Month: September 2017

The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Statement submitted to the 36th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council September 2017

The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Statement submitted to the 36th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council September 2017

The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Time for the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence

 

This is the title of a statement submitted to the Thirty-sixth session of the U.N. Human Rights Council will be held 11-29 September 2017, in the European headquarter of the United Nations.

The Joint written statement was submitted to the Secretary General, by France Libertés : Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Women’s Human Rights International Association, non-governmental organizations in special consultative status, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples.

 

The full text of this statement is as follows:

On the 29th anniversary of the 1988 mass extra-legal executions of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran, we believe that until the full truth is unveiled and the perpetrators are held to account for their crimes, there will be no incentive for the government of Iran to change its policy on human rights. This is why we are calling on the United Nations to launch an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre to reveal the truth, hold the perpetrators to account and seek justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

The facts

  • In 1988, the government of Iran massacred 30,000 political prisoners.
  • The executions took place based on a fatwa by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
  • Three-member commissions known as a ‘Death Commission’ were formed across Iran sending political prisoners who refused to abandon their beliefs to execution
    • The victims were buried in secret mass graves.
  • The perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity.
  • In the past year, the names of nearly 100 ‘Death Commission’ members have been revealed. Many still hold senior positions in the Iranian judiciary or government. They include:

o Alireza Avaie, a member of the 1988 ‘Death Commission’ in the city of Dezful who is on the European Union’s sanctions list for human rights violations, was appointed in August 2017 as Iran’s Justice Minister. His predecessor, Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi was also a member of the Death Commission in Tehran.

o Ebrahim Raisi, a member of the Tehran Death Commission, was a candidate in the 2017 presidential election. He is a member of the powerful State Expediency Discernment Council and prosecutor of the special court of the clergy.

o Hossein-Ali Nayyeri, Head of the Tehran Death Commission, is currently Head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges and Deputy Head of the National Supreme Court.

o Ali Razini, a Death Commission member, is currently Vice-President of the Judiciary on legal affairs.

o Salman Khodadadi, a Death Commission member, is currently a Member of Parliament and Chair of its Committee on Social Affairs.

o Mohammad-Hossein Ahmadi Shahroodi, a Death Commission member, is currently a member of the Assembly of Experts.

o Gholamreza Khalaf Zare, a Death Commission member, is currently a Supreme Court judge.

The emerging evidence

In 2016 an audio tape surfaced of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Deputy Supreme Leader in 1988, chastising members of the Tehran Death Commission as the executions were taking place.

Montazeri told the Death Commission: “The greatest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you.”

Montazeri was cast out from power following his protest.

Iranian civil society demands justice

Since the summer of 2016, Iranian civil society has defied the government by breaking the taboo on openly discussing the massacre and demanding justice. In a report published on 2 August 2017, Amnesty International pointed to a campaign by Iran’s younger generation who seek an inquiry into the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988.

The report said: “Human rights defenders targeted for seeking truth and justice include younger human rights defenders born after the 1979 Revolution who have taken to social media and other platforms to discuss the past atrocities, and attended memorial gatherings held at Khavaran.”

It adds that there has been “a chain of unprecedented reactions from high-level officials, leading them to admit for the first time that the mass killings of 1988 were planned at the highest levels of government.”

A video clip of a speech on 22 April 2017 by a student at Tabriz University challenging a top former Revolutionary Guards commander and condemning the 1988 massacre in Iran was widely circulated on social media: “Your theory and your discussions defend the horrific, inhumane, illegal and irreligious massacres of 1988. … We will neither forgive, nor forget your betrayals and crimes. Our people will avenge the pain and grief of the mothers [of the martyrs] of our nation.”

Dr. Mohammad Maleki, the first chancellor of Tehran University after the 1979 revolution and a prominent dissident in Iran, who spent many years in prison under torture, pointed out in an interview with Dorr TV on 14 August 2016 that more than 30,400 of the executed prisoners were members of the opposition People’s Mojahedin (PMOI or MEK) and 2000-3000 were leftists.

Mohammad Nourizad, a close associate to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prior to the 2009 uprising in Tehran, wrote: “Here, in a matter of 2 or 3 months, 33,000 men, women, young and old were imprisoned, tortured and executed. Their bodies were taken to Khavaran Cemetery and barren lands by trucks and buried in mass graves, happy of what they had done…”

Reza Malek, a former intelligence officer, revealed that according to documents he had personally seen, 33,700 prisoners were executed in 1988.

The Iranian people used the campaign period prior to the undemocratic ‘election’ to highlight the call for justice.

In Qom in May 2017, Iranians chanted against Presidential candidate Raisi: “He is the murderer of 1988“.

Iranian political prisoner Maryam Akbari-Monfared on 15 October 2016 made an official complaint from inside prison to the Iranian judiciary over the execution of her siblings in the 1988 massacre. According to Amnesty International she was subsequently put under further pressure in prison.

In a report (A/HRC/34/65) to the Human Rights Council on 17 March 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran criticized the Iranian authorities for repressing victims’ families.

The public attention to this subject has forced the government to engage in massive propaganda to defend the massacre by misrepresenting the facts and blaming the victims.

Iranian officials act with impunity

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a board member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader, in a sermon on 21 July 2017 cried out against the calls for justice.

Khatami said: “Confronting them (imprisoned dissidents) and wiping out the Monafeqin (PMOI) was one of the Imam’s most righteous and valuable actions, and all of the persons who complied with his edict should be awarded a Medal of Honour. … However, those who on their websites have switched the place of martyrs and murderers should repent and beg for forgiveness.”

His remarks echoed those of Supreme Leader Khamenei who said on 4 June 2017 that the 1980s were an era of great glory, stressing that “the place of the victim and the executioner should not be changed.”

Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi who was Iran’s Justice Minister until August 2017 was quoted on 28 August 2016, by the state-run Tasnim news agency as saying: “God commanded show no mercy to the nonbelievers because they will not show mercy to you either and there should be no mercy to the [PMOI] because if they could they would spill your blood, which they did. … We are proud to have carried out God’s commandment with regard to the [Mojahedin] and to have stood with strength and fought against the enemies of God and the people.”

In an interview with the state-affiliated Tarikh Online website, aired on 9 July 2017, Ali Fallahian, Iran’s former Intelligence Minister, acknowledged that Khomeini’s 1988 fatwa called for the eradication of all affiliates of the PMOI. Fallahian said that even PMOI supporters whose only crime was to distribute the group’s literature or buy bread or other provisions for them were found guilty of waging war on God and executed.

Fallahian has three international warrants for his arrest; two by German and Swiss magistrates over his role in the assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad, and an Interpol Red Notice over his role in the terrorist bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.

Mohsen Rafiqdoost, Iran’s former Minister for the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), in an interview with the state-run Mehr News Agency on 18 July 2017 defended the 1988 massacre, adding: “Today too if we find [PMOI members], we will do the same with them.”

Ebrahim Raisi’s campaign in the weeks leading to the May election continuously sent out messages via the social network Telegram defending the 1988 massacre through misrepresentation of the facts.

With Raisi standing by his side, Yasser Mousavi, the Friday prayers’ leader in Varamin, said at a Raisi campaign rally on 12 May 2017: “This grand figure who is standing next to me is proud to have executed the members of the PMOI.”

Articles seeking to justify the massacre have been published across state media, including online publications, and Intelligence Ministry outlets.

Since 2016, the 1988 massacre has gradually turned into a growing demand by the victims’ families and the Iranian people for transparency and prosecution of those involved. This has already been a major development both from a human rights perspective and from a purely political perspective, indicating that even after 29 years, the massacre remains a benchmark for the Iranian people to judge different factions of the ruling system. Many describe the issue of the massacre as the collective conscience of the Iranian people, which cannot be set aside until the perpetrators are brought to justice.

International condemnation

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) have all described Iran’s 1988 massacre as a ‘crime against humanity’.

UN Secretary General António Guterres in a 13 March 2017 report to the Human Rights Council mentioned that the OHCHR has received the copies of dozens of complaint letters addressed to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from families of persons killed in the 1988 mass executions.

Time for the UN to assume its responsibility

What happened in Iranian prisons in 1988 remains a deep scar on the body and soul of the Iranian people. The only way to soothe this wound would be a comprehensive and independent investigation to identify those who abused their power to execute thousands of their ideological opponents.

In a report published in February 2017 (INQUIRY INTO THE 1988 MASS EXECUTIONS IN IRAN), the London-based NGO, Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), points out that the failure of the international community thus far to investigate this ‘crime against humanity’ and to bring the perpetrators to justice has fuelled a culture of impunity for Iranian officials who continue to violate international law and human rights.

According to international law there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity. It is the responsibility of the international community, including the Human Rights Council and Security Council, to attend to this matter and to ensure that accountability is achieved. What gives this matter urgency is that the 1988 mass extra-legal executions have not come to an end. Iran continues to execute people following unfair trials.

The perpetrators of the 1988 massacre still enjoy impunity and most are currently holding key positions in the Iranian administration.

We urge the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, in particular the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Asma Jahangir, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, Pablo de Greiff, to investigate Iran’s 1988 massacre as part of their respective mandates.

We call on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, HE Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to order a Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 massacre based on the UN Economic and Social Council Resolution 1989/65 which states in principle 11: “In cases in which the established investigative procedures are inadequate because of lack of expertise or impartiality, because of the importance of the matter or because of the apparent existence of a pattern of abuse, and in cases where there are complaints from the family of the victim about these inadequacies or other substantial reasons, Governments shall pursue investigations through an independent commission of inquiry or similar procedure. Members of such a commission shall be chosen for their recognized impartiality, competence and independence as individuals. In particular, they shall be independent of any institution, agency or person that may be the subject of the inquiry.”

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European Lawmakers Call on the United Nations to Investigate the Massacre of 1988 in Iran and to Prosecute the Perpetrators

European Lawmakers Call on the United Nations to Investigate the Massacre of 1988 in Iran and to Prosecute the Perpetrators

On Wednesday, 13 September 2017, the Friends of a Free Iran in the European Parliament (FOFI), held a conference at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg with the participation of dozens of MEPs. They called on the Council of the European Union, the member states and the High Representative of the European Union, Mrs. Federica Mogherini, to end silence and inaction with respect to the brutal violation of human rights in Iran. In particular, they called for an independent investigation by the United Nations into the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988 and the preparation of the trial for those responsible for this crime.

The meeting was moderated by Gérard Deprez MEP (ALDE Group), chair of FOFI, which has the support of around 300 parliamentarians from various political groups and countries. In this meeting, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the political coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran was the guest speaker and several members of the European Parliament took part in the discussions.

Referring to the recent report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, in which Article 7 refers to the 1988 massacre, speakers called on the UN General Assembly meeting, to be held next week in New York, to form an investigation committee into the massacre, and called on the UN Security Council to refer this case to the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators of this crime would be brought to justice.

MEPs emphasized that indifference to this great crime that was unprecedented after the Second World War has made the Iranian regime more emboldened to continue mass executions and violations of international standards. Silence against these crimes if it is for the sake of business is shameful and if it is for the nuclear deal, would be quite naive. The regime gets the message of weakness from silence against this barbarism.

In July for example, 101 prisoners were executed. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said during his opening remarks in the UN Human Rights Council on 11 September 2017: “Since the beginning of the year at least four children have been put to death, and at least 89 other children remain on death row.”

Parliamentarians endorsed the 10-point platform of opposition leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, that calls for democracy, secularism, respect for human rights, abolition of the death penalty in Iran, and peace and tranquility in the region. They emphasized that, based on 38 years of experience with this regime, as long as the religious dictatorship rules, oppression in Iran, and terrorism and fundamentalism in the region will remain.

The so-called presidential election in May was quite undemocratic as there were no opposition candidates. During the first four years of the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, more than 3,000 people were executed, making Iran the number state-executioner in the world per capita. He has described executions as rule of law and divine laws.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran wrote in her recent report: “Between July and August 1988, thousands of political prisoners, men, women and teen-agers, were reportedly executed pursuant to a fatwa issued by the then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini…

The report points to evidence that reveals “the names of the officials who had carried out and defended the executions, including the current Minister of Justice, a current high court judge, and the head of one of the largest religious foundations in the country and candidate in the May presidential elections.”

It adds: “Recently, these killings have been acknowledged by some at the highest levels of the State. The families of the victims have a right to know the truth about these events and the fate of their loved ones without risking reprisal. They have the right to a remedy, which includes the right to an effective investigation of the facts and public disclosure of the truth; and the right to reparation. The Special Rapporteur therefore calls on the Government to ensure that a thorough and independent investigation into these events is carried out.”

The MEPs regretted Mrs Mogherini’s silence about the 1988 massacre and generally for her silence about repression of women and human rights violations in Iran. “This silence by our EU High Representative only encourages the mullahs to continue their crimes in Iran. This is very bad for the reputation of Europe.

“We in the European Parliament, who are elected representatives of the people of Europe, we must defend European values which are democracy, human rights, women rights, separation of religion and state”.

MEPs urged European governments and the EU, to condition relations with Islamic Republic of Iran, to a suspension of executions and a clear progress on human rights.

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London Major Rally: Break Silence on the 1988 Massacre in Iran

London Major Rally: Break Silence on the 1988 Massacre in Iran

LONDON, 04 September 2017— Cross party members of the British parliament and political personalities joined the Anglo-Iranian communities from across the UK and called upon the British government to take the lead for the establishment of an independent committee to investigate mass executions of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and to bring those responsible to justice. They stressed the time has come to end impunity for Iranian officials who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in the country.

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Major Rally in the Hague Calls for Independent International Inquiry Into 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran

Major Rally in the Hague Calls for Independent International Inquiry Into 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran

In a major rally at The Hague, Iranian communities in the Netherlands, Dutch personalities, and international jurists on Saturday, September 2, called upon the Dutch government to take the lead for the establishment of an independent committee to investigate the mass executions of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988 and to bring those responsible to justice.

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Iran: Campaign to stop destruction of mass grave of those killed in 1988 prison massacre

Iran: Campaign to stop destruction of mass grave of those killed in 1988 prison massacre

Amnesty International 4 September 2017

The Iranian authorities must urgently stop the destruction of a mass grave in the southern city of Ahvaz said Amnesty International today, launching a campaign to urge authorities to protect the site, where dozens of prisoners killed during a wave of mass extrajudicial executions in August and September 1988 are buried.

Construction near the area began earlier this year. Recent footage obtained by the organization shows the site is gradually being buried beneath piles of construction waste. The campaign is being launched along with a video highlighting the imminent risks posed to the site.

“Bulldozing the mass grave at Ahvaz will destroy crucial forensic evidence that could be used to bring those responsible for the 1988 mass extrajudicial executions to justice. It would also deprive families of victims of their rights to truth, justice and reparation, including the right to bury their loved ones in dignity. By joining Amnesty International’s campaign, people can help to press Iran’s authorities to stop the imminent destruction of the site,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Instead of desecrating the mass grave with piles of rubbish and waste and further tormenting families, who face repression for their efforts to protect the memory of their loved ones, the authorities should be upholding their duty to preserve all Iran’s mass grave sites so that investigations can be carried out into the 1988 extrajudicial executions and other mass killings.”

This month marks 29 years since the mass prisoner killings took place across the country.

The organization is calling on people to join the campaign by sending appeals to Ahvaz City Council and Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, amongst other targets, and promoting the hashtag #MassGraves88 on social media.

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Mothers of the Iranian Martyrs Demand Trial of the Regime Leaders for the 1988 Massacre

Mothers of the Iranian Martyrs Demand Trial of the Regime Leaders for the 1988 Massacre

Mothers of Laleh Park which include mothers of the martyrs of 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran and mothers of the martyrs of 2009 uprising and political prisoners who were executed in recent years have issued a statement on Thursday 31 August 2017 calling for trial of the Iranian regime’s leaders for the massacre of the political prisoners in the summer of 1988.

They emphasized in the statement that to achieve freedom and democracy in Iran, there is no way other than putting on trial and bringing to justice the masterminds and perpetrators of the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s and all other crimes committed by the leaders of the mullahs’ regime.

Mothers of Laleh Park also supported in their statement the legitimate demands of the hunger striking political prisoners in Gohardasht prison.

The statement reads in part:

On the 29th anniversary of the mass killings of the political prisoners in the summer of 1988, we step into a phase that we are almost able to clarify part of the truth about the killing of political prisoners during the 1980s, especially the massacre of prisoners in the summer of 1988; these prisoners had been sentenced to prison terms but later were sentenced to death following trials that lasted a few minutes behind closed doors and then were executed…

The recent lawsuit to international organizations and institutions by fifty mothers and families of martyrs buried in Khavaran in Iran regarding the massacre of political prisoners during the 1980s is a turning point in this direction that families of political prisoners are seriously following the issue of clarifying the facts and the reason as why these political prisoners were massacred.

We are independent currents that aim to raise the voice of the plaintiffs who seek justice in Iran, and we are also seriously following why and how these crimes occurred.

We know very well that some groups from the very first years intended to conceal and keep silent these crimes for various excuses, and only when their interests are tied to this issue, they pose the question of why the killing of political prisoners in 1988 occurred not for the clarifying the facts, but also to stay in power. They even try to exploit the families to reach their goals, but by no means try to pursuit the true about these crimes because they themselves, directly or indirectly, have been and are involved in the perpetration of these crimes.

We also know well that some of these groups and affiliated currents of intellectual power or under the influence of the government agents, on the premise that we need national reconciliation, have been promoting the slogans for a while “forgiving but not forgetting,” on the grounds that pursuing these crimes would undermine the development and spread of democracy, while we have witnessed that the cover up of the killing of political activists in the 1980s resulted in continuation of imprisonment, torture and execution of political and social activists, and there is not a single day that we do not witness the silencing of the voice of libertarians in prisons and outside prisons in Iran and even guild and civil activists are struggling for their simplest rights.

The closest example is the risk to the lives of a number of political prisoners in Gohardasht prison in Karaj who are on hunger strike to achieve their most obvious rights and protesting their compulsory transfer to the max-security hall that the Islamic Republic must be held accountable for and respond.

We have a deep belief in the achievement of freedom and democracy, but there is no way other than putting on fair and public trials and bringing to justice the masterminds and perpetrators of the killing of political prisoners in the 1980s and all other crimes committed by the officials of the Islamic Republic that were decided in unfair trials and often behind closed doors. We must make clear to the people why and how these crimes were perpetrated so that we can gain freedom and pave the way for justice.

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Exhibition in Brussels in Support of Hunger Striking Political Prisoners and 1988 massacre in Iran

Exhibition in Brussels in Support of Hunger Striking Political Prisoners and 1988 massacre in Iran

Call for an international commission of inquiry to investigate 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran

On the anniversary of the execution of over 30.000 prisoners in Iran in summer of 1988, an exhibition including photos, documents and artistic works was held in the Residence Palace, Brussels on August 30.

Human rights defenders, renowned jurists, and European politicians took part in the exhibition. Julie ward, member of European Parliament (United Kingdom) and Professor Eric David, renowned jurist and Professor of International Law at Université libre de Bruxelles were among the participants.

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Protestors from the NCRI to call on MPs to investigate 1988 massacre in Iran, with help from Barnet MPs Theresa Villiers and Matthew Offord

Protestors from the NCRI to call on MPs to investigate 1988 massacre in Iran, with help from Barnet MPs Theresa Villiers and Matthew Offord

Times, Aug. 31, 2017 – Barnet MPs will be joining with campaigners at a rally in support of Iranian political prisoners this weekend.
MPs Theresa Villiers and Matthew Offord will join members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran ( NCRI ), MPs and dignitaries in Trafalgar Square on Saturday to protest against executions and abuse of human rights in the country, and to show support for those who have been imprisoned on political grounds.
The rally will also serve to call on the government to propose an independent investigation in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988 during the upcoming UN General Assembly in September.
Ms Villiers said: ”The focus of the rally on Saturday is the mass killings which took place in 1988.
‘Thousands of political prisoners were executed without trial and some of my own constituents lost family members.’
Ms Villiers also said she is working with the significant British Iranian community in Barnet to highlight the issue of human rights abuses in Iran, and wants more people to know what happened so those responsible can be brought to justice.
According to the NCRI, Iran holds the highest number of executions per capita in the world, and Iranian authorities carried out more than 100 executions, including hanging a juvenile offender, during the month of July alone.
Other people to speak at the rally include Margaret Owen OBE, a human rights barrister and director of charity Widows for Peace through Democracy, along with family members of those who were killed in 1988.

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UN Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran and 1988 Massacre

UN Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran and 1988 Massacre

02 September 2017–The Secretary-General of U.N. transmitted to the General Assembly the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, which has been submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 34/23.

During its thirty-third session, the Human Rights Council appointed Asma Jahangir as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The present report outlines the activities carried out by the Special Rapporteur since the issuance of her first report to the Council (A/HRC/34/65), examines ongoing issues and presents some of the most recent and pressing developments in the area of human rights in the country.

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