As the trial of former Iranian prison official Hamid Noury races forward in Sweden, supporters of the Iranian Resistance have been continuing their demonstrations outside of the court. Since the trial started in August, many witnesses and plaintiffs have been giving their testimonies, with Noury recently being given his chance to defend his case.
Noury was originally arrested for his involvement in one of the worst crimes against humanity in Iran’s history. He was given four days to give his testimony in the court in Stockholm, but his remarks only highlighted the scale of the atrocities that took place during the 1988 massacre.
In 1988, then-supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, a religious decree, ordering the purge of Iran’s prisons of all supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Following Khomeini’s orders, more than 30,000 political prisoners were executed across Iran.
In charge of sentencing, the prisoners to death were the ‘Death Commissions’, panels of judges who summoned the prisoners before minutes-long trials before sending them to the gallows if they refused to denounce their support for the MEK.
At the time of the massacre, Noury was a senior prison guard in Gohardasht prison in Karaj who routinely tortured and threatened prisoners housed there. Witnesses in his trial gave detailed, horrific accounts of the atrocities that took place in the prison and stated how Noury would read out the names of prisoners, take them before the Death Commissions, and then lead them to the Death Hall, where they were hanged in groups, with Noury actively assisting in the executions by pulling the chairs from under the prisoners’ feet.
During his testimony, Noury mostly went off-topic with other discussions before being reminded by the judge, on several occasions, to keep within the context of the case.
Noury resorted to lies and profanity against the MEK, rehashing the propaganda that Iranian state media and the regime’s foreign agents have been disseminating for decades. Albeit contradictory, his remarks were nonetheless important, revealing the fear that the regime has from the main opposition movement.
As the main defense for his case, Noury completely denied the 1988 massacre, claiming it never happened, and referred to it as a ‘made-up story’. He claimed that Gohardasht prison did not exist and at the time the massacre took place in the summer of 1988, said he was on leave during those three months.
Further denials included the fact that Khomeini had issued to fatwa to execute all MEK prisoners, and that there were political prisoners in Iran’s jails.
These lies are so outrageous that even the regime’s officials have not made such claims. During the 33 years that followed the 1988 massacre, the Iranian Resistance has gathered so many documents that this crime against humanity can’t be denied.
The MEK has delivered hundreds of testimonies from survivors of the 1988 massacre, and the families of the victims, to several international human rights organizations. They have also uncovered and documented several mass graves where the Iranian regime secretly buried the bodies of the victims.
Many months after the massacre had taken place, the families of the executed prisoners were informed of the death of their loved ones but were not told where the bodies had been buried.
Noury’s testimony is further proof that the regime has been given a free pass for its crimes for too long. It is worth noting that Noury’s trial is just the beginning of the justice that must be served. All the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre, including regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei and president Ebrahim Raisi, must one day be tried for their crimes against humanity.