By Jubin Katiraie
Human rights groups have called on the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to investigate Iran’s 1988 massacre of /some 30,000 political prisoners, mainly affiliated to the main opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
A conference was convened by three non-governmental organizations with UN consultative status – France Libertés (Danielle Mitterrand Foundation), Women’s Human Rights International Association and International Educational Development on 9 September 2019.
The conference was moderated by Dr. Hanifeh Khayyeri. Speaking on the human rights situation in Iran under the mullahs’ rule, the speakers called for the abolition of immunity for the perpetrators of the massacre of MEK political prisoners in 1988. The perpetrators of the 1988 massacre are currently among the highest officials of the government and judiciary. The NGOs said they must be brought to justice.
Speakers at the conference were:
- Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, Representative of the Swiss Federal Parliament
- Dr. Alejo Vidal Quadras, Chairman of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ) and former Vice President of the European Parliament
- Kirsty Brimelow, QC, former chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales
- Dr. Henrik Hermansson, a human rights expert and political scientist
- Behzad Naziri, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
Witnesses to the state murders and relatives of the massacred MEK prisoners shared their observations at the conference. Khayyeri introduced the goals of the conference to the audience and welcomed the speakers.
Brimelow, a leading international human rights lawyer, said that the UN had to investigate the crime against humanity because of the overwhelming evidence that MEK members were unlawfully massacred in 1988. Otherwise, the UN will lose its philosophy and depart from its original purpose.
She referred to a recent interview of former Iranian Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi: He continues to justify the massacre of the MEK members in his speech. She stressed that the perpetrators of the crime should be brought to justice.
Vidal Quadras told the conference: Some 30,000 MEK political prisoners were executed swiftly and buried in mass graves and the graves of the MEK victims of the 1988 massacre are still kept secret by Iranian officials. Human rights abuses in Iran have been institutionalized and are implemented in law and in practice.
He added: Iranian authorities should be held accountable for gross violations of human rights by the Human Rights Council. He called on the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, Fabian Salvioli, to continue the work the previous Iran rapporteur Asma Jahangir. He said the international community should focus on human rights abuses, in particular against MEK supporters and activists. The most fundamental and necessary step in this regard is to address the issue of impunity for the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre in Iran, he added.
Swiss lawmaker Fehlmann Rielle announced her support and called on the Human Rights Council to establish an independent commission of inquiry about the 1988 massacre of MEK members and to end the impunity for the perpetrators of this crime against humanity. She added: I call on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet to support justice via an investigation into the 1988 massacre of MEK political prisoners.
NGOs and human rights activists must continue to work effectively to bring the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre of MEK members to justice. In the end, she emphasized that human rights must take precedence over the economic interests of governments and should not be sacrificed.
Hermansson said: The crime against humanity against MEK members committed in Iran in 1988 has become a ladder of growth for the perpetrators of the massacre because of the regime’s nature. The complicity in this crime is an indication of their election to rise to the top of the regime. Therefore, immunity has been institutionalized in this government. The perpetrators of this crime are at all levels of this regime and they are also involved in all the current crimes that are taking place at this time.
Behzad Naziri, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the NCRI, said: This massacre has not been investigated because of the silence of the international community for thirty years. This issue has been raised again by the public in Iran since 2016, and during these three years, we have been able to activate UN mechanisms due to the great work that has been done. We are facing a regime that has been violating human rights for 40 years, he added. So only by changing this regime can we end these human rights violations.