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“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Iran: a Baluchi cultural and civil rights activist executed

Ya’qoub Mehrnehad, a Baluchi cultural and civil rights activist, was executed on 4 August after his death sentence was approved by Iran’s prosecutor-general.

Ya’qoub Mehrnehad was sentenced to death in February 2008 after an unfair trial. Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi, confirmed the sentence at a press conference on 19 February and stated that Ya’qoub Mehrnehad had been sentenced to death for “contacts with the Jondallah group”, and that the sentence was open to appeal before the Supreme Court.

Zahedan’s Public and Revolution Prosecutor Office had announced that Ya’qoub Mehrnehad was considered to be a member of Jondallah, also known as the Iranian Peoples’ Resistance Movement, and aiding Abdolmalek Rigi, the head of a Baluchi armed group. They were then charged with mohareb (enmity with God), and mofsed fi’l arz (corruption on earth).

Ya’qoub Mehrnehad’s arrest, in May 2007, is believed to have been in connection to his work as a journalist and his activities as head of a registered NGO, The Voice of Justice Young People’s Society, which organizes events and educational courses for young Baluchi people and raises funds to help the poor.

In a meeting with his family Ya’qoub Mehrnehad said, “I am not guilty and this has happened unjustly and if I am executed, people will know that I have been executed without [having committed] a crime.”

Source: Amnesty International

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