Iran: Kurdish cousins face execution for being ‘at enmity with God’

Sheffield man appeals for his brother to be spared hanging

Amnesty International has today called for death sentences against two Kurdish cousins in Iran to be commuted as it issued an “urgent action” appeal on their behalf.

The men, Adnan Hassanpour, a journalist, and Hiwa Butimar, a Kurdish rights activist and environmentalist, both from Iran’s Kordestan province, were sentenced to death last month on charges of espionage and for being “at enmity with god” (Moharebah).

The men were told on 17 July that they had been sentenced to death and yesterday Iran’s judicial authorities confirmed for the first time that death sentences had been imposed. The sentences are subject to an appeal and must then be confirmed by Iran’s Supreme Court.

The original charges, relating to possession of Kurdish flags, videos and photographs of a family trip to Iraqi Kurdistan, reportedly saw the men appearing before a Revolutionary Court in June, a tribunal that falls below international fair trial standards. The Iranian penal code contains a number of vaguely worded “national security” provisions that outlaw activities relating to journalism and freedom of expression. These provisions conflict with international human rights law.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Journalism and cultural and environmental activism are lawful activities that should be protected by the Iranian authorities, not persecuted and punished.

“We sincerely hope that the Iranian authorities will listen to our concerns about this case and commute these death sentences.

“After a shameful spate of executions in Iran this year, it’s now vital that Iran takes a step back from judicial killing and imposes a halt on all further executions.”

The brother of one of the men, Hadi Butimar, who lives in Sheffield, said:

“I’m absolutely shocked that my brother Hiwa has been sentenced to death and I’m doing my utmost to prevent his execution. The entire family is desperately hoping that the sentence will get overturned on appeal. Our main hope is that the international campaign can save him.”

At least 143 people have already been executed in Iran so far this year, an execution rate in excess of even that in 2006, when a minimum of 177 people were executed making the country the second highest user of the death penalty in the world.

Executions have been carried out for a range of offences, including a case earlier this month when a man was stoned to death for “adultery”. The woman in the same case remains under a death by stoning sentence.

In a separate case, a teenager recently came within hours of being hanged before the execution was postponed following an international outcry and moves to pay “blood money” to the victim’s relatives.

  • Send an appeal to the Iranian authorities urging them to stop the execution of Adnan Hassanpour and Hiwa Butimar
  • More about the campaign for Adnan Hassanpour and Hiwa Butimar by supporters of the men in the UK /li>

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