Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News Volume XXIII Number 9, September 2015 UPCOMING EVENTS Thursday, September 24, 7:30 PM. Monthly Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. (This is just south of the corner with San Pasqual. Signs will be posted.) We will be planning our activities for the coming months. Please join us! Refreshments provided. Tuesday, October 13, 7:30 PM. Letter writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner of Hill and California in Pasadena. (Summer's over -- now we're back in the basement Rathskeller.) This informal gathering is a great way for newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty. Sunday, October 18, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers Human Rights Book Discussion group. This month we read "Redeployment" by Phil Klay. COORDINATOR'S CORNER Hi everyone Hot enough for you?! I was glad to see the rain, although it took me an hour to get to work (it normally takes me 30 minutes) because it was coming down so hard! Our secretary got stuck on the 710 and came in 4 hours after her usual time of 7 am. Save the date: the AI Western Regional Conference will be held at the Sheraton at LAX November 20-22. Keep checking the AI website for more information. http://amnestyusa.org/events/regional- conferences/west [Coming soon: Agenda and Registration] Con Carino, Kathy RIGHTS READERS Human Rights Book Discussion Group Keep up with Rights Readers at http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com Next Rights Readers meeting: Sunday, Oct. 18, 6:30 PM Vroman's Bookstore 695 E. Colorado, Pasadena Redeployment: By Phil Klay BOOK REVIEW [The New York Times Sunday Book Review] By DEXTER FILKINS March 6, 2014 In "Redeployment," Phil Klay, a former Marine who served in Iraq, grapples with a different war but aims for a similar effect: showing us the myriad human manifestations that result from the collision of young, heavily armed Americans with a fractured and deeply foreign country that very few of them even remotely understand. Klay succeeds brilliantly, capturing on an intimate scale the ways in which the war in Iraq evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak. In Klay's hands, Iraq comes across not merely as a theater of war but as a laboratory for the human condition in extremis. "Redeployment" is hilarious, biting, whipsawing and sad. It's the best thing written so far on what the war did to people's souls. "Redeployment" is a collection of stories, each in a different voice, some of them set in Iraq - mostly in the woebegone towns of Anbar Province, where Klay served a tour as a public affairs officer - and some in the United States, after the various characters have come home. Each story calls forth a different dilemma or difficult moment, nearly all of them rendered with an exactitude that conveys precisely the push-me pull-you feelings the war evoked: pride, pity, elation and disgust, often pulsing through the same character simultaneously. The war in Iraq was a misbegotten venture, begun on bad intelligence and without a vision to guide the soldiers after they destroyed the state. Whatever else we did there, we didn't win. That dark strand winds its way through Klay's book; it's never called out and identified, but it gives each story, even the funny ones, an unsettling, sometimes nauseating, sensation of defeat and despair In one story, "Unless It's a Sucking Chest Wound," the narrator, a Marine home from Iraq and out of the service, enters New York University Law School and considers a career in low-paying public-interest jobs after graduation. His friends - bankers and lawyers - try to talk him out of it. " 'America is broken, man.' Paul took a swig of beer. 'Trust me, you don't want to be the guy bailing water out of a sinking ship.' " 'Iraq vet,' I said, pointing at my chest. 'Been there, done that.' " In Iraq we meet Bob, the self-satisfied private contractor who long ago discarded any higher purpose, who would rather preside over such inane projects as teaching beekeeping skills and Little League baseball to Iraqi villagers. That's not as far-fetched as it sounds: "Bob, I quickly learned, had an existential view of the Iraq war. We were fighting in Iraq because we were fighting in Iraq. His was not to reason why, his was but to receive a $250,000 salary with three paid vacations and little expectation of tangible accomplishments." Then there's Rodriguez, a Marine who visits his battalion's chaplain because he's worried that his company, in the murk and stress of fighting, has lost restraint, killing civilians and insurgents alike. He's got cause to worry. "The only thing I want to do is kill Iraqis," one lance corporal tells the chaplain. "That's it. Everything else is just, numb it until you can do something. Killing hajjis is the only thing that feels like doing something. Not just wasting time." Klay has a nearly perfect ear for the language of the grunts - the cursing, the cadence, the mixing of humor and hopelessness. They are among the best passages in the book, which, unfortunately, are unfit for a family newspaper. For me, the most powerful sections of "Redeployment" are the ones that reflect not on Iraq but on the United States, which the Marines begin to see, even when they are still deployed, as a place nearly as incomprehensible as the country they are fighting in. The soldiers may loathe Iraq - "months and months of awful," one character puts it - but their experiences have rendered them unable to go home again. "I have this sense that this place is holier than back home," one narrator, still in Iraq, says. "Gluttonous, fat, oversexed, overconsuming, materialist home, where we're too lazy to see our own faults. At least here, Rodriguez has the decency to worry about hell." Indeed, "Redeployment" is mostly about the American experience in Iraq, not the Iraqi one. (We can only hope that Iraqi literature about the war comes forth, too.) Here's a passage from the title story; the protagonist has come home to North Carolina after seven months: "So here's an experience. Your wife takes you shopping in Wilmington. Last time you walked down a city street, your Marine on point went down the side of the road, checking ahead and scanning the roofs across from him. The Marine behind him checks the windows on the top levels of the buildings, the Marine behind him gets the windows a little lower, and so on down until your guys have the street level covered, and the Marine in back has the rear. In a city there's a million places they can kill you from. It freaks you out at first. But you go through like you were trained, and it works. "In Wilmington, you don't have a squad, you don't have a battle buddy, you don't even have a weapon. You startle 10 times checking for it and it's not there. You're safe, so your alertness should be at white, but it's not. "Instead, you're stuck in an American Eagle Outfitters. Your wife gives you some clothes to try on and you walk into the tiny dressing room. You close the door, and you don't want to open it again." One of the great truths of the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan still) was that nearly all its burdens were endured by a tiny percentage of the population. There was no draft, no higher taxes. If you were in the military, you served - which means you deployed, again and again and again - while the rest of your countrymen carried on as though the nation were at peace. The men and women of "Redeployment" are mostly too young to be bitter yet, but it's not because they don't notice. "The weird thing with being a veteran, at least for me, is that you do feel better than most people," one of Klay's characters says. "You risked your life for something bigger than yourself. How many people can say that? You chose to serve. Maybe you didn't understand American foreign policy or why we were at war. Maybe you never will. But it doesn't matter. You held up your hand and said, 'I'm willing to die for these worthless civilians.' " [Dexter Filkins, a former Baghdad correspondent for The Times, is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of "The Forever War."] AUTHOR BIO Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq's Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His story "Redeployment" was originally published in Granta and is included in Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Granta, Tin House, and elsewhere. In 2014 Klay's short story collection Redeployment won the National Book Award for Fiction. He was also shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor Prize and named a National Book Foundation '5 Under 35? honoree. In 2015 he received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundations James Webb award for fiction dealing with U.S. Marines or Marine Corps life, the National Book Critics' Circle John Leonard Award for best debut work in any genre, the American Library Association's W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, and the Chautauqua Prize. SECURITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS By Robert Adams Mike Huckabee Thinks Guantanamo Detainees Get Better Treatment Than Kim Davis. Here's Why He's Completely Wrong. by Elizabeth Beavers, security with human rights policy and activism coordinator, AIUSA September 16, 2015 What do Kim Davis and the Guantanamo detainees have in common? Most people would rightfully answer "literally nothing" to that question, yet presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee compared them in an interview last week. Speaking to Fox News about his recent campaign on behalf of the county clerk refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Kentucky, Mr. Huckabee alleged that the Guantanamo detainees are receiving better religious accommodations than Ms. Davis. He described incredulously the "prayer mats" provided to the detainees and the "painted lines" in their cells pointing them to Mecca. It was almost as if Mr. Huckabee could not believe how pampered the Guantanamo detainees are to receive such benefits! Brushing aside Ms. Davis and the media circus surrounding her decisions, it appears Mr. Huckabee - and, quite frankly, most of the American public - is in need of a few reminders about Guantanamo and its detainees. It is ludicrous to suggest that the detainees are in any way treated too well. Instead, their very presence in the legal limbo that is Guantanamo means that their human rights are being violated. There seems to be some wide-reaching myth that if a man is in Guantanamo, it is necessarily because he participated in the attacks of September 11, or was picked up off a battlefield in the middle of causing harm to the United States, and has no rights. This is a very dangerous myth and must be corrected immediately. There are actually many different types of individuals at Guantanamo. Several have long been cleared to be transferred out of Guantanamo through reviews conducted by US national security agencies, yet they are still languishing behind bars at Guantanamo. There are detainees who have been charged through the system of the military commissions, which Amnesty International has repeatedly criticized. Their trials are heavily delayed or corrupted through insufficient procedures. Then there are detainees who have neither been charged, nor have they yet been cleared for transfer. None of these categories of detention are acceptable. There is no reason that those who have been cleared should still be locked up. A man named Shaker Aamer is in that category. The last British resident at Guantanamo, Mr. Aamer was first cleared by President Bush in 2007 and again under President Obama in 2009. Yet he's still behind bars in Guantanamo. Why? That's a good question. Unfortunately, no officials have provided a good answer for why Mr. Aamer or his fellow cleared detainees continue to languish in captivity. The military commission prosecutions similarly fail to respect human rights or achieve justice. To be sure, all those responsible for the crimes against humanity committed on September 11, 2001 should be brought to justice. But Guantanamo and the military commissions haven't - and can't - provide that justice. The fourteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks recently passed, yet the 9/11 trials haven't even started yet. The proceedings are paralyzed by inefficiency and pre-trial hearings keep getting canceled. This is an outrageous failure of justice. Those who lost loved ones in the attacks deserve to see such justice in their lifetime, but the military commission trials are unlikely to begin - much less conclude - for years to come. When they do take place, they will by design fail to meet international fair trial standards. Mustafa al-Hawsawi is one of the detainees facing charges in the military commissions, and, like many others, is a torture survivor. He was captured in March 2003, was transferred to Guantanamo in September 2006, and was subjected to secret CIA detention and interrogation in between. He was subjected to cold "water dousing" in a manner that may have been "indistinguishable" from the torture technique known as "water-boarding." The Senate report also found that he had been subjected to excessive force during rectal examination. He was later diagnosed with "chronic hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, and symptomatic rectal prolapse." He continues to receive inadequate medical care for his condition, and faces the possibility of the death penalty without a fair trial although he maintains his innocence. Perhaps the most disturbing situation at Guantanamo is the group of detainees who remain in Guantanamo indefinitely. The glacial pace of the clearance system has not yet made its way to these individuals, so they wait. What must life be like for this group? Hour by hour, day by day, year by year they plod through life inside the walls of Guantanamo, knowing they may die there. For anyone like Mike Huckabee who believes the detainees are being treated too well because they get prayer mats, think again. The people in Guantanamo are just that - people. They are humans with inherent rights by virtue of their humanity. This includes the right to a fair trial and the right to be free from torture, enforced disappearances and indefinite detention. Guantanamo fails on all these counts. Amnesty International USA continues to call upon the U.S. government to close the travesty that is Guantanamo. The government must either charge detainees and promptly prosecute them in federal court in compliance with international fair trial standards, or release them. For too long the U.S. government has practiced the policies of fear and abandoned its commitments to human rights in the name of security. But it is our rights which make us secure, and those rights should not die one more day in Guantanamo. DEATH PENALTY NEWS By Stevi Carroll Richard Glossip The end of July the Supreme Court of the US ruled, 5-4, in Glossip v Gross that Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol does not violate the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishment. This ruling set in motion the execution of Richard Glossip. On September 16 Sister Helen Prejean, former Senator Tom Coburn, and former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer along with thousands of other people were thrilled to learn that Mr. Glossip was granted a stay of execution with two hours to spare - until September 30. What is known is that Mr. Glossip did not murder his boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese, and that Justin Sneed did bludgeon Mr. Van Treese to death. In a plea bargain, Mr. Sneed received life without parole for the murder because he gave Mr. Glossip up for ordering the murder. Sister Prejean says that the jurors were not given evidence that Mr. Sneed gave contradictory accounts of what happened to the police in either his original trial or his retrial in 2004. James Clark, senior death penalty campaigner at Amnesty International, says that Mr. Glossip had inadequate representation at both of his hearings and that often inmates will have "top quality attorney teams and civil rights organizations behind them" as their executions draw near rather than at the early stages of their cases when the groundwork for their cases, and their possible convictions, are laid. O'Ryan Justine Sneed, Justin Sneed's daughter, has said her father's conscience bothers him and she has come to believe "...he [Glossip] is an innocent man [who] is sitting on death row. ... For a couple of years now, my father has been talking to me about recanting his original testimony, but he has been afraid to act upon it, in fear of being charged with the death penalty." While Sister Prejean and others find relief in Mr. Glossip's stay, Oklahoma City District Attorney David Prater believes the effort to save Mr. Glossip from execution is a "bullshit P.R. campaign." Glossip v. Gross went to the Supremes in response to executions that were not swift and did not seem to be painless. Since the state of Oklahoma realizes executions like Clayton Lockett's 43 minute ordeal that ended only when he died of a heart attack bring attention to their method of killing death row inmates, they have increased the dosage of midazolam to 500 milligrams in contrast to the 100 milligrams Mr. Lockett received. September 30 we and Mr. Glossip may witness the efficacy of this dosage. The Onion Of course, The Onion is a satirical publication, and of course, what they create is often completely ridiculous. In their video Ohio New Death Penalty Machine, they have reached new heights (or lows) to bring attention to the realities of State sanctioned murder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KGZis7RO4o Recent Exonerations Lewis Fogle State: PA Date of Exoneration: 9/14/2015 In 1982, Lewis Fogle was sentenced to life in prison for the 1976 rape and murder of a 15- year-old girl in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. He was exonerated in 2015 after DNA tests obtained by the Innocence Project and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project excluded Fogle and identified the DNA of an unknown male. Bobby Johnson State: CT Date of Exoneration: 9/4/2015 In 2007, 16-year-old Bobby Johnson falsely confessed to committing a murder in New Haven, Connecticut and was sentenced to 38 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2015 after the Connecticut Innocence Project found evidence concealed by police that identified the real killer. Ruddy Quezada State: NY Date of Exoneration: 8/31/2015 Ruddy Quezada was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 1993 for a drug-related murder in Brooklyn, New York. He was exonerated in 2015 after the real gunman was identified by federal prosecutors and the sole eyewitness recanted. Scott Lewis State: CT Date of Exoneration: 8/15/2015 In 1995, Scott Lewis was sentenced to 120 years in prison for a double murder in New Haven, Connecticut. He was exonerated in 2015 because the key prosecution witness falsely accused Lewis based on details fed to him by a corrupt police detective. Daniel Andersen State: IL Date of Exoneration: 8/13/2015 In 1982, Daniel Andersen was sentenced to 55 years in prison after falsely confessing to the attempted rape and murder of 20-year-old Cathy Trunko in Chicago. He was exonerated by DNA testing in 2015. Charles Pierre State: NY Date of Exoneration: 8/13/2015 In 2003, Charles Pierre was sentenced to 25 years to life in Rochester, New York for murdering two people and setting the house on fire. He was exonerated in 2015 after witnesses testified that a man who later committed a similar crime admitted to this one as well. http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/ Stays of Execution September 2 Joe Garza TX 3 Herbert Blakeney PA 16 Richard Glossip OK 17 Angelo Fears OH 17 William Montgomery OH 18 Rasheed Simpson PA 29 Perry Williams TX Execution September 1 Roderick Nunley MO Lethal Injection - 1drug GROUP 22 MONTHLY LETTER COUNT UAs 5 POC 17 Total 22 To add your letters to the total contact firstname.lastname@example.org PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE Narges Mohammadi By Alexi Daher and Joyce Wolf Group 22 has adopted a new Prisoner of Conscience, Narges Mohammadi from Iran. We are now committed to taking action for Narges every month. Group member Alexi Daher is our Case Coordinator for Narges. [Alexi is on travel this month, so Joyce is putting together this column.] Early in September, Alexi wrote the following: "After two months (or more!) of gathering, looking at case information and trying to get through to the right people during a busy summer, Group 22 finally got assigned a new prisoner of conscience on August 18th, 2015 (which was Larry's birthday). It's the case of Narges Mohammadi, (pronounced Nargues - with a gu sound like in google)." "You will find Narges Mohammadi's case very compelling; she is a journalist, a mother of two children, a member of a human rights organization that provides pro bono legal representation to political prisoners, and she is also an anti-death penalty activist. Narges Mohammadi's work has earned her prizes in several countries. She co-founded the CHRD's End Child Executions committee, as well as the National Peace Council, which aims to relax international tensions over Iran's nuclear policy and the Committee to Defend Free, Healthy and Fair Elections. At this time, Group 22 is the only group working on her case." "Our primary goal is to write letters for Narges' immediate and unconditional release, as a prisoner of conscience. Secondly, we need to appeal for all necessary and adequate medical treatment. Currently, Narges' health is very poor and she is not treated adequately. Proper medical treatment is a requirement in Iranian prisons. And finally we need to appeal on her behalf so she is allowed to communicate with her family." Alexi prepared pre-printed letters for our Letter Writing meeting on September 8. As you can see from the Monthly Letter Count above, we are off to a good start on our case work for Narges with 17 letters signed and mailed. We will have copies of this letter available at our upcoming meetings. We have a new POC page on the Group 22 website. Eventually I will put a link to it on our main page, but now you can go directly to it at http://www.its.caltech.edu/~aigp22/POC- Narges/Narges.html Here you can find a lot of background information about her, as well as updates and actions you can take, including sample letters. As Alexi said, Narges is experiencing severe medical problems which are not being treated adequately in prison. You can find a recent health update at http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/09/narges- mohammadi-health/ Alexi is arranging an action opportunity for us on Nov. 5 at the Skirball Museum event "Striving for Human Rights in Iran". More information about this event is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Striving- For-Human-Rights-in-Iran/661073593970632 Please join Group 22 in our efforts on behalf of Narges Mohammadi. Amnesty International Group 22 The Caltech Y Mail Code C1-128 Pasadena, CA 91125 www.its.caltech.edu/~aigp22/ http://rightsreaders.blogspot.com Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.