Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume VII Number 11, November 1999
Wednesday, November 17, 6:00 - 8:30PM. Museum of Tolerance, 9786 West Pico Blvd. Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles & Black Public Defenders Association present: A Community Information Forum to discuss "The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act." Confirmed Panelists: Michael P. Judge, Public Defender, County of Los Angeles; Lisa Greer, Juvenile Law Appellate Attorney, Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office; Roosevelt F. Dorn, Mayor, City of Inglewood, former Juvenile Court judge. Invited Panelists: Constance Rice, Civil Rights Attorney; A representative of the Californians to End Gang Violence; A law enforcement representative.
Thursday, November 18, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor.
Friday, November 19, 1999, 7:30 PM. New Activist Speaker Series! Caltech Beckman Auditorium. Dolores Huerta Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Latino and Women's Rights Activist speaks.
Sunday, November 21, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM Doo-Dah Parade! If you are interested in marching with Group 22 in this years Doo-Dah Parade, please contact Martha at 626-281-4039 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We wi ll be repeating in our "Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People" guise, this year highlighting the USA campaign and featuring street theater on stun belts. We have obtained funding to waive the entry fee for all who are interested, so there is no reason not to join us!
Sunday, December 5, 7:30 PM. Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders Books on S. Lake Avenue.
Tuesday, December 14, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum basement. Corner of California & Hill.
No monthly meeting in December! See you in the next millenium!
Tuesday, January 11, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum basement. Corner of California & Hill.
Friday, January 14, 7:30 PM. Social Activism Speaker Series. Caltech Beckman Auditorium. Adam Werbach Founder of the Sierra Student Coalition President of the Sierra Club at age 23.
Whether or not one reckons this to be the end of the millennium, the end of the year is upon us, and its a natural time to take stock. This has been a very challenging and exciting year for Amnesty as an organization, and our group in particular. In the USA campaign, Amnesty has found new strength in bringing its international human rights perspective to bear on domestic issues, in types of coalition quite new to the organization. Here in the Los Angeles area, the campaign has received considerable momentum from well publicized cases of police brutality, mistreatment of prisoners, and evident abuse of electroshock technology. Join us as our group continues to bring the issue of stun belt abuse before the public, in our second annual Doo-Dah appearance! Its not too late to join in the fun (see "Up-coming Events").
Final Doo-Dahplans will be made at our November 18 monthly meeting and our agenda will also cover the two months of activity before the next meeting in January. With some very important new campaigns, particularly the Juvenile Justice Initiative (see elsewhere in this newsletter) its important not to lose momentum over the holidays. Please join us and help us map out our plans into the new year!
See you in the monthly meeting!
Larry Romans 626-683-4977
Group Coordinator email@example.com
Freedom for Cambodian Activists
Worldwide human rights and environmental activists are celebrating a victory! Responding to the threat of a possible imprisonment of Cambodian human rights defenders Kim Sen and Mineas Minear, pressure was applied to the Cambodian government to drop charges against the two, demanding that the right of individuals to protect their communities be recognized. On July 21, a Cambodian court dropped all charges against Sen and Minear, finding no evidence against the accused. The men, employees of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO), were arrested on Dec. 21, 1998 for inciting violent protests. However, evidence collected by AI indicated that Sen and Minear merely monitored the protests that were a reaction of the Sihanoukville community to toxic wastes containing mercury. The Taiwanese firm Formosa Plastics had improperly disposed of the wastes that led to the illness of a number of villagers and one death. AI considered the charges politically motivated and was prepared to declare the men prisoners of conscience, had they been convicted. But through the combined efforts of human rights and environmental activists, the men were acquitted. Congratulations to all of you who worked so diligently to defend the rights of these two human rights activists! (This case was previously featured in this newsletter)
Fear of Forcible Repatriation
Arzu Ghaffari, aged 38, Iranian asylum-seeker Akram Homayoonpoor (his wife), aged 39 and their children Pouyan Ghaffari (m), aged 14, Behrang Ghaffari (m), aged 11 and Saba Ghaffari (f), aged 9.
Asylum-seekers Arzu Ghaffari, Akram Homayoonpoor and their three children are facing forcible repatriation to Iran, where Arzu Ghaffari, and possibly his wife, would be at risk of serious human rights violations, possibly including torture.
The Interior Ministry decided to forcibly return the family after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) rejected their application for refugee status for a second time, on 2 November, in a procedure Amnesty International believes was flawed.
Arzu Ghaffari is a former political prisoner and torture victim, held in Tabriz prison in Iran because of his anti-government activities. He fled to Turkey in 1996, a year after his wife and children. The family were given temporary residence permits as asylum-seekers, which were withdrawn after the UNCHR rejected their applications for refugee status. When Arzu Ghaffari was arrested in connection with a traffic accident in September 1999 and threatened with immediate deportation, the UNCHR reopened the family's case, but rejected their application again on 2 November. The police then arrested Akram Homayoonpoor and the children. Since then the family have been under arrest at the Foreigners' Bureau of the Istanbul Police headquarters, awaiting deportation.
Amnesty International has expressed its concerns about Arzu Ghaffari's application for refugee status on three occasions to the field office of the UNHCR in Ankara, the determining body in this case. The UNHCR has told Amnesty International that it believes Mr Ghaffari does not meet the Convention definition of a refugee, and so should no longer enjoy the protection of the UNHCR and thus can be forcibly returned to Iran.
This uncertain situation has put considerable strain on the couple's marriage and the well-being of the whole family. Arzu Ghaffari recently had a nervous breakdown, caused by the post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the physical and mental torture he has suffered. The family have a long-standing application for Turkish citizenship, which might be favourably considered in the light of Arzu Ghaffari's and Akram Homayoonpoor's professional skills and experience, as a car mechanic and a teacher respectively, and their children's excellent academic records. Family friends have started a petition asking the Turkish Human Rights Commission and Interior Ministry to urgently examine the family's application.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send letters:
Mr Bulent Ecevit
Office of the Prime Minister
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Minister of the Interior:
Mr Saadettin Tantan
06644 Ankara, Turkey
Salutation: Dear Minister
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
State Minister with responsibility for Human Rights:
Mr Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik
Office of the Prime Minister
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Salutation: Dear Minister
Ambassador Baki Ilkin
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
1714 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20036
WEB TIPS FOR NOVEMBER
Visions For Growth:
Meeting New Human Rights Challenges
The Visions for Growth Committee has drafted a 10-year strategic plan providing for significant membership and financial growth, and positioning Amnesty International USA to respond effectively to future human rights challenges. For the full text of the report, see the "Members" section of AIUSA's website-- username amnesty, password viaduct -- or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special GLAD meeting will be held to discuss this report on Monday, December 6 at 7:00 PM at the Western Regional Office, 9000 W. Washington Blvd, Culver City.
Atlantic Monthly: THEWRONG MAN
Check out the November 1999 issue of The Atlantic for an article by Alan Berlow, "The Wrong Man" in which the author argues that innocent the likelihood that innocent people will be executed is very high.
Group 22 works to oppose Prop 21
The "Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Initiative" or Prop. 21 which will appear on the March 2000 California primary ballot, directly attacks nearly all of Amnesty's concerns in our Juvenile Justice report, "Betraying the Young" and because it expands the death penalty to "gang-related" murders will be the focus of our death penalty work in the coming months. More info: www.noprop21.org.
Prop 21 would:
Please join us at our next monthly meeting to learn more and plan outreach for our opposition to this initiative. Also see Up-coming Events for an opportunity to learn more on Nov. 17.
CHINA: Rebiya Kadeer
AI Concern: prisoner of conscience
Abdulahat Abdurixit Zhuxi
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
(Chairman of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Regional Peoples Government)
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu
PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA
As you may know, Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer was detained by police on August 11, 1999, while on her way to meet visiting representatives from the U.S. Congressional Research Service in Urumqi. She was charged in September with "illegally offering state secrets."
The independent human rights organization Amnesty International considers the charge against Rebiya Kadeer to be politically motivated. She is not known to have been involved in any political activities or to have had access to information that could legitimately be described as "state secrets." Her son, Ablikim Abdiryim, and her secretary, Kahriman Abdukirim, are also being detained. It is believed that Rebiya Kadeer is being held at Liudaowan jail in Urumqi, notorious for its torture and ill-treatment of prisoners. Both Ablikim Abdiryim and Kahriman Abdukirim are reportedly being held in the Urumqi
Public Security school jail.
Amnesty International believes that the accusations against Rebiya Kadeer relate to her attempts to meet with the foreign visitors and to her communications with her husband, Sidik Rouzi, a former political prisoner who now lives abroad. Sidik Rouzi has publicly criticized China for its treatment of the Uighurs - the majority Muslim ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Rebiya Kadeer has suffered police harassment and travel restrictions apparently in connection with her husbands activities and her own attempts to promote the advancement of Uighur women by forming the "Thousand Mothers Movement," which encouraged women to run their own businesses. I join with Amnesty International in urging your government to drop all charges against Rebiya Kadeer, Ablikim Abdiryim and Kahriman Abdukirim and to release them immediately.
TOGO: Komlan Edoh and Kodjo Kouni
AI Concern: "disappearance"
His Excellency General Gnassingbe Eyadema
Président de la République
Avenue de la Marina
I am writing to express my concern for Komlan Edoh, aged 18, and Kodjo Kouni, aged 19, who were arrested by the Togolese armed forces in August 1998 in the Agebévékopé district of Akato, a village north west of Lomé. They were beaten by soldiers at the time of their arrest and subsequently transferred to the gendarmerie in Lomé. The youths have not been seen since the date of their arrest, and gendarmerie officials deny holding the youths.
It is believed that Komlan Edoh and Kodjo Kouni were arrested on suspicion that they may be members of the armed opposition. The "disappearance" of the young men is not an isolated incident. The Akato village has been the subject of numerous attacks by the security forces. The young people of Akato, by the mere fact of their youth, are often suspected of being members of the armed opposition and are often the targets of military or police action.
I respectfully ask you to set up an independent and impartial inquiry into the "disappearance" of Komlan Edoh and Kodjo Kouni. I urge you to see to it that those responsible for this example of arbitrary detention, torture and "disappearance" are brought to justice. I further urge you to take all necessary steps to prevent future occurrences of such human rights violations.
I thank you for your attention to this matter.
Prisoner of Conscience
It's 9pm on Thursday 11th November here in Pasadena and 1pm in the afternoon of Friday 12th November in Lhasa as I sit down to write this months contribution to the newsletter about Ngawang Pekar. Ngawang Pekar, whose lay name is Peljor, is a prisoner of conscience in Tibet Autonomous Region Number 1. He was arrested over 10 years ago for taking part in a peaceful demonstration against the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Autonomous region Number 1. We have been campaigning for his release for over 2 years now and will continue to do so until he is released. Whilst we enjoy an unusually warm November in Pasadena, in Tibet the sun is also shining but instead of 70 to 80 F during the day it's 20 to 25 and at night the temperature is around 0!!! Hope they have heating in Drapchi prison (Prison Number 1)!
In August, we requested that Congressman Rogans action be followed up by writing on behalf of Ngawang Pekar to Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Then in October we requested that you direct your letters to Premier Zhu Rongji. This month please write to President Jiang Zemin again, informing him that you, and the U.S. Congress, are aware of Pekar's case and urging him to see to it that Pekar is unconditionally released in a timely manner. Please keep the tone of your letter respectful and remember that Amnesty International takes no official position on Tibetan independence from China. You may also want to send a copy of the letter to Congressman Rogan (email@example.com) to let him know that we are following up and appreciate his efforts on Ngawang's behalf. Thanks. Below is a sample letter that you can either copy verbatim or, preferably, use as a guide in composing your own letter:
Following my previous letters to you I am writing again out of concern for NGAWANG PEKAR who is being held in Tibet Autonomous Region Prison Number 1. As a firm believer in the principles delineated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I am concerned that NGAWANG PEKAR was imprisoned solely for his beliefs and the peaceful expression of them
As you will be aware, U.S. Congressman James Rogan wrote to you to express his concern about Ngawang Pekar's case. In line with Congressman Rogan's concerns, I respectfully urge you to request that Pekar's case be reviewed and that he be immediately and unconditionally released in accordance with the international laws to which China is signatory. I further request that he be allowed access to independent non-governmental agencies so that his current state of well-being may be determined and made known.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Any further information that you or your office may be able to provide about Ngawang Pekar will be greatly appreciated.
Address your letter to:
JIANG Zemin Guojia Zhuxi
People's Republic of China
For postage, use a 60-cent airmail stamp. Include your name and mailing address at the top of the letter to enable a reply, and please notify theGroup 22 coordinator if a reply is received.
HUMAN RIGHTS DISCUSSION GROUP
Borders Books & Music
475 South Lake Avenue
Sunday, December 5, 7:30 PM
Amazon Journal : Dispatches from a Vanishing Frontier
by Geoffrey O'Connor
Blending reportage, history, anthropology, and personal memoir, Amazon Journal is a unique and critical look at how cultural differences in the Amazon have resulted in incidents ranging from comic misunderstandings to blatant exploitation, environmental disaster, and even genocide. Beginning by revisiting the period in the late 80's when the "save the rainforest" campaign, the indigenous rights movement, and the assassination of Chico Mendes became the focus of a media storm, O'Connor stuck with his story long enough to tell us what happened when the world turned its attention elsewhere. Peopled by a colorful cast of real-life characters, O'Connor's startling narrative is a journey into a contemporary heart of darkness, a compelling and compassionate look at a vanishing people, and a blistering account of the forces of destruction, both human and environmental, at work within the greatest forest on earth.
Book lovers take note: There will be no book group meeting in January due to the holiday, however the February selection will be Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court. Humes takes a look at a year in the life of Los Angeles Juvenile Court, profiling its judges, lawyers, probation officers, and children and focusing on five specific troubled minors to reveal the system's impact on their lives and their prospects. Must reading for our work on juvenile justice and Prop. 21.
Holiday Card Action
Each year during the winter hoidays, Amnesty International asks you to send words of support to those who have suffered human rights violations. Come to the December letter-writing meeting to take part in all our "Gift of Hope" actions or send a non-religious card with a simple message ("We are thinking of you" is fine.) Do not mention Amnesty or discuss politics as it will lesson the chance that the prisoner will receive the card.
Mexico: Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera
Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera Garcia, members of the Organization of Campesino Ecologists, were detained by Mexican soldiers in May 1999. The Organization of Campesino Ecologists was formed to protect the areas of the Sierra de Petatlan and Coyuca Catalan against deforestation; the group has faced harassment and intimidation as a result of its activities. Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera were reportedly beaten and severely tortured following their arrest, and the men claim they were forced to confess to being members of an armed opposition group and to possession of drugs. Their arrest comes amidst increasing allegations of extrajudicial executions, torture, rape and arbitrary arrests by the military against the indigenous community in Guerrro state.
CERESO Iguala de laIndependcia
Tuxpan, sin numero
Codigo Postal 40101
Annual General Meeting in Providence
Plan now for the Annual General Meeting, March 10-12, 2000 in Providence, Rhode Island. The March dates, present an opportunity for AIUSA to recognize International Women's Day on the scale of a full AGM. Among other prominent speakers, AGM 2000 will present distinguished international human rights attorney Hina Jilani, who stands witness to the brutal potential of gender discrimination in the form of "honor killing" and continues to raise awareness about tribal systems of justice and violence in her country, Pakistan. Join us at this years AGM in Providence and raise your voice to protect and promote the human rights of girls and women! Call the regional office: 310-815-0450 to request registration materials.
Editor's Last Word:
Read us on line: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 / firstname.lastname@example.org