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World Day Against Death Penalty, Commemoration of 1988 Massacre in Iran

The World Day Against the Death Penalty was celebrated at the mayor’s office of Paris’ 1st district. On October 10, an exposition about executions in Iran took place. Organized by the Support Committee for Human Rights in Iran (SCHRI), the exposition was interspersed with speeches from elected officials, human rights defenders and witnesses of human rights violations from Iran.

The exposition emphasized the execution of political prisoners in Iran, which often take place en masse in the country with the highest number of executions per capita. These executions were denounced by the U.N. Secretary General’s most recent report on Iran submitted to the General Assembly.

In 1988, in the space of just a few months, more than 30,000 political prisoners were executed following the issuing of a fatwa by Khomeini. The majority of the dissidents who were victims of this slaughter were members of the People’s Mojahidin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The recent publishing of an audio recording from Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, then heir-apparent to Khomeini, has revived this nearly-forgotten crime against humanity. Montazeri opposed this crime and was thus expelled from leadership in the same year and placed under house arrest.

The speakers at the exposition underlined the need to bring those responsible for this crime to justice. Many organizers of the massacre today occupy high government offices and continue to sentence Iranians to death by hanging throughout the country. Human rights groups from around the world have denounced Iran’s use of capital punishment, but we often forget the Islamic Republic of Iran, with more than 1,000 annual hangings, executes more people than the rest of the world combined in proportion to its population.

The mayor of Paris’ 1st district, Jean-François Legaret, who hosted the exposition in his office, opened the exposition by underlining that there is “a battle to fight against the death penalty and other barbaric acts in Iran”, such as the 1988 prison massacre. He said he hopes that this campaign to raise awareness will go on until those responsible are judged before an international tribunal. Mr. Legaret insisted that even if commercial exchanges are important, we must never negotiate with a “barbarous regime” such as that of the Mollahs.

The mayor of Paris’ 2nd district, Jacques Boutault, thanked those who fight alongside the Iranian Resistance to bring human rights to Iran. Mr. Boutalt also recalled that the Iranian regime is complicit in the war in Aleppo and called upon the French government to summon the courage to denounce the crimes that Iran has perpetrated in Syria.

Mr. Henri Leclerc, Honorable President of the League for Human Rights, said that “in Iran, the use of the death penalty is massive and we cannot let this go unchallenged.” He also stated that “unpunished crimes will recur.” Regarding the massacre of political prisoners in Iran, he added: “It is a crime against humanity when we know that thousands were executed while they were in prison. This must be denounced and we must act. We have sufficient materials. I hope that the U.N. conducts an investigation which brings those responsible to trial.”

Mr. Leclerc finished by saying that the victims of the 1988 massacre “died for liberty around the world; these men, women, and children have a right to justice. If we leave such crimes unpunished, it is our future that will truly be tragic.”