UPDATE: 21.30GMT Hossein Khezri’s brother tells RAHANA they ‘are unaware whether the death sentence has been carried out.’ Apparently neither the family nor the lawyer has been officially informed of the execution.
With the world’s attention focused on the events unfolding in Tunisia, hardly anyone noticed that Hossein Khezri, a 28-year-old Kurdish activist, was quietly executed this morning by the Iranian regime. He was hanged at Orumiyeh Prison for his alleged involvement with the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK).
Hossein was arrested in the summer of 2008 and spent the next two-and-a-half years in a living hell. Khezri had been arrested for ‘participation in the armed killing of a police officer at the outpost in Gol Sheykhan in Orumiyeh in 2005’ according to IRIB. The abuse during his detention was so severe that he lost much of his eyesight. During the eight months he spent in solitary confinement his mental state was affected to such an extent that he tried to kill himself twice. He wrote that he ‘thought death will be far better than this daily torture and inhumane conditions.’
In October of last year, Hossein wrote a letter addressed to international human rights organisations regarding his case and the torture he endured. Here is an excerpt:
On July 27, 2009, two weeks before the final verdict, I sent a formal complaint to the Attorney General of the Orumiyeh Military Court about the of inhumane and illegal behaviour [toward me]…On February 2, 2009, right after I sent the complaint and submitted my evidence to the medical examiner, I was detained for three days by the Ministry of Intelligence under the supervision of armed guards. I was threatened during this time about the complaint I had submitted. I was asked why I dared to complain. I was told that I must appear on camera and read off the confessions they have written for me and deny that I had been mistreated in any way. I was told if I cooperate, they may lessen the charges and reduce the punishment…whenever my father attempted to find out any information about me, he was given confusing and conflicting answers. He was so scared that I had already been executed that he suffered a fatal heart attack at the office of the Ministry of Intelligence…Barely 20 days following the death of my father, I was exiled to Qazvin prison [approximately 200 miles away from his home in Orumiyeh]…So far no one has followed up on my complaints or my request to be sent to the medical examiner. So far there has been no reason given for not following up on my complaints.
Also in his letter, Hossein graphically described the torture methods used against him in detention centres belonging to the Revolutionary Guards in Kermanshah and Orumiyeh, and also at a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility. These included beatings for several hours a day, threats against himself and his family, kicks to the genitals which caused bleeding and severe swelling for 14 days, kicks to the legs resulting in open wounds, and harsh baton blows to the entire body for 49 days, causing bruising and inflammation.
31 July 2008: arrested in the city of Kermanshah by Nabi Akram Sepah branch, suffered physical and psychological torture while under interrogation for 49 days
18 September 2008: transferred to Sepah al Mehdi in Orumiyeh
06 January 2009: transferred to Information Department of Orumiyeh
15 February 2009: transferred to Western Azerbaijan’s Information Ministry headquarters
19 April 2009: 104th branch of the criminal court of Orumiyeh released its judgment against Hossein. The indictment, based on the intelligence ministry and court, ruled that Hossein Khezri was an armed combatant.
11 May 2009: transferred to Orumiyeh Prison and tried at the Revolutionary Court. Convicted of moharebeh (enmity against God) and ‘endangering state security.’ The representative of the Information Ministry was present at the court, along with the Orumiyeh prosecutor. Before the proceedings Hossein was cautioned that he may not speak of torture or mention any of the interrogations methods or what happened during these sessions. He was also threatened not to mention that his ‘confession’ was obtained under torture. Hossein, however, defied prosecutors and brought up these charges. Judge Darvishi, head of the 1st branch of the Revolutionary Court, proceeded with the sentencing without any attempt to investigate Hossein’s claims of torture and in 10 minutes delivered the sentence of execution.
27 July 2009: Hossein sends a formal complaint for inhumane and illegal behaviour to the attorney general of military courts in Orumiyeh
08 August 2009: Death sentence upheld
11 April 2010: transferred from Orumiyeh Prison to an unknown location
10 October 2010: appeals are exhausted, and he is considered to be in imminent danger of execution
Late October 2010: writes a letter from Section 12 of Orumiyeh Prison to human rights organisations and activists, calling on them to share the details of his case with the international community. In the letter, he pleas for the international community’s help in securing him a fair and open trial and has ‘formally recognised’ all concerned activists as his lawyers.
6 November 2010: letter is published on the website of an opposition political party, after which his death sentence was sent to the ‘section for implementation of the verdict’
17 November 2010: The Supreme Court issues a memo to Orumiyeh Prison officials ordering Hossein Khezri’s execution. The enforcement unit of the prison asks for permission to carry out the order. He is in imminent danger.
19 November 2010: Iran’s Islamic Supreme Court orders the 6th District Court of Orumiyeh to carry out the execution of Hossein Khezri
19 November 2010: Amnesty International issues an urgent action statement for Hossein Khezri. Amnesty urges people to write to the Iranian authorities and appeal for Khezri’s life.
02 January 2011: Hossein Khezri is removed from Orumiyeh Prison by agents from the Intelligence Ministry. He is considered in extreme danger of imminent execution. Although the exact reason for his cell extraction is not known, this is typical before a scheduled execution.
05 January 2011: Hossein Khezri’s brother and other family members are able to visit him in Orumiyeh Prison. According to an interview, it was staged as a final visit and prison authorities told the family that he will be moved and ‘this is the last time you will ever see him.’
13 January 2011: Hossein Khezri’s family is still unable to obtain information about his whereabouts or condition. Authorities have told them simply that he was moved to Tehran for the completion of his sentence.
15 January 2011: execution carried out
There are more than 10 million Kurds in Iran who make up approximately 15 percent of Iran’s population. Expression of Kurdish culture is somewhat tolerated and the Kurdish language is used in some broadcasts and publications. However, political activity based on Kurdish identity is banned and linked to separatism. Kurds, as a result, are disproportionately targeted using security legislation such as the capital offence of moharebeh. Punishments are often entirely at the discretion of the presiding judge.
More than a dozen Kurdish political prisoners in Iran are now facing the death penalty. Many, many more are imprisoned for their beliefs and activities. Late last month, Habibollah Latifi’s execution was postponed after an international campaign to save his life.
Hossein Khezri, Kurdish Political Activist Sentenced to Death as “Enemy of God”, Persian2English, 22 November 2010
URGENT ACTION: Kurd’s death sentence to be carried out [88/10 Index: MDE 13/104/2010], Amnesty International, 19 November 2010. (.pdf)
Husen Xizri executed today. Rojhelat, 15 January 2011.
Hossein Khezri executed. HRA, 15 January 2011.