Iran: Further information: Feared execution of Iranian Kurdish man: Hossein Khezri
January 20, 2011
Further information on UA: 88/10
Index: MDE 13/009/2011
Hossein Khezri, a member of Iran's Kurdish minority, is feared to have been executed on 15 January 2011 in north-western Iran after being convicted of "enmity against God" on account of his membership of the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). The authorities have announced that a PJAK member was executed on 15 January 2011 but without naming the individual.
Members of Hossein Khezri's family visited him in Oromieh Central Prison on 5 January 2011. He told him that the authorities had pressured him to "confess" on camera to participating in armed opposition to the government and to killing several people but that he had refused to do so, stating that he had not killed anyone.
On 13 January 2011, officials of the Oromieh Revolutionary Court informed his brother that the order for Hossein Khezri's execution had been received from the Prosecutor's Office. When the family sought to visit him, they were not able to do so and were told to return on 15 January. When they did so that day, they were again unable to see him and later heard that a judicial body of West Azerbaijan Province had announced the execution of an unnamed member of PJAK. They fear that this may have been Hossein Khezri but, if so, they have not been told officially, nor given his body or personal effects
Hossein Khezri was arrested in Kermanshah in 2008. He acknowledged undertaking political activities but denied any involvement in violence. His death sentence, passed by the Revolutionary Court in Oromieh, was upheld in August 2009. In March 2010, his request for an investigation into his allegations of torture was turned down.
Zeynab Jalalian, 28, another member of Iran's Kurdish minority, remains at risk of execution after conviction of similar charges. She continues to be in poor health, possibly as a result of torture or other ill-treatment in prison.
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The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said in a 2006 report on Transparency and the Imposition of the Death Penalty that "a lack of transparency both undermines due process rights and constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Persons sentenced to death, their families, and their lawyers should be provided with timely and reliable information on the procedures and timing of appeals, clemency petitions, and executions."
After the family's visit on 5 January, Hossein Khezri's whereabouts were unknown. Following reports that he may have been transferred to Tehran for execution, his lawyer told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, that under Iranian law, a death sentence can be implemented in the same city in which the sentence was handed down, and there is no need for transfer to another city, and he hoped that his client's transfer was for further review of his case rather than for execution. He also said that he was waiting to hear if the Supreme Court would accept his request for a final review of Hossein Khezri's conviction and sentence, but until he was notified of their decision, there would be nothing to stop the local judiciary carrying out the execution.
In a letter, written from Section 12 of Oromieh Prison in October 2010, Hossein Khezri said that he was tortured for 49 days in detention centres belonging to the Revolutionary Guards in Kermanshah and Oromieh, north-west Iran, and also at a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility, by methods including beatings; threats against himself and his family; kicks to the genitals and legs; and harsh baton blows to the entire body, causing bruising and inflammation. He said that he complained about his treatment and was then moved for three days to an Intelligence Ministry facility in February 2010 where he was interrogated about his complaint. His father died from a heart attack after hearing that his son had been moved from prison, apparently because he feared that Hossein Khezri had been executed. Hossein Khezri also said he was told if he "confessed" on TV, his death sentence would be commuted to imprisonment, but that he had refused to do so. He added: "The time of my execution has not been told to me, I do not know if it will be tomorrow, or the day after, or tonight, and I am not allowed visitors and cannot even let any one know that I am still alive."
Zeynab Jalalian was sentenced to death around January 2009 by Kermanshah Revolutionary Court. Before that, she had spent eight months in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility, where she says she was tortured. During that time her family had no information concerning her conditions, treatment or fate. She was not granted access to a lawyer during her trial, which she says lasted only a few minutes. Zeynab Jalalian's death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 26 November 2009. In December 2010, a witness who was imprisoned with Zeynab Jalalian reported that Zeynab Jalalian had been flogged on the soles of her feet and subsequently was struck on the head with a broken bottle, causing her scalp to bleed profusely. She is in poor health, apparently due to her reported torture and other ill-treatment in prison.
Kurds, who are one of Iran's many minority groups, live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in the province of Kordestan and neighbouring provinces bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. They experience religious, economic and cultural discrimination (see Iran: Human Rights Abuses against the Kurdish minority, July 2008, Index MDE 13/008/2008). For many years, Kurdish organizations such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Marxist group Komala conducted armed struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran. PJAK, formed in 2004, aims to establish in Iran a "democratic system in which all citizens: Iranians, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Baluch, Turkmens, Arabs and all other ethnic groups within the framework of the democratic system can govern themselves". It carried out armed attacks against Iranian security forces, but declared a unilateral ceasefire in 2009, although it still engages in armed clashes with security forces in what it terms "self-defence". On 19 October 2010 it called for a peaceful solution to the "Kurdish issue" in Iran. On 16 January 2011, PJAK issued a statement pledging an "appropriate response" to what they clearly believe to have been Hossein Khezri's execution on 15 January and calling for a week of "resistance" to Iran. Amnesty International condemns attacks on civilians, as well as indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, which violate fundamental principles of humanitarian law.