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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…

Six More Executions: IHR Calls for Urgent UN Mission to Iran

Early morning Tuesday August 9: Iranian authorities executed at least six prisoners in the West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran.

Iran Human Rights (AUG 9 2016): At least five prisoners, including political prisoner Mohammad Abdollahi, were executed at Darya, Urmia's central prison, on Tuesday August 9. One other prisoner was executed on the same day at Miandoab Prison. Last week, Iran Human Rights had reported on the execution of at least 20 Sunni prisoners who were sentenced to death in a court hearing that lasted only a few minutes. IHR also recently reported on the unsuspected execution of Shahram Amiri, who was reportedly sentenced to ten years in prison.

Iran Human Rights condemns the death penalty for any crime, and calls on the international community to react strongly and with urgency to the extrajudicial and summary executions carried out in Iran in recent weeks. "We call on the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to Iran to investigate the judicial process and the execution of at least 20 Sunni prisoners, Shahram Amiri, and Mohammad Abdollahi," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

At least five prisoners at Urmia's central prison were executed on Tuesday August 9. At least four of them were hanged on drug charges, and one of them was Mohammad Abdollahi, a political prisoner who was sentenced to death for Moharebeh (enmity against God). Mohammad Abdollahi was reportedly not involved in any armed or violent acts and was charged with Moharebeh solely based on accusation that he was a "supporter of a Kurdish opposition group". These prisoners were reportedly among a group of seven who were transferred to solitary confinement on Monday Augst 8 in preparation for their executions. Among the prisoners in solitary confinement was a woman identified as Parisa Hatami. Her execution sentence and one other prisoner's were reportedly not carried out for unknown reasons. The Kurdistan Human Rights Network identifies the four prisoners who were executed on drug charges as Seyed Jahangir Razavizadeh, Jebreal Kanani, Kamran Pouraft, and Amir Azizi.

Mohammad Abdollahi, 35, was sentenced to death by branch 1 of the Mahabad Revolutionary Court, and his death sentence was confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court. His sentence was sent officially for implentation in spring 2014 by the Execution of Sentences Circuit in Mahabad (West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran). "The bodies of four prisoners who were executed along with Mohammad were returned to their families, but we have not yet received Mohammad's body," a source close to Mohammad Abdollahi tells Iran Human Rights.

Also on Tuesday August 9, a prisoner was reportedly hanged at Miandoab Prison (West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran) on drug related charges. Close sources have identified the prisoner as Younes Teymouri, 31.

"The recent extrajudicial and summary executions, which are being carried out at the same time a human rights dialogue takes place between Iranian authorities and the European Union, pose a challenge to the international community's tolerance for executions in Iran. The lack of an immediate and strong reaction from the international community, especially the EU, may put the thousands of death row prisoners in Iran at imminent risk of execution," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

According to reports by Iran Human Rights, in the span of one month, Iranian authorities have executed 94 people; 42 of these executions were announced by official Iranian media.

Source: Iran Human Rights, August 9, 2016

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