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EDITORIAL: The Not So Subtle Message of an Iranian Henchman’s Testimony in Court

Kazem Rajavi

November 1945 marked the commencement of the Nuremberg trials, which saw the prosecution of the Nazi henchmen who were involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity during World War II. The trials sought to bring to justice the perpetrators of one of the darkest episodes in modern history.

Almost exactly 76 years later to the day, on Tuesday, a henchman of the Iranian regime, Hamid Noury, testified in court. He is charged by Swedish authorities, whose government recognizes universal jurisdiction, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Specifically, Noury was involved in the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988, over 90% of whom were affiliated with the main democratic opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

Over the years, the regime has tried to erase all traces and evidence of the massacre. These attempts have gone hand in hand with the mullahs’ well-oiled misinformation campaign to demonize and vilify the MEK in order to tarnish the veracity of its claims.

Noury’s testimony included many allegations against the MEK that have been sourced by the regime’s intelligence services. As such, Noury unwittingly confirmed that the source of all the venomous anti-MEK propaganda is the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and its suppressive apparatus.

Last week, several witnesses and members of the MEK, who are among the few survivors of the 1988 massacre, testified in an Albanian court. They provided gut-wrenching personal accounts of the regime’s brutality and Noury’s role in breathtaking detail, complete with a sizable replica of the prison in which Noury worked, the Gohardasht Prison.

Instead of responding to these shocking revelations, Noury launched a dizzying diatribe, intermittently punctuated by agonizing moments of madness, brutality, and pathetic attempts to escape imminent justice.

For most of the seven hours, he praised the religious fascists ruling Iran; rehashed stale accusations produced by the regime against the MEK and its leaders; praised the theocracy’s founder Khomeini; lashed out at the “disrespect” he heard in court toward the eliminated terrorist Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani; defended the regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi, who was one of the key perpetrators of the 1988 massacre; and expressed unrelenting devotion to the “Butcher of Evin Prison” Assadollah Lajevardi.

Noury’s acclaimed hero, Lajevardi, was a monstrous psychopath. He can perhaps best be compared with former Nazi Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” who sent thousands of French Jews and Resistance partisans to concentration camps and personally tortured and executed his victims.

During his rambling testimony, Noury clearly did not fall back on the Nuremberg defense argument of “just following orders.” No, he seized every moment afforded to him to justify the 1988 massacre. And for this, he simply read out the propaganda that the regime’s intelligence services had dictated to him to vilify the MEK.

Noury’s anti-MEK propaganda was so pitifully out of touch with reality that the judge stopped him at one point and asked him to abstain from using profanities against the MEK.

Once again, then, it was confirmed that the accusations that the MEK is a “terrorist cult,” and “Saddam’s allies” against the Iranian people, and “lacking popular support,” are simply talking points drafted by the regime’s intelligence and henchmen. Such propaganda serves a practical purpose, which is to justify the regime’s past and present crimes against the MEK while paving the way for more massacres and terrorism against them in the future.

Meanwhile, Nouri also made several important admissions. He confessed, for example – although proudly – that in the 1980s, he was undoubtedly part of the Iranian regime’s judiciary and prison system, which ruthlessly silenced dissent and engaged in systematic torture and forcible disappearances of opponents.

Previously, witnesses had testified that Noury used the pseudonym “Abbasi” when he carried out torture and executions in prison, a common practice among the regime’s henchmen to avoid being identified in public. Noury initially defiantly denied using that pseudonym. On Tuesday, however, he even gave a relatively detailed account of its origins.

He also admitted that Khomeini ordered regime officials to show “absolutely no mercy” to the MEK and to “massacre” them in Kermanshah “in a way that uproots their entire generation.” He explained in disturbing detail how he started his suppressive career in Iran’s Kurdistan, where he was involved in cracking down on dissident Kurdish organizations who had “risen up against the people.”

Overall, the meaning of the testimony of the regime’s henchman is clear. It provided a miniature copy of the regime’s modus operandi with respect to propaganda and massacres against the MEK: demonize, denigrate, destroy.