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Letter of World Athletes to the UNSG Regarding the Massacre of Iranian Athletes in 1988

In a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, more than 100 Iranian athletes, including world champions, participants in the Olympics, and national teams in football, wrestling, karate, judo, kung fu, taekwondo, gymnastics, sailing, weightlifting Basketball, marathon, athletics, boxing, volleyball, fencing, shooting, tennis and ping pong, drew his attention to the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. In their letter, they underlined how the regime targeted Iranian athletes.

“Silence and inaction in the face of genocide and crimes against humanity that took place at the end of the twentieth century is an encouragement to continue and intensify the crime,” their letter reads, pointing to the systematic impunity in Iran and calls for an international inquiry into the 1988 massacre. Below is the full text of their letter: 

 

Your Excellency António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Thirty-three years ago, in the summer of 1988, some 30,000 political prisoners were executed throughout Iran within a few weeks following brief interrogations that last a few minutes by 3-4-member commissions known as “Death Commissions”. This was pursuant to a fatwa by Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the ruling theocracy in Iran, who had hijacked the Iranian people’s revolution against the monarchy for democracy and freedom.

Many of the prisoners had served their sentences or were kept imprisoned after their sentences had finished, but Khomeini wrote in his fatwa with unparalleled cruelty: All prisoners who remained loyal to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), regardless of the stage of their imprisonment had to be executed. More than 90% of the victims of the 1988 massacre were members or supporters of the MEK.

Iran: A Fatwa Which Took the Life of 30,000 Political Prisoners in 1988 Massacre

Among the victims of this massacre were a number of athletes and members of Iran’s national teams. Forouzan Abdi, a member of the Iranian women’s national volleyball team, was one such victim who was executed after seven years in captivity. Among the 120,000 victims of political executions in the last 40 years, there were a number of sports champions, including Habib Khabiri, the captain of the Iranian national soccer team, and Navid Afkari, the wrestling champion, who were executed in 1984 and 2020 respectively.

Thirty-three years after the crime against humanity, which jurists consider as a genocide, most of the masterminds and perpetrators of this great crime still enjoy impunity and hold the most senior positions in the regime and continue to carry out executions. The killing of more than 1,500 protesters during the November 2019 uprising was carried out on the orders of the very same individuals who carried out the 1988 massacre. Ebrahim Raisi, the new president of the regime, was one of the key members of the Tehran Death Commission, who also has a dark record of execution and repression before and after the massacre. One of the henchmen involved in the 1988 massacre was arrested in Sweden in 2019, and his trial began in Stockholm in August 2021.

Various human rights bodies, including Amnesty International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and prominent international human rights experts have stressed the need to hold Ebrahim Raisi accountable for the 1988 massacre. Amnesty International’s secretary general said: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”

Who is Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran presidential election and an executioner in 1988 massacre

Silence and inaction in the face of genocide and crimes against humanity that took place at the end of the twentieth century is an encouragement to continue and intensify the crime. It is time for the UN Security Council, the Human Rights Council and other relevant UN bodies to take action. We call on the United Nations to immediately begin its investigation into the 1988 massacre, undoubtedly the largest political massacre since World War II, and to refer the case to the UN Security Council for holding its masterminds and perpetrators, including Raisi and Ali Khamenei to account and to put them on trial. Attached is a copy of the book “Crime Against Humanity”, which contains names and details of 5,015 of the people who were executed in 1988.

CC: Member states of the United Nations Security Council EU leaders

President, Vice President, and Secretary of State of the United States

The signatories of the letter to the UN Secretary-General:

Soolmaz Abooali, world champion in karate
Angelica Parvardeh, European Gymnastics runner-up from Sweden
Mohammad Ghorbani, winner of the world wrestling gold medal
Moslem Eskandar Filabi, wrestling champion of Iran and Asia – winner of 17 medals in international competitions
Hassan Naeb Agha, a member of the Iranian national soccer team in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina
Bahram Movadat, member of the Iranian national soccer team in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina
Asghar Adibi, member of the Iranian national soccer team
Manouchehr Arastopour, rowing champion of Iran and Sweden
Abbas Novin Roozgar, member of the Iranian national soccer team
Edwin Tehrani, won the gold medal in weightlifting in Sweden
Ardeshir Asghari, world wrestling champion
Afshin Shahverdi, world judo champion
Reza Tahouni, Thai boxing world champion
Maral Abooali, winner of silver medal in women’s karate in the world
Firoozeh Ojaq, a member of the Iranian national basketball team
Naser Gholi Ardalan, kung fu champion – Italy
Kazem Gholami, Iranian national wrestler
Mehdi Ghazal, member of the Iranian national soccer team
Amir Hossein Eghbali, a player in the first division of Belgian basketball clubs
Iraj Derakhshan Marathon Runner
Haji Mohammad Azadan, member of Iran youth national soccer team
Hassan Heidari, Asian Youth Weightlifting Champion, member and coach of the Dutch weightlifting team
Dariush Abdul Maleki, Danish Judo Champion
Saeed Ipakchi, Iranian track and field champion
Ali Rahimi, wrestling champion in Norway
Ali Sajjadi, member of Iran youth national soccer team
Glayel Parvardeh, Gymnist – Sweden
Majid Moshtari, member of Iran youth national soccer team
Mohammad Reza Yousefali, member of Iran youth national soccer team
Neda Amani, soccer goalkeeper and coach of Swiss women’s soccer clubs
Farrokh Farrokhyar, volleyball
Ali Zahedi, Soccer
Nima Afshari, Ping pong
Bahram Khatib-Shahidi, Soccer
Sohrab Shirali, Wrestler ,referee and Coach of Wrestling
Farzad, soccer
Alireza-Sirousi, Referee & judge Boxing
Fred Parsay, soccer
Ahmad Moeinimanesh, Basketball
Abbas Ameri, Chess
Ali Asghar Vandaie, Chess, Soccer
Mehran Ebrahimi, Kung Fu
Mohammadreza Alizadeh, Soccer
Toraj shahabi, Soccer
Babak Dadvand, Marathon Runner
Gholamhossein Bahadoor, wrestling
Hassan Rezai, Soccer
Khalil Khani, Wrestling, Track & Field
Mohammad Sadeghpour, Soccer
Masoud Sadeghpour, Wrestling
Mirtaher Hassanyn, Volleyboll- Ping Pong
Behrouz m, Soccer
Omid, Taekwondo
Nasser Abkari, Shooting
Mosayyeb jalali, Wrestling
Glayol, Soccer
Sadollah Falahati, Wrestling
Golpar Parvardeh, Gymnastics
Gabriel Richards, Boxing
S Zanjani, Aikido, soccer
Khosrow Parvardeh, Soccer
Mohammad Darafarin, soccer
Aydin Arjang, Soccer
Marjam Parvardeh, Basketball
Hossein Yarandpour, Soccer
Shahram Homayounfar, soccer
Yousef Mahdavi, Soccer
Roxana Sadeghpour, Soccer
Samir Ghanai, Soccer & Karate
Robin Tehrani, Soccer
Behrang sarkhosh, Kyokushinkai
Behzad Allahyari, Weightlifting
Karim Akbari, weightlifting
Siamak, Soccer
Mohammad Behrouzi, Soccer Referee
Touraj Mohammadi, Voetbal
Omid Hatamian, wrestling
Hossein Fadakar, Soccer
Ben Janloo, soccer
Sivan Barzegar, Taekwondo
Ismail Pashapour Fencing
Ismail Mohaddes, soccer
Reza Mohammadi, soccer
Khosrow Alikhani, soccer
Jamshid Heydari, soccer
Bahman Abedini Taekwondo
Majid Rahimi Taekwondo
Masoud Ipekchi Athletics
Majid is a football customer
Jamshid Azari, soccer
Asghar Saadi, boxing
Elias Khademi, soccer
Christopher Kulp, Cross Fit; Olympic Weightlifting
Jack Iacovangelo, Gymnastics
Alex, Weightlifting
Henrik Fjeldheim, Soccer
Steve Parkinson, Judo
Mike Caveney, Judo
William Svensson, Gymnastics
Madeleine Danielsson, Soccer
Selina, Gymnastics
Maria Alkhouri, Tennis
Valentina Baldelli, Gymnastics