Tuesday, September 21, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM Hearings on Police Brutality. USC Davidson Conference Center. Come hear testimony from victims and experts at this important closing event for the USA campaign.
Thursday, September 23, 7:30 PM.Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor.
Sunday, October 3, 7:30 PM. Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders Books on S. Lake Avenue. More info inside!
Tuesday, October 12, 7:00 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum. Corner of California & Hill. Due to on-going renovations at the Ath, weve had to shift our location in the Ath from month to month, so keep a lookout in e-mail for instructions or call Larry for instructions closer to the date: 626-683-4977.
Saturday-Sunday, October 16-17. Amnesty International USA Regional Conference in San Diego. The Western Regional Conference of Amnesty International USA is a unique opportunity for activists, scholars, communities, and students to come together to learn about, discuss, and act upon some of the most important issues facing our world community today: those of fundamental human rights. This conference will bring together AI members from throughout the western 13 states as well as human rights activists from throughout Mexico, as we partner with AI Mexico to offer a fully bilingual, truly international human rights exchange. Featured speakers: Marjorie Agosin (Chilean Poet) Ellen Barry (California Prisoner Rights Attorney) Julianne Cartwright Traylor (AIUSA Board Chair) Workshops: ChildSoldiers, The Death Penalty, Womens Human Rights, Human Rights and the Environment, Student Activism, Human Rights in the USA and more! Call 310-815-0450 or email@example.com for registration information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We will 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. Also be on the lookout for our sign-making parties in the coming weeks. Join us!
Musings From the East
Guest column this month from our former group coordinator Revae Moran:
Hello to everyone from our nations Capitol!
Im enjoying it here and getting adjusted to life with lots and lots
of trees and weather! They really have serious weather here.
One minute it can be calm and sunny and then black clouds roll in and it rains and blows and all hell breaks loose! Then, later that afternoon, its
sunny again. Its really amazing. Were supposed to have a
hurricane come through here tomorrow!
My top reasons NOT to recommend living in Washington, D.C.:
My top reasons to recommend living in Washington, D.C.:
Ive joined the Alexandria Amnesty group and taken over as case file coordinator a Syrian POC named Muhammad al-Ali. Our group recently met with staff members of both of our Senators to discuss our human rights concerns.
I also have helped set up a cluster group for the D.C. area. We have great plans, including a concert in the spring on the Mall with lots of local bands to bring people in to AI.
I love L.A. and miss it a lot especially the people! But its fun to explore a new place and get involved in activities here. With any luck, Im going to be in L.A. the week of November 15th and will march with all of you in the Doo Dah Parade! I hope it works out I miss you!
Editors note: Please join us at our monthly meeting for a Doo-dah Parade planning as well as to plan which campaigns we will be focusing on in the coming year. Call Martha if you have questions about the meeting: 626-281-4039 / email@example.com. Larrys on vacation at newsletter press time, but if you have questions about the group, please feel free to contact him later in the month:
Larry Romans 626-683-4977
Group Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
Ngawang Pekar, Tibetan Monk
After the success of Rogan's letter on behalf of Nwagang Pekar this month will seem a little dull. There has been no response to the letter and there is still no news from Tibet Autonomous Region. In a fit of desperation I typed "Ngawang Pekar" in the search box in Yahoo and to my surprise had 10 hits (some of which led to our group 22 site and POC page-- excellent job Larry). One of the hits was particularly interesting since it contained a history and background of Ngawang Pekar. I have attached the section for you to read
From the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (http://tibet.cyborganic.com/eng/ngo/tchrd/newsletter/970715.stm)
"Ngawang Pekar was halfway through his eight year sentence in Drapchi Prison when his sentence was extended by six years. Already being punished for his attempts to broaden awareness of the situation in Tibet, Ngawang had been caught by the Chinese prison authorities trying to alert the international community to the conditions for political prisoners in Drapchi. Ngawang Pekar (layname: Paljor) is a 34 year-old monk from Drepung monastery. He was born in Toelung Aangkar under Toelung Dzong (county), just west of Lhasa. His father, Topgyal, and one of his younger sisters are still living in Toelung. Ngawang has a total of two younger sisters, one elder sister and three younger brothers. His brother Khedup has served a five year sentence in Sangyip and Drapchi prisons. Khedup was a Drepung monk and, now released, lives with his father. Ngawang's mother died while Ngawang was serving one of his terms in Sangyip Prison. Ngawang was first arrested on 5 March 1988, along with three other Drepung monks, as a result of participating in the massive "March Demonstration" in Lhasa. Ngawang was sentenced to approximately eight to nine months which he served in various prisons. He was first detained in Gutsa Detention Centre and later was transferred to Outridu, a "Re-education-through-Labour" centre in the Sangyip prison complex located in the outskirts of Lhasa, and then to Sangyip prison itself.
The sentence received by Ngawang was a relatively short one. This was said to have been a result of the general influence of the 10th Panchen Lama at that time.
Ngawang Pekar was arrested for the second time on 12 July 1989. He was alleged to have put up pro-independence posters and participated in demonstrations. He was also said to have spoken with and to be "linked" to certain foreign delegates and organisations. Ngawang was sentenced to eight years, reportedly around the end of November 1989. At the time of this second arrest Ngawang was said to have been planning an escape to India. Ngawang was first taken to Sangyip prison and later transferred to Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. On 28 April 1991 a number of Drapchi prisoners, including Ngawang Pekar, were subjected to a massive beating by prison guards. This was a punishment to those who had not renounced their "criminal splittist activities". While in Drapchi, Ngawang wrote appeal letters to the United Nations and certain human rights organisations and was caught trying to smuggle out a list of political prisoners and a document describing human rights violations being perpetrated in Drapchi Prison. Such activities led to Ngawang being sentenced in June 1996 to an additional six years imprisonment. It is reported that Ngawang is not having any health problems at present. He is described by a fellow prison mate as a "giant of a man", reaching approximately six feet tall and weighing 180 gyama (90 kg). He is well-educated and fluent in both English and Chinese and remains extremely patriotic in his calls for Tibet's freedom. Ngawang Pekar is now serving a total of 14 years in prison, a result of his expression of opinion and his attempts to reveal to the world the conditions of Chinese prisons in Tibet. To protest Ngawang's arbitrary detention, write a letter addressed to the Chinese premier Li Peng asking for his immediate and unconditional release and send it to TCHRD for forwarding."
So this puts Nwagang as 34 years old in 1997 and thus 36 now. We should look forward to the day he comes to our group meeting to tell his story. This month I recommend that we write to the people who hosted the site, letting them know of our campaign. Let them know how exciting it is to read something real about Nwagang Pekar and ask if they have any more recent news.
Maongpa Communication Centre
Near Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery School
Camel Track Road
Macloed Ganj 176219
Dharamsala HP India
Finally the Dalai Lama will be visiting L.A. in October (12-14), we will keep you informed when we know more details. If you can't wait the contact details are: The Liberation Teachings at Land of Compassion Buddha, Tel: (626) 915-7930 Fax: (626) 966-5299, http://www.compassionbuddha.org.
Fear for Safety
The population of East Timor
Amnesty International remains concerned for the security of the entire population of East Timor, despite the Indonesian authorities' recent decision to accept a United Nations international peace-keeping force in the territory. Independence supporters in both East and West Timor remain at high risk of attack by the Indonesian National Army (TNI) and/or militia groups. Nuns and priests, who have frequently helped to shelter independence supporters, appear to be particularly vulnerable. Hundreds of thousands of people remain internally displaced in East Timor, many living in the hills without adequate shelter or supplies of food or water. There are reports of people trying to survive by eating berries and roots. Recent reports suggest that the TNI may be surrounding and attacking cantonment areas controlled by Falintil, the armed resistance movement, where thousands of displaced people are reported to be sheltering. An estimated 120,000 East Timorese have either fled the territory or been forcibly relocated to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia. Many of these people are now living in makeshift camps in West Timor which appear to be run by the TNI and militia groups, which are also active in West Timor. Foreign observers and humanitarian workers, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have not been able to enter the camps to verify their living conditions and assess their needs. There are reports of East Timorese refugees in West Timor being threatened and attacked by pro-integration militias. East Timorese refugees in other parts of Indonesia may also be at risk. Some militia members have reportedly stated that they were forced to commit human rights violations by the TNI. Amnesty International is concerned that militia members who make such claims may be at high risk of reprisals by the authorities.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail letters: * expressing your continued concern for the safety of East Timorese people both inside and outside East Timor;
The White House
Washington DC 20500
Fax: 1 202 456 2461
Phone: 1 202 456 1414
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
INDONESIA: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER DITA SARI FINALLY RELEASED
Not all the news from Indonesia is bad!
Amnesty hailed the release on July 5 of Dita Indah Sari, one of 28 human rights defenders whose cases were highlighted in AI's worldwide campaign marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last year.
Dita Sari, a labor organizer and a leader of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), was serving a five-year sentence for her peaceful activities defending Indonesian workers' rights. Her release followed campaigning by international human rights organizations, trade unions and women's rights groups.
While welcoming measures taken by President Habibie to address the country's poor human rights record, Amnesty urged the Indonesian authorities to take additional steps, including legislative reforms protecting freedom of expression and association.
Dita Sari's release came as AI was investigating reported ill-treatment of PRD members by the police, as well as threats and attacks against party offices by unknown assailants. Dozens of PRD members were shot and beaten by police while demonstrating outside the offices of the General Election Commission in Jakarta on July 1.
Amnesty has urged the Indonesian Government to ensure that these incidents are impartially and fully investigated.
for Leonard Peltier's release
In 1977, American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier was convicted
of murdering FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler two years earlier on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Amnesty International has consistently questioned the fairness of Peltier's trial and subsequent appeals and evidentiary hearings. AI has brought to the highest levels of the U.S. Government its concerns that Peltier's political activities and beliefs may have influenced the circumstances of his arrest and trial.
While Amnesty takes no position regarding Peltier's guilt or innocence of the killings and does not consider him a prisoner of conscience, the evidence that he shot the two agents in 1975 is far from conclusive.
AI has long advocated that Peltier be granted a fair re-trial and is disappointed at the authorities' failure to initiate such a proceeding. The prisoner's numerous appeals have failed to dispel substantial, lingering doubts about the fairness of his treatment by the courts. Now that Peltier has spent 22 years in prison and exhausted all available legal appeals, a re-trial is no longer a feasible option.
Amnesty considers Peltier to be a political prisoner whose avenues to legal redress have long been exhausted. As a result, we are now calling for his release from prison.
Please write letters to President Clinton, asking him to act on AI's recommendations that Leonard Peltier be freed. Tell the President that, in view of Amnesty's concerns about the case, the only just and moral action to be taken for Peltier now is immediate release.
SEND APPEALS TO:
President Bill Clinton
The White House
Washington DC 20500
"A MAP OF HOPE"
New womens human rights anthology
Amnesty International USA will join the Pen American Center, Ms. magazine and others this fall to sponsor readings from A Map of Hope, the first international anthology of women's writing on human rights. Edited by Chilean-born author and activist Marjorie Agos'n, this groundbreaking literary collection includes a foreword by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. Los Angeles area activists will have a chance to hear Agosn speak at the regional meeting in San Diego. See "Upcoming Events for details.
BANNED BOOK WEEK ACTION
ETHIOPIA Detained newspaper editors
Solomon Namara, acting editor of the newspaper Urji, and Tesfaye Deressa, deputy editor, were arrested on 16 October 1997; nine days later, the paperÕs former editor and general manager, Garuma Bekele, was arrested, although he had left Urji to become the general secretary of a new Oromo human rights organization. They are detained in relation to their activities as journalists with a newspaper that reports primarily on Oromo issues and has documented human rights abuses against Oromos suspected of having links with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an armed opposition group. Even though Urji has never called for support for the OLFs armed activities, the journalists were charged with armed conspiracy and supporting OLF terrorism. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience.
Although freedom of expression is an officially proclaimed right in Ethiopia and there is no open ban on newspapers or journalists, more than 200 editors and reporters from the independent, private press have been arrested at various times since 1993, nearly all of them for writing or publishing articles critical of the government. One person on a March 1998 AI list of detained journalists died in custody; two journalists have "disappeared"; others have fled the country. As of April there were 16 journalists in jail in Addis Ababa, including the three Urji editors. This year another newspaper, Tobia, was attacked: 4 journalists and 6 administrative staff were arrested and the office was burned d own by unidentified arsonists. The Press Law, heralded as a "Proclamation to Provide for the Freedom of the Press", has been used as a weapon against criticism. Its vaguely defined criminal offenses of "incitement of conflict between peoples" and "publishing false information", together with other laws on defamation and "spreading false rumors", have led to contravention of international standards for press freedom (particularly Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights). The right to freedom of expression has been restricted unduly by these laws and their harsh application by the police and courts. "The balance between the freedom of the press and its responsibilities has been lost," says Amnesty.
Please politely urge that journalists be permitted to carry out their professional activities without fear of arbitrary detention or threat to their security and that the government adjust the scope & application of the Press Law in accordance with Ethiopias Constitution and international standards. Appeal for the unconditional release of Garuma Bekele, Tesfaye Deressa, Solomon Namara, and all other journalists detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Prime Ministers Office
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
His Excellency Berhane Gebre-Christos
Embassy of Ethiopia
2134 Kalorama Road, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Salutation: Your Excellency ÊÊ Ê
Human Rights Book Discussion Group
Borders Books & Music
475 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA, Pasadena
Sunday, October 3, 7:30 PM
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
by Philip Gourevitch
In April 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch's haunting work is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide's background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its aftermath.
"[It is the] sobering voice of witness that Gourevitch has vividly captured in his work." --Wole Soyinka, The New York Times Book Review
"The most important book I have read in many years...Gourevitch's book poses the preeminent question of our time: What--if anything--does it mean to be a human being at the end of the 20th century?...He examines [this question] with humility, anger, grief and a remarkable level of both political and moral intelligence." --Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times
A New York Times Editor's Choice
The National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction
The Los Angeles Times Book Prize
The George K. Polk Award for Foreign Reporting
Overseas Press Club Cornelius Ryan Best Book Award
The PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Non-Fiction
Editor's Last Word:
Read us on line: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 / email@example.com
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works impartially to free-individuals jailed solely for their beliefs, ethnic origin, language, gender 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.