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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Iran regime continues its spate of brutal hangings

Public hanging in Iran
Public hanging in Iran (file photo)
NCRI - Iran's fundamentalist regime on Tuesday, May 3, hanged two prisoners in the north-western city of Ardebil.

The regime’s judiciary in Ardebil Province said the two unnamed prisoners were hanged in Ardebil Central Prison earlier in the day.

Separately, the mullahs’ regime hanged two young prisoners earlier this week in the north-eastern city of Mashhad.

The unnamed prisoners, aged 25 and 28, were hanged at dawn on Sunday, May 1 in Mashhad Central Prison. The 28-year-old prisoner was only identified by his initial A.

The regime's judiciary in Hamedan Province, western Iran, said that the authorities have hanged a prisoner, identified only by the initials M. R., in Nahavand's central prison.

On Monday there were reports that three death-row prisoners in Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, and one death-row prisoner in Greater Tehran Prison (Fashafouye Prison) were transferred to solitary confinement in Qezelhesar's Ward 1 in preparation for their imminent execution.

They were identified as Ahmad al-Tafi, Abdolhamid Baqeri, Majid Imani, and Reza Hosseini.

The hangings bring to at least 57 the number of people executed in Iran since April 10. Three of those executed were women and one is believed to have been a juvenile offender.

Commenting last week on the recent spike in the rate of executions in Iran, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said: “In the month of April, during and after visits to Iran by the Prime Minister of Italy and the EU foreign policy chief dozens of people have been executed in Iran.”

Iran welcomes foreign investors while accelerating mass and public executions.
Iran welcomes foreign investors while
accelerating mass and public executions.
“The increasing trend of executions indicates that the visits of senior European officials to Iran not only have failed to improve the human rights situation; rather, they have given a message of silence and inaction to the mullahs. This has emboldened the clerical regime in stepping up executions and suppressing the Iranian people. This is the regime that has been the record holder of executions per capita globally in 2015. This bitter reality is not an issue of pride for any of the guests of the religious fascism,” he added.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a statement on April 13 that the increasing trend of executions “aimed at intensifying the climate of terror to rein in expanding protests by various strata of the society, especially at a time of visits by high-ranking European officials, demonstrates that the claim of moderation is nothing but an illusion for this medieval regime.”

Ms. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was in Tehran on April 16 along with seven EU commissioners for discussions with the regime’s officials on trade and other areas of cooperation.

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,300 executions during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of “God’s commandments” and “laws of the parliament that belong to the people.”

Source: NCRI, May 3, 2016

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