Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume V Number 10, November-December 1997
The regional conference in Tucson was a great success - although not as
well attended as last years in Orange County (especially by student
groups). My favorite speakers were John Fife, the pastor of a Presbyterian
church in Tucson and co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement in the U.S.;
Hafsat Abiola, whose father was elected President of Nigeria in 1993 and
has been in prison there ever since and whose mother was assassinated for
her efforts to free him and bring democracy to Nigeria; and David Marshall,
a researcher for AI who investigated and reported on shocking abuses of
power by the Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff's department.
Best of all, we sold 18 sets of holiday cards at the conference - not as
good as we had hoped, but a fair showing considering the attendance and
off-the-beaten-path location of group sales.
An event that reinforced what I had learned at the conference occurred as I
returned a rental car at the airport in Tucson. The agent, who saw my AI
T-shirt, questioned me about Amnesty's stand on Nigeria. He obviously
didn't agree with AI on everything but was impressed that I knew anything
about the political situation there at all (I was, too).
Things I learned at the conference also came in handy at the Ani DiFranco
concert last Thursday night. Members of our group and others tabled at the
concert (which was great). Attending the conference helped me answer some
of the questions posed by the people at the concert who stopped at our
table to chat. We collected almost 90(!) letters asking the Congress to
support passage of a bill that calls for the U.S. to declassify documents
that relate to the disappearances and torture of civilians in Guatemala and
Honduras in the 1980s.
The protest at the Beverly Hilton on November 2nd during the Chinese
Presidents visit was well attended. The Amnesty contingent was strong -
with eight members from our group (including friends) carrying wonderful
signs with pictures of Ngawang Pekar, our POC, made by Martha Ter Maat -
Group 22's artist in residence. Thanks also to Robert Adams, Larry Romans
and Dipankar Sarkar who carried signs and survived the intense heat!
We need your help with sales of the holiday cards by purchasing some for
yourself and your friends and by asking your friends, family and even your
enemies to purchase them. Sets of ten handmade cards are $15, they're
beautiful cards, and it's for a great cause. This will be the primary fund
raiser for our group this year - we really need the additional funds to
keep us going!
Larry Romans successfully arranged for us to have our letter writing
meeting in December at Higher Grounds, a coffee shop in Pasadena. It will
be at the same time - 7:30 pm - but on Wednesday, December 10th, Human
Rights Day, instead of our usual Tuesday evening meeting. The address is
90 N. Los Robles - at the corner of Union and Los Robles (across the street
from the California Pizza Kitchen). Please join us - it's an excellent
opportunity to reach out to other members of the community and educate them
about our group and Amnesty International.
Finally, don't forget that the regular monthly meetings in November and
December will be replaced with a holiday party on Friday, December 5th at
Martha Ter Maat's place. She will be preparing delicious Tibetan food for
us, so please let her know as soon as you can whether to expect you so that
she knows how much food to purchase. See the announcements section for
further details - including her address.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!!
--Revae Moran 818-249-1419
Group Coordinator email@example.com
MONDAY, December 1, 7:00 PM
Greater Los Angeles Area Development presents a Quarterly Training and
Support Meeting. Training Topic: UDHR Campaign overview. Western
Regional Office, 9000 W. Washington Blvd in Culver City, 310-815-0450.
Regional campaign coordinator, Martha Ter Maat will introduce the new
campaign and facilitate discussion of how groups can coordinate this
FRIDAY, December 5, 7:30 PM
Monthly Meeting - Holiday Party. Learn to make Tibetan Dumplings! SPECIAL
LOCATION: Martha's House! 128 South Chapel, #34 in Alhambra. Donation
requested (no more than $5) to cover food cost. Please RSVP to Martha:
818-281-4039 or firstname.lastname@example.org by December 4.
WEDNESDAY, December 10, 7:30 PM
Pasadena Higher Grounds, 90 N. Los Robles, Pasadena
Special Letter-Writing Meeting and International Human Rights Day
Celebration. Send greeting cards to prisoners of conscience around the
world! Pledge to uphold the Universal Declartion of Human Rights! Sign
postcards for the Defend the Defenders campaign! Meet people and have a
No Monthly Meeting in December! Happy Holidays!
GROUP 22 to CELEBRATE UDHR 50
at Pasadena Higher Grounds
Group 22 members will launch the 50th annivesary campaign for the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, December 10 at
Pasadena Higher Grounds coffeehouse (90 N. Los Robles Avenue). December 10
will be the 49th anniversary of the signing and will kick-off worldwide
commemoration of this historic anniversary year. The official campaign
launch will be in South Africa where Nelson Mandela will sign a pledge to
uphold the UDHR. You too can sign a pledge and help us to gather pledges
from others in Pasadena. Pledge cards will be collected worldwide and be
turned over to the UN Secretary General on December 10, 1998. Your first
opportunity to sign on will be at this special letter-writing meeting.
Another facet of the campaign is "Defend the Defenders" actions which will
appear regularly in this newsletter. They feature those people who have
been imprisoned, tortured or killed for thier efforts to defend the
Universal Declaration. In this newsletter we include an action for labor
rights activist Dita Sari. At the December letter-writing meeting you can
check out some of the other "Defenders."
50th ANNIVERSARY CAMPAIGN Q&A
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the primary international
articulation of the fundamental and inalienable rights of all members of
the human family. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on
December 10, 1948, the UDHR represents the first comprehensive agreement
among nations as to the specific rights and freedoms of all human beings.
Among others, these include civil and political rights such as the right
not to be subjected to torture, to equality before the law, to a fair
trial, to freedom of movement, to asylum and to freedom of thought,
conscience, religion, opinion and expression. The rights outlined in the
UDHR also include economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to
food, clothing, housing and medical care, to social security, to work, to
equal pay for equal work, to form trade unions and to education.
Originally intended as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples
and all nations", over the past fifty years the Universal Declaration has
become a cornerstone of customary international law, and all governments
are now bound to apply its principles. Because the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights successfully encompasses legal, moral and philosophical
beliefs held true by all peoples, it has become a living document which
asserts its own elevating force on the events of our world.
Why is December 10 celebrated as "Human Rights Day?"
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted at 3:00 a.m. on the
morning of December 10, 1948. For this reason people throughout the world
have chosen to celebrate this date as "Human Rights Day." We celebrate not
only to mark the achievements of those who came before us, but also to
renew our own faith in and commitment to the Universal Declaration and to
the principles it sets forth.
This reaffirmation is crucial to the protection of human rights. December
10 is also an opportunity for us to educate ourselves about the importance
of respect for every person. Each year on December 10, people all over the
world act in solidarity to reinforce their pledge to a world defined by the
equal and inalienable rights of all human beings. Human Rights Day is an
opportunity for each successive generation to endorse the principles of the
Universal Declaration with a renewed sense of commitment.
UDHR 50: DEFEND THE DEFENDERS
Labor Activist Jailed in Indonesia
On July 8 1996, Dita Sari, leader of the Indonesian Centre for Workers'
Struggle (PPBI) was arrested with two colleagues during a labor
demonstration. Dita Sari was allegedly beaten when she was arrested.
Advocating the struggle of workers towards increased national wages,
freedom to organize and an end to the role of the military in industrial
relations are all acts which are considered to overthrow, damage or
undermine the state. Dita Sari was charged under several laws, and there
was a a heavy military presence at her trial which began on December 16,
In late April she was convicted of subversion and sentenced to six years'
imprisonment. It appears that she has been imprisoned solely for her
peaceful work on behalf of labor rights and social change.
AI considers her a prisoner of conscience.
Write, calling for her immediate and unconditional release, to:
Haji Utoyo Usman S.H.
Menteri Kehakiman (Minister of Justice)
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7
PLEASE HELP WITH GREETING CARD SALES!
Group 22 is now selling attractive handmade greeting cards as our fall
fund-raiser. The cards are a simple design, consisting of layered
decorative papers and the message "Peace" on the front and blank inside.
We have bundled them at 10 cards for $15. Use them yourself or give a set
to a friend.
How does Amnesty International regard conscientious
objectors to military service?
A conscientious objector is understood to be a person liable to
conscription for military service who, for reasons of conscience or
profound conviction arising from religious, ethical, moral, humanitarian,
philosophical, political or similar motives refuses to perform armed
service or participate directly or indirectly in wars or armed conflicts.
Amnesty International considers such a person a prisoner of conscience if
his or her imprisonment arises from any of the following:
the legal code of a country does not contain provisions for the
recognition of conscientious objection and for a person to register his or
her objection at a specific time.
a person is refused the right to register his or her objection;
the authorities' recognition of conscientious objection is so
restricted that only some and not all of the above grounds of conscience
a person does not have the right to claim conscientious objection
after being conscripted into the armed forces;
he or she is imprisoned for leaving the armed forces without
authorization for reasons of conscience developed after being conscripted
if he or she has tried to secure his or her release by lawful means or if
he or she did not use those means because he or she had been deprived of
reasonable access to the knowledge of them;
there is no right to service outside the "war machine";
the length of the alternative service can be seen as a punishment
for conscientious objection.
A person who is not willing to state the reason for his or her refusal to
perform military service is not adopted as a prisoner of conscience, unless
it can be inferred from all the circumstances of the case that the refusal
is based on conscientious objection. Nor is someone considered a prisoner
of conscience if he or she is offered and refuses comparable alternative
service outside the "war machine".
Terminal Island Refugee Monitoring Team Action #3
I.N.S. L.A./Orange District Contract with County Jails to Imprison Aliens,
including Undocumented Refugees and Asylum Seekers
The third in a series of actions related to conditions AI monitors have
found within the INS detention system, which we feel affect the ability of
asylum seekers to file or pursue their claims.
The Refugee Monitoring Team, which has been focusing on the I.N.S.
Processing Center (detention center) on Terminal Island since 1994, was
disappointed to learn in recent months that the Service has opened up two
more detention facilities in District 16 (Los Angeles/Orange Counties).
Further disappointment came with the news that the new facilities are
actually parts of county jails in Lancaster and Santa Ana.
In August 1997, AIUSA called upon the I.N.S. to cease its practice of
detaining asylum seekers in county jails and other prisons. Our position
is based on review of conditions, policies and practices in such
institutions. In many instances, these conditions make it extremely
difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to learn about the asylum
system or to obtain legal or other assistance in filing and pursuing their
claims. Furthermore, the deleterious effects of isolation, arbitrary
treatment, being mingled with a criminal population, and being treated as
potentially dangerous criminals themselves, may cause persons to abandon
asylum claims and risk returning to their countries voluntarily. This may
jeopardize their freedom or even their lives.
Jails with whom the I.N.S. contracts usually do not distinguish between
aliens (including asylum seekers) and accused or convicted criminals. The
consequences of these practices often prove disastrous for asylum seekers'
attempts to make sense of their situation, obtain assistance in filing
asylum claims, or even articulate their claims. In this system, women
often suffer disproportionately. Because of their smaller numbers, women
are more often mixed in with the criminal population.
The I.N.S. has stated its intention to eventually house 45% of its
detainees in county jails or other prisons.
ACTION REQUEST. Write a courteous letter to the District Director stating
(1) that jails such as Lancaster and Santa Ana are not appropriate places
for asylum seekers to be held; (2) in all instances the INS should
distinguish between asylum seekers and other detained aliens; (3) the INS
should keep records of how many INS prisoners at each detention facility
are asylum applicants.
Write to: Mr. Richard Rogers
Director - District 16
Immigration and Naturalization Service
300 N. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Copy to: Doris Meisner
Immigration and Naturalization Service
425 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC 20536
Please send copies of any replies to Jim Roberts, 2215 E. First Street,
Long Beach, CA 90803. You may send letters on this action any time before
1-1-98. For further information and material, consult
http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22/monitor/ or contact L. Romans
MARTHA'S WEB TIPS FOR NOVEMBER
(Listing in Web Tips does not imply
endorsement of website contents by AIUSA)
PBS Frontline: Dreams of Tibet
This page was put together in conjunction with the recent broadcast of the
Frontline special "Dreams of Tibet" on PBS. As with all their sites, it
takes you beyond the documentary with extended interviews of those you see
on screen, in this case my favorite China scholars, Orville Schell and
Andrew Nathan, plus the actors and film directors involved with the recent
spate of Hollywood depictions of China and Tibet, Martin Scorcese, Jon
Avnet, Richard Gere, and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (founder of the Tibetan
Freedom Concerts). Also featured are Tibetan exiles Tenzin Tethong and
Jamyang Norbu, plus Henry Kissinger and Congressman Frank Wolf, who made a
recent unauthorized visit to Tibet. There is background on Tibetan
Buddhism, the recent history of the Sino-Tibetan conflict plus viewer
discussion, press clips, links, chronology, history of Himalayan
exploration, and excerpts from Heinrich Harer's book Seven Years in Tibet.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This is the official web site of a large coalition of organizations which
have committed to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Still under development, it contains history
and chronologies, profiles of Eleanor Roosevelt and others who were
instrumental in the declaration's history. There are downloadable lesson
plans, a section (not yet up and running) for a news feed and an events
calendar, and a list of organizations who have signed on for the
celebration in case you are looking for coalition partners.
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE - CHINA/TIBET
New State Dept Special Coordinator for Tibet!
There has been quite a bit of news on our campaign to free prisoner of
conscience, Ngawang Pekar. Before I get into this, here's a quick review
of the main points of this case. Pekar is a Tibetan monk who was arrested
in August 1989 in Lhasa and sentenced to 8 years in prison for his
participation in a demonstration. Since he was arrested the peaceful
exercise of his right to freedom of expression of conscience, we consider
him a "prisoner of conscience" and demand nothing less that complete and
unconditional release from prison. We are also concerned over reports that
he has been denied access to medical care since his arrest. Recently, his
sentence was increased by 6 years when he was caught with a list of
prisoners in Drapchi prison. Here's some recent news on the case:
On November 3rd the State Department named a special coordinator for Tibet
affairs. Spokesman James Rubin said the coordinator, director of policy
planning Gregory Craig, has a mandate to help preserve Tibet's distinct
culture and promote dialogue between the Beijing government and the Dalai
Lama. Quoting spokesman James Rubin, "He will seek to advance our overall
human rights objectives with respect to Tibet. He will seek in particular
to...preserve the unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of
Tibetans. He will also promote substantive dialogue between the Chinese
government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives." Gregory Craig will
be the subject of our action this month - more on this later.
While browsing the web, Martha recently came across a mention of Pekar in a
press release from the "Tibet Information Network," an organization out of
London. It states, "A colleague of Kelsang Thutop, also serving a sentence
in Drapchi prison, has had his sentence increased to 14 years for spying
after he was caught trying to smuggle a list of Drapchi prisoners out of
the prison, according to reports just received from unofficial sources in
Tibet. The list was intended for international human rights groups, a
source said. Ngawang Pekar, a 34 year old monk from Drepung, was over
half way through an 8 year sentence for taking part in a demonstration in
1991 when he was caught with the list of names in August last year. After
the list was discovered he was placed in solitary confinement for 4 months
and received his additional 6 year sentence at a trial on 13th March this
year. Before his arrest Ngawang Pekar was well known to foreigners because
he speaks English and often guided tourists around the monastery, having
been taught by a British couple who ran an unofficial language school in
Lhasa in 1986-7."
This is an interesting piece of news for a few reasons. First of all, it
is the first time that we have heard that Pekar speaks English! Think
"Pekar on Tour" - speaking engagements all over the US after his triumphant
release from prison! There are also some, perhaps minor discrepancies
between this release and our official information from Amnesty, although
this should not deter us from using the information from Amnesty in all of
One detail recently Martha found out that the official Chinese name for
Drapchi prison, where Pekar is currently being held, is in fact "Tibet
Autonomous Region Prison No. 1." From now on when we write letters to
Chinese officials we should refer to this instead of Drapchi, the latter
may be a Tibetan name for the prison.
OK, so this month's homework is to write to our new special coordinator for
Director, Policy Planning Staff
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Express your satisfaction at the creation of this post, and educate him on
the case of Ngawang Pekar. Ask that his case be brought to the attention
of Chinese officials in future inquiries. Let's see what will happen here
- it certainly seems as though we may have a good ally in our work for
human rights in Tibet!
For more information see the web site:
MBNA America Issues AIUSA Mastercard
Amnesty has contracted MBNA America to issue an affinity credit card in an
Effort to generate a new source of revenue. AIUSA receives royalties of $1
For every new account opened and 0.5 percent of the total retail purchases
Made with the card.
The credit card is being offered to donors through direct mail and
Telemarketing efforts, and to date there are more than 1,000 cardholders.
With intensive promotional efforts, we expect this number to rise
Considerably in the next year.
We encourage all members and volunteers to apply for the card and to
invite family and friends to join in this new form of support for amnesty.
Applications are available from all regional offices or from member
services In the national office; call (212) 807-8400 for details.
EDITOR'S LAST WORD:
Submissions welcome. Deadline is generally the second Friday of the month,
check to be sure. Read us on line: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22/
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039
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