January 2016 ~ THE HAIPHONG POST - Breaking News of World

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Serial human trafficker executed in China after abducting 22 children

Chinese police busted two child-trafficking rings, rescuing 178 children and arresting 608 suspects in Dec. 2011.
Chinese police busted two child-trafficking rings, rescuing
178 children and arresting 608 suspects in Dec. 2011.
A man has been executed in China for the abduction and trafficking of 22 children over the space of 5 years.

China's top court, The Supreme's People's Court, announced today that Tan Yongzhi had been 'condemned to death' in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, reports the People's Daily Online.

Tan kidnapped the children between February 2008 and April 2013 from areas that stretched across south-west China's Yunnan Province to the central area of Henan.

According to the report, the court said Tan's actions and the large number of children he abducted seriously damaged children's rights, which is why he was executed.

The authorities have been unable to locate the birth parents of all the abducted children.

The exact date of the sentencing or execution has not been released.

There has always been a heavy penalty for those convicted of abducting a child in China, and the death penalty is still prominent.

The country has intensified its crackdown on trafficking of women and children in recent years.

In 2012, 1,918 abduction cases involving women and children were solved.

The Supreme People's Court said that number declined massively to 858 cases last year - a drop of almost 50 %.

The amount of people punished for abduction related charges in China declined by more than 1/2, from 2,801 in 2012, to 1,362 in 2015.

Child abduction is a major problem in the country, and finding accurate figures is extremely difficult.

A recent BBC report said that an illegal market in children has developed in the country, and it is estimated that 200,000 children are taken from their parents each year.

In some cases of extreme poverty parents are forced to choose between selling their children and paying fines for having too many, which could explain why some of the birth parents of the children abducted by Tan could never be found.

Source: Daily Mail, January 30, 2016

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Libya: ISIS militants execute three for stealing and flog four for drinking alcohol

Wild dogs. Sirte, Libya, January 21, 2016. (Terrormonitor.og on Twitter)
January 21, 2016: ISIS militants in the Libyan town of Sirte have executed at least three men and whipped another for drinking alcohol, according to a 'photo report', published by the terror group.

Published on an anonymous content sharing website, it shows the deaths of three men and the whipping of four others.

In one photo a man in a grey t-shirt, his face blurred, is led to his death - the caption says he was executed for the sin of 'banditry'.

According to the 'report', the other men were executed for converting from Islam, for cursing god and for belonging to a militia loyal to Khalifa Haftar, the UN-backed government general deeply hostile to Islamist forces - both the self-appointed government in Tripoli and ISIS.

The post is entitled 'Implementing punishment in the city of Sirte' and links to ISIS-related hashtags in Arabic.

In the seven photos that follow, each is captioned with the sin the men are accused of committing and their punishment.

A crowd of masked men stand to watch as the punishments are carried out - a mixture of executions and whipping.

One photo shows a group of four of the accused on their knees in front of a crowd of masked men, as their 'sentence' is read out - the caption declares flogging is the punishment for drinking wine.

ISIS reportedly has 3,000 fighters in Sirte and has imposed the strict rules familiar with residents in their defacto capital in Raqqa, Syria.

Beheadings and crucifixions plague the town, which has been deserted by citizens by the thousands. 

Source: Mailonline, January 21, 2016

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“THE SMILING FACE OF THE MULLAHS”: Hands Off Cain report on the Death Penalty in Iran

Rouhani: The Smiling Face of the Mullahs
The Smiling Face of the Mullahs
In view of the visit to Italy by President Hassan Rouhani, scheduled for the 25th and 26th of January, Hands Off Cain presented the Report on the Death Penalty in Iran entitled “The Smiling Face of the Mullahs”.

The Report lists the executions carried out in Iran in 2015 and in first two weeks of 2016 and provides a comprehensive view of capital punishment under Hassan Rouhani's Presidency.

The report also represents a “reminder” for the Italian State's highest authorities to bring the question of the death penalty and the respect of human rights to the center of every meeting and understanding with the representatives of the regime in Tehran.

According to the report, in 2015 the regime in Tehran carried out at least 980 executions, a 22.5% increase compared to 800 in 2014 and a 42.6% increase compared to 687 in 2013.

This is the number of executions among the highest in the recent history of Iran, which classifies it as the top “Executioner-Country” in the world in relation to population. At least 370 execution cases (37.7%) were reported by official Iranian sources (websites of the Iranian Judiciary, national Iranian broadcasting network, and official or state-run news agencies and newspapers); 610 cases (62.3%) included in the annual numbers were reported by unofficial sources (other human rights NGOs or sources inside Iran).

The actual number of executions is probably much higher than the figures included in the Report of Hands Off Cain. Excerpt:


“THE SMILING FACE OF THE MULLAHS”
Report on the Death Penalty in Iran

In view of the visit to Italy by President Hassan Rouhani, scheduled for the 25th and 26th of January, Hands Off Cain presents the Report on the Death Penalty in Iran entitled “The Smiling Face of the Mullahs”.
The Report lists the executions carried out in Iran in 2015 and in first two weeks of 2016 and provides a comprehensive view of capital punishment under Rouhani's Presidency.
The report also represents a “reminder” for the Italian State's highest authorities to bring the question of the death penalty and the respect of human rights to the center of every meeting and understanding with the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
www.handsoffcain.info info@nessunotocchicaino.it e.zamparutti@radicali.it

Reminder for the Italian Authorities
The election of Hassan Rouhani in June of 2013 was greeted by everyone (almost) as a turnabout and, from that time, the new President of the Islamic Republic was defined as the “reformer”, the “moderate”, the “happy and smiling face” of the Mullah’s regime.
This Report by Hands Off Cain speaks of a different reality, in which the hanging of ethnic and religious minorities and of political opposition for non-violent crimes or those of an essentially political nature, have continued in the in the Islamic Republic led by Hassan Rouhani.
These executions are the latest chapter in a story that began in the summer of 1988 when, following a fatwa issued by Ruhollah Khomeini, more than 30,000 political prisoners, the overwhelming majority of them activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were hanged for being “enemies of Allah”.
While many organizations for the defence of human rights have called it a crime against humanity, many of those responsible for the massacre are now part of the leadership of the regime, including Mostafa Poor Mohammadi and Seyed Ebrahim Reisi – two of the five members of the “Amnesty Commission” that Khomeini had assigned for prisons and that proved to be a “Death Commission” – who have become today, respectively, Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General of the Islamic Republic.
The alarming use of the death penalty, applied to minors in open violation of international accords and conventions ratified by Iran, the discrimination against religious minorities, particularly the Baha’i and Christians, the legal discrimination against women and the persecution of sexual minorities, the destruction of the State of Israel and the negation of the Holocaust, promoted, above all, by the Supreme Guide Khamenei continue to define the Mullah’s Regime regardless of the so-called “moderate” and “smiling” Presidency of Rouhani.
In the name of peace and international security – against the threat of nuclear war and terrorism – Iran regards itself as a “stabilizing force” in the Middle East and beyond, entrusted to an emergency government that created the emergency itself while undermining peace and international security.
It would be reasonable that the primary source of the problem become its primary solution. Yet, the most grievous matter here is how a regime has received international legitimacy while internally conducting an ongoing war and daily reign of terror and insecurity against its own people.
What described above should be a reminder for the Italian authorities, who on 25 and 26 January will receive President Hassan Rouhani who chose Rome as the first European capital to visit, identifying Italy as the “front door” towards the West.
We urge the highest representatives of Italy, a country recognized in the world as the champion of the international struggle to promote a universal moratorium on executions, and for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, to put the issue of the death penalty, and more generally of the respect of human rights at the center of every meeting and agreement with representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, starting from those with President Rouhani.
At least 2.277 Executions under Rouhani’s Presidency
The election of Hassan Rouhani as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 14 June 2013, has led many observers, some human rights defenders and the international community, to be optimistic. However, the new Government has not changed its approach regarding the application of the death penalty, and indeed, the rate of executions has risen sharply since the summer of 2013.
Since the beginning of Rouhani’s presidency, as of 15 January 2016, at least 2,277 people have been executed in Iran. In 2015 the Islamic Republic carried out at least 980 executions, a 22.5% increase compared to 800 in 2014 and a 42.6% increase compared to 687 in 2013.
This is the number of executions among the highest in the recent history of Iran, which classifies it as the top “Executioner-Country” in the world in relation to population.
At least 370 execution cases (37.7%) were reported by official Iranian sources (websites of the Iranian Judiciary, national Iranian broadcasting network, and official or state-run news agencies and newspapers); 610 cases (62.3%) included in the annual numbers were reported by unofficial sources (other human rights NGOs or sources inside Iran).
The actual number of executions is probably much higher than the figures included in the Report of Hands Off Cain.
A majority of those who were executed were convicted of drug-related offences (632 cases, 178 of them reported by official Iranian sources), followed by murder (201 cases, including 122 announced by official sources), rape (56 cases, of which 50 announced by official media), political offences (16 cases, including 5 officially reported), and Moharebeh (waging war against God), armed robbery and “corruption on earth” (22 cases, including 15 officially reported).
In at least 53 other cases, the crimes for which the convicts were found guilty remained unspecified.
At least 53 people were executed in the first two weeks of 2016.
Hanging is the preferred method with which to apply Sharia law, but in April 2013 Iran reinserted execution by stoning for those convicted of adultery into a previous version of the new Penal Code that had omitted it.
Public executions by hanging continued into 2015, when at least 58 people were hanged in public.
In 2015, executions of women have slightly decreased: there were at least 15, including a juvenile offender ((8 for drug-related crimes, 2 for murder and 5 for unspecified crimes), but only 2 were announced by Iranian authorities.
In 2014, Iran had hanged at least 36 women.
Executions of child offenders continued into 2015, in open violation of two international treaties to which it is party, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
At least 6 juvenile offenders were hanged in 2015, including one woman (5 for murder cases, including 3 reported by official sources; and 1 for rape, reported by official sources). Another possible minor offender was executed 2016, as of 20 January. 
Read the full report here (PDF)

Sources: NCRI, Hands Off Cain, January 26, 2016

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Concerns over Iran executions surge as Rouhani visits Europe

Concerns have been raised that new cooperation agreements between Europe and Iran could contribute to a surge in drug-related executions - including of juvenile offenders. 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is in Italy for talks today, before travelling to France tomorrow, in the first European state visit by an Iranian President for more than 16 years. Iranian media have reported that “Iranian officials accompanying the president will sign agreements for the expansion of relations in different fields.”

The EU recently helped negotiate a $20 million UN funding deal for counter-narcotics efforts in Iran that will increase the international funding available to the country’s Anti-Narcotics Police. Human rights organization Reprieve has previously raised concerns that similar UN programmes in Iran have led to arrests and executions, including of juveniles. They include Jannat Mir, who was arrested by Iranian drug police at the age of 15 and subsequently hanged for narcotics offences.

Iran’s authorities have recently executed large numbers of people convicted of drugs offences; 600 of 947 hangings in Iran in 2015 were drug-related, as were 31 of 47 executions carried out so far in 2016.

Rouhani’s visit is taking place as an Amnesty International report showed that Iran has continued to convict and execute juveniles since 2005, in violation of its international obligations. The report notes that at least one juvenile offender, Mohammed Ali Zehi, is currently awaiting execution for narcotics offences.

Today’s visit also follows the news that British Prime Minister David Cameron recently held a phone call with President Rouhani, as a step towards normalising ties with Iran. Britain’s government, while not a funder of Iran programmes, is a donor to UNODC.

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “Iran’s government is overseeing a horrifying surge in executions, the vast majority for drugs offences. Against this backdrop, it is deeply worrying to see European countries like France lining up to support a vast package of support for Iran’s drug police. It is vital that European countries use their growing ties with President Rouhani’s government – including these donations – to urge an end to the use of the death penalty for drugs offences.”
  • Detail on the recently-signed UNODC agreement with Iran is available here.
  • Reprieve's research on European support for counter-narcotics programmes in Iran and Pakistan is available here, while more recent detail on the European Union's donations to UNODC is here.
  • An Iranian state media report on President Rouhani's visit can be seen here.
Source: Reprieve, January 26, 2016

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Monday, January 18, 2016

UK: WWI soldier executed for mutiny to be honoured at National Memorial Arboretum

British court martial on the front. Screenshot from "For King and Country", a film by Joseph Losey (1965) with Dirk Bogarde and Tom Courtenay.
British court martial on the front. Screenshot from "For King and Country",
a film by Joseph Losey (1965) with Dirk Bogarde and Tom Courtenay.
In the mist of an anaemic French dawn, the weak sunlight burning through leaden skies, they placed the blindfold over Jack Braithwaite's eyes.

He stiffened against the whitewashed wall, the wisps of breath from his open mouth quickening.

These were Jack Braithwaite's horrifying last moments.

At 6.05am on October 29, 1916, Jack was executed by firing squad, joining the ranks of those slaughtered by his own side.

His death on that barren patch of land in Rouen came minutes after one Gunner Lewis was shot.

Jack, aged 31, heard the rifles' crackle and the sound turned his legs to jelly.

His crime: mutiny. But that incendiary word paints a picture that does not fit the act that cost Jack his life.

Jack, who openly admitted at his court martial, "I am not a born soldier, just a Bohemian journalist", was guilty of a misdemeanour, not mutiny.

On August 28, 1916, the New Zealander, who had proved truly troublesome to Army top brass, found himself at Number 1 Prison, Blargies, a military lock-up noted for its toughness.

The simmering ill-feeling among inmates turned into open rebellion on that day.

A tough Aussie named Private Little complained bitterly and loudly about the lack of hot water in the showers.

The matter escalated, with Little banging on tables and demanding his meal. Others joined the insurrection, seizing the moment to air their own grievances.

It was then Jack, known as "Bohemian Jack" because of his artistic bent, made his fatal mistake.

In a bid to defuse a potential riot, Jack, who was on mess duty, led furious Little to his tent and fed him.

He had, however, taken Little from the custody of a staff sergeant. And that, in the army's book, constituted mutiny.

Now, following a lobby by New Zealand historian Geoff McMillan, together with Richard Pursehouse and Lee Dent of Cannock-based Great War group The Chase Project, the trooper is to be honoured at a Staffordshire war memorial.

Jack's name will be included in the 'Shot at Dawn' tribute at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.

Created in 2000 by Birmingham artist Andy DeComyn, the area is a circle of 306 stakes, bearing the name of men posthumously pardoned after being executed by their own side, surrounding a statue of a blindfolded soldier.

It is hoped Jack's stake will be installed before the centenary of his death.

At the court martial, Jack, who spent every day of active service wondering what he was doing amid the mud, blood and brutality of the trenches, pleaded for his life.

He was attempting to stem trouble, he insisted, and pointed out that in Egypt, where he had served, such actions had been punished with 14 days imprisonment.

"I cannot understand that a simple act of peace-making could be brought to look like deliberate mutiny," he protested.

Jack, a member of 2nd battalion Otago Regiment, also pointed out the sacrifices his family had made for the war effort. 2 brothers had been killed in action, 2 wounded and invalided back home. 2 more were training to join the fray. The Braithwaites had paid a heavy price.

In an attempt to win sympathy, Jack added to the mix the fact he was due to marry "the best girl in the entire world".

He partially won over the trial's convening officer, Lieutenant-General Clayton, who recommended that the sentence be commuted to 10 years penal servitude, concluding the evidence bore out the defendant's version of events.

But his recommendations were not accepted by the court. Jack and 3 Australians involved in the prison clash were sentenced to death by firing squad.

There is credence in claims made by Jack's family that he was a "sacrificial lamb".

Despite being sentenced to death, the Army knew there was little chance that the Australians would face a firing squad. The execution of any trooper from Down Under needed the approval of the Australian Governor General.

And he did not share Allied chief Sir Douglas Haig's appetite for killing our own men.

The 3 Aussies, who all played a greater role in the near jail riot than Jack, had their sentence commuted to 2 years hard labour.

But Haig and his cronies had to make a point, had to show that flagrant disobedience would result in death.

That factor, plus the powder keg atmosphere at the prison and Jack's poor disciplinary record meant clemency was not an option.

He had, after all, proved more than problematic during his stint on The Front.

In May, 1916, Jack lost his stripes for going AWOL and didn't seem to give a fig about it. He allegedly retorted: "Let duty and soldiering go to hell." His only time in the trenches, from May 14 to 22, ended ignominiously. He again went missing from his unit, armed with a forged "leave pass". That earned him 60 days field punishment, but by this time Jack had decided war was not for him.

He again escaped on July 7, was caught and sentenced to 2 years hard labour. Even then, he tried to do a runner while being transferred to the British Army's Blargies prison.

Jack's own family seems to have been ashamed of the reluctant trooper. His own uncle, Brigadier W. Braithwaite, urged authorities to lock up his nephew and send him back to New Zealand as soon as possible.

Quite simply, in the British Army's eyes, Jack was a coward. In reality, the man was a sensitive soul, intelligent enough to realise the madness he was immersed in. The Bohemian had been flung into a meat grinder and wanted none of it. In all, he was court martialled 4 times.

His approach to military life is best summed up by writer Mary Vidal in a superb blog on the Western Front Association website.

She said: "Poor Jack. He seems to have been somebody who was totally unsuited to become a soldier and perhaps left to himself, and without the patriotic fervour sweeping Britain and the Empire in 1915, he would not have enlisted.

"He was unable to accept military discipline and acted in a foolhardy, perhaps stupid, manner and was dealt with firmly by the authorities.

"In his final, fatal, brush with military law he found himself cast in the role of a sacrificial victim. It would seem that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and his luck had run out. In his last hours how much he must have wished he had stayed a 'Bohemian' journalist."

Great War historian Ian McGibbon wrote: "Braithwaite was foolhardy, even stupid, in his failure to take military discipline seriously and was treated firmly by the New Zealand divisional authorities. But in his final hearing he was more unlucky than criminal.

"But he found himself cast in the role of sacrificial victim and paid the supreme penalty."

In his last, poignant written missive to the court, Jack, pinning his hopes on his prowess as a writer, stated: "Unfortunately I have made a serious mess of things, and where I came to win honour and glory, I have won shame, dishonour, and everlasting disgrace."

He was wrong. Disgrace did not last forever.

His pardon was signed by British Secretary for Defence Des Browne in 2006.

Jack's tribute at the National Memorial Arboretum was secured after Geoff McMillan, from Waikanae Beach, New Zealand, visited the site last April.

"I could only find 4 stakes for the 5 New Zealanders executed during the Great War," he said.

"There was not one for Jack Braithwaite, who had been pardoned by the New Zealand Government in 2000 along with the other four under the Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act."

News of Jack's honour has been welcomed by Richard Pursehouse.

"I think it's great, like picking up on something that has been missed," he said. "I feel very humbled to have been involved.

"There is no date yet, but we hope it happens before the centenary of his death.

"What happened was the law at the time, you had to have the ultimate deterrent. In contrast, not a single servicemen was executed in World War II."

Bohemian Jack is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France.

Source: birminghammail.co.uk, January 17, 2016

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