in the 
treatment of women who have been raped 
during armed conflict.

Remember, we need suggestions for 
speakers/videos for the monthly meetings. 
Please feel free to email any ideas.

Con carino,

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, March 17
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd 

The Last Girl
by Nadia Murad

By Anna Della Subin
Jan. 18, 2018

My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against 
the Islamic State 
By Nadia Murad with Jenna Krajeski

How to approach a memoir of a war still being 
waged? "The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, 
and My Fight Against the Islamic State" 
contains open wounds and painful lessons, as 
the Yazidi activist Nadia Murad learns how her 
own story can become a weapon against her - 
co-opted for any number of political agendas. In 
August 2014 Islamic State militants besieged her 
village of Kocho in northern Iraq. They executed 
nearly all the men and older women - 
including Murad's mother and six brothers - 
and buried them in mass graves. The younger 
women, Murad among them, were kidnapped 
and sold into sexual slavery. Raped, tortured 
and exchanged among militants, 21-year-old 
Murad finds an escape route when she is sold to 
a jihadist in Mosul who leaves a front door 
unlocked. She flees into Kurdistan by posing as 
the wife of a Sunni man, Nasser, who risks 
everything to escort her to safety.

Just when Murad, and the reader, expect a flood 
of relief, there is another sinister turn: Murad 
and Nasser are detained by Kurdish officials 
who force them to testify about their escape with 
cameras rolling. The officials are eager to hear 
how peshmerga fighters from a rival Kurdish 
faction - the two groups fought a civil war in 
the 1990s - had abandoned the Yazidi 
communities they were supposed to protect. The 
officials swear no one will ever see the tape, but 
it appears on the news that same night, putting 
Nasser and his family in grave danger. "I was 
quickly learning that my story, which I still 
thought of as a personal tragedy, could be 
someone else's political tool," Murad writes.

Freed from captivity, Murad remains trapped 
inside politics. To publish "The Last Girl" right 
now, in the United States, means there are tricky 
issues of sensationalism to navigate; in a 
threatening climate of Islamophobia, Muslims of 
all kinds are vilified for the actions of one group. 
Yet Murad, and the team of translators and 
writers with whom she worked, hedge against 
this response with a book intricate in historical 
context. Visible throughout are the disastrous 
legacies of the American intervention that 
dismantled Baathist institutions and bred a 
generation of Iraqis raised on violence and with 
few prospects. In a childhood flashback, a young 
Nadia receives a ring from one of the many 
American soldiers who arrived in Kocho in the 
mid-2000s bearing trinkets and empty promises. 
During the Iraq war, Yazidis became 
increasingly isolated from their Sunni Arab 
neighbors, caught in cross hairs of sectarianism 
in the wake of the "coalition of the willing."

"The Last Girl" is also a primer on the ancient 
Yazidi faith that sustains Murad throughout her 
ordeal: its creation myths, visions of the afterlife 
and idiosyncratic customs. (Many Yazidis avoid 
eating lettuce, and consider blue a color too holy 
for humans to wear.) Yazidis pray to Tawusi 
Melek, an archangel who, at the creation, took 
the form of a peacock, and painted a desolate 
earth with the colors of his feathers. Over the 
centuries, misunderstandings surrounding the 
mysterious religion have fueled genocide - 73 
times, Murad writes, a figure eerily exact. 
According to a pernicious myth, Tawusi Melek 
refused to bow before Adam and was 
condemned to hell, echoing Satan's behavior in 
the Quran. Branding them "devil worshipers," 
ISIS legitimized the massacre and enslavement 
of Yazidis, singling them out among Iraq's many 
minorities for particularly inhumane treatment.

"I want to be the last girl in the world with a 
story like mine," Murad concludes. Despite 
recent gains against ISIS in Iraq, many Yazidis 
still remain in captivity. As a story that hasn't 
yet ended, "The Last Girl" is difficult to process. 
It is a call to action, but as it places Murad's 
tragedy in the larger narrative of Iraqi history 
and American intervention, it leaves the reader 
with urgent, incendiary questions: What have 
we done, and what can we do?

Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a 
small village of farmers and shepherds in 
northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi 
community, she and her brothers and sisters 
lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming 
a history teacher or opening her own beauty 

On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just 
twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic 
State militants massacred the people of her 
village, executing men who refused to convert to 
Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. 
Six of Nadia's brothers were killed, and her 
mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass 
graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, 
along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into 
the ISIS slave trade.

Nadia would be held captive by several 
militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. 
Finally, she managed a narrow escape through 
the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home 
of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son 
risked his life to smuggle her to safety.

Today, Nadia's story--as a witness to the Islamic 
State's brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a 
Yazidi--has forced the world to pay attention to 
an ongoing genocide. It is a call to action, a 
testament to the human will to survive, and a 
love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, 
and a family torn apart by war.


Security With Human 
By Robert Adams


The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, 
national director of advocacy and government 
relations at Amnesty International USA:

"Tonight's State of the Union was just another 
opportunity for the president to peddle his 
politics of hate and fear to a captive audience. 
He has emboldened despotic regimes around 
the world by turning a blind eye, and in some 
cases, actively promoting human rights 
violations in places like Saudi Arabia and North 
Korea. At the southern border, his obsession 
with divisive symbols like a wall is just part of 
his continued efforts to stigmatize people 
desperately in need of protection. His policy of 
sending vulnerable asylum seekers back to 
dangerous conditions in Mexico is nothing short 
of cruel.

"No wall, no military buildup, no expansion of 
detention facilities, no pushbacks of people 
legally seeking asylum at the border. It's time to 
come back to human rights and work for 
policies that treat all people and families with 

By Stevi Carroll

Who Lives and Who Dies - Texas Style

February 19, 2019, the US Supreme Court 
reversed for the second time the execution of 
Bobby James Moore because of his intellectual 
disability which makes him ineligible for the 
death penalty.  Chief Justice John Roberts joined 
the unsigned opinion in opposition to Associate 
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and 
Neil Gorsuch (Brett Kavanaugh joined the 
majority because he did not join the dissent).

The opposing Justices said that in the 2002 
ruling Atkins v Virginia the Court did not create 
a coherent rule for what constitutes the 
intellectual disability that would make one 
ineligible to be executed.

Cliff Sloan, Mr Moore's attorney, said that while 
Texas authorities claimed they met the relevant 
standards for judging intellectual disability, they 
had in reality used something more like the lay 
stereotype based more closely to Lennie in John 
Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."


Wyoming is a deeply red state, and yet this 
month the state legislators came close to 
abolishing the death penalty. According to an 
article on the Death Penalty Information Center 
website, "fiscal and pro-life conservatives, 
conservative law-reform advocates, and the 
deepening involvement of the Catholic Church 
in death-penalty abolition - has led to 
unprecedented successes in numerous houses of 
state legislatures and moved repeal efforts closer 
to fruition in a number of deeply Republican 

February 1, the Wyoming House of 
Representatives passed HB 145, a death penalty 
abolition bill, by a vote of 36-21. The bill then 
unanimously passed the Republican-controlled 
Senate Judiciary Committee on February 13, 
only to be defeated in a full Senate vote 12-18.

The Senate co-sponsor, Republican Brian Boner 
said, "We have an obligation to have a justice 
system that is blind and based on facts, and not 
based on what we wished it was or what it used 
to be." Republican Representative Jared Olsen 
said he was concerned about the number of 
exonerations from death row. "It is way too 
much authority to vest in our government, and 
we get it wrong."

Cost is often brought up as another reason to 
abolish the death penalty.  Republican Senator 
Bill Landen said, "I finally decided that I can't go 
home and feel good about explaining to people 
all of those myriad of cuts we've made to the 
state budget and then defend expenditures like 
this, which have gone on for years and years 
and years," when Wyoming spends 
approximately $750,000 per year on legal costs 
for the death penalty and has not executed 
anyone since 1992 nor has imposed the death 
penalty since 2004.

However, one pro-death penalty Senator, 
Republican Lynn Hutchings (Cheyenne), 
explained her position saying, "The greatest man 
who ever lived died via the death penalty for 
you and for me. ... Governments were instituted 
to execute justice. If it wasn't for Jesus dying via 
the death penalty, we would all have no hope." 
Her exegesis is flawed for a variety of reasons 
none the least of which is because the present 
death penalty is used to murder murderers and 
Jesus's execution was carried out not because he 
murdered anyone but because he was a radical, 
as in "a person who advocates thorough or 
complete political or social reform." 

Perhaps at the next election, Wyoming voters 
from Cheyenne may want to reconsider who 
they want representing them in the State Senate.

On the other hand, we can rejoice that a deeply 
red state like Wyoming came this close to 
abolishing the death penalty. Hallelujah!

New Book: 

The Goodness Paradox: The Strange 
Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in 
Human Evolution by Richard Wrangham

Description from Vroman's  Bookstore website:

We Homo sapiens can be the nicest of species and also the 
nastiest. What occurred during human evolution to 
account for this paradox? What are the two kinds of 
aggression that primates are prone to, and why did each 
evolve separately? How does the intensity of violence 
among humans compare with the aggressive behavior of 
other primates? How did humans domesticate themselves? 
And how were the acquisition of language and the practice 
of capital punishment determining factors in the rise of 
culture and civilization?

Authoritative, provocative, and engaging, The Goodness 
Paradox offers a startlingly original theory of how, in the 
last 250 million years, humankind became an increasingly 
peaceful species in daily interactions even as its capacity 
for coolly planned and devastating violence remains 
undiminished. In tracing the evolutionary histories of 
reactive and proactive aggression, biological anthropologist 
Richard Wrangham forcefully and persuasively argues for 
the necessity of social tolerance and the control of savage 
divisiveness still haunting us today. 

Recent Exonerations

Dean McKee - State: FL
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/30/2019
In 1988, 16-year-old Dean McKee was sentenced 
to life in prison for murder in Tampa, Florida. 
He was granted a new trial and the charges 
were dismissed in 2019 after DNA tests 
excluded him as the killer.

Huwe Burton - State: NY
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/24/2019
Huwe Burton was convicted in 1991 for stabbing 
his mother to death when he was 16 years old. 
He was exonerated in 2019 after an investigation 
revealed that his confession was coerced and 
that his mother's real killer was likely a 
downstairs neighbor.

Gary Washington - State: MD
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/24/2019
In 1987, Gary Washington was sentenced to life 
in prison for a murder in Baltimore, Maryland. 
He was exonerated in 2019 after the only 
witness, then a 12-year-old boy, recanted his 

Eric Blackmon - State: IL
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 2004, Eric Blackmon was sentenced to 60 
years in prison for a murder in Chicago, Illinois. 
He was exonerated in 2019 after successfully 
arguing that his trial attorney provided 
ineffective assistance by failing to interview 
multiple alibi witnesses who all said Blackmon 
was at a Fourth of July party at the time of the 

Geraldo Iglesias - State: IL
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 1995, Geraldo Iglesias was sentenced to 35 
years in prison for a murder in Chicago, Illinois. 
He was exonerated in 2019 by evidence that a 
detective physically abused a witness until he 
falsely claimed Iglesias admitted the crime.

Patrick Pursley - State: IL
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 1994, Patrick Pursley was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for a murder in Rockford, 
Illinois. He was acquitted in 2019 at a retrial 
after the prosecution's ballistics evidence was 

Steven Chaney - State: TX
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/16/2019
In 1987, Steven Chaney was sentenced to life in 
prison for murder in Dallas County, Texas. He 
was exonerated in 2019 when the bite-mark 
evidence against him was discredited and the 
real killer was identified. 

Grover Thompson - State: IL
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/14/2019
In 1981, Grover Thompson was sentenced to 40 
years in prison for the attempted murder of a 72-
year-old woman in Mount Vernon, Illinois. 
Thompson died in prison in 1996, but was 
posthumously exonerated in 2019 based on the 
confession of the real attacker, a serial murderer 
and rapist.

Lafayette Harper - State: IL
 - Date of Exoneration: 1/14/2019
In 2014, Lafayette Harper was sentenced to 65 
years in prison for a murder in Danville, Illinois. 
He was acquitted at a retrial in 2019 after an 
expert cast doubt on the eyewitness's 
identification of Harper as the gunman.

Stays of Execution

15	Blaine Milam			TX
	Stay granted by the Texas Court of 
Criminal Appeals on January 14, 2019 to permit 
litigation of successive state post-conviction 
petition raising new evidence claims, "[b]ecause 
of recent changes in the science pertaining to 
bite mark comparisons and recent changes in the 
law pertaining to the issue of intellectual 

13	James Hanna			OH
	Rescheduled for December 19, 2019 by 
Gov. John Kasich on September 1, 2017.

13	Warren Keith Henness	OH
	Reprieve granted on January 25, 2019 by 
Gov. Mike DeWine, and execution rescheduled 
for September 12, 2019.


30	Robert Jennings	TX
	Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital)  
	Years from sentencing to execution: 29

7	Domimeque Ray	AL
	Lethal Injection 3-drug (Midazolam) 
	Years from sentencing to execution: 19

UAs                         32
POC (Narges Mohammadi)       8
Total                       40

Gao Zhisheng 
& Narges Mohammadi
By Joyce Wolf

A few weeks ago we received Amnesty's new 
case file for Gao Zhisheng. Included was contact 
info for his wife Geng He, who has been living 
in the U.S. since escaping from China in 2009. At 
our February letter writing meeting, we signed a 
Lunar New Year card for Geng He with 
messages of solidarity and support. 

If you haven't already checked out this 
interview with Geng He, here's another chance:

Last month we reported that Narges 
Mohammadi went on hunger strike in January, 
along with detained British-Iranian citizen 
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, to protest being 
denied access to medical care while imprisoned. 
The women's action drew a strong response 
from a United Nations team:

The Committee of Concerned Scientists also sent 
a letter to the Iranian Minister of Health:

Tweets on @FreeNarges indicate that now the 
women are supposed to apologize (!) for their 
hunger strike action before the authorities will 
consider their request for necessary medical 
care. Apologize for going on hunger strike? This 
is a new and bizarre response from authorities. 
We can only hope that the eventual result leads 
to Narges and Nazanin obtaining the treatment 
they require.

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.