On August 21, a significant conference convened in Paris to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1988 massacre, during which 30,000 political prisoners lost their lives in Iran. The meeting, aptly titled “Four Decades of Crimes Against Humanity and Impunity from Punishment,” brought together distinguished international judges and legal experts from across the globe.
A striking aspect of the attendees at the conference in Paris was the extensive experience and deep understanding of the major global courts among the legal experts present. These former judges and prosecutors have dealt with a wide array of cases, spanning from Cambodia to Yugoslavia, and from the Gaza Strip to Argentina.
Professor Wolfgang Schomburg, a former judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, brought his valuable insights. The prosecution of Slobodan Milošević for war crimes in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was led by Mr. Geoffrey Nice, whose presence added to the conference’s significance.
Notably, the expertise of Professor Leila Nadiya Sadat was also evident; she has delved into matters ranging from crimes against humanity in Argentina to the tragic 1982 massacre in Hama, Syria. Sheila Paylan, actively involved in the trials of Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, contributed to securing the definitive sentencing of former head of state Kyu Sampong, confirming his life imprisonment.
Participating in the event was Professor William Schabas, renowned for his leadership of the UN’s independent investigative commission in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the conference boasted the presence of significant figures such as former Hague Tribunal president Prof. Chile Eboe-Osuji, Prof. Vilenas Vadapalas, a judge at the General Court of the European Union, and other individuals who have directly engaged or overseen pivotal cases across the globe during the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Conference: Four Decades of Crime against Humanity and Impunity from Punishment pic.twitter.com/gmQdqCkNfB
It’s time to end 4 decades of impunity enjoyed by the clerical regime's leaders, accountability for their participation in genocide & crimes against humanity. Khamenei,…
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) August 21, 2023
The immediate and noteworthy outcome of this expert gathering in Paris underscores their fervent commitment to every legal case discussed. When such distinguished thought leaders converge to address matters like the imperative pursuit of the 1988 massacre case and the removal of immunity for those involved, it unequivocally signals the end of safety for the perpetrators. Those implicated, including the regime’s top leadership and the Death Commission members, must now face the bitter reality that what happened in the trial of Hamid Noury in the Court of Stockholm was only the beginning and brace themselves for the challenges ahead.
For the past 35 years, the Iranian regime had managed to evade trial and accountability for the heinous crime of the 1988 massacre, finding refuge within its own web of power. It bided its time, anticipating the gradual fading of memories, hoping that the enormity of its crimes would be forgotten. Nevertheless, a turning point occurred in 2016 when the Iranian Resistance placed the issue of “ending impunity” at the forefront. The pursuit of justice for the victims has become their unwavering mission, no matter the challenges they may face.
Professor Wolfgang Schomburg specifically highlighted the need to hold accountable those responsible for the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, even those working behind the scenes, emphasizing that even a sitting president can be held responsible under international law. The concept of presidential immunity no longer holds weight, he assured.
Referencing Article 27 of the Rome Statute, former President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Chile Eboe-Osuji, pointed out that “no one, not even heads of state, would enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
Join us in urging world leaders including #EU @enriquemora_ to speak out against impunity for crimes against humanity related to Iran's #1988Massacre and call on @UN_HRC to set up an investigative & accountability mechanism to deter further bloodshed & secure justice for victims. pic.twitter.com/UX8LSgAugu
— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) August 5, 2021
Professor Vadapalas, a former judge of the European Union’s General Court, stressed the necessity to amend the “European detention laws,” asserting that there should be no immunity for those involved in crimes such as the 1988 massacre. He also highlighted Lithuania’s expanded genocide definition, covering the persecution of political groups like the PMOI. This now includes prosecution, killing, and extermination, carrying profound implications, he confirmed.
Sheila Paylan, with 15 years of experience as a legal consultant at the United Nations, passionately pledged her support to Iran’s Resistance, stating, “Today, and every day from here onwards, I stand with you, I walk with you, I put one step in front of the other alongside you, helping to carry you as you would carry me in our communal fight against tyranny and justice and impunity all the way to the end, and with abundant faith, I look forward to celebrating with you all when Iran, not if Iran, but when Iran will finally be free.”
The words of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mrs. Oleksandra Matviichuk served as a poignant reminder that the regime faces another reckoning for its involvement in ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ukraine. She emphasized that engagement with the regime and the concept of “exemption from punishment” have far-reaching consequences, enabling the regime to spread terrorism to other nations, including Ukraine. She advocated for the creation of a UN commission to probe the 1988 massacre and ensure accountability for those responsible.