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British Lawmakers Call for Justice on Iran’s 1988 Massacre

The British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF) held a virtual event on Thursday, September 10, over the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners across Iran. This event was attended by dozens of lawmakers and legal experts from the United Kingdom. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) delivered a message to the online conference. This event and its panelists urged the international community to launch an independent investigation about the 1988 massacre and hold the perpetrators of killing 30,000 prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), to account.

The participants underlined that the international community’s failure to hold the regime to account for this massacre has emboldened the mullahs’ regime to continue their human rights violations. They also voiced their support to hold senior officials of the mullahs’ regime accountable for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.

MP David Jones

MP David Jones, distinguished Member of Parliament and UK’s former Secretary of State for Wales chaired this event and was the first speaker.

“The 1988 massacre is often referred to as the worst crime since the Second World War. The alarming human rights situation in Iran is a serious matter for the international community. For too long, the regime has escaped accountability. Allowing a repressive theocratic regime to buy weapons from the market will end in disaster. The issue of accountability is an important process of stopping Tehran’s malign activities and its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The investigation of the 1988 massacre and the accountability of those who perpetrated this crime has widespread support in both houses of the United Kingdom Parliament. The UK must work with allies to make sure this year’s United Nations General Assembly resolution calls for an independent investigation into the 1988 massacre. The international community must act on three major concerns with Iran: Its human rights violation, destabilizing activities, and nuclear program,” David Jones said.

The next speaker was MP Steve McCabe. While referring to the Iranian regime’s crimes and deception, Mr. McCabe said: “We cannot negotiate with this regime. We cannot trust them. The lifting of sanctions encouraged the mullahs to think we do not care where they buy weapons from. They incite more violence through their network of proxies. We have already failed the Iranian people by ignoring the 1988 massacre, by giving the regime billions of pounds as a result of the failed nuclear deal, by not recognizing the opposition and NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi. The people we are dealing with, like Ebrahim Raisi, are responsible for the 1988 massacre. They continue to slaughter people, including 1,500 people in the November 2019 protests.”

While referring to the Amnesty International’s newest report, “Trampled Humanity,” Mr. McCabe said: “Amnesty International recently published a report on the crackdown against the 2019 protests and the regime’s violence against innocent people. They are subjecting prisoners to inhuman torture. They feel they can act with impunity.”

“This is why Madam Rajavi has said the regime cannot be allowed to buy a single bullet and must be held to account for its violation of fundamental rights of the people. We must expose the truth for the world to see. Nothing else will do,” he concluded.

“Regarding a recent report by Amnesty International about Iran’s human rights violations against protesters arrested during the 2019 protests, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi said: “The extent of savagery, before anything else, indicates that the regime has failed to put out the flames of resistance despite massive crackdown and killing of at least 1,500 protesters in November,” said Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, NCRI’s president-elect, in a message to this conference.

Referring to the Iranian regime’s inhumane death sentence against wrestling champion Navid Afkari because he had participated in the nationwide Iran protests in 2018 Mrs. Rajavi said: “Recently in another inhuman measure, the clerical regime issued death sentences and long prison terms for three brothers for taking part in anti-regime protests. Navid Afkari, a national sportsman, was sentenced to double executions after suffering cruel tortures.”

“These days also mark the 32nd anniversary of the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. The vast majority of the victims were members and supporters of the PMOI. The international community including Europe turned a blind eye on this great crime because they wanted to appease the mullahs’ tyranny for petty economic interests. So, they ignore the values and principles for which millions of Europeans and others sacrificed their lives. Inaction vis-à-vis this regime, and worse, unity of action to lift the arms embargo undermines human values,” she added.

Mrs. Rajavi concluded by saying:

“To put an end to the crimes of this regime, and to counter its warmongering actions in the region, the following steps are necessary:

  1. An international fact-finding mission must be set up to seek justice for victims of the 1988 massacre, and hold the perpetrators of this grave crime against humanity accountable.
  2. The UN Security Council must address the terrible situation of human rights in Iran. The UN Security Council must send to Iran an international delegation accompanied by representatives of the Iranian Resistance. They must visit the regime’s medieval prisons, visit the prisoners and particularly, meet those arrested during the November 2019 uprising.
  3. As the Iranian Resistance called for, just a few hours after signing of the JCPOA, the six UN resolutions must be re-imposed and all sanctions on weapons sales to Iran must be re-imposed. Supporting the Iranian people’s desire to overthrow the regime ruling Iran is necessary for peace and stability in the region.”

MP Bob Blackman

The next speaker of this event was Bob Blackman, another MP from the UK. While condemning European Union’s appeasement policy toward the mullahs’ regime, Mr. Blackman said: I was very disappointed that the UK abstained from the vote in the UN Security Council to extend the weapons embargo on Iran. Sadly, we are aligning ourselves with the failed policy of appeasement pursued by the European Union, which for the last four decades, has provided the regime in Iran with impunity for its egregious human rights violations including the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, and on its terrorism to preserve diplomatic dialogue, prioritize trade and, in recent years, keeping alive a disastrous and flawed nuclear deal that will allow Iran to advance its nuclear and missile program.”

While referring to the recent trial of the Iranian regime’s diplomat terrorist Asadullah Assadi, who was arrested while attempting to bomb the NCRI’s 2018 “Free Iran” gathering in Paris, Mr. Blackman said: “The regime’s terrorism has reached European territory. We now know that one of its diplomats is awaiting prosecution for planning a bomb plot against the gathering of the pro-democracy opposition, the NCRI, in Paris in June 2018.”

“Therefore, it is time now for accountability. If the FCO wants to see real change in the human rights situation in Iran, it must bring the issue of accountability into the resolution on Iran in the coming UN General Assembly. This is how the mullahs start taking the international community seriously and they will know that the game is over and they cannot fool the world with their deceptions in all fields. The UK Government must use its new global sanction regime to announce punitive measures against those who are responsible for the 1988 massacre and serious human rights violations in Iran today, which tragically are the same people, like the regime’s chief justice Ebrahim Raisi and the current justice minister Alireza Avaei. The UK must work with allies at the UN to extend the weapons embargo against Iran without delay and to reimpose all international sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions on the regime. The UK must take the lead at the international level and work with allies at the UN to establish an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran by including the demand for such investigation in this year’s UN resolution on Iran. These three steps should be completed with a public support of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance movement, the NCRI, led by President-elect of the NCRI, Madame Rajavi,” Mr. Blackman concluded.

Sir Alan Meale

“Our governments should insist that the UN Security Council adopts a resolution and imposes sanctions on the Iranian regime. The leadership of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) must be held to account for their actions in the last decades. We must not turn a blind eye. We will fight back and be heard,” said Former MP Sir Alan Meale who spoke next.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, an international human rights lawyer

The next speaker was Ms. Kirsty Brimelow QC, an international human rights lawyer. She said: “The evidence reported has not been denied by Iran. I have heard accounts of family members and survivors of the 1988 massacre, including a father who was told to pay for the bullets used to kill his daughter. One woman said she believed her son might still be alive. She said she still sleeps near the door so she does not miss the news of the return of her son. There is plenty of evidence. We have a framework to address this. The suspects are known. Many of those people have made public statements, including Mostafa Pour Mohammadi who tried to justify his part in the “Death Commissions.” The tribunal does not need Iran’s cooperation. It can be set up by the UN. There is no time limit on crimes against humanity. We need to act swiftly because the regime is destroying the evidence. It is time that this process starts within the UN.”

Sir Roger Gale

“We are all aware there is overwhelming evidence on this crime. There is international law that can and must intervene. I want to reiterate the fact that there is a significant number of parliamentary colleagues who support this cause and the righting of wrongs and the right of people to freedom and democracy,” said Sir Roger Gale, MP from UK, who spoke next.

Michelle Mulherin, former Irish Senator

Michelle Mulherin, former Irish Senator also addressed this conference and expressed her support the call for justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre. “When a government turns on its own people, it is the obligation of the international community to take action. There are families who very much want to achieve justice. I support the call and the efforts and it is an issue that I have taken up with our Minister of Foreign Affairs and I will continue to do so,” she said.

Dowlat Nowrouzi, NCRI Representative in the UK

Ms. Dowlat Nowrouzi, NCRI Representative in the UK, who spoke next said: “The United Nations, the Secretary-General, secretary of states, they need to stop giving concessions. Do not give concessions to this regime, whether you want to free Nazanin or any other prisoners who are officially taken hostage by the regime. We need substantive steps, support for the opposition, Mrs. Rajavi and her platform. Second, the embassies of this regime must be shut down. They are not used for diplomatic and mutual interests. They are just established for the regime to carry out terror plots and bombings against dissidents. All sanctions must be reimposed immediately.”

MP Martin Vickers

“There is growing evidence that Iran is involved in warmongering and causing instability. I thank the NCRI for all their efforts here in Westminster. I will continue to support you.” said Martin Vickers, British MP, who participated at the BCFIF conference.

Irish Senator Ivana Bacik

“As Amnesty International documented, Iranian authorities have treated the killings as state secrets. No official has been brought to justice. I support your call for the establishment of an investigation into this crime. Along with my colleagues, I will be proactive to bring attention to this cause. There should be an investigation in the extra-judicial killings. The responsibility lies with us to not let this issue be swept under the carpet. The regime should know that the world is watching,” Irish Senator Ivana Bacik, told the online conference next.

Jim Higgins

Mr. Jim Higgins, a former Irish member of the European Parliament also addressed the online conference. “Why have we had no independent inquiry? The international community has idly stood by. I have raised the issue time and again. But our foreign policy chief has stood idly by and decided that diplomacy is the best strategy. Joseph Borrell has again decided that appeasement and diplomacy is the best plan. This regime does not abide by international norms. Let us not be back this day next year, 33 years, wondering why nothing has happened. We need action by the U.S., the UK, and the EU, to bring an end to this regime. The resolution is there, it needs support,” he said.

Tahar Boumedra, former head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)

Tahar Boumedra, legal expert, former head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office, told Thursday’s online conference: “The UN has been informed. The successive special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran have consistently called on Iran to investigate this crime. The special rapporteur has been banned from visiting Iran. It is clear Iran is unwilling to investigate. The UN has proven to be reluctant to impose such an investigation. What is next? The reality is the UN General Assembly resolution should focus on setting up an independent investigation into this crime instead of calling on Iran to investigate on its own. We have to be realistic and take action. And that action is setting up an independent commission and investigation.”

“It is important for the UK to stand with the families in Iran who suffered from the regime. It must stand against the ongoing crimes of this regime against the people. This is well documented. But the perpetrators continue to hold high positions of power and enjoy impunity. It is important that we continue to press our government and keep up the pressure. Our government can do three things:

  1. Make sure this is raised at the United Nation
  2. Impose sanctions on the perpetrator
  3. Establish an independent inquiry by the international community, not the mullahs themselves.

MP Samy Wilson

We have obligations across the world to make sure genocidal regimes are not allowed to treat their people in the way Iran has treated its people. It is important that we do not turn a blind eye to what happened,” said Samy Wilson, Member of Parliament from the UK.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The next speaker of this event was The Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, a member of the House of Lords. While referring to the appeasement policy by western powers within the past 4 decades, Lord Maginnis said: “We were previously told [regime President Hassan] Rouhani is a moderate who is interested in reaching out to the West and reforming Iran’s malign behavior. Iran was showered with incentives under the 2015 nuclear deal. Yet the only change was the worsening of the regime’s malign behavior, including its human rights violations, destabilizing activities, and nuclear program. The sad reality is the FCO’s elusive belief in the emergence of a moderate faction in the regime has paralyzed the government and prevented it from adopting an effective policy toward Iran. Today, the FCO is guided not by illusion but by fear of the regime. The regime is not as strong as it claims. It is at its weakest point. Our government is still sending a weak signal to the regime.”

“The UK must stand with the Iranian people and their resistance movement led by Madam Rajavi, who is the real driving force for change in Iran. The brutal leaders of Iran must be held to account. We must demand an international inquiry into the 1988 massacre, which is also demanded by the people of Iran,” he concluded.

Professor Sara Chandler

Professor Sara Chandler, Honorary QC, member of the Law Society Council and Vice President of the Federation of European Bar Associations also addressed the conference. “I express my grave concern at the international forum’s incapacity to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. The justice system in Iran is part of the apparatus of suppression of human rights defenders. It is legalizing the regime’s crimes. There is no doubt the agonizing suffering imposed on the families of the victims violates international law. The regime is incapable of conducting an independent investigation of its own crimes. Amnesty International described this as extrajudicial killings, the unlawful deliberate killing of persons by the government, and with no legality,” she said.

“Given there is no prospect for justice for the victims of these crimes in Iran, the international community must set up an independent investigation and make sure the families of the victims receive reparations. Those suspected of responsibility must be prosecuted. Western democracies, especially the UK, must demand this investigation at this year’s resolution on Iran in the UN. Iran must account for these crimes,” Professor Chandler concluded.

John Perry

John Perry, former Irish minister told the event on the 1988 massacre said: “It is time that we on this side of the Atlantic, in the EU and the UK, join them in support and send a strong message of solidarity to the people of Iran, and send a strong message of condemnation to the Iranian regime and make sure they understand that this time, we mean business and we will not stop till we help the people of Iran and their legitimate Resistance, the NCRI, achieve justice their ultimate goal of that is a democratic and free Iran.”

Egidijus Vareikis, Member of Parliament from Lithuania.

“I totally support the call by the speakers regarding an independent investigation into the massacre of political prisoners in Iran. the international cannot ignore this anymore. Today we are seeing the results in the continued repression of the Iranian people by the regime. The realities on the ground in Iran require the attention of the international community. Iran cannot investigate its own crimes. I support the re-imposition of UN sanctions on the regime. The international community must hold the regime to account for human rights violations, warmongering, nuclear weapons, and it must support the Iranian people and its resistance movement. We must unite to hold the regime to account,” said Egidijus Vareikis, Member of Parliament from Lithuania.

Dr. Jocelynne Scutt

Referring to the 1988 massacre that has stayed unpunished for 32 years, Dr. Jocelynne Scutt told today’s conference: “That 30,000 human beings were killed by the Iranian regime shows what the country’s leaders can do and will do when they believe they are above the law and when the international community simply stands by. This is what happens when a regime has no obligation to honor the lives of its people. The global denial of these executions, the deliberate worldwide ignorance, cannot be allowed to continue. That the regime that is responsible remains in power is concerning. This gross lack of action must not continue. These crimes against humanity must be acted upon,” she continued, “I endorse the call for an official inquiry into the 1988 massacre. It must be held without delay. The silence must end. The outcome of the inquiry must be acted upon.”

“The atrocious crimes of 1988 matter. They mattered yesterday, and they still matter today. 1988 is with us still now. The atrocities continue as if they were perpetrated yesterday because they still go on. In all conscience, the flames are still being fanned by this violent regime. We must pursue the perpetrators. There is plenty of evidence. We need scrutiny of what went on. Let right be done. It must be done now. We must eradicate this injustice,” Said Malcom Fowler, a renowned British lawyer.

The last speaker of this event was Roger Lyons, former General Secretary of the MSF trade union.

“The 1988 massacre was not only a crime against humanity but also a campaign by the regime to annihilate the opposition. The mass executions were so horrendous and vicious that the heir-apparent of the supreme leader protested,” he said.

“Raisi, who was involved in the massacre, is now the head of the judiciary in Iran. This shows the regime in Iran needs criminal perpetrators like Raisi to hold on to power. We’re seeing a terrible crackdown on workers in Iran, including Haft Tappeh workers who have been on strike for several weeks for unpaid wages, poor working conditions, and more. The authorities are terrified of popular protests, so they’re intimidating and arresting protesting workers. Without int’l action and intervention, the regime’s judiciary, led by Raisi, will resort to another mass murder campaign to quell growing dissent,” Mr. Lyons added.

“The UK should pursue an independent investigation into the 1988 massacre and ongoing crimes in Iran. The interests of the UK and the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people converge. We must show solidarity,” he concluded.

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