Perpetrators of Iran's Massacre of Political Prisoners Must Be Held Accountable

Iran Focus

London, 13 Jul - In the summer of 1988, a massacre of some 30,000 political prisoners occurred in Iran.

For three decade this atrocity was kept silent. However, when conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who was one of the perpetrators of the massacre, was selected as one of the main candidates in this year’s presidential election, the issue forced regime officials to acknowledge the crime.

In his July 2nd interview with the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Mullah Ali Razini, prosecutor of branch 41 of Iran’s Supreme Court, had this to say about the 1988 massacre, “Executions in 1988 were fair and legal…[Iranian regime founder Ruhollah] Khomeini carried out a measure no other clergy was able to throughout history …Khomeini was decisive and had no reservations over God’s will, and God’s will was that all enemies of God must be executed…Imam (Khomeini) did not pay any attention to the West’s human rights claims… At the time 80 to 90 percent of high school and university students supported opposition groups. We started the trails and after convicting them, in a period of two to three months the card was turned around… my friends and I, all together we were 20 judges in the country, and we carried out something that guaranteed the security of the country for that year and the years to come, so the MEK can never rise again, because in a period that they were getting strong we suffocated them.”

In 1988 a fatwa was issued by then-Supreme Leader Khomeini. This religious decree called for the execution of anyone who was considered an enemy of Islam, especially those involved with the PMOI/MEK. The decree reads, in part: “Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK)] must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately!…Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the MEK are waging war on God, and are condemned to execution…It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God.”

A committee of four men was formed to implement the order. Raisi was one of the four, who were known to the “Death Commission.” Last year an audio tape and unpublished letters of the former successor to Khomeini, the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, revealed the scope of this great crime. Montazeri wrote that pregnant women and girls as young as 14 and 15 years old were among those executed.

According to a 1990 Amnesty International report, “A full accounting of what’s called the ‘death commission’ created by Khomeini has yet to be carried out. But thousands died — by hanging or firing squad or in places such as Tehran’s Evin prison.” Amnesty also reported on November 3, 2016 that, “Prisoner of conscience Maryam Akbari Monfared has been threatened with an additional three-year prison term and exile to a remote prison. This was in reprisal for her open letters seeking truth and justice for her siblings who were extrajudicially executed in 1988. She has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since 2009 serving a 15-year sentence.” In another report in 2009, Amnesty called on “Iranian authorities to immediately stop the destruction of hundreds of individual and mass, unmarked graves in Khavaran, south Tehran, to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into mass executions which began in 1988, often referred to in Iran as the ‘prison massacres’. The organization fears that these actions of the Iranian authorities are aimed at destroying evidence of human rights violations and depriving the families of the victims of the 1988 killings of their right to truth, justice and reparation.”

Iran’s human rights violations have gone on far too long, and those responsible have not been held accountable. With the 29th anniversary of this horrific purge, perhaps the time has come.


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