Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVII Number 1, January 2019

  Thursday, January 24, 7:30-9:00 PM. 
Monthly Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, 
Tyson House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. 
Our special guest from Cameroon, Mr. 
Nyuchem Vanasios, is on asylum in the U.S. 
He will speak about his personal experiences 
and human rights in Cameroon.
  Tuesday, February 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, February 17, 6:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. This month we read the novel "Radio 
Free Vermont" by environmental activist Bill 


Hello everyone,

Happy New Year! Here's hoping 2019 will be 
better politically (no explanation needed lol).

Well, we went back to work for a week after the 
winter break and then went out on strike, which 
is still the case! It has been an exhausting, 
exhilarating week. Hopefully an agreement will 
be reached over this 3-day weekend. 
Negotiations didn't even resume until Thursday. 
(I think they didn't want to pay us for the MLK 
holiday on Monday Jan 20th, who knows!) It 
was pretty miserable out there on the picket line 
in the rain and cold but we received tons of 
support from the community in the form of 
honking cars passing by, the local city 
councilman's office bringing us coffee and 
doughnuts, and parents bringing food and 
joining the picket line with their children. I 
joined my co-workers from the Visually 
Impaired program at Irving MS in Highland 
Park. They have a VI resource room there and 
it's also close to downtown, where almost daily 
rallies were held after AM picketing. Please sign 
the online petition to remove Austin Beutner if 
you are so inclined at:

He was elected by a pro-charter majority on the 
school board. He plans to bankrupt the district 
to turn it into all charter schools. He is a 
businessman with no educational experience 
and was quoted to say "we don't need a physical 
presence for learning." (Teachers are 
expendable?!) He is trying to starve the schools 
so that parents will enroll their kids in charters.

Why is this a human rights issue? What does 
this have to do with Amnesty? A FREE AND 
PUBLIC EDUCATION. Charter schools do not 
serve all students - they reject children with 
special needs because they don't want their test 
scores to go down and/or spend the money to 
provide the needed services for our physically 
handicapped students who may need 
specialized physical health care services 
(procedures such as catherization, tube feedings, 
trach suctioning, etc), occupational, speech, and 
physical therapies and other services such as 
deaf and hard of hearing and teachers of the 
visually impaired. I can attest to this from my 
30+ years as a credentialed school nurse with 
LAUSD. I have encountered parents who have 
had to resort to hiring a lawyer to get charter 
schools to provide services to their special needs 
children and also students who were kicked out 
of charters for spurious reasons (the real reason 
being underachievement due to learning 
disabilities).  Also, employees of charter schools 
do not have the same rights as public 
educational employees. 

Paula has arranged for a man from Cameroon 
who was granted asylum in the US to speak to 
us about human rights in Cameroon and his 
experiences at our monthly meeting this coming 
Thursday, Jan. 24. This should be very 
interesting; everyone is encouraged to attend. 

Veronica has said that she will do a program on 
environmental issues for our March monthly 
meeting and currently she is making 
arrangements for our group to participate in the 
Environmental Fair at the Arboretum in 
Arcadia. Robert and I will look for a relevant 
video to show for the February monthly 
meeting. Ideas are welcome; please share via 
email or at one of our meetings.

Con carino,

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, February 17
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd 

Radio Free Vermont 
by Bill McKibben



"I hope no one secedes, but I also hope that 
Americans figure out creative ways to resist 
injustice and create communities where 
everybody counts. We've got a long history of 
resistance in Vermont and this book is 
testimony to that fact." -Bernie Sanders

A book that's also the beginning of a movement, 
Bill McKibben's debut novel Radio Free 
Vermont follows a band of Vermont patriots 
who decide that their state might be better off as 
its own republic.

As the host of Radio Free Vermont - 
"underground, underpowered, and underfoot"-
seventy-two-year-old Vern Barclay is currently 
broadcasting from an "undisclosed and double-
secret location." With the help of a young 
computer prodigy named Perry Alterson, Vern 
uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet 
radical idea: an independent Vermont, one 
where the state secedes from the United States 
and operates under a free local economy. But for 
now, he and his radio show must remain 
untraceable, because in addition to being a 
lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern 
Barclay is also a fugitive from the law.

In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains 
and expands upon an idea that's become more 
popular than ever - seceding from the United 
States. Along with Vern and Perry, McKibben 
imagines an eccentric group of activists who 
carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, 
which includes dismissing local middle school 
children early in honor of 'Ethan Allen Day' and 
hijacking a Coors Light truck and replacing the 
stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and 
terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill 
McKibben's fictional response to the burgeoning 
resistance movement.


Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist 
who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood 
Prize, sometimes called the 'alternative Nobel.' 
His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as 
the first book for a general audience about 
climate change, and has appeared in 24 
languages; he's gone on to write a dozen more 
books. He is a founder of, the first 
planet-wide, grassroots climate change 
movement, which has organized twenty 
thousand rallies around the world in every 
country save North Korea, spearheaded the 
resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and 
launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment 

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in 
Environmental Studies at Middlebury College 
and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts 
and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the 
Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and 
holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and 
universities. Foreign Policy named him to their 
inaugural list of the world's 100 most important 
global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he 
was "probably America's most important 

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he 
writes frequently for a wide variety of 
publications around the world, including the 
New York Review of Books, National Geographic, 
and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains 
above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer 
Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as 
possible outdoors. In 2014, biologists honored 
him by naming a new species of woodland gnat 
-  Megophthalmidia mckibbeni - in his honor.


Security With Human 
By Robert Adams


UPDATE: This statement has been modified to 
reflect a clarification by US forces that the early 
stages of the withdrawal involve military equipment, 
but not troops, leaving Syria.

Reacting to today's statement by the US-led 
Coalition that it has begun "the process of 
deliberate withdrawal" from Syria, Lynn 
Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East 
Research Director, said:

 "It is deplorable that the US-led Coalition 
continues to ignore its responsibility of carrying 
out any meaningful investigations into the 
hundreds of civilian deaths it caused in Raqqa 
and elsewhere - even as it starts to withdraw 
from Syria.

 "The Coalition is unashamedly ignoring the 
devastating legacy of its bombing campaign, 
adding insult to injury by making clear that it 
has no intention of offering survivors any form 
of remedy or compensation.

 "Amnesty International has been to Raqqa 
multiple times since the battle ended. Not a 
single one of the hundreds of survivors we've 
spoken to on the ground has even been 
contacted by the Coalition - let alone received 
any assistance - as they try to rebuild their lives.

 "The Coalition's battle for Raqqa began as its 
military campaign in Mosul, in neighboring 
Iraq, was winding down. Its legacy of 
devastation and impunity in Mosul should have 
served as a cautionary tale. There, too, Coalition 
strikes killed large numbers of civilians and 
destroyed civilian homes and infrastructure on a 
massive scale, but it barely lifted a finger to 
assist in the aftermath.

 "Had the Coalition learned from its mistakes in 
Iraq, the utter devastation of Raqqa might have 
been avoided. Leaving such widespread civilian 
destruction in its wake is a humanitarian 
abomination that is at odds with the Coalition's 
stated values."

The US withdrawal - the timeline and details of 
which remain unknown - is unlikely to stop the 
US-led Coalition's air strikes in Syria, putting 
more civilian lives at risk.

Amnesty International is carrying out an 
ongoing investigation, in partnership 
with Airwars, into the shocking scale of civilian 
casualties resulting from four months of US, UK 
and French bombardment to oust the armed 
group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from 
Raqqa. The results will be made public in April 

Amnesty International's on-the-ground 
investigations and analysis since the battle 
ended in October 2017 revealed compelling 
evidence of prima facie international 
humanitarian law violations by the US-led 
Coalition. They prompted the Coalition to revise 
its civilian death toll statistics upwards from 23 
to more than 100 - a 300% increase.

In a September 2018 letter to Amnesty 
International, the US Department of Defense - 
whose forces carried out most of the air strikes 
and all the artillery strikes on Raqqa - made 
clear it accepts no liability for the hundreds of 
civilian casualties it caused. The Coalition does 
not plan to compensate survivors and relatives 
of those killed in Raqqa and refuses to provide 
further information about the circumstances 
behind the strikes.

By Stevi Carroll

Kevin Cooper

In 1985, Kevin Cooper was sentenced to death 
for the murder of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, 
their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and a 10 year-
old-friend Chris Hughes. Questions arose about 
how Mr. Cooper could have used the multiple 
murder weapons used in the crime in the length 
of time the coroner estimated the murders 
occurred.  Another man's girlfriend said her 
boyfriend returned home with his overalls 
splattered with blood driving a station wagon 
he did not own. The Ryen family's station 
wagon was stolen the night of the murders. The 
day Mr. Cooper was arraigned for the murders 
the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department 
threw away the overalls without having tested 

Mr. Cooper filed multiple appeals that were all 
denied. In 2009 when the Ninth Circuit Court of 
Appeals denied his request for a rehearing of a 
2007 appeal, five judges filled dissents. Another 
six judges joined them as well as the judge who 
wrote the denial in 2007. Ninth Circuit Judge 
William A Fletcher wrote that he believed Mr. 
Cooper was probably innocent.

In 2016, Norman Hile, Mr. Cooper's lawyer, 
submitted a 235-page clemency petition to Gov. 
Jerry Brown. Mr. Cooper's case received further 
support from Senators Kamala Harris and 
Dianne Feinstein as well as three of California's 
largest newspapers.

December 25, 2018, Gov. Brown ordered new 
DNA tests on the items still remaining from the 
crime scene.

Emanuel Gissendanner

The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the Court 
of Criminal Appeals decision in the case of 
Emanuel Gissendanner. After hearing 
compelling testimony from alibi witnesses, 
forensic experts, and family members, the Dale 
County Circuit Court ordered a new trial for Mr. 
Gissendanner. Even though his trial lawyers 
were required by law to investigate the crime 
fully, they did not interview the witnesses nor 
did they seek expert help for the defense.

January 4, 2019, the Alabama Supreme Court 
ruled that Mr. Gissendanner's case was poorly 
handled and that the defense counsel failed to 
interview witnesses who could testify that he 
was somewhere else at the time of the murder. 
And now, Mr. Gissendanner has been granted a 
new trial.

Recent exonerations

Justly Johnson and Kendrick Scott - State: MI 
- Date of Exoneration: 11/28/2018
In 2000, Justly Johnson and Kendrick Scott were 
sentenced to life in prison for murder in Detroit, 
Michigan. They were exonerated in 2018 when 
an eyewitness said they were not involved and 
two other witnesses recanted their trial 

Clarence Shipley - State: MD 
- Date of Exoneration: 12/18/2018
Clarence Shipley was sentenced to life in prison 
for murder in 1992 in Baltimore. He was 
exonerated in 2018 after an investigation 
revealed that the state's key witness had lied 
when he identified Shipley as the shooter.

Sean Ellis - State: MA 
- Date of Exoneration: 12/18/2018
In 1995, Sean Ellis was sentenced to life in prison 
for the murder of a police officer in Boston, 
Massachusetts. He was exonerated in 2018 
because police and prosecutors failed to disclose 
evidence implicating other suspects, and that 
the lead detectives as well as the victim were 
robbing drug dealers.

Matthew Sopron - State: IL 
- Date of Exoneration: 12/18/2018
In 1998, Matthew Sopron was sentenced to life 
in prison without parole for murder in Chicago, 
Illinois. He was exonerated in 2018 after three 
witnesses admitted they falsely implicated him 
in the crime.

Arnold Day - State: IL 
- Date of Exoneration: 12/18/2018
In 1994, Arnold Day was sentenced to 60 years 
in prison for a murder in Chicago, Illinois. He 
was exonerated in 2018 based on evidence that 
Chicago police beat him until he confessed.

Stay of Execution

9	Elwood Jones	OH      
Rescheduled for April 21, 2021 by Gov John 
Kasich on September 1	


4	Joseph Christopher Garcia	TX
	Lethal injection  - 1-drug (Pentobarbital)
	Years from sentencing to execution: 15

6	David Earl Miller		TN
	Years from sentencing to execution: 36

11	Alvin Avon Braziel, Jr.	TX
	Lethal injection - 1-drug (Pentobarbital)
	Years from sentencing to execution: 17

13	Jose Jimenez			FL
	Lethal Injection - 1-drug (Etomidate)
	Years from sentencing to execution:  24

Gao Zhisheng
Narges Mohammadi
By Joyce Wolf

Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was Group 
22's adopted Prisoner of Conscience from 2010 
until 2015, when China released him from 
prison and Amnesty closed his case file. He was 
"disappeared" in August of 1917 and we wrote 
on the Urgent Actions that Amnesty issued for 

Gao Zhisheng is still missing, and Amnesty is 
now reopening his case file. Suzanne Wright, 
chairman of the AIUSA China Co-Group, asked 
if Group 22 would like to work on his case. 
Eight Group 22 members responded with yes 
votes, and nobody said nay, so we started with 
an action for Gao at our letter writing meeting 
on January 8. 
(Thanks to Stevi for the photo.)

Here's an interview with Geng He, Gao's wife:

Group 22 is continuing to work for Narges 
Mohammadi. She is serving a 16-year sentence 
in Iran's notorious Evin Prison and has been 
refused health care that she urgently needs. She 
was reported to have begun a hunger strike in 
January, along with the detained British-Iranian 
citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, to protest 
being denied access to medical care.

Write For Rights to Officials  56
Write For Rights Solidarity    42
Total                          98

UAs                            34
POC (Gao Zhisheng)              8
Total                          42

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.