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“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

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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 defends execution of gay people

Watching a public execution in Iran
The US and Germany have condemned Iran after its foreign minister defending the policy of execution for gay people. 

The issue erupted after a pointed question from a German reporter.

The US on Wednesday accused Iran of violating fundamental human rights after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif endorsed the execution of gay people.

Sarif defended his country's draconian policies at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Tehran on Monday.

A reporter from German tabloid Bild asked: "Why are homosexuals executed in Iran because of their sexual orientation?"

He responded: "Our society has moral principles. And we live according to these principles. These are moral principles concerning the behavior of people in general. And that means that the law is respected and the law is obeyed," after railing against human rights violations by the US and Israel.


Maas, who was in Iran to negotiate the continuation of the nuclear deal, largely ignored the issue at the time.

Inhuman and unacceptable


CartoonThe foreign ministry's Michael Roth later clarified to Bild: "LGBTI rights are human rights. And they have always been. Everywhere. No religious, cultural or ethnic tradition justifies state persecution, especially the execution of homosexuals. In Iran and seven other countries worldwide, homosexuals face the death penalty. That is inhuman and completely unacceptable."

His comments came after Maas was criticized by German politicians for not addressing the issue at the time.

The US ambassador to Germany and the country's most senior openly-gay official, Richard Grenell, on Wednesday slammed Iran for its position in comments to German and Israeli media.

"The Iranian regime has violated basic principles of the United Nations," he told the German Press Agency (DPA).

"UN members should honor (the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights) if they want to be members at all. The criminalization of homosexuality plainly violates this declaration."

Homosexuality violates Islamic Law in Iran and can be punishable by death. 

Several thousand people have been executed for homosexuality since the 1979 Islamic revolution, according to some rights activists.

Source: Deutsche Welle, Staff, June 12, 2019


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

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