Iran regime executes Kurdish activist

Iran's regime on Aug. 26 hanged Kurdish political prisoner Behrouz Alkhani at Orumieh prison, in the country's west. The death sentence was carried out two days after more than 80 members of his family and human rights activists gathered outside the prison gates to demand a halt to his execution. Prison guards and anti-riot forces broke up the protest. Alkhani's execution took place even as Iran's Supreme Court had yet to respond to an appeal of his sentence. "Carrying out a death sentence while a prisoner is awaiting the outcome of his appeal is a serious violation of both Iranian and international law, and is an affront to justice," said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International's Middle East program.

Behrouz Alkhani, 30, was arrested in January 2010 in Salmas, northwest Iran. He was convicted in 2011 of having ties to the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an outlawed group tied to Turkey's militant Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). He was also found guilty of being involved in the shooting of a public prosecutor in West Azerbaijan province in 2010, which the authorities blamed on the PJAK. His brother, Peyman Alkhani, confirmed to Reuters that he was a member of PJAK, but said he was never involved in armed activity. The charges against him included "moharebeh," or waging war on God.

Earlier this month, Iran executed another PJAK member, Sirvan Nezhavi. Within days, PJAK's military wing retaliated by attacking a Revolutionary Guard base in Kamyaran,near the border with Iraq. The Kurdish fighters said they killed 12 Iranian soldiers, but the regime only confirmed five deaths. (Reuters, Aug. 27; NCRI, Aug. 26)

A recent surge in executions in Iran is contributing to a global spike in use of the death penalty over the past two years.