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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: Three Ahwazi Arab Prisoners Executed

Ghais Obidawi, 25 at time of arrest; Ahmad Obidawi, 20 at time of arrest; and Sajjad Balawi.
An Iranian official source has confirmed the execution of three young Ahwazi Arab men from the province of Khuzestan (western Iran).

Iran Human Rights (AUG 17 2016): The Iranian state-run news agency, YJC (Young Journalists Club), quoting the public relations department of the Khuzestan Judiciary, has identified the prisoners as: Ghais Obidawi, 25 at time of arrest; Ahmad Obidawi, 20 at time of arrest; and Sajjad Balawi. 

According to the report, the executions were carried out by Iranian authorities on the morning of Wednesday August 17. Iranian authorities did not announce the location of their executions, but Farhad Afsharian, the head of the Khuzestan Judiciary, had previously told official Iranian media that the executions would likely be carried out in public in the city of Hamidiyeh (Khuzestan province).

"These three people carried out several operations in spring 2015 that resulted in the martyrdom of three police force personnel. Also, they created fear and terror by destroying the seismological center in the Hamidiyeh region, attacking pilgrims, and engaging in terrorist acts," said Amanat Behbahani, an official in the Khuzestan Judiciary. According to unofficial local sources, neither the families or the lawyers were informed about the scheduled executions.

"These three Ahwazi Arab prisoners are victims of the Iranian government's systematic repression in the ethnic regions of Iran. We call on the international community to draw more attention and show strong reaction to the arbitrary executions in Iran, especially the executions carried out in the ethnic regions this month," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

In late June of this year, Iran's Judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Eje'i, issued various statements confirming the execution sentences for these three prisoners and claimed they murdered five people.

Ghais, Ahmad, and Sajjad were reportedly sentenced to death after they were unlawfully arrested and subjected to a nontransparent trial. 

They were among 20 people who were arrested by Iranian authorities after bullets were shot at a tent belonging to Iranian security guards inside. 

Most of the detainees were eventually released, but the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court sentenced three of the defendants to death and four others to long prison terms. 

Their sentences were confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court.

Source: Iran Human Rights, August 18, 2016

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