Amnesty International
U. S. Group 55
Wheaton, Illinois

Amnesty International is an independent worldwide human rights movement which seeks the release of those detained anywhere for their beliefs, color, sex, ethnic origin, language or religion, provided that they have not used or advocated violence.  We oppose the use of torture and the death penalty without reservation.

Meeting Time & Place

Please contact the email address at the bottom of the page to find out when and where our next meeting will take place. 

The members of Amnesty International are a diverse group united by their concern for human rights.  We need people who can squeeze just a wee bit more out of their already very busy lives to work on behalf of human rights.  All are welcome.

Our newest Individuals at Risk

Hnin May Aung,
physics student now approximately 31 years old, (sentenced to 42 years) was arrested in 1998. She was alleged to have taken part in or organized small-scale demonstrations of between 150 and 500 students which took place during August and September of 1998 and to have distributed leaflets about student concerns calling for improvements to the educational system in Myanmar, and for the release of political prisoners. We are concerned that she was sentenced following an unfair trial and may have been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment in detention and is suffering from health problems. We call for her immediate and unconditional release.

Ko Aye Aung,  also known as Aye Aung, was student at the Distance Education University (Dagon University) at the time of his arrest. He was arrested on the 14th of September 1998 in Yangon (Rangoon). At that time he was a second year Physics student and  is believed to have been a leading member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). ABFSU has been at the forefront of peaceful anti-government protests since 1988.

Ko Aye Aung was initially given a sentence of 14 years imprisonment, but this has subsequently been extended to 24 years. He had been arrested along with Myo Min Zaw, who was given a sentence of 52 years. Ko Aye Aung is being held at Kalay Prison, Sagaing Province, with eight other political prisoners and is believed to have been tortured. He is suffering from malaria and, possibly, typhoid. It is reported that his exercise period has been moved to the hottest time of day, and he is being denied access to religious books.

Ko Aye Aung is considered by Amnesty International to be a Prisoner of Conscience detained solely because of the non-violent expression of his beliefs. He has not used or advocated violence.

In a report issued in September, 2005, Amnesty International detailed reports of tens of thousands ethnic minorities in Myanmar being forced by the armed forces into forced labor, subjected to beatings and land confiscations. One in six people are reported to suffer from inadequate nutrition with malnourishment found in a third of the children. Hundreds of thousands have been forced migrate to neighboring countries. Myanmar has been a military dictatorship for decades. Its human rights record has been horrendous. The pro democracy movement that sprang up throughout Myanmar in the late 1980's and early 1990's has been violently crushed by the dictatorship. The military junta, which now calls itself the State Peace and Development Council, has refused to accept the results of the national elections of 1990 which gave a landslide victory to Nobel Laureate Anug San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and has refused to give up power.

Please write letters to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Ko Aye Aung to:

Senior General Than Shwe
State Peace and Development Council
c/o Embassy of  the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Salutation: Dear General
Most of you are in the U.S. and should send a copy to Myanmar's embassy in D.C.  Direct it to:
U Han Thu
Charge d'affaires ad interim
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

U Than Aung
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education
c/o Embassy of  the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW
Washington, DC 20008

Please write or type the name Burma in parentheses next to Union of Myanmar on the address on the envelope, but not IN the letter itself.  This is for the benefit of the U.S. Postal Service for whom the name Myanmar does not exist.

Note: The capital of Myanmar was moved by the military junta some 200 miles north of the old capital of Yangon (Rangoon) to a place called Naypyitaw. It is a place with little in the way of existing infrastructure. The new addresses of the government offices are still uncertain so please write to the officials in care of their embassy in Washington, DC. Hopefully the letters will be forwarded by their embassy to the proper destinations. This also has the advantage of cheaper postage as well.


Our Ethiopian Prisoner of Conscience Amha-Yesus Gebre-Yohannes Released!

We have gotten a report February 2006  that Amha-Yesus Gebre-Yohannes of Ethiopia has been released.  Thank you for all of you who helped us in this effort. Please continue helping us with our efforts in Myanmar.

MAMUNAL-HUMSI and other prisoners of conscience in Syria were reported to be RELEASED on January 18, 2006. Mr. al-Humsi, featured in AIUSA's Special Focus Case project since 2002, was reported to be released from prison along with Riad Seif, Habib ‘Isa, Fawwaz Tello and Walid al-Bunni. Each of the men had participated in peaceful calls for reforms in Syria following the election of Syria's current president,Bashar al-Assad but were soon arrested afterwards.


Our previous prisoner in Myanmar was RELEASED!

On 19 November 2001, we were informed that our prisoner, Thiha Thu of Myanmar (Burma) , was released from prison along with Soe Mynint and Pyi Soe.  We have no further details at the moment but this is wonderful news.  Thank you to all of you who have helped in this effort of many years.  I'm sure that your letters on his behalf have helped.  More details will be provided when they become available.

For the last several years, A. I. U. S. Group 55 had been working on a case involving the arrest and imprisonment of, a physics student, Thiha Thu of Myanmar (previously known as Burma).   He was arrested in December 1991 for taking part in the demonstrations calling for the transfer of power from military to civilian authorities, and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi (awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991) and other political prisoners.  He had been jailed since that time.  We had been  trying to gain his release. 

Death Penalty Abolition

A.I. U. S. Group 55 is actively engaged in the abolition of the death penalty.

18th Illinois Death Row Prisoner Released! Gordon Randall Steidl, 52, convicted in Illinois killings goes free after 17 years in prison! He became the 18th person since Illinois reinstated the death penalty in 1977 to be freed because of a questionable conviction after serving time on death row. He was convicted of killing Dyke and Karen Rhoads in Paris, Illinois. They were stabbed to death and their home was set ablaze in 1986. His death sentence was later reduced to life in prison without parole in 1999, but the conviction still stood. Months of fresh investigations including DNA testing were begun last June when a federal judge ruled it was "reasonably probable" that Steidl would have been acquitted if his defense attorney had done more to challenge the state's case. Also, since the conviction in 1987, the prosecution witness has recanted. Another defendant, Herbert Whitlock, was also convicted of killing Karen Rhoads and is serving a life sentence. He, too, has maintained his innocence.
AIUSA launched a global campaign focused on abolishing the death penalty for all child offenders – those who were under 18 at the time of their crime. Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia have executed juvenile offenders since the death penalty was reinstated in the US in 1976. Since 1977, Texas has executed 13 juvenile offenders.

The laws of Texas prohibit the use of pancuronium bromide to kill dogs and other animals. The reason for this prohibition is due to the pain and suffering that it can induce when used. In Texas where it was first used and in 35 other states in the United States, pancuronium bromide is used in conjunction with other drugs to carry out the death penalty sentence. Although the protocol for lethal injection of condemned prisoners has been in used since 1982, the procedure has never been closely scrutinized. What is known is that there are cases where things went horribly wrong during medical procedures involving pancuronium bromide. Surgical patients injected with pancuronium bromide have been known to awaken during operations. These patients were awake but totally unable to indicate their suffering of excruciating pain because of the paralyzing effects of that drug. The standard method used in lethal injection is to first administer intravenously a normal saline solution. It is followed by a lethal dose of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic. The fast acting anesthetic is followed by the injection of the pancuronium bromide which paralyzes the muscle system and thereby interrupts breathing. The final drug administered is potassium chloride to stop the heart. Because of the paralyzing effects, there is no way to know if the condemned person is awake, in pain and is suffering while the pancuronium bromide is taking effect but before death. (For more details, please consult the 21 January 2004 edition of the Chicago Tribune, page 8 of Section 1, for the article written by the Tribune senior correspondent Howard Witt.)


Contact Us

Any questions or comments about A. I. U. S. Group 55 or this home page should be sent to us by e-mail (mention A.I. in subject or your message may not be trashed as spam without opening) to :

 Amnesty International U. S. Group 55

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough good people to do nothing."
(seen on an Amnesty International T-shirt)

Last update: 18 Oct 2010