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Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

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Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

Bangladesh Official Says Islamist Party Leader Executed

Bangladesh authorities on Saturday executed a top Islamist party leader convicted of war crimes involving the nation's 1971 independence war against Pakistan, officials said.

Proshanto Kumar Bonik, a senior jail superintendent, said Mir Quasem Ali, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at 10:30 p.m. (local time), hours after several dozen family members and relatives met him for the last time inside Kashimpur Central Jail near the capital, Dhaka.

"We are doing our necessary formalities now. We will send the body soon to the ancestral home in Manikganj district for burial," Bonik said after the execution.

Immediately after the execution, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said security measures would be put in place to prevent unrest by Ali's supporters.

Authorities deployed para-military border guards and additional police in Dhaka and other cities late Saturday.

The Jamaat-e-Islami party in a statement late Saturday protested Ali's execution and called for an 8-hour general strike beginning Monday morning.

The execution took place a day after Ali refused to seek presidential clemency. It was his last chance to seek mercy. The president had previously rejected appeals for clemency by other Islamist party leaders facing execution.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal for reviewing Ali's death sentence handed out by a special tribunal 2 years ago.

After the Supreme Court ruling, the Jamaat-e-Islami party called for a daylong general strike across the country last Wednesday, but got little response.

A special tribunal dealing with war crimes sentenced Ali to death in November 2014 for abduction, torture and murder.

The 63-year-old Ali was a member of Jamaat-e-Islami's highest policy-making body. He was found guilty on 8 charges, 2 of which carried the death sentence, including the abduction and murder of a young man in a torture chamber. Ali was sentenced to 72 years in prison on the other charges.

Ali built his fortune by establishing businesses from real estate to shipping to banking, and he was considered one of the party's top financiers.

Ali is the 5th Jamaat-e-Islami party leader to be executed since 2010 when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formed the special tribunal to try suspected war criminals. Also executed was a close aide of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Jamaat-e-Islami is a key partner of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the opposition against Hasina.

Hasina's government says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women in the 1971 independence war.

Jamaat-e-Islami, which had openly campaigned against independence, has denied committing atrocities.

Hasina has called the special tribunal trials a long overdue effort to obtain justice for the victims of war crimes, 4 decades after Bangladesh split from Pakistan. Her government has rejected criticism from abroad that the trial process did not meet international standards.

The international human rights group Amnesty International noted that the United Nations had raised questions about the fairness of the trials of Ali and other Islamist party leaders.

"There is no question that the people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence, but the death penalty is a human rights violation and will not achieve this. It is a cruel and irreversible punishment that most of the world's countries have now rid themselves of," said Champa Patel, Amnesty International's South Asia Director, in a statement released Saturday.

Source: Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2016

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