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

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…

IHR Concerned about Protesters Being Threatened to Receive the Heaviest Sentence

Iran protests
Iran Human Rights (Jan 9 2018): The Deputy Head of the Judiciary, Hamid Shahriari, talked about punishing and issuing the heaviest sentence for those he called “rioters and riot leaders”. It seems that by “the heaviest sentence” he means sentencing some of the detainees to death.

In an interview with Fars News Agency, Hamid Shahriari said, “The rioters, riot leaders, and those who organized and led the recent riots will be punished severely and they will receive the heaviest sentence.”

He added, "I don’t know the exact number of the rioters and agitators who have been arrested, but all of the riot leaders have been found and arrested.”

It seems that what the Deputy Head of the Judiciary means by “heaviest sentence” for some of the detainees of the recent protests is death sentence. This increases the risk of death sentence for the detainees, most of whom were just arrested for using their right to freedom of speech. There is also the risk that those detainees might be deprived of a fair trial and be mistreated or even tortured during their detention and interrogation.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) calls on the European Union to warn the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, about the possible execution of the protesters during his coming visit in Brussels this week.

Source: Iran Human Rights, January 9, 2018

Iran: Death of a Second Arrested Protester Confirmed

Vahid Heidari
Iran Human Rights (Jan 9 2018): The death of Vahid Heidari, one of the arrested protesters, was confirmed while the official sources had originally announced him as a drug dealer who had committed suicide.

According to a close source, Vahid Heidari, a vendor from Tekyeh Valley in Shazand, Arak, was arrested by the police during the recent protests in Arak on December 31. Vahid’s family was informed about his suicide and they were asked to take his body on Saturday January 6.

However, the authorities did not deliver the body and made them bury him in a pre-specified grave in Arak.

“Those who saw the body noticed a fracture on the left side of his skull and a bump on his head that could be caused by a baton’s blow to his head. They determined the burial place and didn’t deliver any reports including forensics reports to the victim's family. There has been no explanation so far and the family does not know anything else,” said Mohammad Najafi, lawyer in Arak, to Iran Human Rights (IHR).

He added, “Many of the families of the detainees in Arak have also reported severe injuries of them but it’s not obvious which department is responsible for the beatings.”

“Vahid was a vendor at Arak’s bazar, he was neither a junkie nor a drug dealer. It wasn’t about drug dealing, the authorities are lying. Vahid was arrested because he was protesting over the high cost of living,” said Vahid Heidari’s uncle to Iran Human Rights (IHR).

On January 6, the Social Deputy Commander of Police Department of Markazi Province, Mahmood Khalaji, had announced that Vahid Heidari was a drug dealer who was arrested by the police and committed suicide in the detention center.

This is the second detainee from the recent protests whose death in detention center has been confirmed. The death of Sina Qanbari, 23, in the quarantine ward of Evin prison had earlier been published and confirmed by the authorities.

The violent actions, beatings, and tortures of the arrested protesters and the reports that have been published so far are very similar to the events that occured in Kahrizak in 2009 which is giving serious cause for concern to Human Rights institutions.

Yesterday Iran Human Rights (IHR) demanded a special fact-finding committee from the United Nations for investigation of the condition of the detainees and finding the truth about the death of dozens of protesters and those responsible for the killings.

Latest news, Tuesday January 9, 4:30 pm, Tehran

In his interview with Mizan Online News Agency, the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Arak, Qasemi, confirmed the death of a detainee from the recent protests and claimed that he committed suicide.

Source: Iran Human Rights, January 9, 2018

Iran's Internet Shutdown

NCRI - The Iranian regime’s authorities heavily restricted the internet in an attempt to quell the anti-regime protests but the Iranian people have been evading the censorship through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

When the regime’s Supreme National Security Council first slowed down internet speeds, shut down certain applications, and even shut down the VPNs that Iranians have used for years to evade restrictions, tech entrepreneur M. Nouri was set back and his company, which employs 15 people, was heavily affected.

He said: “We weren’t able to communicate to our users and we lost payments.”

Still, it only took him three days to find a different server to host his mobile app design company and get his business up and running again.

Others who have seen their businesses affected by the crackdown have not been so lucky, such as the ride-hailing app Snapp and thousands of small businesses that make handmade items.

Some people are worried that despite some people being able to evade restrictions that the Regime has the upper hand.

A. Rashidi, an internet security researcher, said: “It’s really hard to get around it. Almost all of the circumvention tools are blocked and the Iranian government is doing whatever they can do to block it.”

He continued: “It wasn’t this bad in 2009. I’m not able to talk to my family on some days over the internet.”

Even Silicon Valley companies are reluctant to advocate for free and fair internet in Iran, because of economic sanctions according to Collin Anderson, an independent researcher on internet policy.

He said: “There is a lost opportunity for enabling a free flow of information in Iran because tech companies have made overly conservative decisions with how they will comply with U.S. sanctions.”


The protests began on December 28, over high unemployment and a steep rise in living costs in Iran’s second-largest city Mashhad, but soon grew into a broad anti-regime protest.

Now in its second week, these are the largest protests since the 2009 Green Movement over the rigged presidential election. At least 50 people have died in clashes with the Regime, and 1,000 have been imprisoned and are facing the death penalty.

In order to stop the protesters from communicating, the Regime shut down Telegram and Instagram, slowed down internet speeds, and even cut off the internet altogether. It is a tactic often used by the Regime to stop popular revolt against them.

Every time that the Regime attempts to censor the internet, the Iranian people just get better at evading the sanctions.

Source: Los Angeles Times (via NCRI), January 9, 2018

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