Volume VIII Number 2, February 2000
In This Issue
Just Earth Network
Human Rights Book Discussion Group
California Execution March 15
Washington Report: AI Opposes Funds to Colombia Military
Juvenile Justice and Proposition 21
February 1-29: There's still time to see the exhibit of Tibet photographs by Valina Dismukes at Pasadena Public Library, 285 E. Walnut.
Wednesday, February 23, 6:00 PM to Midnight. No on Prop 21 Vigil at Central Juvenile Hall,1605 Eastlake Avenue. Everybody out for this community event to oppose prop 21 and rally support for future collaborations on childrens' issues. Carpooling leaves from our meeting place at 1052 E. Del Mar at 6:00 PM.
Thursday, February 24, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting at 1052 E. Del Mar (between Catalina & Wilson) -- top floor.
Tuesday, February 29, 12:00. Louisa Craig speaks at the Caltech Winnett Club Room on "The Human and Environmental Crises in Burma".
Sunday, March 5, 7:30 PM. Human Rights Book Discussion Group at Borders Books on S. Lake Avenue. Join us for a discussion of Mario Vargas Llosa's Death in the Andes. Details about the book inside.
Celebrate International Women's Day:
Wednesday, March 8, 6 pm, Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade (between Arizona and Santa Monica Blvd.) Focusing on Violence Against Women: the WINGS (Women In Need Growing Strong) Clothesline Project, a display of T-shirts decorated by survivors of domestic violence. Entertainment, petitions to sign, signs to carry. Program of speakers begins at 6:45
Wednesday, March 8, 7:30 pm, Midnight Special Bookstore (also at Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade, between Arizona and Santa Monica Blvd.) Silence and Complicity: Violence Against Women in Peruvian Public Health Facilities Giulia Tamayo Leon, Peruvian human rights lawyer, recipient of Ginetta Sagan Award (AI) this year
Tuesday, March 14, 7:30 PM. Letter-writing Meeting in the Athenaeum basement. Corner of California & Hill. Caravan to the execution vigil (below) afterwards!
Tuesday, March 14, 8:00-10:00 PM (Program
Execution Vigil. All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Avenue.
See inside for details about the Darrell
The book we discussed in our book discussion group this month, "No Matter How Loud I Shout" by Edward Humes, made a very powerful impression on me, and I've been thinking a lot about our juvenile justice system and the heartbreaking situations involving the system and so many of our youth. The book is about the juvenile justice system right here in LA, and raises a lot of issues resonating with Amnesty's concerns expressed in our USA campaign last year. The March 7 election is fast approaching, and California's Proposition 21 (the so-called "Gang Violence and Youth Crime Prevention Act") is threatening to seriously erode the situation in this state, in terms of universal human rights standards as considered in Amnesty's report (not to mention any standards of compassion!). There's a lot at stake, and I hope that we will all think very seriously about this proposition on the coming ballot.
Last night (as I write) I saw a powerful film, "Strange Spirit," an independent documentary about a remarkable woman, Tibetan nun Ani Pachen, who was imprisoned for 21 years after participating in Tibetan resistance against the Chinese. While she herself was not an Amnesty prisoner of conscience (because of her use and advocacy of violence), the film also covered the well-documented systematic abuses (including electroshock torture) suffered by many Tibetan monks and nuns imprisoned purely for peaceful expression of their beliefs. Our group's prisoner of conscience, Tibetan monk Ngawang Pekar, is still in prison in Lhasa -- please write an action on his behalf this month!
Larry Romans 626-683-4977
Group Coordinator email@example.com
Just Earth Network
Fear for safety--Members of national human
rights organization Centro de Derechos Humanos
Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez (PRODH)
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety
of those who work with the Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro
Juarez (PRODH), Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Centre, after they
reportedly received two anonymous written threats on 31 January 2000.
Besides threatening PRODH members the messages
make it clear that it is only the international support shown to the organization
that has deterred those responsible for the threats from carrying them
PRODH has been repeatedly harassed and threatened since August 1999 when Digna Ochoa y Placido, a human rights lawyer working with them, was abducted and threatened, though later released. In September the organization were sent a number of written death threats (see UA 233/99, 6 September 1999 and follow-up) and staff reported receiving threatening phone calls at their homes.
PRODH is a non governmental human rights organization
founded by Jesuits. The organization has long worked in collaboration with
Amnesty International and has played an important role in investigating,
documenting and defending human rights in Mexico.
In 1996 Amnesty International documented six
separate occasions in which members of PRODH were intimidated and threatened
(see UA 200/96, 13 August 1996).
Although the authorities have taken steps to protect the PRODH offices, Amnesty International is not aware of anyone having been brought to justice for any of these crimes.
On 7 June 1999, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution on Human Rights Defenders in the Americas which urged: '...member states to persist in their efforts to provide Human Rights Defenders with the necessary guarantees and facilities to continue freely carrying out their work of promoting and protecting human rights, at the national and/or regional levels, in accordance with internationally recognized principles and agreements'.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send letters:
Attorney General of the Republic
Lic. Jorge Madrazo
Procurador General de la Republica
Av Reforma, esq. Violeta
Mexico DF, CP 06300
Salutation: Senor Procurador General/ Dear Attorney General
Attorney General of Mexico City
Lic Samuel Villar
Procurador General de Mexico DF
Ninos Heroes 61, 3er piso, Col. Doctores
Mexico DF, CP 06720
Salutation: Senor Procurador / Dear Attorney General
Human Rights Commission of Mexico City
Dr Luis Barreda Solorzano
Presidente de la CEDHDF
Av. Chapultepec 49, Col. Centro
Mexico DF, CP 06040
Salutation: Estimado Dr. / Dear Dr.
Ambassador Jesus F. Reyes Heroles G.G.
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20006
WEB TIPS FOR FEBRUARY
Innocence Protection Act
Senator Leahy of Vermont has introduced a bill
to the U.S. Senate which contains provisions to aid prisoners seeking DNA
testing to prove their innocence, ensuring competent legal services in
capital cases and compensating the unjustly condemned. In addition there
are provisions placing restrictions on the federal government from seeking
the death penalty for cases in states with no death penalty, and a sense
of the Senate declaration stating that execution of juveniles and the mentally
retarded "offends contemporary standards of decency." Take a first look
at this bill which we are sure to be working on in the coming months.
Death in Detention / Torture and ill-treatment
Scores of detainees including:
Levi RUKONDO, School director
Canesius BARAKAMFITIYE, Adviser, Ministry of Foreign relations
Andre BAZIRINYAKAMWE, Employee, Ministry of Communal Development
Pascal NYABENDA, farmer
Etienne BAYAMPUNDE, farmer
Diomede Buyoya, domestic worker (dead)
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety
of scores of people, including those named above, who are held at the Brigade
speciale de Rercherche (BSR), Special Investigation Unit, in the capital
Amnesty International has frequently raised concern
for the safety of detainees at the BSR, a gendarmerie unit responsible
to the Ministry of Defence. It is particularly concerned following the
death at the BSR of Diomede Buyoya on 13 February 2000. He had been taken
there by a soldier, whose wife employed Diomede Buyoya, the day before,
after the soldier's wife accused Diomede Buyoya of insulting her. Witnesses
who saw his body in a mortuary in the city said that his torso showed signs
of torture and that his neck particularly was bruised and swollen.
All those named above, except for Diomede Buyoya
and Etienne Bayampunde, are reportedly accused of having links with armed
opposition groups active in the area. The basis of the accusations is not
known. The reason for Etienne Bayampunde's detention is not known. People
accused of links with armed opposition groups are particularly vulnerable
to torture and at least two of those named above are reported to have been
Levi Rukondo, who was arrested on 30 November
1999 and is apparently accused of having given money to a deserter from
an armed opposition group, is reported to have been severely beaten in
military custody in a military barracks, Camp Buyenzi in Bujumbura. The
basis for the allegation is not known and he has not been formally charged.
After his arrest, he was reportedly detained in several places. As his
whereabouts were unknown for some time, this gave rise to fears that he
had 'disappeared'. Canesius Barakamfitiye is also reported to have scars
which may be the result of torture.
Scores of other people are reportedly being detained
in military barracks around Bujumbura, on the basis of similar accusations.
Reports of torture and 'disappearances' increased
at the end of 1999 when scores of people were arrested. Detainees are often
moved from one place of detention to another, including from military to
civilian detention, without documentation about where they may be held.
Torture and ill-treatment of detainees, particularly
those in police and military custody, is routine and usually takes place
in the initial days and weeks of detention. Statements extracted through
torture or intimidation have been accepted as evidence in court. In some
cases it may be the only evidence against the defendant.
Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters:
State Public Prosecutor:
Monsieur Gerard NGENDABANKA
Procureur General de la Republique
Salutation: Monsieur le Procureur General de
la Republique / Dear State Public Prosecutor
Minister of Defense:
Colonel Cyrille NDAYIRUKIYE
Ministre de la Defense Nationale
Ministere de la Defense Nationale
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Rights Book Discussion Group
Borders Books & Music
475 South Lake Avenue
Sunday, March 5, 7:30 PM
in the Andes
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Alternating points of view give meaningful structure
to a disturbing new novel by Vargas Llosa, the great Peruvian writer. Guerrillas,
army officers, environmentalists, a bizarre witch and her equally strange
husband, and even a couple of French tourists all have their roles to play
as the author fashions a plot centering on the mysterious killing of three
men in a remote village. Finding the killer is the framework upon which
the author develops a pageant of contemporary Peruvian society, a violent
environment where even baby vicunas are not exempt from needless slaughter.
For North American readers, Vargas Llosa's novel puts faces on, supplies
reasons and motives behind, and imparts a history of the terrorism that
has plagued Peru in recent years'a situation most of us see only as an
inconvenience to traveling there. This pungent work of fiction imparts
the real picture, a moving depiction of the strengths and weaknesses in
the fabric of Andean culture. -- Booklist
California: Execution Set For March 15
Darrell "Young Elk" Rich
Darrell Young Elk Rich was convicted of murdering
three women and one eleven-year-old girl and sentenced to death in 1982.
Young Elk has exhausted his appeal process and awaits his execution, scheduled
for 12:01 a.m., March 15, 2000. The only recourse available to Young Elk
is a grant of clemency by Governor Gray Davis.
Young Elk is part Native American, of Cherokee
ancestry, and would be the first Native American to be put to death in
California since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977. Eleven
American Indians have been executed in the United States since the reinstatement
of the death penalty in 1976, and 46 others are currently incarcerated
on death row.
Young Elk has been on death row for 18 years.
Throughout that time he has been an exemplary inmate with a great institutional
record. Young Elk is not a present or future danger to his fellow inmates
or the prison guards. He has shown remorse for his actions since the time
of his arrest, which he led the police to make. He confessed his crimes
and pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. Young Elk was diagnosed with
a history of head trauma, neurological deficits and with "intermittent
explosive disorder," a mental illness in which the person is overcome by
sudden fits of rage followed by periods of deep remorse.
Young Elk's life is in the hands of Governor
Gray Davis and the clemency board. Please write to them and demand that
Young Elk's life be spared, and that all capital punishment be abolished
in California. We also need you to join your fellow abolitionists at the
various vigils and rallies being held across the state for Young Elk on
The Honorable Gray Davis
State Capitol, 1st Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814.
State of the Death Penalty in California
Two initiatives to expand the death penalty will appear on the March 7 ballot, just days before Young Elk's scheduled execution. Proposition 18, Murder: Special Circumstances, would expand by three the number of special circumstances that would allow a prosecutor to seek the death sentence. Prop. 21, Juvenile Crime, will add gang-related murder to the list of "special circumstances" that make offenders eligible for the death penalty.
While the population of California is backing away from capital punishment (only 47% of Californians polled in a recent survey supported the death penalty) and political and religious leaders throughout the country are questioning the fairness of our judicial system and the morality of capital punishment, California politicians steadfastly hangs on to this outdated and barbaric travesty it calls "Justice."
Crime & Punishment
Darrell "Young Elk" Rich was convicted in 1981 of murdering three women and one eleven-year-old girl. The attacks and murders all took place in the summer of 1978, when Young Elk was 23. Rich confessed to the killings shortly after being taken into custody. Young Elk pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. His court-appointed defense stated that he suffered from "intermittent explosive disorder," a mental illness in which the person is overcome by sudden fits of rage followed by periods of deep remorse. Further examination of Young Elk by psychiatrists and psychologists found long-standing brain damage, neurological deficits, extreme mental disturbance, and a history of head trauma. During the penalty phase of sentencing, the jury initially returned to the courtroom hung, but was instructed by the judge to continue deliberations. The judge failed to instruct the jury that a sentence of Life in Prison Without Parole would be automatically imposed if they were unable to come to a unanimous decision. The next day they returned with a sentence of death.
The tragedy that befell Annette Edwards, Patricia
"Pam" Moore, Linda Slavik, and Annette Selix in the summer of 1978 was
unconscionable. DPF has the deepest sympathies for all of the victims'
families and believes that justice needs to be served for their terrible
loss. Justice, however, is not served by execution. The murder of another
human being will not bring the four women back to life. An execution can
not offer solace or closure to the family of a murder victim. While the
feelings of rage and lust for revenge are understandable, even natural,
spending years, even decades, anticipating a person's murder and nurturing
oneÕs anger towards him can only prolong the tragedy, not heal the
A sentence of life in prison without parole (LWOP) would have offered the same desired punishment separating Young Elk from the rest of society for the entirety of his life and would have offered closure to the family 19 years ago. For more information on victims' families services, please visit the Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) web site at http://www.mvfr.org/. One of the largest victims' rights organization in the country, MVFR is a national organization of families and friends of murder victims who are opposed to the death penalty.
American Indians and the Death Penalty
No Native American tribe has the death penalty. This is a punishment being subjected upon a population that has had little to no say in the structure of our government or our legal system. A population that is disproportionately impoverished and lacking in sufficient human services programs, including medical, educational, legal, psychological, and rehabilitation programs.
WASHINGTON REPORT: CLINTON AID PLAN COULD ESCALATE COLOMBIA'S "DIRTY WAR"
AIUSA opposes the Clinton Administration's $1.28 billion military aid program for Colombia because of the extensive links
between the Colombian Army and paramilitaries.
Carlos Salinas, AIUSA's Advocacy Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, stated on January 11: "As long as paramilitary groups allied with the Colombian Army continue to commit massacres and other serious human rights violations, U.S. military aid to Colombia is tantamount to underwriting the 'dirty war.' We must not return to the failed policies of the 1980s, which were characterized by death squad activity and massive human suffering."
To its credit, the Clinton Administration has supported the Leahy Law blocking aid for foreign military units directly involved in gross human rights violations. In the Colombian context, however, Amnesty says this important prohibition does not go far enough.
"Paramilitary groups often commit atrocities in heavily militarized areas and go through Colombian military roadblocks, with no interference from the army," noted Salinas. "There is extensive collusion between the Colombian Army and the paramilitaries."
The Colombian Government has dismissed some army
officials for their involvement with paramilitaries, but the vast majority
of Colombian officers accused of involvement in political killings have
escaped prosecution. AI believes the final toll for political killings
and "disappearances" in 1999 may have reached 2,000 or higher.
Juvenile Justice/Prop 21 Activities
No on Prop 21 activities are being planned for Pasadena through the March 7 primary election. Please call Martha at 626-281-4039 to find out the latest. Meanwhile check out these sites:
For background see: http://www.noprop21.org
The Color of Justice
If you noticed the article in the Los Angeles Times about a study showing that youth of color are disproportionately impacted by transfers to adult court, you can read the full report "COLOR OF JUSTICE" at
Even if you don't think you have time to read the whole thing, it's worth a glance at the graphs. Plus the site has other relevant studies and resources on juvenile justice worth browsing. One of the co-authors of "COLOR" is Mike Males. Males spoke at a Group 22 event last fall.
Editor's Last Word:
Read us on line: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aigp22
Martha Ter Maat, 626-281-4039 /