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* Coordinator's Corner * Washington to Tiananmen This month we will pause at our monthly meeting to take a look at Amnesty, the organization. In June the Annual General Meeting of AIUSA will meet in Washington, D.C. and it is an appropriate time to take the opportunity to discuss how the organization works, with particular attention to the resolutions process and board elections. These are two important ways that individuals and local groups can have an impact on the goals and structure of the organization and thus the direction of the human rights movement in general. Newcomers are also particularly invited to ask any other questions about how Amnesty works. Fund-raising too, is an important organizational goal and ensuring the success of our June 1 benefit at the Knightsbridge Theater will be another important concern at this meeting. I certainly hope to see old and new supporters at the event and hope that all of you are encouraging friends to join you. Your suggestions for other ways to increase attendance are more than welcome. In addition to this "Amnesty Basics" discussion, we will warm up for the up-coming anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen protests on June 4. Members have been reading selected poetry, drama, prose, film criticism and humor from the post-Democracy Wall era in an effort to understand and appreciate the pre-Tiananmen cultural ferment in China. The outburst of creativity in this period tested many societal limits and resulted in campaigns ("Anti-Spiritual Pollution" and "Anti-Bourgeoise Liberalization") which attempted to reign in freedom of expression. I think you will find these glimpses into the creativity surrounding the Chinese dissident movement both entertaining and revealing of the many levels on which artists and intellectuals chafed under goverment and societal restrictions. See you there! Martha Ter Maat Group Coordinator 818-281-4039 email@example.com * Upcoming Events Thursday, May 23, 7:30 PM Caltech Y Lounge. Monthly Meeting Topic: Tiananmen and "Amnesty Basics" Saturday, June 1, 8:00 PM, Knightsbridge Theater Benefit Performance "The Lark." 35 S. Raymond Avenue, in Old Town Pasadena. Call 818-440-0821 for reservations. Wednesday, June 12, 7:30 PM, Letter-writing at the Rathskellar. Monday, June 18, 7:30 PM, Catalina Rec. Room 1 Video/Discussion Night: Tiananmen. * The Web-tips of the month. May Goldman Environmental Prize http://www.goldmanprize.org/goldman/ As follow-up to our Earth Day events we offer this month the web site for the the 1996 Goldman Environmental Prize winners, which includes an associate of Chico Mendes. Marina Silva "became one of the architects of the "empates," peaceful demonstrations by forest-dwelling rubber tappers against wanton deforestation and the expulsion of forest communities from their traditional land holdings. During the empates rubber tappers would, by sheer numbers, peacefully persuade ranch hands to stop the deforestation. The empate movement led to the idea of establishing sustainable extractive reserves where products such as rubber and nuts would be harvested from the rainforest without destroying it. After Mendes' assassination in 1988, Silva continued to push for the creation of extractive reserves. Today Acre's extractive reserves encompass two million hectares of forest managed by the traditional communities that inhabit them... In 1994 she was the first rubber-tapper ever elected to Brazil's federal senate. As a populist senator, Silva has skillfully built support for environmental protection of the reserves." Read about other prize winners from around the world at the site. Tiananmen, 1989 Photo Archive http://www.christusrex.org/www1/sdc/tiananmen.html Our China campaign site for the month is an archive of over 200 images from the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989. Of course pictures do not tell the whole story, but if you need a reminder of how the images of Tiananmen riveted the whole world for a couple of months, this is where to find it. * Amnesty Basics. * Death Penalty Q A Have strict procedures eliminated discrimination in death sentencing? No. A 1990 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report summarizing several capital punishment studies confirmed "a consistent pattern of evidence indicating racial disparities in charging, sentencing and the imposition of the death penalty...." Eighty-two percent of the studies the GAO reviewed revealed that "those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks." In addition, the GAO uncovered evidence (though less consistent) that a convict's race, as well as the race of the victim, also influences imposition of the death penalty. A 1987 study of death sentencing in New Jersey found that prosecutors sought the death penalty in 50 percent of the cases involving a black defendant and a white victim, but in only 28 percent of the cases involving black defendants and black victims. A 1985 study found that, in California, six percent of those convicted of killing whites got the death penalty compared to three percent of those convicted of killing blacks. In Georgia, a landmark 1986 study found that, overall, those convicted of killing whites were four times more likely to be sentenced to death than convicted killers of nonwhites. African Americans are approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population yet of the 3,859 persons executed for a range of crimes since 1930, more than 50 percent have been black. Other minorities are also death-sentenced disproportionate to their numbers in the population. This is not primarily because minorities commit more murders, but because they are more often sentenced to death when they do. Poor people are also far more likely to be death-sentenced than those who can afford the high costs of private investigators, psychiatrists and expert criminal lawyers. Indeed, capital punishment is "a privilege of the poor," said Clinton Duffy, former warden at California's San Quentin Prison. Some observers have pointed out that the term "capital punishment" is ironic because "only those without capital get the punishment." * The China Campaign * Chen Lantao, Political Prisioner. Chen Lantao a prisioner od conscience is serving a 16-year sentence for his activities in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, one of the longest prison sentences imposed. He was arrested together with his wife Sun Lijuan, on June 1989. Eight days earlier, Chinese troops had massacred at least 1,000 pro-democracy demostrators in Beijing. Chen Lantao, now aged 32, had taken part in peaceful demostrations in Qingdao, Shandong Province, where he worked as a marine biologist. As news spread of the Beijing massacre, he was one of those who took to the streets to protest. On June 8 he gave a speech in which he reportedly criticized the government and called for greater democracy. In 1994 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention raised Chen Lantao's case with the Chinese government. The government replied that he had tried inciting mobs to disrupt traffic and fomenting disorder. However, the UN Working Group concluded that the conviction of Chen Lantaomwas based solely on the grounds that he listened to the Voice of America, distributed leaflets, met student leaders and called for student strikes. Such activities should have been regarded as the legitimate exercise of Chen Lantao's right to free speech and assembly, rights guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution and international law. Chen Lantao is serving a 16 year sentence for his activities, one of the longest possible senteces. He is being held in Shandong Provincial Prison No.3 in Weifang county. Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen Lantao, prisioner of conscience, arrested solely for exercising his right to free speech and assembly. Write to: Li Chunting Shengzhang (Salutation: Dear Governor) Governor of the Shandong Provincial People's Government Shandongsheng Renmin Zhengfu, 1 Shengfu qianjie, Jinanshi, Shandongsheng, People's Republic of China Copies to: His Excellency Li Daoyu (Salutation: Dear Embassador) Embassy of the People's Republic of China 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 * Editor's last words. Write for the newsletter! Commentaries, suggestions are always welcomed. You can also read the newsletter on line at: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/ aigp22/home.html Check out the web-tips links. Roberto (818)796-0876 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.cco.caltech.edu/rzenit/rzenit.html Amnesty International works impartially to free prisoners of conscience-individuals jailed solely for their beliefs, ethnic origin, language, or sexual orientation, provided they have not used or advocated violence-to ensure fair trials for all political prisoners, and to abolish torture and executions worldwide. It is funded by members and supporters around the world.