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Rights Group, Parents Seek Pardon For Iranian Kurd


TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Amnesty International and the parents of a convicted political activist called on Iran to stop his execution, which could take place today.

The human rights group said Shirkouh Moarefi, 24, from the Kurdish city of Saghez, had been moved to solitary confinement in the death row section of Saghez prison on November 12, suggesting he could be executed any day.

Amnesty and website Mowjcamp, which backs reformist politician Mir Hossein Musavi, said Moarefi was sentenced to be hanged for political activities a year ago. Mowjcamp said the execution could take place today.

"The Iranian authorities must halt the imminent execution of Sherko Moarefi, a Kurdish man convicted of 'enmity against God' over his alleged membership of a proscribed Kurdish organisation," Amnesty said.

Tagheer, the website of another opposition figure Mahdi Karubi, carried an appeal for a stay of execution from Moarefi's parents.

"We demand all international forums and human rights groups...to enter into negotiation with the Islamic Republic in connection to his execution," a statement said.

Iran hanged a Kurdish activist last week, a day after U.S.-based Human Rights Watch asked for his death sentence to be revoked.

Like neighbouring 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.

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.
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