[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Apr 24 10:36:52 CDT 2012
After 19 Months in Solitary, Death Row Inmate Finally Indicted
Kurdish political prisoner Behrouz Alakhani, currently being held in Orumiyeh
Detention Center, is spending his nineteenth month in solitary confinemen. A
local source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that
Alakhani has been sentenced to death for “cooperating with PJAK” and
“participating in the murder of the Khoy Prosecutor.”
The source also told the Campaign that Alakhani, a 26-year-old Kurdish citizen
of Salmas, is in grave condition and has been detained in Salmas, Khoy and
Orumiyeh detention centers.
According to the source, Alakhani has been subjected to the most severe
psychological and physical torture. During this time, despite his family’s
appeal to Salmas and Orumiyeh judicial and security organizations, no responses
have been provided to them about Alakhani.
“After 19 months, this young Kurdish man was transferred to Orumiyeh Central
Prison. Because the political prisoner was in a poor psychological shape and
evidence of torture was visible on his body, on orders from Orumiyeh
Intelligence Office, he was transferred to the ward where drug-related
criminals are kept,” said the local human rights source.
Authorities have prohibited Alakhani from telephone contact with his family and
he has only been able to see his family once a month in the presence of
security forces. “After near 20 months [in prison], the Prosecutor for Orumiyeh
General and Revolutionary Courts indicted him on charges of ‘cooperating with
The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK),’ and ‘participation in the murder
of Khoy Prosecutor’ and he was put on trial at Branch One of Orumiyeh
Revolutionary Court. But due to his lack of mental balance and upon request by
his court-appointed lawyer, his trial was delayed for several weeks.”
According the source, Behrouz Alakhani was detained in the Salmas Intelligence
Office Detention Center immediately after his arrest. Two days later,
authorities transferred him to Orumiyeh Intelligence Office Detention Center.
On the third day of his arrest, security forces stormed the Kurdish citizen’s
home and after searching the premises took several of his personal items with
The source told the Campaign that Alakhani’s original charges were “cooperating
with PJAK.” After being interrogated for several months, he was additionally
charged with “participating in the murder of Khoy Prosecutor.”
“During all phases of the interrogations, this Kurdish political prisoner
refuted the charge of participating in the murder of Khoy Prosecutor,” said the
“The judge, however, found the defendant guilty of ‘participating in the
murder’ and issued a death sentence against him based only on his own
understanding and knowledge and testimony of a friend of this political
prisoner, who has described him as “worried and anxious” on the night of the
murder. Behrouz Alakhani’s case is now pending final ruling in the Supreme
Court,” the source added.
“Eventually, on 14 October 2011, during a minutes-long trial session in the
presence of a court-appointed lawyer, the Prosecutor’s representative, and a
representative from Orumiyeh Intelligence office, he was sentenced to death on
charges of ‘moharebeh (enmity with God) through effective cooperation with PJAK
and participation in the murder of Khoy Prosecutor.’ In a separate case for
‘possession of a rifle’ that never existed, he was also sentenced to an
additional 10 years in prison. After his court-appointed lawyer appealed the
decision, the case has been forwarded to the Supreme Court. This political
prisoner’s health conditions are reported as serious and due to the sensitivity
of his case, prison authorities have refused to transfer him to a hospital
outside the prison,” the source told the Campaign.
Eyewitnesses told the local source that after his arrest, security forces had
closed down the streets leading to Alakhani’s house for several hours, causing
fear and intimidation in the neighborhood.
(source: Iran Human Rights)
Outlaw death penalty — Amnesty
International human rights body Amnesty International (AI) Zimbabwe has
challenged leaders of Zimbabwe’s 3 main political parties to outlaw the death
penalty in the new constitution, saying capital punishment violated the right
In an open letter to President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and Welshman Ncube, AI Zimbabwe executive director Cousin Zilala said the death
penalty should not be included in the new governance charter currently being
“Amnesty International is urging party leaders in the inclusive government to
provide leadership in shaping a new constitution that seeks to remove Zimbabwe
from the ever-diminishing number of countries left in the world that apply the
death penalty for all offences,” said Zilala.
“We challenge you as the leaders of Zanu PF and the 2 MDCs, whose parties are
charged with coming up with a new constitution, to do the honourable thing and
rest the spirits of Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi and others who were victims of
this inhuman and degrading form of punishment. This is no time for excuses.”
Zilala said the adoption of a new constitution provided Zimbabwe with an
opportunity to improve its human rights record, to mark itself out as a
progressive nation within the region and to align itself with the global trend
towards abolishing the death penalty.
“Removing the death penalty from the new constitution will be a decisive step
in removing one of the shackles left over from that period,” he said.
Zilala said the constitution-making Copac’s decision to restrict the death
penalty to aggravated murder was not enough as the restriction retained the
status quo for those currently on death row.
Advocate for abolition of death penalty gives stirring talk at Guelph gathering
Faith must be lived and shared.
Spoken fervently and affectionately in a Louisianan twang, that was the alpha
and omega idea of a stirring presentation by renowned author and spiritual
guide Sister Helen Prejean Monday in the city.
Prejean is best known as the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account
of the Death Penalty in the United States, which became an Academy Award
winning film starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon in 1995. Prejean is a
leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.
Prejean agreed to be the spiritual adviser to convicted killers Patrick Sonnier
and Robert Lee Willie in the 1980s — coming to realize that neither man was
“the sum total of the worst thing they had ever done,” but were instead capable
of faith, honesty and redemption. Both died on the electric chair.
Prejean said after witnessing Sonnier’s death in 1984 she first vomited, then
she resolved to fight for the abolition of the death penalty in the United
States. She has not relented from that commitment since.
Speaking to a gathering of hundreds of Wellington District Catholic School
Board teachers and staff members assembled for the annual Spiritual Development
Day, Prejean’s eloquent and moving stories of the death row inmates she
befriended, prayed with, and walked with to their deaths, garnered tears,
laughs, gasps, and a standing ovation.
Prejean, 73, is a nun, devoted to a life of spiritual service — a life of
living the example set by Jesus Christ. But for the first years of her life as
a nun, she freely admitted, she was asleep spiritually, unmoved by grace,
unmoved by the suffering of the poor and oppressed.
“I was not awake, and when you’re not awake, you’re not awake,” she said. We
cannot enlighten ourselves, she said. We must be graced with enlightenment.
A person of faith, she said, is in a constant state of self-questioning,
because faith is a moving, changing reality. And, she said jokingly, “God is
sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.” There is no telling when the spark of grace will
enter, or the path of service it will take you down.
“What more could I do? How can I go deeper? How could I be happier?” she said.
“There is all of this questioning of the spirit. Will I ever know Jesus, really
know Him and live the Gospel of Jesus before I die?”
These, she said, are the endless questions of a life of faith, and there is
great value in sharing this search, and these questions with others in our
faith communities, because all ask the same questions and all are together in
the same search.
“Search is just part of being human,” she said. “And when we come together in
groups like this, we blow on the coals of our faith and stir to flame, as St.
Paul says, the gift of God.”
In her early days as a nun, Prejean knew 3 chords on a guitar. She brought the
entire crowd to laughter when she mimicked her butchery of the Bob Dylan song
Blowing in the Wind. But that, she said, was as close as she came to the civil
She grew up in the south, where the segregation of blacks and whites was a
cultural phenomenon that few questioned. Culture is a very strong force in
people’s lives, she said.
When her faith was awakened, only then did she question the racism of the south
— only then did she truly see that 50 per cent of the population of Baton
Rouge, where she grew up, were poor people. And only then did she embrace
Christ’s urging that His followers must be “on the side of the poor.”
Inspired by a talk by a fellow nun, she suddenly woke up spiritually,
attributing her renewal of faith, and her resolve to serve the poor and
condemned wholeheartedly, to the infusion of grace that entered her heart when
it was open.
That moment grace changed the “spiritual trajectory” of her life. She was soon
steered into a challenging service as a friend to criminals condemned to death
— service that would test her faith and change her life. She became an
In America, and increasingly in Canada, Prejean said, we deal with our poor by
putting them in prison. North America’s “tough on crime” policies have been
particularly tough on the underprivileged and the young.
Such policies are not true to the gospels of Jesus, she indicated, but are
often justified with Old Testament teachings. Once during a radio talk show, a
caller challenged Prejean’s stance on capital punishment by quoting “an eye for
an eye” from the Hebrew Bible. She countered by saying the Old Testament also
calls for death by stoning for adultery. Did the caller want that enforced as
The idea of retribution, of getting even, runs deep in the human psyche, she
indicated. Jesus abrogated such practices and called for mercy and forgiveness
in their place. The death penalty would be abolished in the U.S. if the
teachings of Christ were truly followed. Instead “the Bible-belt is the
death-belt” in the southern states.
“There is a great need for Biblical literacy,” she said, pointing out that a
recent study showed that 10 per cent of Americans believe that Joan of Arc was
Don Drone, director of education for the Wellington District Catholic School
Board, said the power of Prejean’s presentation resided in the stories she told
and was rooted in her firsthand experience with death-row prisoners.
The themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, and how those related to the life
of Jesus, he said, where central subjects of discussion at Spiritual
Development Day. He found Prejean’s ideas about being courageous in faith
“As humans we have all experienced not stepping up when we should have,” Drone
said. “We try to do that by way of social justice, and obviously by talking to
students about doing the right thing.”
(source: Guelph Mercury)
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