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Daily Star: Death Commissions in Iran Responsible for the Massacre of 30,000 Political Prisoners

Britain's Daily Star has published new shocking details about the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran
Pictures of some of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran - file photo

Britain's Daily Star has published new shocking details about the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.

More than 30,000 victims were either hanged or shot dozens at a time in mass executions in 1988 and their corpses were then dumped into unmarked mass graves around Iran, the Daily Star Online wrote on November 12, 2019. 

The report said Iranian opposition activists from the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) have released a new book detailing the “Death Commissions” behind the 1988 massacre. 

"The book Crime Against Humanity names 5,015 of the victims, has eyewitness accounts of the massacre, and names the members of the regime responsible," the Daily Star Online wrote.

"Iran attempted to cover up the brutal massacre which was carried out by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini." 

 "NCRI insiders have identified three Death Commission members who continue to hold senior positions within the regime." 

"Ebrahim Raisi – the current head of the Iranian judiciary – is accused of leading arrests, torture and executions during the massacre." 

"Mostafa Pourmohammadi – a judicial advisor – is thought to have handed down death sentences to all prisoners in Tehran and Karaj." 

"And Alireza Avai – Iran’s current justice minister – was one of the leading prosecutors involved in the slaughter." 

"The officials were identified by the NCRI sources and the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from within their 'network' within Iran." 

"The opposition groups accuse Iran of taking 'every effort' to keep the details of the massacre secret, and they 'severely punish anyone' who speaks out in public." 

Eyewitness accounts reveal the horror of the massacre with the regime carrying out the mass killings such as by hanging prisoners from cranes, the Daily Star added. 

Groups of 33 people would be hanged at once in these “execution yards” – with the victims being pulled down and replaced every 30 minutes. 

Trucks of bodies were then taken away and dumped, with this process being repeated for two weeks. 

And another account details a factory assembly hall being converted into a killing floor – with the Death Commission ordering the emptying of the prison at Gohardasht. 

One witness said: “The ropes were suspended from the high ceiling. The prisoners, blindfolded and hands-tied, were led onto the stage in groups of 10 to 15. 

“There the guards would place the noose around their necks. The prison governor would then hang each one by kicking him from behind and throwing him off the stage. 

“Members of the [Death Commission] attended the execution sessions.” 

Another ex-prisoner added: “If they felt that an inmate hanging from the gallows was still alive, they would grab his feet and pull down his body with all their weight to finish him off. 

“In several cases, when they lowered the body, they noticed that the victim was still alive. 

“[The prison governor] would say ‘no problem’ and would order the guards to bring the next batch of prisoners on the stage. 

“The victim would be taken to mass graves along with other corpses and buried alive.” 

Khomeini had ordered the torture and execution of the prisoners allegedly due to a secret fatwa, the Daily Star wrote. 

Khomeini accused the political prisoners of “waging war on God” and urged his Death Commissions to “not show any mercy”. 

Iranian officials accuse anyone investigating the killings as “disclosing state secrets” and decry them as a “threat to national security”. 

The new book Crime Against Humanity was launched last month with an event at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. 

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI, told Daily Star Online: "Western governments and the United Nations turned a blind eye on this crime.

“Having enjoyed impunity for such horrible crime, the regime emboldened to spread its crimes to the Middle East which is still ongoing. They turned Syria into a blood bath and fuelled the war in Yemen. 

“In recent months, the mullahs and their Revolutionary Guards struck at vessels in international waters, and at oil installations and airports in their neighboring countries. 

“Clearly, they do so because they do not confront any firmness." 

Maryam Rajavi added: “The dossier of the massacre of political prisoners must be referred to the UN Security Council and international courts, and perpetrators would face justice.” 

Background to Iran’s 1988 massacre: 

  • More than 30,000 political prisoners were massacred in Iran in the summer of 1988. 
  • The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by Khomeini. 
  • The vast majority of the victims were activists of the opposition PMOI, also known as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK). 
  • Death Commissions approved all the death sentences. 
  • Ebrahim Raisi, a member of the Death Commissions, is today Iran’s Judiciary Chief. 
  • Alireza Avaei, a member of the Death Commissions, is today Hassan Rouhani’s Justice Minister. 
  • The perpetrators of the 1988 massacre have never been brought to justice. 
  • On August 9, 2016, an audiotape was published for the first time of Khomeini’s former heir acknowledging that the 1988 massacre took place and had been ordered at the highest levels. 

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