Thursday, July 22, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between
Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor.
Thursday, August 5, 7:00 PM. Soldier Child, documentary film about
child soldiers will be shown at the Museum of Tolerance, 9786 West Pico
Boulevard, Los Angeles. Adults $5. Advance Tickets can be purchased by
calling 310-772-2452. Co-sponsored by Amnesty International and Child
Tuesday, August 10, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum
basement. Corner of California & Hill. Due to on-going renovations at the
Ath, we are somewhat uncertain of whether we will have access to this venue
for the next couple of months. We will update those of you with e-mail if
any change needs to be made, but others are advised to contact Larry Romans
for an update before the meeting.
Saturday, August 29, 8:00 PM. "Africa Fete" featuring Sengalese
superstar Baaba Maal comes to Grand Performances at the California Plaza in
Downtown LA. We will plan some kind of group outing (as we did last year)
so save the date.
Early September. Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders Books
Lake Avenue. More info inside!
Southern California summer is in full swing, and it's time to turn on
heat!!! Turn on the heat against human rights abuses around the world...
and turn the heat on our elected representatives to take a stand against
Ngawang Pekar's imprisonment! Thanks to group member Robert Adams for
organizing a meeting with Representative Jim Rogan's office to discuss the
possibility of his signing a letter in support of our group's prisoner of
conscience, Tibetan monk Ngawang Pekar (see the action inside for more
details, and something you can do now). Stay tuned for the report of our
This is turning into a great season for the group! We've been
into publicity and outreach, and it's paying off with excellent response
and interest, and greater exposure for human-rights issues in the
community. Thanks to Nora d'Angola for placing ads in local papers and
also for doing such a classy job assembling the new-member packets. And
thanks also to Lisa Wong for generously lending her professional
graphic-arts talents and doing such a wonderful make-over of the group's
Thanks to Diane Prozeller for organizing another very successful tabling
the Pasadena farmers' market, along with Emily Brodsky, Veronica Raymond
and Lucas Kamp. The tabling generated lots of interest in the problems of
electroshock devices, and lots of signatures for Amnesty's drive to ban
such devices as implements of torture. In June's monthly meeting, Emily,
the local pro, led a discussion of strategies for approaching the public.
Stay tuned for more chances to practice your skills, and if you see us in
town please come over and say "howdy!"
We had another very productive letter-writing meeting, spotlighting
summer post-card action in which we sent encouraging cards to individual
prisoners of conscience. Even if you can't make it to letter-writing,
please keep the letters going on the enclosed actions! Meanwhile, a big
welcome to Joyce, Brendan, Ignacio and Ashley. It'll be great working
together with everyone in the months to come!
Group Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
USA CAMPAIGN: Ban Stun Belts!
Amnesty International issued a report titled "Cruelty in Control?: The
Belt and Other Electroshock Weapons in Law Enforcement" on Tuesday, June
8th, 1999. The report details how electroshock and other supposedly
non-lethal technologies have been systematically abused in the United
States and now constitute a form of cruel and unusual punishment. In
particular, AI is concerned high voltage shocks have been inflicted by
guards with such ease that the affect on the prisoner is tantamount to
torture. As a result, Amnesty is calling for "all federal, state and local
law enforcement and correctional agencies in the USA to suspend the use of
all electro-shock weapons. Until and unless a rigorous, independent and
impartial inquiry, including thorough medical evaluation, can prove that
they are safe and will not contribute to deaths in custody or torture or
other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, this type of
equipment should be shelved." Please take a look at the sample letter below
and take the time to write a letter to the Commissioner for the Federal
Bureau of Prisons expressing your concern about the continued use of
electro-shock devices. The full text of the AI report is available on the
web at: http://www.amnesty-usa.org/rightsforall/stun/cruelty/index.html
Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Commissioner
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Department of Justice
Suite 654, Home Owners Loan Corp. Building
320 1st Street, Washington, DC 20534, USA
Faxes: +1 202 514 6878
Dear Commissioner Hawk Sawyer,
I urge you to ban the use of "stun belts" by
the Federal Bureau of
Prisons. Amnesty International believes the use of stun belts to constitute
a form of cruel and unusual punishment and should not be used under any
The belt is inhumane. When activated, these
electronic shock devices,
secured around the waist of a prisoner can deliver an eight-second 50,000
volt shock, causing severe pain, instant incapacitation (by knocking the
prisoner to the ground), and, often, involuntary urination and defecation.
The stun belt has been accidentally discharged
on prisoners on more
than one occasion. Additional concerns include that the adverse medical
effects of its use have not been adequately studied. During one trial in
California, the belt was ordered used by a court judge to silence a
defendant (who was acting as his own attorney) from talking too much. The
stun belt's use is in direct contravention of international standards on
the treatment of prisoners. I urge you to immediately ban its use in
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.
MORE STUN BELT ACTION: HIV+/AIDS Prisoners in New Orleans, Louisiana
On November 13, 1998, Amnesty International wrote to the Sheriff of
Orleans Parish (Louisiana's equivalent of a county) after learning that the
stun belt had been introduced earlier in the year into the Old Parish
Prison, the maximum-security facility of Orleans Parish Prison. The belt
was apparently being used against all Old Parish Prison inmates when being
transported to and from the facility, and while in the holding cells at the
Louisiana Medical Center of New Orleans ("Charity Hospital").
Amnesty International expressed particular concern about reports that
stun belt is being routinely used on inmates from the segregated HIV/AIDS
unit, OPP-D-1, which is housed in the Old Parish Prison. As HIV/AIDS
prisoners are assigned to OPP-D-1 because of their HIV status and not
because of their security status, inmates of various security ratings are
housed in the unit. The result is that pre-trial, minimum and medium
security level prisoners in OPP-D-1 are effectively being forced to wear
the stun belt because of their HIV status - equivalent prisoners without
AIDS/HIV in other Orleans Parish Prison facilities are not made to wear the
stun belt. It follows, therefore, that they are bein subjected to what
Amnesty International believes is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,
as well as being arbitrarily labeled as high security prisoners, because of
their HIV status.
OPP-D-1 inmates are reportedly required to sign a waiver consenting
use of the stun belt on them, or they will not be taken to the C-100 Clinic
at Charity Hospital to receive treatment they need on a regular basis. Stun
belts have allegedly been activated on at least two occasions against
OPP-D-1 prisoners, including against one individual held in a hospital
holding cell. Amnesty International has no further details on these
Amnesty International pointed out that there is medical evidence suggesting
that electro-shock devices in general may produce harmful or even fatal
effects, particularly in the case of persons suffering from heart disease.
The organization wrote that it would therefore appear, at the very least,
to be entirely inappropriate to use the stun belt against prisoners with
HIV/AIDS or other inmates suffering from serious health problems.
To date, Amnesty International has not received a reply to its letter,
which urged that the use of stun belts against all prisoners be stopped. On
5 March 1999, a lawyer representing OPP-D-1 inmates presented legal
arguments on the case before a New Orleans judge. At the time of writing,
she had not made any ruling.
Write to the Sheriff, using the following points as a guide:
_ Explaining Amnesty International's position on the stun belt, noting
concern that the stun belt is being used in the Old Parish Prison, in New
_ Expressing additional concern at the reported use of the stun belt
the transportation of prisoners from the segregated HIV/AIDS unit, OPP-D-1;
_ Asking to be informed whether this practice is continuing;
_ Note that inmates are placed in OPP-D-1 because of their HIV status
not their security status, and include minimum and medium security
prisoners. Express concern that they are therefore being discriminated
against because of their HIV status and subjected to a cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment on this basis;
_ Note allegations that at least two OPP-D-1 inmates have been
electro-shocked by the belt, and asking for further information on these
_ Calling for an immediate halt to the use of the stun belt on OPP-D-1
prisoners, as a first step towards removing the stun belt from New Orleans
Write letters to:
Charles C. Foti
New Orleans Parish Prison System
2800 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
Salutation: Dear Sheriff
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk
There is still no news about Ngawang Pekar, either from China or in
Amnesty International Annual Report
(http://www.amnesty-usa.org/ailib/aireport/ ar99/asa17.htm). However there
is good news about other prisoners in Tibet, which should encourage us to
continue campaigning on Nwagang's behalf. Ngawang Sangdrol was seen in
Drapchi prison (so it appears she has not been moved to the State Security
Prison) at the end of June, her health is reportedly OK now. Gyaltsen
Choephel has definitely been released and is now living in Lhasa. He is
reported to be in good health and has a small business with his family.
Jampa Ngodrup is reported, by a Chinese government source, to have been
released on medical parole on 26 February 1999. Bai Weiji is reported to
have been released in late February/early March 1999. Looking forward to
the day we can report good news about Nwagang Pekar.
This month I suggest an email on behalf of Nwagang to Premier Zhu Rongji
email@example.com (for those without email please send a letter
to the Premier at the address below). Please mention Nwagang Pekar in the
title of your email and cc. the mails to firstname.lastname@example.org - thanks.
Premier Zhu Rongji
c/o Embassy of People's
Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
I am writing to you out of concern for a prisoner last known to be held
Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1. The prisoner's name is NGAWANG PEKAR.
Ngawang Pekar, a Tibetan monk, was arrested in 1989 for participating in a
peaceful demonstration and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Subsequently,
his sentence was increased by 6 more years. I am concerned that he has been
imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of
expression and about reports that he has been beaten and denied access to
medical care since his arrest. I am also concerned that the 6-year increase
in his sentence was an extremely harsh punishment for keeping a list of his
fellow prisoners and that he was subsequently held in an iron cell for 3
months after the list was found.
I respectfully urge you to ensure that NGAWANG PEKAR'S case be reviewed
that he be immediately and unconditionally released in accordance with the
international laws to which China subscribes.
I thank you for your attention and your assistance in this important
and would greatly appreciate any further information that you may be able
MARTHA'S WEB TIPS FOR JULY
Kham Aid Foundation
For those who missed the presentation by Kham Aid Foundation director
Pamela Logan on this Tibetan region, check out this web site for beautiful
photographs, reports and find out about her program to support education
and economic development in the region.
DEFENDING ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS
AIUSA has aligned with the Sierra Club in a joint venture formally linking
human rights and environmental issues for the first time.
"The combined grassroots constituencies of Amnesty and the Sierra Club
increase the potential for action and outreach enormously," explains Ellen
Dorsey, recently named Director of the Human Rights and the Environment
Program. "Working with the Sierra Club gives us a large and respected
partner as we defend environmental defenders."
As one of the nation's preeminent environmental organizations, the Sierra
Club has approximately 600,000 members and more than 100 years of
grassroots organizing experience. Like AIUSA, it has local chapters across
the country, including many campus groups.
The joint venture, which has received generous funding from the Richard
Rhoda Goldman Foundation, will build U.S. public awareness about the
relationship between human rights and environmental issues. The initiative
will also inform the public about the plight of specific environmental
activists around the world, with action components designed to protect
Dorsey notes that environmental defenders are increasingly subject to
rights abuses because of their work.
"They are becoming prisoners of conscience or they are jailed because
are resisting environmental destruction," she says. "Of course, many of
these defenders have become targets of violence as well."
Besides working directly on behalf of environmental activists, the new
program will develop strategies to influence U.S. policies and corporate
"We will highlight corporate abuses, challenge government policies,
for the rights of indigenous peoples and work on other traditional Amnesty
issues that are directly related to the environment," states Dorsey.
If you are interested in bringing these environmental-human rights issues
to Group 22 and Pasadena, please contact our group coordinator, Larry
Romans for guidance in getting started on this project. Below is an action
put out by this new program.
CAMBODIA: Environmental Rights
Activists on Trial
Kim Sen (Kim San)
Meas Minear, Human rights workers
Prisoners of conscience
The trial of Kim Sen and Meas Minear began in Sihanoukville court on
1999. Both men are charged with inciting demonstrators to use violence.
All the defence witnesses called gave evidence, but the majority of
prosecution witnesses failed to appear in court when they were called on 9
July. No evidence was presented during the two days to support the charges
against Kim Sen and Meas Minear, and the judge has suspended the trial
until 21 July, because the prosecution witnesses failed to appear.
The charges against the two men relate to riots in the coastal town
Sihanoukville in December 1998. A Taiwanese company had been dumping toxic
waste in the area, and demonstrations by local people turned violent. Kim
Sen and Meas Minear monitored the demonstration for the Cambodian human
rights group LICADHO, but did not organise it or take part in it.
Other defendants are being tried at the same time, on charges of robbery
during the demonstrations. An Amnesty International representative attended
Further recommended action: Please send
_ urging that the charges against Kim Sen and Meas Minear be dropped;
_ noting that no evidence has been presented against them, and that
have been many violations of the proper procedures in the course of the
case, including the arrest without warrants of both men on 21 December 1998;
_ asking the authorities to ensure that human rights workers in Cambodia
can go about their legitimate work without fear of arrest and detention.
Prime Minister Hun Sen
Office of the Prime Minister
Kingdom of Cambodia
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng
Office of the Council of Ministers
Kingdom of Cambodia
Dear Deputy Prime Minister:
Minister of Justice Ouk Vithun
Office of the Council of Ministers
Kingdom of Cambodia
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
Royal Embassy of Cambodia
4500 16th St NW
Washington DC 20011
NEW! GROUP 22 PLANS HUMAN RIGHTS BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP WITH BORDERS BOOKS
Group 22 members plan to launch a book discussion group this fall in
conjunction with Borders Books on Lake Avenue. We hope this will increase
our visibility to the public, recruit some thoughtful new members, and
allow a time for in depth reflection on our on-going work. This project
will launch in September Our first book selection, King Leopold's Ghost, is
a fascinating book that will give you some historical perspective on human
rights in Central Africa and the origins of the human rights movement.
Here's the necessary info:
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, & Heroism in Colonial
Africa by Adam Hochschild Houghton Mifflin Company, ISBN: 0395759242
Author: We are currently negotiating a discount on book group books with
Here's an excerpt from the Borders Staff Review by Linda Baker
King Leopold's Ghost tells the story of the Congo's colonization by
Belgium's King Leopold. It was a grim episode that resulted in the deaths
of between four and eight million indigenous people, and is made even more
terrible in that it has been largely forgotten. King Leopold was an early
master of spin control and was praised by the world for many years as great
King Leopold's Ghost also tells the story of Edmund Morel, a minor
functionary for a British firm that had the exclusive contract for Belgian
shipping between Antwerp and the Congo. Morel observed that ships returning
from the Congo came into port loaded to the gunwhales with rubber and ore,
while outbound ships carried little more than armaments. He understood that
such an unbalanced situation could be only the product of a slave labor
system. His individual moral outrage produced the first major human rights
movement of the twentieth century and formed the basis for such groups as
We will have a date for the first discussion in the next issue of our
newsletter. Meanwhile please plan to grab yourself a latte and join us for
what should be a very stimulating discussion!
Public Hearings On U.S. Human Rights Abuses Planned for Los Angeles
AIUSA will hold public hearings this fall on various human rights
violations documented in the ongoing USA Campaign. The hearings,
tentatively scheduled for September 21 in Los Angeles (another hearing will
be held in Chicago), will cap Amnesty's year-long "Rights for All"
initiative on abuses in the United States.
Since the launch of the USA Campaign in October, local, state and federal
officials in this country have been under pressure to address human rights
concerns. The planned hearings are intended to forge working relationships
among AIUSA and community
activists, issue experts, academics and sympathetic elected officials. We
expect that these relationships will outlast the USA Campaign itself.
Under Amnesty's aegis, the hearings will also bring local grassroots
organizations into close contact with representatives of the worldwide
human rights movement. Among the other objectives of the "Rights for All"
hearings, AIUSA plans to accomplish the following:
_ Focus public attention on the magnitude of human rights violations
selected U.S. cities, highlighting systematic patterns of abuse in racial
and ethnic minority communities.
_ Provide a national and international forum for marginalized communities
to voice their human rights concerns.
_ Strengthen ties with domestically based human rights organizations,
increase membership and create new alliances.
_ Critically examine the role of race and gender in the broader pattern
human rights abuse in the United States.
_ Document the findings of the hearings in the form of a video and a
for future publication.
Each panel at the hearings will include a moderator, an internationally
recognized human rights advocate, an Amnesty representative, an academic or
issue expert, a religious leader and an elected official with a strong
record on human rights. The panels will take testimony directly from the
victims of abuses, whose voices are rarely heard. Testimony will focus
primarily on police brutality, border and political asylum issues, prison
abuses, the treatment of juveniles, racial profiling and the death penalty.
Workshops, strategy sessions and training sessions for AIUSA members
community activists may be held concurrently with the hearings. We will
keep you update on this important project.
EDITOR'S LAST WORD:
Read us on line: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 / email@example.com