Mr. Anand Grover, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Health, acting member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy was among the distinguished guests and speakers at the NCRI international conference that addressed the 1988 massacre in Iran. The event was held on July 3 and attracted dozens of human rights experts and internationally renowned lawyers and former UN officials.
Mr. Grover conducted an inspiring speech, focusing on the mindset and strong conviction of those Iranian political prisoners who were murdered by the clerical regime. He stressed and highlighted the ideals that these people were willing to give their lives for and concluded that it’s the duty of those living to bring justice and accomplish the mission of those who have fallen for freedom.
The full text of Mr. Anand Grover’s speech follows:
Friends and comrades, I don’t pretend to be a leftist. I have an issue with the PM which I’ll talk about later. Today we are meeting here to remember those 30,000 or so Iranian citizens and my comrades executed in 1988 by the Iranian regime.
The crime against humanity ensures that the struggle is not forgotten but becomes an impetus for continued struggle and final victory toward a free Iran. I want to thank the organizers of this very important meeting of the National Council of Resistance of the Iran Movement and call for justice for inviting me to join in their efforts to get justice for those who were executed.
I must tell you that I have learned a lot today and it actually, I got to chill down my spine when I think about the way the Iranian regime executed these people.
Being a strong proponent of women’s rights in India, I’m glad to note that the leadership of this movement is in the hands of a very capable woman, Ms. Mariam Rajavi. And I’m sure that in the future as another speaker said, there’ll be young women who will actually continue the leadership of this movement.
I must say that in our office, I and my partner have encouraged women and people of different groups and thinking to join our legal office. You know, there is a myth that in Islamic groups, women are not encouraged in leadership positions. I’m glad that you have smashed this myth.
I’m also glad to note that the Resistance movement comprises different groups with different ideas but with a very clear common aim, to get rid of the repressive Mullah leadership in Iran and have a free Iran.
We have a very strong affinity to Iran in India because a large number of people who were persecuted in Iran, the Persians and what we call Iranians, they are in India. So, they have a very close link and I have a lot of friends in that community and they talk about Iran. So, we, and of course, the Persian poets are very well regarded in India.
But coming back to the issue, for a long time, the regime in Iran did not let the relatives of those executed know of their fate or death or whereabouts. This is despite thousands of demands by the Iranians and the international community.
For a long time, there was no admission of the fate of those executed. Later in various interviews, some of those in power admitted that those people were executed because of the fatwa or decree passed by the highest authority to execute those who remained loyal to the Mujahedin.
I want to pause here for a moment. You know, for me, this is one of the finest moments for people who believe in something so simple, I will not agree with you and I’m prepared to die. Can you think about this? It’s an amazing fate of human effort to be able to do it.
Please appreciate the conviction of their beliefs, their bravery, and the courage of their conviction. And if you read history, from the Jacobins in France to the Russian Revolution, big people have fallen at this precise moment.
But these 30,000 people, they remain steadfast and they were told, are you with us or with the Mujahedin? If you remain with the Mujahedin, you’ll be dead. And they stayed loyal to their faith and their conviction. There cannot be a higher duty than that.
I don’t know whether I would be able to do the same in the circumstances. A chill, as I said, goes down my spine whenever I think about these people. I can only salute the brave and courageous people of Iran who gave up their life for an idea. And that’s why I’m very glad that I’ve come to see this today.
And what is that idea? It is an idea that one can have a belief different from those who rule in a society, and they can voice it without any reprisal. It is an idea that people of different faiths, thoughts, ethnicity, race, and gender can live in the same societies as sisters and brothers and exercise their thoughts through speech and beliefs without any reprisal or free from reprisal.
Prof. Anand Grover, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India:
— Justice for the Victims of 1988 Massacre in Iran (@jvmifoundation) July 15, 2023
It is that idea that even if you actually take a particular point of view, then you’ll be safe. It is also an idea that if you have done wrong in leadership as the state, you’ll be taken into account. That is the future of the idea of a free Iran, in my opinion.
And I must tell you that when I thought about this talk today, it reminded me of our constitution makers in India. Because ours was a country ruled by the British and we had the same problem of so many religions. Of course, the dominant is Hindus. And the real issue before the nationalist leadership, the freedom movement was how to shape India. And the British felt that we could never have a democratic free India with constitutional liberties.
But we did. And that is a marvel, which I always am proud of. But what is that? And it’s encapsulated in the preamble of the Constitution. And what does it say?
We, the people of India, have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Republic. What is the meaning of a republic? It is not a leader who decides. It is the people who have given that power to that leader. Very important.
And what we will do? Justice, which is social, economic, and political. So, the victims of those 30,000 people are entitled to justice in such a society.
Then liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship. That is exactly what they were exercising.
Equality of status and opportunity, that everybody is treated equally. The fatwa by the leader, he is not supreme. He is equal to the people. And most importantly, to promote among them all fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual.
So, in my opinion, those 30,000 people were actually fighting for this. This is encapsulated in the preamble of our constitution.
Of course, this is under attack in India today. There is a right-wing shift all over the world. India is just one of the victims of this. But we are fighting back.
I am one of the victims of the government. But may I say that with all my humbleness, because I have attended this meeting and I have seen decisive leadership and commitment by you people, I have learned a lot.
And I will don’t lose this freedom that we gained 75 years ago. In my opinion, the preamble encapsulates what those 30,000 people believed in.
And I’m sure the vast majority of people in Iran also want the same, like people all over the world. I have a lot of faith in people and including people in Iran. In memory of those victims in 1988, let us strive to achieve this in the long run.
This is indeed, in my opinion, the prescription for a free Iran. I’m not just saying it. I was going around the exhibition today and I saw a writing by one of the women, one of the victims, Monireh Rajavi. If you have a chance, just go to it and see. She was a student at Newcastle University. And what did she say? It’s very poignant. They want to destroy our human identity. We must fight back. The way to do this is to care more for one another.
This is indeed a prescription for all humanity. You have to fight back against injustice, not with injustice, but caring for people.
So those people who were executed need justice to be delivered to them. We must keep on demanding from the Iranian government, as people have demanded before us, provide accurate information on the faith and whereabouts of the individuals who are no more, provide accurate death certificates, stop threats and harassment of families of those who were executed, and most importantly, which you all have highlighted, investigate and prosecute those responsible.
This is the most difficult thing to achieve in Iran today, but it is the most important in the short and long run. It is here that the international community must put its weight to support efforts to get justice for the victims.
But I must tell you, having seen the UN from the inside, I am dismayed but not surprised that the reports of the UN Special Rapporteurs, the Committee on Involuntary Disappearances, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary General of the UN, they were able to pass the UN General Assembly Resolution in December 1988.
But the situation in Iran was not referred to the Security Council. The UN General Assembly did not follow up on the resolution and the UN Commission on Human Rights has not taken action. I am dismayed but not hopeless. I am hopeful that this will happen.
Of course, we must have more trials like those of the Stockholm District Court convicting Hamid Noury. This can be done by lawyers around the world. There must be more Kenneth Lewises. Kenneth, can you clone yourself and make other people like yourself? That would be a great idea.
The failure of the international human rights community to act has had a devastating impact on the survivors and the families as well as on the general situation of human rights in Iran and emboldened the Iranian regime to continue to conceal the fate of victims and maintain a strategy of deflection and denial that continues till date.
These need to be tackled urgently. Let us make a plan to do that in the near future and ensure that inquiry into the executions of 1988 is conducted by the UN in accordance with the long-standing demand.
And if that is not possible, an independent body of judicial members, which is not necessarily the UN, if the UN is dragging its feet, why can’t we think of constituting an independent judicial member body which will look into it? That’s another way of putting pressure.
With the bravery and courage of the Iranian people, all this will be achieved.
Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
So, in all this, I can assure you of my support for your very, very just struggle and for an Azad Iran. Free Iran or Azad Iran will happen sooner than you think. It will happen in your lifetime. That’s how you have to believe because your struggle is just. As a lawyer, I always tell my clients, if their case is just, you will win and never lose hope.
I want to congratulate you for your immense strength and courage to tackle this ruthless regime. You will replace them, don’t you worry.
Thank you very much.