Iran Human RightsA Turning Point in Three-Decade Struggle for Justice for...

A Turning Point in Three-Decade Struggle for Justice for 1988 Massacre

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In a joint letter, a group of United Nations human rights experts called Iranian authorities to launch an investigation about the perpetrators and individuals who involved in the forced disappearance of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.

“There is systemic impunity enjoyed by those who ordered and carried out the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. To date, no official in Iran has been brought to justice and many of the officials involved continue to hold positions of power including key judicial, prosecutorial and governmental bodies responsible for ensuring the victims receive justice,” seven UN Rapporteurs warned Tehran.

In the summer of 1988, the ayatollahs carried out the massacre based on a fatwa by then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini. According to eyewitnesses and reports obtained by prisoners’ family members, over 30,000 political prisoners were massacred during a few weeks.

“Between July and September 1988, the Iranian authorities forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed thousands of imprisoned political dissidents affiliated with political opposition groups in 32 cities in secret and discarded their bodies, mostly in unmarked mass graves,” UN experts wrote.

The vast majority of the victims were activists of the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI). Members of the Death Commissions, who at the time sent the prisoners to their death, include the regime’s current Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi and Justice Minister Alireza Avaei.

UN experts also highlighted the imperative of prosecution of the massacre’s perpetrators. “We call on your Excellency’s Government to urgently conduct a thorough and independent investigation into all cases, to disclose detailed information on the fate of each individual and to prosecute perpetrators,” the letter read.

Amnesty International welcomed this letter by the UN experts and described it as a “turning point” in the three-decade struggle for justice for the 1988 victims. Amnesty also praised the UN Rapporteurs’ initiative as “a push for accountability, on the eve of International Human Rights Day.” 

“UN experts’ communication is a momentous breakthrough. It marks a turning point in the long-standing struggles of victims’ families and survivors, supported by Iranian human rights organizations and Amnesty International, to end these crimes and obtain truth, justice and reparation,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa in this regard.

It is worth reminding that the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) had frequently insisted on an investigation about the massacre of political prisoners in Iran. The opposition reckoned that an international investigation would deter further crimes by the government. Instead, turning a blind eye to the crime emboldens Iranian authorities to commit more crimes as they unprecedentedly used lethal force to suppress peaceful protests in November 2019.

The time has come for the international community to end three decades of impunity for the clerical regime leaders in Iran and to hold them accountable for their crimes. The time has come for referring the dossier of human rights violations in Iran, particularly the executions of the 1980s and the 1988 massacre, to the UN Security Council. The time has come for Khamenei and his accomplices to face justice for committing crimes against humanity. The time has come for the United Nations to launch an international fact-finding mission on the 1988 massacre in Iran,said the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi.

Crime against Humanity is a book containing the names of over 5,000 victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran, also addresses of the tombs and mass graves in 36 cities, names of members of 35 Death Commissions, & lists 110 cities where the massacre was carried out,” Rajavi tweeted on December 9.

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