On Sunday, July 19, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a conference on the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, calling once again for all those responsible to be tried at the International Criminal Court in the Hague for crimes against humanity.
This massacre, which took place in the Summer of 1988, killed 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members, and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Despite repeated calls for justice and an international campaign by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi, the murderers are still allowed to walk free some 32 years later. This includes many current members of the clerical regime.
Watch our special event on the need for justice over Iran’s #1988Massacre, a crime against humanity that has gone unpunished for 32 years.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 19, 2020
This is a report of the conference, which began at Ashraf 3, Albania, where houses the MEK members, with former political prisoners and witnesses of the massacre on to the stage.
Homa Jaberi, who spent five years in prison, two of which were in solitary confinement, spoke first about her time in prison, where she and her fellow prisoners were subjected to horrific torture.
She revealed that many of her fellow female prisoners were raped by the regime’s guards and treated, quite literally, like animals. They were made to make animal noises, eat from the floor, and submit to being ridden on by the guards. Many of these prisoners were so badly broken by this that they could not even speak about their experiences.
Jaberi then spoke about the regime’s ongoing demonization campaign against the MEK, citing lies carried in Western media about torture and being taught how to kill at Ashraf 3, saying that there was no way that she, as a political prisoner who had endured such abuse, would stay there if any of that was true. She vowed to repeat the abuses of the regime 100 more times if needed and said that she and the Iranian people are “determined to overthrow the regime”.
She said: “The world must know what happened to the MEK in the past 40 years. European leaders should know when they shake hands with Iran’s regime, [that] they must remember the suffering of the Iranian people.”
Indeed, if they shake hands with the regime, their hands would be covered in the blood of the Iranian people.
Next to speak was, Damona Taavoni, whose father was executed in the 1988 massacre and who had twice by the age of six been imprisoned with her mother because of her mother’s political activism.
She spoke about the massacre, highlighting that the victims were sent to show trials that lasted just minutes and asked just one question – “do you support the MEK?”. She said that all 30,000, including her father, said “yes” because they loved Iran so much, they would rather die than see their country in the hands of the mullahs.
She said: “I shed tears because I love my father, but I am proud that he choose freedom for his country.”
She then warned the mullahs that killing the 30,000 only caused MEK supporters to multiply and that they were more determined than ever to overthrow the regime, before praising the work of Maryam Rajavi and vowing to remain strong in the fight for a Free Iran.
Next came the speech of MEK member Bahador Kiamarzi, who also spoke about being imprisoned with his parents as a child; with them actually being tortured in front of him on one occasion to try and break his parents. He noted that additional pressure was also put on his father, but it did not work and his father was not broken.
He said: “My father was executed along with 30,000 other prisoners during the 1988 Massacre. We will continue our struggle for Iran people. The sacrifice of the prisoners will not be in vain.”
Next up to the microphone was Kazem Panahi. He was imprisoned for a short while, during which he saw a lot of crimes against the people, but he escaped before they could kill him on an intentionally vague charge.
He said: “They wanted me to name MEK members. I didn’t, so they said my death sentence would be carried out within a few days on the charge of Moharebeh or waging war on God.”
This is why Panahi called for an investigation into prisons in Iran by the United Nations.
He then moved on to speak about the regime’s disinformation campaign against the MEK, designed to discredit the MEK, and make it seem like there is no alternative to the regime, but he said that the MEK would never give up and “the regime has no destiny but overthrow”.
The next speaker, this time via video link, was renowned French Lawyer Henri Lecrec.
He noted that nothing is over in Iran, citing the continuing arbitrary executions in Iran, with the regime extracting “confessions” under torture and charging activists with “crimes”, like “enmity against God”. He said that this has gotten worse because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is being woefully mishandled by the regime, warning that if the regime is not stopped then torture and execution will continue in Iran.
The Keynote speaker of the event was NCRI’s President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. She began by praising the collective outrage that has (at least temporarily) cause the regime to retract their death sentences for three young political prisoners for taking part in November protests but noted that no political prisoners were safe in Iran, so she called for their immediate release.
She stressed that the “fearless generation” of resistance units and rebellious youth, which are a “constant nightmare” for the regime, shows how vulnerable the regime is.
NCRI’s President then spoke about the formation of the MEK, something hoped for by progressive prime minister Dr. Mossadeq after he was deposed in a US coup in 1953. He said that the country needed people who would “sacrifice everything they have” to achieve a free and independent nation.
Mrs. Rajavi spoke about the NCRI’s ten-point plan for a Free Iran, which opposes suppression and champions freedom for all Iranians.
She said: “It is not enough to simply say what we do not want, and what must not exist, like the time of the Shah’s dictatorship. Rather, one must specify what it is that they want in precise terms and what must exist instead. This has been formulated in the Ten-Point Plan.”
Mrs. Rajavi then spoke about the regime’s attempt to destroy the MEK for the past four decades through demonization campaigns, massacres, and terrorism, saying that the regime is “seeking to deny” the MEK’s existence and convince the world to “get along with the mullahs”. She said that the regime failed to do that, so they change tack to try and present the MEK as worse than the regime. They do this because they are “terrified” of the MEK.
She said: “The clerical regime has constantly declared that the PMOI/MEK and the Iranian Resistance are its main enemy and the regime’s first red line. Therefore, in such a historic confrontation, one can identify the position and political coordinates of all forces and groups.”
She continued: “By his fatwa for the 1988 Massacre, Khomeini intended to annihilate the PMOI/MEK generation to guarantee his rule. In those very days, Montazeri wrote to him that the Mojahedin were a type of logic which could not be annihilated by killing, but would further propagate.”
Then, she discussed the regime’s policy of stealing the Iranian people’s wealth so that they can interfere in other countries, noting that the regime is endangering the world.
She said: “We have nothing to talk about with those who prefer the shah and the mullahs… the people of Iran made their feelings clear when they toppled the shah and when they will topple the mullahs… The issue at stake in Iran is resistance for freedom, people’s universal suffrage, and a sovereign republic in place of the rule of the mullahs and religious dictatorship.”
Former Colombian Senator and presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt joined the conference virtually and reminded us that the clerical regime has always worked with the supporters of the Shah and that the Iranian people reject both.
She said: “Iran’s people are chanting, “Down with Dictator, be it the Shah or the Supreme Leader. They are telling us they understand better than anyone how these two forces are working together.”
Betancourt then spoke about how the regime has constantly tried and failed to portray the MEK as terrorists, but that the people know better.
She said: “Iran’s regime holds the population as hostages and uses the name of God to do evil. Iran’s people understand that the best way to hold this regime to account is to overthrow it.”
The next speaker was Geoffrey Robertson, a British human rights lawyer, and ex-UN judge, who was tasked with investigating the 1988 massacre and interviewed 40 survivors.
He said: “I was staggered by my findings. I described it as the worst crime against humanity since World War II.”
Robertson insisted that the perpetrators must be held responsible, especially because a number of them still hold high-ranking regime positions.
Giulio Terzi, the former Italian Foreign Minister, was the next to speak and said that immediate action was needed because the mullahs are starving, abusing, and terrorizing the Iranian people, as well as terrorizing the other countries in the Middle East.
He also highlighted that the Iranian embassies are centers of terrorism, such as the case with the ongoing trial of the Iranian diplomat to Vienna Asadollah Assadi, who was tasked with executing the bomb plot against the Free Iran Summit in 2018 in Paris.
He said: “The perpetrators of the 1988 Massacre must be held to account.”
British MP Steve McCabe was next speaker and he spoke about the regime’s campaign to demonize the MEK, linked intrinsically to the 1988 Massacre, which the mullahs have tried to cover up.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, the former vice president of the European Parliament, was the next speaker, who said, that the 1988 Massacre was still so painful for the families left behind because justice was not served.
He said that this would soon change though as the international community’s political will for justice was growing and that “all the perpetrators of this crime will be held accountable in international courts”.
Tahar Boumedra, the former head of the UN Advisory Mission for Iraq’s Human Rights Office was the next speaker. He said: “The crime committed against political prisoners in the 1988 Massacre has been well established and documented. The UN and relevant institutions have been informed and received documents on this issue.”
He stressed that the UN was not doing enough though because former Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Hussein said in 2018 that the UN instructed Iran to investigate the massacre, something that will not happen. Hussein was not allowed to enter Iran to investigate for himself, so how can we trust the regime to conduct a fair investigation?
The following speaker was Lincoln Bloomfield, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Military Affairs, who was once tasked with investigating the MEK to see if they should be removed from the US’s terror watch list. Given that they should never have been on the list in the first place because they were only put there to appease the mullahs, Bloomfield advocated for removing them.
He said: “Iran’s regime sees the Free Iran 2020 events and knows that the NCRI and MEK are fully capable, more than anyone else, of organizing a peaceful transition of power after the mullahs’ fall.”
The next speaker was former Norwegian MP Lars Rise, who advocated for taking the 1988 Massacre to an international tribunal and trying the mullahs. He then criticized the ridiculous lie that the MEK is not popular amongst the Iranian people, saying that the international community needs to wake up.
Following him was British lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, who said that Iranian officials “must be sanctioned for human rights violations” and that the UK, the EU, and the UN have a duty to prosecute those responsible for these abuses.
The next speaker was Former Palestinian Chief Justice Taisi al-Tamimi, who stressed that the Iranian regime is just using Islam as “a cover” and advocated for prosecuting the mullahs in court.
He said: “We must work together so this regime does not remain in power.”
The next speaker was Former US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission Ken Blackwell, who called for everyone to work together to expose the regime and their terrorism so that the mullahs could be tried for their crimes against humanity.
He said: “By supporting Iran’s people, we give humanity and freedom a fighting chance. We take the risks to be supporters that there be actions taken against this regime. Let’s commit to be a force for change. “
Next to speak was Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the former UK Speaker of the House of Commons, who also praised Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan for a Free Iran.
She said: “[This] provides a democratic alternative for future generations of Iran and gives women a chance to lead their country. This is what we’re fighting for.”
She then urged the UK government to “stand on the right side of history” and recognize Maryam Rajavi as the true representative of Iran.
Then, Italian Senator Lucio Malan, in a speech aimed at convincing the UN not to allow the arms embargo against Iran to expire in October, explained that Iran has failed to respect international laws, constantly meddled in other countries, and had cheated on the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“We must do this for international peace and security and to support the Iranian people in their struggle for freedom and democracy.”
The next speaker was Distinguished American Civil Liberty Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who called the regime “the most serious human rights violator on this planet” and call on “every good person” to focus on Iran and support the MEK.
He said: “We know that Iran will stop at absolutely nothing to preserve its illegitimate and undemocratic regime… If you care about human dignity, human rights, civil life, join the current campaign against the regime in Iran. The world, the people of Iran need a regime change. If you’re a supporter of human rights, you must be an opponent of the regime of Iran. History will show you are on the right side of history.”
Then, Belgian MP Els Van Hoof said: “The trial of [Iranian regime terrorists] will begin this year in Belgium. We hope justice will be served. Men and women are rotting in cells because they have a different opinion. This must not be tolerated in the 21st century. I wish you victory in your struggle for human rights in Iran.”
The final speech of the night was from Canadian Senator Leo Housakas.
He said: “The Iranian people deserve to have democracy. The greatness of Iran is still ahead of us and we will achieve it with freedom and democracy. Nothing will hinder this movement, nothing will prevent the people of Iran to bask in freedom and Iran. The people of Iran deserve it.”