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EDITORIAL: Anniversary of Iran’s 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners

EDITORIAL: Anniversary of Iran’s 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners
Anniversary of Iran’s 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners

Morgan Ortagus, the US State Department’s Spokesperson, on July 17 said: July 19th marks the anniversary of the start of Iran’s so-called Death Commissions on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. These commissions sent over 30,000 political prisoners in a matter of a few months to the gallows.  

The current head of the Iranian judiciary and current minister of justice have both been identified as former members of these Death Commissions…. All Iranian officials who commit human rights violations or abuses should be held accountable,” the State Department’s spokesperson added.  

This is a righteous call which should have happened much earlier. The time has come for the European countries to join this call. Recently 31 former officials, and political and military figures from the U.S., in a statement to the 3-day “Free Iran Global Summit,” which during one of its meetings focused on the Iranian regime’s crimes, called for the Iranian regime to be held accountable for its crimes against humanity. They further urged all the governments to send factfinding missions to Ashraf 3, Albania, the headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), to listen to the testimony of over 900 political prisoners there.  

32 years ago, after regime’s defeat during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war, Ruhollah Khomeini, then the regime’s supreme leader, was forced to drink the ‘chalice of poison of a ceasefire and end the war which he had said he would continue until the destruction of the last house in Tehran and reaching Quds via Karbala. Simultaneous with the decision of accepting the ceasefire, the mullahs’ regime decided to massacre political prisoners in order to defuse the consequences of drinking from the ‘chalice of poison’ and failing in the war, and to intimidate the Iranian society. In this regard, Khomeini issued a horrific fatwa, based on which all the MEK prisoners who “remain steadfast,” should be executed and massacred in all prisons across the country. 

The fatwa, which was recorded in history and was handwritten by Khomeini himself, clearly orders: “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.” 

Based on this decree, over 30,000 political prisoners were massacred 

History has witnessed many crimes and massacres, but the 1988 massacre of political prisoners has some unique characteristics:  

  1. This crime was committed based on the written order of the highest official of the system.  
  1. The crime of the victims was only having a belief and persevering on it.  
  1. All the people massacred were prisoners who had been tried and condemned by the regime’s own Judiciary and in few-minutes long courts, and many had finished serving their prison sentences.  

Given these characteristics, Geoffrey Robertson QC, former appeal judge on the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone, described the 1988 massacre as the “Worst crime against humanity since the Second World War.”  

In the face of all these characteristics which, according to Khomeini’s then-successor Hossein-Ali Montazeri, resulted in Khomeini and his executioners’ names being recorded as the worst criminals in history, the steadfastness of those massacred is a unique example in history, astonishing and even epic.  

Thousands of prisoners were able to decide their destiny, and choose between freedom or death, by answering one question asked by the “Death Commission. The question was: What is your charge? Prisoners knew saying the word MEK would equal execution, but amazingly out of thousands of prisoners in prisons across Iran who were asked this question, 95 percent of them bravely said MEK and that they supported the MEK 

After 32 years, what the U.S. State Department today says confirms that since the 1988 massacre is a crime against humanity, it is not subject to the statute of limitations. Furthermore, this attestation to the truth is a reflection of the awakened human conscience in the current world. It is the same conscience that 32 years after the massacre of political prisoners today acknowledges that during the 1988 massacre, the MEK, as part of its 40-year resistance, in choosing between surrender and martyrdom for freedom, chose the path of freedom, a path that continues and will continue until the establishment of a free and democratic Iran.