November 11, 2009 / 2:04 PM / 9 years ago

Iran hangs Kurdish activist, reformist website says

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran hanged a Kurdish activist on Wednesday, a reformist website said, a day after a Western rights group called for his death sentence to be revoked.

The Mowjcamp website, citing information from Iranian rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaie, said Ehsan Fattahian had been in prison in the western city of Sanandaj but it did not make clear whether this was where his execution took place.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

“Ehsan Fattahian, the Kurdish activist who was sentenced to death ... was hanged today,” Mowjcamp said.

Sanandaj is the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province, located in a region which is the scene of frequent clashes between Kurdish guerrillas and Iranian security forces.

Like neighboring Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in its northwest and west. Iran is a mainly Shi’ite Muslim country, but most Kurds are Sunni Muslims.

Iran rejects Western accusations of discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities in the Islamic Republic.

On Tuesday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch urged Iran to halt Fattahian’s execution. Human Rights Watch cited his lawyer, who it said had asked to remain anonymous, as saying no evidence was presented in court that he had engaged in violence.

Human Rights Watch said Fattahian was arrested in mid-2008 and charged with committing acts against national security.

The group said he had admitted to membership of a banned militant Kurdish opposition group, but that he denied he had committed any violent acts. His initial 10-year jail sentence was changed to death by a higher court, it said.

Amnesty International has listed Iran as the world’s second most prolific executioner in 2008 after China, and says it put to death at least 346 people last year.

Editing by Peter Millership

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