FEATURED POST

Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

Image
"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

Japan: Aum spinoffs persist two decades after sarin attack

Cult leader Shoko Asahara, seen here in 1995.
TOKYO - More than two decades after Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult plunged Tokyo into terror by releasing a nerve agent on rush-hour subway trains, its spinoffs continue to attract new followers.

Cult head Shoko Asahara is on death row, along with 12 of his disciples, for crimes including the subway attack, which killed 13 people and injured thousands.

He was arrested in 1995 in the wake of the sarin attack, but the Aum cult survived the crackdown, renaming itself Aleph and drawing new recruits into its fold.

Aleph officially renounced ties to Asahara in 2000, but the doomsday guru retains significant influence, according to Japan's Public Security Intelligence Agency.

"It (Aleph) is a group that firmly instructs its followers to see Asahara as the supreme being," an agency investigator told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"If someone says 'guru Asahara wants to bring down Japan', there would be followers who would act. The group poses such a potential danger," he said.

Raids on Aleph facilities have found recordings of his teachings as well as a device used by the Aum cult known as a "Perfect Salvation Initiation", a type of headgear that emits weak electric currents which members believe connects them to Asahara's brainwaves.

Aleph and other splinter groups, which deny links to Asahara despite the claims of authorities, have 1,650 members in Japan and hundreds more in Russia, according to the Public Security Intelligence Agency.

It says the groups attract around 100 new followers annually via yoga classes, fortune-telling and other activities that do not mention the cult's name, often targeting young people who do not remember the 1995 subway attack.

"Young female followers go to 'training' places with their children... We are worried there is an increasing number of children who have been inculcated by the Aum since they were very young," the investigator said.

Asahara and his wife Tomoko had four daughters and two sons, and most of the family remains within the cult.

One daughter who left in 2006, aged 16, has described horrifying ordeals during her childhood, including being forced to eat food with ceramic shards in it and being left in the cold in little clothing.

"It was an environment unthinkable in modern-day Japan. I was afraid I would be killed if I rebelled, so I felt tense, as if I were on a battleground, for 16 years," she said in a statement last year.

"I strongly hope no more children will grow up in the Aum's successor groups."

In early March, on Asahara's 63rd birthday, investigators were keeping their usual close eye on the headquarters of an Aum splinter group in a quiet Tokyo residential area.

"We are not marking the day in any way," said Akitoshi Hirosue, deputy head of the Hikarinowa (The Circle of Rainbow Light) group.

"We actually think Asahara should be executed," he told AFP at the group's headquarters.

Hikarinowa split from Aleph in 2007 under the leadership of flamboyant former Aum spokesman Fumihiro Joyu, and now has around 100-150 members.

"As long as the death penalty is not implemented against him, Asahara is the 'saviour exempt from execution' and helps Aleph win more followers," Joyu recently said in arguing for the death of his former guru.

Aleph training halls are closed to media and the group did not respond to enquiries by AFP.

Taro Takimoto, a lawyer who has helped relatives of cultists for decades, supports capital punishment for Asahara but not the 12 other members on death row, who he says only acted as "limbs" of the guru.

He fears the 12 members will "become martyrs" if executed, only boosting cult recruitment.

Seven of those on death row were moved to different prison facilities in recent days, prompting speculation that they could soon be executed. It was not clear if Asahara was among them.

"We should have them talk until they die a natural death so that they help prevent a recurrence," Takimoto told AFP.

And he said they deserve some understanding, describing them as "good people" who were brainwashed by Asahara.

"Asahara was more than God to them, the person who knew the entire universe and all its reincarnations. Orders from Asahara were orders from the universe," he said.

Asahara's execution may draw a line under the Aum's crimes for some Japanese, but Takimoto warns it could also trigger suicides among his followers and lead to the appointment of a successor guru.

A leading candidate is Asahara's second son, according to Takimoto.

"If the second son, bearing Asahara's ashes, declares himself 'guru', he would gain serious religious authority," opening a new chapter on the cult, Takimoto said.

Source: Japan Today, Miwa Suzuki, March 18, 2018


⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!



"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Malaysia: Minimum 30-years imprisonment to replace death penalty

Tennessee prepares electric chair, execution date unconfirmed

Botswana using fellow prisoners as hangmen for death row inmates - Official

Tennessee: Zagorski Execution Explained: If, When And How He Could Be Executed

Pakistan: Zainab's killer Imran Ali to be hanged in Lahore on Wednesday

Arizona: Aussie mum who could face death penalty fronts court

Letters from inmates on death row: An overview of why South Korea needs to abolish capital punishment

Texas: "It's wrong for an imperfect system to impose an irreversible punishment."

Death penalty: How many countries still have it?

Indonesia: Busting the myths of the death penalty