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UN Urged to Act to Stop Secret Massacre of Detained Protesters in Iran

Joint statement of the five NGOs with the UN consultative status
Joint statement of the five NGOs with the UN consultative status

On the sidelines of the 44th United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, which is being held from February 24 to March 20, five NGOs with the UN consultative status, submitted a joint statementwhich was circulated amount UN member states.

Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, a non-governmental organization in general consultative status, Women’s Human Rights International Association, Edmund Rice International Limited, non-governmental organizations in special consultative status, International Educational Development, Inc., International Society for Human Rights, non-governmental organizations on the roster, submitted the joint written statement. 

In this statement, several issues were raised including the nationwide Iran protests and the regime’s subsequent deadly crackdown, the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK), and the ongoing human rights violation in Iranian prisons by the clerical regime. The NGOs urged the UN to take practical actions, such as deploying a fact-finding mission to Iran to prevent further human rights violations.

The following text is an excerpt of this document. See the full text here  

Thousands of detained protesters in the Islamic Republic of Iran at risk of secret massacre 

Thousands of people who took part in recent anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic of Iran are at serious risk of being secretly executed or tortured to death in the country’s prisons. 

Since the protests began in November 2019, the authorities have carried out the bloodiest crackdown on protesters since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. 

Reports suggest that detainees are being tortured or are suffering other forms of ill-treatment, sometimes to extract forced confessions. Some are also reportedly being denied medical treatment, including for injuries caused by the security forces’ use of excessive force, and are being held in overcrowded detention centers. Some are being held incommunicado or subjected to enforced disappearances.  

International recognition of the 1988 massacre 

In December 2018, Amnesty International published a 201-page report “Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity” 10 calling on the UN to set up an independent investigation to help bring those responsible for these abhorrent crimes to justice.   

Time for international action 

On behalf of our respective NGOs, we appeal to the Human Rights Council to take urgent action to end the impunity enjoyed by Iranian officials and prevent the massacre of detained protesters. Leaders of the Iranian government must face justice for committing crimes against humanity in the massive suppression and bloodshed of recent months. 

The UN must immediately dispatch fact-finding missions to investigate the cases of those killed or imprisoned since the November protests.  

Furthermore, we believe that until the international community holds the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre to account, Iran’s authorities would continue to be emboldened to further crack down with impunity on present-day protesters. Iranian officials construe silence and inaction by the international community as a green light to continue and step up their crimes. 

We therefore call on the Human Rights Council to set up a commission of inquiry into the 1988 massacre and achieve justice for the victims of that crime against humanity.  

We urge High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to support the launch of independent factfinding missions into the 1988 massacre and the recent slaughter of anti-government protesters.

Furthermore, we appeal to the UN Special Procedures, in particular the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, Fabian Salvioli, to investigate Iran’s 1988 massacre as part of their mandates.