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Live Report: International Webinar on Iran’s 1988 Massacre

Live Report: International Webinar on Iran’s 1988 Massacre
Live Report: International Webinar on Iran’s 1988 Massacre

Executions Means to the Mullahs’ Survival. Call on UN for the 1988 Massacre Accountability 

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) holds a virtual event today, August 22, at 6:00 pm CEST, over the 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners. This conference will be attended by political dignitaries and human rights experts from across the globe. The conference and its panelists call on the international community, particularly the United Nations, to initiate an independent investigation on the 1988 massacre and end the impunity of the Iranian regime’s officials.  

The content of this page will be updated throughout the day 

Background  

In the summer of 1988, more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were executed following a fatwa issued by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini. These executions were carried out by the so-called “Death Commissions,” and trials held by these commissions to identify those steadfast on their ideals and refusing to succumb to the regime’s demands only lasted a few minutes. As a result, thousands of prisoners were sent to the gallows. The wave of the massacre of political prisoners began in late July and continued unabated for several months. The perpetrators of the 1988 massacre have never been brought to justice. 

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UPDATE: 9:30 PM CEST

Alfred de Zayas, former UN expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order

Alfred de Zayas, former UN expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order

I am particularly touched by the suffering of so many tens of thousands of Iranians whose revolution against the Shah was stolen and who have suffered a theocratic government ever since.

My colleagues, my colleagues rapporteurs, also the rapporteurs on Iran have been calling for a commission of inquiry, an independent commission of inquiry, that has been in my own recommendations, that has been in the recommendations of several United Nations rapporteurs.

Obviously there is documentation on all of these crimes, but there is not yet as of this moment an international commission of jurists in charge of this investigation and that should end. 

As has been said before by others, including myself, it’s important to end impunity, we have this reason, established the International Criminal Court in the Hague, we want to ensure that in Iran and in other countries there’ll be no more impunity for all sorts of criminality, gross violations of Human Rights.

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Bijan Zolfaghari, former political prisoner and an eye witness of the 1988 massacre

Bijan Zolfaghari, former political prisoner and an eye witness of the 1988 massacre

I am one of the survivors of the 1988 massacre. I was in Gohardasht, Rasht and Evin prisons from 1981 to 1993.

Only a handful of prisoners survived the 1988 massacre. Most of the truth of that crime is still hidden behind the curtain, especially in provinces other than Tehran.

One day a guard entered the airing yard, holding a walkie, and checked everywhere. This was the first case that aroused our suspicion. After a while, they brought in some prisoners, whom my cellmates knew. Then they were moved through the main gate. Then there had been gathered the guards, clerks, cooks and service workers all in one line, standing right behind a handbarrow filled with ropes. They all went towards that building. They must all contribute to the crime so no one would reveal the secrets. This was the regime’s plan. We see for this reason, after 32 years, they still remain silent. Because they are all participants in this crime. From the bottom to their top. And this crime is so heinous, none open his mouth.  

This decision to wipe the prisons had been made many years ago. Later, it was completed, during the classification and division, around the year 1987. They only looked for a chance to make it happen. After the ceasefire, they took advantage of this opportunity and began the massacre. 

Every day, we must protest, so the international organizations would pursue this crime against humanity, so it wouldn’t repeat again.

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Jamileh Gholami, sister of one of the victims of the 1988 massacre

Jamileh Gholami, sister of one of the victims of the 1988 massacre

My brother Ali Asghar Gholami was arrested in March of 1981. In 1988, despite his sentence of life imprisonment, he was executed because of his resistance and steadfastness.

My brother was arrested in 1981 with no charge, no evidence, nothing. He spent most of his prison time in solitary confinement under severe tortures.

Before August, my brother and four others who had announced their position in support of MEK were so brutally tortured that according to their cellmates, he could not sit or lie down. Later they executed him. In August, they executed 40 to 50 of those who continued to support MEK. 

They were buried in mass graves in Vakil-Abad. Even now, when my family goes to visit the grave, it is not known where he is buried. There is a mass grave that everyone goes to visit.

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UPDATE: 9:00 PM CEST

Bob Blackman, British MP

Bob Blackman, British MP

With regards to the 1988 massacre in Iran, the international community and the UN have truly failed the Iranian people and their moral obligations as the vanguards and advocates of human rights.

My colleagues and I in the UK House of Commons addressed exactly this issue in a parliamentary motion in 2016. 

With this parliamentary support, the UK Government has the right incentives to take actions on the 1988 massacre in Iran at the UN by introducing the demand for an independent international investigation into the 1988 massacre and the prosecution of the perpetrators into the UN resolution on Iran.

I will continue to stand with you and support the NCRI who works on your behalf until we have secured justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre and brought those responsible for this crime against humanity to account.

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Farzaneh Sepehri, family member of the victims of the 1988 massacre

Farzaneh Sepehri, family member of the victims of the 1988 massacre

My family have been supporters of PMOI since 1980. In 1981, sadly, my brother, Mohammad Sepehry was sentenced to death when he was only a student at the age of 19. In the same year, my cousin, Fatemeh Shayesteh, an Army officer and at the age of 26 or 27, was also sentenced to death and subsequently executed. In 1982, my aunt, Soghra Davoody and her son, Ahmad Reza Shayesteh, both were charged with being PMOI supporters and consequently sent to gallows. My aunt was a simple housewife and about 60 years old. She was hanged. Her son, my cousin Ahmad Reza, a law student, was also hanged. 

The executioner put a funnel into Ahmad Reza’s mouth and poured chemical liquids and detergent powder and forced him to swallow it. The executioners forcibly kept his mother to watch her son being tortured. The day my cousin was sent to gallows, again, they brought his mother to see her son being hung off the gallows. They cold heartedly caused such horrible scenes in an effort to force her to betray other MEK supporters.  Afterwards, they cruelly hung her as well. 

In 1986, another of my cousins, Mohammad Reza Shayesteh, an architect who was imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran, was also executed.

My mother and younger brother, five-year-old Mohammad Hanif, disappeared in 1988 when they tried to leave the country. We assumed they have been arrested and executed. Through all these years, I have been wondering what might have happened to them. 

We hope that one day, when the voice of the Iranian people can be heard, the UN and other human right bodies learn about what happened to the Iranian people.

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Prof Eric David, Emeritus Professor of international law at the Université libre de Bruxelles

Prof Eric David, Emeritus Professor of international law at the Université libre de Bruxelles

The massacres of 1988 of activists  or sympathizers of the  MEK,  are a real crime against humanity,  it is a crime  against humanity because itis an attack agasint a civilian population  and therefore  it perfectly meets   the definition of crime against humanity.

The characterization  of crimes against      humanity can be doubled by another  qualification.  This may also be  called a crime of genocide since these people were, in essence, massacred because of an alleged apostasy, so  for  a religious reasons.

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Reza Shemirani, former political prisoner and an eye witness of the 1988 massacre

Reza Shemirani, former political prisoner and an eye witness of the 1988 massacre

I joined MEK in 1979 and I was arrested in 1981 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in a 2-minute long trial without having a lawyer.

There were lots of indications during 1987 which showed that the regime was planning a massacre and the prisoners had concluded this and back then.

In Summer 1984, an interrogator told me: ‘We have plans for the prison. If you cooperate with me, I will help you survive that plan.’

When they brought someone out of the Death Room and sentenced him to death, they definitely did not let him go back to others and tell them about it. 

What we saw and heard indicates that Khomeini executed those prisoners in the most savage way.

***

UPDATE: 8:30 PM CEST

Samih Choukeir, Syrian musician 

Samih Choukeir, Syrian musician

What has been going on in Iran and Syria’s prisons is the killing of tens of thousands of prisoners for their political beliefs. These two governments are beyond the orbit of human civilization. 

The world conscience and the freedom-loving people of the world are profoundly distressed by what is going on in Iran and Syria. The hope is that our nations are freed from these two regimes. Honor to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives so we can have a future of freedom.

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Fereshteh Behzad, sister of one the victims of the 1988 massacre

Fereshteh Behzad, sister of one the victims of the 1988 massacre

My brother, Mostafa Behzad, was one of the victims of the 1988 massacre. In 1986 when he was only 19, he was in fact taken hostage only because my elder brother had left Iran to join MEK. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment and despite having served his term, he was executed in 1988. 

In November 1988 they called my father and asked him to go to the “Committee”. Since my brother had served his term, we thought it had to be about his release. My father went there happily to receive the news of his son’s freedom but upon entry, they threw a bag towards him and said: “These are your son’s belongings. We killed him.”

My father had a heart attack, paralyzing half of his body. He also lost his eyesight. They told him to sign a commitment not to tell anybody about his son being killed and that we were not allowed to mourn or wear black.

They never delivered his body to us. Nor did they tell us where he was buried. We have even no information about the way he was killed.

When I hear the news of the execution of the participants in recent uprisings in Iran, I recall those memories and remember the moment in 1988 when they executed the prisoners one by one and delivered the news without even returning their bodies.

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Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a legal expert

Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a legal expert

In the absence of any official independent inquiry into the mass extralegal killing and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners, and given that the Iranian government had proved to be unwilling to cooperate with the UN Special Procedures on this matter, the Lond-based association of “Justice for the 1988 Massacre of the Political Prisoners in Iran (JVMI)” probed into a large amount of data emanating from various sources, including statements of officials in the Iranian government. JVMI published two reports on the 1988 massacre shedding light on what happened and identifying the suspect perpetrators. 

The two JVMI reports of 2016 and 2017 were published and submitted to the relevant United Nations organizations calling for the establishment of a UN commission of inquiry to investigate the alleged massacre.

It should be underlined that the persecution of political prisoners in Iran on the ground of their political, religious and/or ethnic belongings is an ongoing crime that must stop and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Today, in the absence of accountability, the Iranian regime is getting emboldened in persecuting peaceful demonstrators who request that the public funds be spent on the well-being of the people of Iran rather than on exporting the Islamic revolution.

After 32 years since the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, it is clear that the Iranian officials are unwilling to act on the calls of the UN to investigate and reveal the truth. It is also clear that the UN human rights agencies are unable or unwilling to set up an independent commission of inquiry without the consent of the Iranian authorities. 

So, what are in the circumstances, the other avenues left to the families of the victims? I suggest three possible avenues:

1- Universal jurisdiction: As most Iranian suspects in the commission of crimes against humanity are already listed for terrorism offences and other crimes under international law by EU member states, USA, Canada and others, it is possible for a national court of these states to accept jurisdiction over an act categorized as a crime against humanity.

2- facilitating the conditions for the Chief prosecutor of the ICC to initiate on her/his own initiative after seeking the permission of the concerned chamber of the ICC to undertake a preliminary investigation of the most serious crimes. 

3- the referral of the case by the UN Security Council to the ICC to investigate and prosecute.

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Message of political prisoners in Evin Prison—Tehran, Iran

The world never found out what happened in the summer of 1988. What was the crime of the victims? Impunity has given the mullahs a green light to continue executions and torture.

Today, those who have been arrested during the recent protests are under torture and facing execution.

We ask for a complete investigation by the UN into the 1988 massacre. This is an important step to stop executions in Iran.

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UPDATE: 8:00 PM CEST

Farah Eslami, family member of one of the 1988 victims

Farah Eslami, family member of one of the 1988 victims

I was born after the 1988 massacre, but have a direct connection to this crime against humanity. My aunt, my father’s little sister, Farah Eslami is one of the 30,000 victims of the massacre and I carry her name. 

Farah a student activist, was arrested and was in prison for 3 years, when she was released she had been subject to such horrific tortures that when taken to a doctor the specialist was shocked and came to tears when he learned they were due to torture, had never seen such wounds.

In early 1988 Farah was re-arrested but it wasn’t clear why and they never gave her a sentence. During a prison transfer on July 20th 1988, their vehicle broke down, but authorities decided to spend the night in a nearby village, and with the break of dawn, they took Farah along with four other women and two men to the nearby hills and executed them after raping them.

My Aunt was one of more than 30,000 thousand young and brave children of this proud nation and just one of those who stood up against this theocratic islamic mafia which has done everything that god has forbidden in the name of Islam. 

Today, my request from the international community is to put an end to this impunity, this cycle of death and execution is continuing today in Iran; this is an ongoing crime against humanity.

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Hossein Farsi, former political prisoner and an eyewitness of the 1988 massacre

Hossein Farsi, former political prisoner and an eyewitness of the 1988 massacre

I was in prison for 12 years on charges of supporting the MEK. The prisoners were brought to long corridors where they would face the “Death Committee.” Each prisoner would face the committee. The key question was, ‘What is your crime?’ If the prisoner said ‘Mojahed,’ they would be executed.

The prison warden or his deputy would call the names of the prisoners. They would form long lines of 50-60 blindfolded inmates and they would be marched to the killing fields. I personally witnessed this. 

My own brother was executed in Evin prison during the 1988 massacre. Our families were insulted and humiliated behind prison doors where they wanted to meet with us. Many don’t even know where their loved ones are buried. They are not allowed to hold mourning ceremonies for the victims. Some families are just learning about the fate of the prisoners now.

This situation continues today. My brother is in prison. My sister is also in prison, is suffering from cancer, and is exposed to the novel coronavirus. Her family are worried. My brother Ahmad is in a section in Evin where there are known cases of Covid-19. This is a situation that has continued for 40 years.

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Struan Stevenson, the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change in Iran and a former Member of the European Parliament

Struan Stevenson, the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change in Iran and a former Member of the European Parliament

Monstrous acts of butchery like [the 1988 massacre] have become grisly milestones in the history of oppression and tyranny in contemporary Iran. And even the death of Khomeini has brought no respite. His successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has presided over a regime that now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. 

Many of the key executioners during the 1988 massacre, no hold senior positions in the fascist dictatorship, why, after 32 years has no one been held to account for this horror?

The 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran is an example of both a crime against humanity and a genocide based on international conventions. Neither crimes against humanity nor genocide are allowed to expire with the passage of time. 

At a time when the Iranian people have shown with their consecutive and nationwide protests that they are sick of the current regime and the ongoing violation of human rights, it’s surely the duty of the international community and especially the United Nations to respond by supporting their call for justice.

With the U.N. General Assembly due to take place in September, the Iranian people are now watching closely. They are appalled that the U.N. has removed the 1988 massacre from their agenda. This item must be discussed. Failure to do so would represent a U.N. condoning murder. It is the duty of the U.N. to examine this case and bring its masterminds and perpetrators to justice.

The mullahs and their supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, must now face justice.

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UPDATE: 7:30 PM CEST

Hengameh Haj Hassan, former political prisoner

Hengameh Haj Hassan, former political prisoner

I was a nurse in Tehran’s Sina Hospital. I was arrested in 1981 on charges of supporting the MEK and spent three years in prison.

Our first crime was being a woman. The regime did not want to see women resisting against them. I was brutally tortured during my incarceration. It is inconceivable that they could do such things.

One of my crimes was attending to wounded MEK members as a nurse. One of my friends was executed because she resisted the torturers. Many of the prisoners were arrested when they were underage and executed after they reached the age of 18.

In one of the prisons they had created cages for the inmates. Every prisoner was placed in a confined area two-feet wide. We sat there blindfolded and were not allowed to make the slightest noise or move at all. Any movement or noise would result in brutal torture. I was there for more than seven months. I counted 90 prisoners in the cage unit that I was incarcerated in. There were more in other locations.

In the “residential units,” the tortures were worse. Prisoners who went there said in comparison, the cages were like breaks. They were kept standing positions for many days. There were brutal tortures in those facilities. They forced prisoners to make animal noises.

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Kirsty Brimelow, QC, an international human rights lawyer

Kirsty Brimelow, QC, an international human rights lawyer

In February 2018 I acted as counsel to peoples tribunal in Geneva and there I heard the accounts given by many family members of survivors from this time. Accounts given included that from a father who described that he received the news of the execution of his daughter by being told that the bullets required payment the bullets that have been used to shoot and kill his daughter. 

Others gave accounts and evidence of their desperation to find information about the whereabouts of their loved ones in order to Bury them with dignity and accordance with their religious traditions. Their bodies are still unidentified and not located in many cases dumped in mass graves. One elderly woman I heard from moved me greatly as she spoke of still believing that his son must still be alive somewhere in a prison in Iran as she had never recovered his remains. 

There is little progress in addressing this crime against humanity. This massacre needs to remain at the forefront of the United Nations considerations when it considers human rights violation in Iran. 

If it is not tackled, impunity from 1988 continues to impact and inform human rights violations in the present in Iran. 

Those responsible or suspected of being responsible are not difficult to locate many are speaking about their role there and in fact boasting of their role there in 1988 in recent interviews.

A tribunal is required to examine the evidence of what happened in 1988 to provide remedies and reparations with a view to informing and preventing human rights violations in the present and in the future. The families of those who have been killed, disappeared, deserve no less.

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Assadollah Nabavi, former political prisoner and eye witness of the 1988 massacre

Assadollah Nabavi, former political prisoner and eye witness of the 1988 massacre

During the days of the 1988 massacre in Iran, I was imprisoned in Semnan Prison (east of Tehran). The regime and its executioners did their utmost to keep the massacre a secret. Even for myself being inside the prison, the story was obscure. My friends were taken away one after another to be executed, but I couldn’t imagine such a horrible event.

They had prepared the circumstances for the executions. Except for me and two other people, everyone in Semnan Prison had been executed. 

When I got out of prison after 13 years, I saw the effects of those crimes on the victims’ families. Two years after the massacre, one of the mothers would travel 100 kilometer every Tuesday from Garmsar to Semnan to visit her son’s grave. She had never believed the execution son, since they gave her no gravestone, no corpse and no information indicating the execution of her son. 

The families of the survivors of the massacre are still experiencing it, because there is no evidence or documents to show whether their kids have been executed, under what circumstances they might have been executed, and where their remains have been buried.

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Amineh Gharaei, daughter of a 1988 massacre victim

Amineh Gharaei, daughter of a 1988 massacre victim

My mother and father were political prisoners. In June 1986, my father was arrested for making a telephone call to an MEK member. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

In July 1988, they told us we can not visit my father. After three months, regime agents contacted my grandfather and told them they had executed him. They didn’t even tell us where he was buried

We tried to find signs of their graves. He was buried in a mass grave with other prisoners.

The 1988 massacre is such a disaster that it is unbelievable. After 32 years, we are still waiting for justice and for the perpetrators to be prosecuted. Had it not been for the MEK and their round-the-clock efforts, the regime would have kept the 1988 massacre silent.

Our campaign is not for revenge. We want to put an end to imprisonment, execution, and torture. As a child of one of these martyrs and on behalf of families of hte 1988 massacre, I demand that the UN establish an independent committee to investigate the massacre and to help stop the cycle of executions in Iran.

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Dominique Attias, former deputy chair of the Lawyers’ Guild in Paris

Dominique Attias, former deputy chair of the Lawyers’ Guild in Paris

This is a serious matter and one that needs to be addressed and finally answered. To get an answer from the Iranian authorities who are currently in power, to get support from commissions, from all the international committees and from the UN. 

So many people, so many young people, men and women, were executed and murdered. 30,000 people were murdered in 1988 and there is complete silence. A total silence, while families need to know and recuperate the bodies, and the dead need to be buried and honored. These are crimes against humanity. It is inconceivable to ignore them.

We are all, and all women, are in support of Iranian women who want to know about their sisters, mothers, their grandmothers and… It is unacceptable that such a massacre should go unmentioned.

Stand up, all of you, the United Nations and my dear representatives. 

Do not let this pass. It is not because Iran has oil that human rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, and the rights of humanity must be trampled. 

We will all continue to cry out to demand that justice be served, that the bodies be returned, and that, at last, at last, light comes out and shines. 

***

UPDATE: 7:00 PM CEST

Gholam Torchizi, brother of three 1988 massacre victims

Gholam Torchizi, brother of three 1988 massacre victims

Three of my brothers, Behrooz, Bahman and Reza, were executed by the regime. In 1981, it was the last time we saw Behrooz. We checked the hospitals, police stations. It took us 17 days until we saw an article in daily newspaper Keyhan where they had published the names of the people they had executed. His name was on row 43. They told my father he was executed for taking pictures and holding a camera.

My older brother Bahman disappeared in 1982. My other brother Reza went into hiding with my mother. They disappeared too. After a month, my mother came back and said they were arrested. In Evin prison they had told my mother that Bahman was killed during an arrest.

Reza was told to repent and execute other prisoners to be released. Eventually they called my dad and gave him a bag with Reza’s belongings. He was executed even though his sentence was finished. The regime never acknowledged executing Reza and Bahman.

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Zhani Ciko, Albanian famous musician

Zhani Ciko, Albanian famous musician

We are your partners in the struggle against the clerical regime. The regime has committed many crimes. The massacre of political prisoner in 1988 is one of the greatest crimes.

In the 21st century the horrible crimes of this regime agasint the people continue. I call for an investigation by the international community into the 1988 massacre. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. We wish for a free Iran.

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Mr. Yahya Shojaee, father of four victims of the 1988 massacre

Mr. Yahya Shojaee, father of four victims of the 1988 massacre

Four members of my family were executed during the 1988 massacre. My daughter Nasrin was arrested on charges of supporting the Mojahedin. She hadn’t done anything. Just because she was my child and I was an MEK supporter.

They didn’t have anything against her. After about two years, they released her. Then in 1988 they arrested her again. She was in prison for three weeks. She was so brutally tortured that her body was practically torn apart. They sent her out to be treated. But after a week and scheduling an appointment with the doctor, they came again, arrested her, and executed her.

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Zeinab Shadbash, family member of the 1988 massacre victims

Zeinab Shadbash, family member of the 1988 massacre victims

My aunt, Maryam Tavanaian Fard, is one of the martyrs of the 1988 massacre. She was 25 years old when was arrested for installing a few posters and got sentenced to serve for 7 years. They took her to Evin and there she was awfully tortured. After 7 years, awaiting her freedom, they told us that they will free her. We went, with flowers and sweets, to receive her, along with my grandpa and grandma, but they tossed her bag at us and said that they executed her. 

Once I joined Mojahedin, I looked for her cellmates, to see if I could find someone to hear some memories of hers, since I did not know much about her. Fortunately, I found a few of her cellmates which had survived, and asked them about their memories. 

They had torture her so severely, the skin of her soles had gone completely. And in order to continue the torture, they had to cut some skin off other parts of her body and stick it to her soles. The night before her execution, they cut off the left foot and the right hand and then they would go ahead with the hanging. 

It is painful that this still continues and even today, there are many awaiting their execution under the rule of this regime. I ask the United Nations and The Amnesty International, a serious request, to pass a resolution on this matter, and not to give up on this issue. And this is the wish of all those whom their voice cannot reach you.

***

UPDATE: 6:30 PM CEST

Jean Ziegler, member of the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council

In 1988, a horrific massacre took place in Iran. More than 30,000 young people, mostly linked  to the MEK, were murdered in prisons, in the streets, in their homes, by the Pasdarans, by the killers of the mullah regime.  

It was a mass murder ordered by the leader of the regime, by Khomeini, by a fatwa of Khomeini. A cold-blooded massacre that has gone unpunished to this day.

These criminal mullahs continue to hang young protesters who have committed no crime other than to demand freedom of speech, democratic freedom to demonstrate.

There are other heirs of the martyrs of 1988, it is the people in Ashraf 3, these heroes, men, women, who are today in Albania and who keep alive the memory of 1988.

The crimes have gone unpunished to this day. But the legacy of the martyrs, the fire of peaceful struggle, the patience, the determination of the MEK under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi every day unmasks more, further reduces the murderous dictatorship of the mullahs. 

The third genocide of the end of the last century, the genocide of young Iranians and young Iranians in Khomeini prisons  in 1988, demands the establishment of a commission of inquiry. Impunity is intolerable. The grief of the families is profound. This mourning cannot end without this commission of inquiry, without transparency.

***

Behrooz Maghsoodi, son of a former political prisoner

Behrooz Maghsoodi, son of a former political prisoner

I’m still in awe of what really happened in summer of 1988 and throughout these years in Iran. In a family of seven children, six including my mother were jailed for supporting the PMOI. Three of my uncles were executed between the years 1981 and 1988.

Saeid Attarzadeh Olya was 19 years old and arrested by the IRGC in 1981. His crime was being a MEK supporter. My family found Saeid’s name in the newspaper, alongside the names of 90 other prisoners that were executed. 

Behrooz Attarzadeh Olya was my youngest uncle. He was arrested in June 1981 when he was 16 years old. Even though, Behrouz was a minor at the time of his arrest the regime kept him in Evin and Ghezelhessar prisons for 7 years without a sentence and finally executed him in the 1988 massacre.

My third uncle, Mohsen Attarzadeh Olya was arrested in 1985. Mohsen was arrested on charges of “attempt to connect” to the opposition group MEK. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He was 24 years old when arrested and was executed in the summer of 1988 after three years of imprisonment even though he was given a 10-year sentence. We still don’t know how he was executed and where his grave is.

I’m very proud of my uncles who chose to stand up against the Mullah’s regime despite its heavy price.

We, the families of the 1988 victims demand an independent investigation by the UN into one of the most hideous crimes against humanity after the Second World War.

***

Parvin Poureghbali, former political prisoner and eyewitness of the 1988 massacre

Parvin Poureghbali, former political prisoner and eyewitness of the 1988 massacre

I was in a prison from 1981 to 1982 because of supporting PMOI. I was arrested in 1986 again and I was in a jail until 1991. The first time I was arrested, I was a 15 year-old student. I was a school kid. Many teenagers were arrested like me. In prison we had 13 – 14-year-old students, teenagers, and even elderly mothers. 

I witnessed the mass killing of those years and later during the 1988 massacre. 

They decided to carry out a genocide. They decided to eliminate all of those prisoners and they did this in the 1988 massacre, although they paved the way earlier and we could see or hear some signals. No one could imagine that they might execute so many people in just one month. 

All of those killed had sentences issued in their cases. Many of them were supposed to be released.

***

UPDATE: 6:00 PM CEST

Baroness Sandy Verma, Member of the UK House of Lords, and Ex. Minister for International Developmen

Baroness Sandy Verma, Member of the UK House of Lords, and Ex. Minister for International Developmen

Today’s conference on the 1988 massacre in Iran comes at a very timely moment because usually it is in the month of August that Canada, UK and EU begin to draft the UN resolution on the human rights situation in Iran, which is then voted on, at the General Assembly later in the year.

The human rights situation is deteriorating for the worst as the regime has resorted to a brutal crackdown to crush popular protests and silence the growing popular dissent in the country.

The Western democracies can no longer ignore this clear connection between the regime’s leadership and their involvement in serious human rights violations like the 1988 massacre. Otherwise we will never see nor expect any improvements or change for the better.

It is therefore paramount that the coming UN resolution that the General Assembly adopts concretely address this issue of impunity and accountability especially with regards to the 1988 massacre.

Madam Rajavi, we stand with you and all those who struggle for free and safe Iran.

***

Razieh Parandak, mother of one of the victims of the 1988 massacre

Razieh Parandak, mother of one of the victims of the 1988 massacre

In 1982, [my son] Mehran participated in a demonstration in the city of Karaj. He was arrested. He was sentenced to six months in prison. But they held him for six years. 

In 1987, he was released. They arrested him when he was crossing the border [to join the MEK]. They told his father they had executed him and told him “to deposit 100,000 tomans to Imam’s account and we will tell you where he is buried.”

***

Giulio Terzi, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Giulio Terzi, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Twentieth Century’s Genocides in Europe, Africa, Asia  began and developed mainly because of cowardice, dreams of appeasement,  fears and  lack of political will of Governments and  public opinions.

The International Community in its entirety knew and knows [about the 1988 massacre].The United Nations, the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, the UN Human Right Council, they all knew.

There is no doubt that 1988 killings were crimes against humanity: the clear beginning of a vast political and ethnic genocide, that  is still the real “work in progress” for the Iranian theocracy against  all opposition group, religious and national minorities.   

The Iranian genocidal regime must be stopped and brought to Justice. Hezbollah must be included in its entirety in the list of Terrorist entities sanctioned by the EU, the UN , and other regional or global organizations; the same should happen for IRGC and MOIS. The imminent session of the UNGA is the first and most urgent opportunity in our agenda for Rule of Law and Justice in Iran.

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Parvin Firuzan, former political prisoner

Parvin Firuzan, former political prisoner

I was imprisoned from 1981 to 1990, in Tehran, Evin, Gohardasht, and Ghezel Hesar prisons. 

One of my dearest friends, Ashraf Ahmadi was arrested in 1981 and hanged in 1988. She was among the first people to be executed during the massacre.

In prison, I witnessed the prison guards taking her child by force. They had no mercy. The child was also screaming and calling for her mother. 39 years has passed. But still, when I recall this scene, I feel my heart is burning. 

There were countless other mothers who were executed during the massacre. Their children were left with no parents.

During the massacre, the prisoners could only go out of the room to wash the dishes of breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was no “breathing” time. We were in solitary confinements and we did not know what was happening. In our facility, nearly 150 of our sisters were executed. I had memories from each and every one of them.

Those heroes stood by their promises to their people. They are the reason why the word “Mojahed” will be eternally alive in our history.

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David Jones, British MP, former Secretary of State for Wales

David Jones, British MP, and former Secretary of State for Wales

[The 1988 massacre] not only lays bare the international community’s inexplicable failure to uphold and defend international law enacted to prevent genocides and massacres but also highlights a worrying culture of impunity for serious human rights abusers in Iran. 

There will be no end to human rights violations if perpetrators are rewarded and promoted based on their atrocities instead of facing prosecution, as it is clearly the case with regards to the 1988 massacre in Iran.

I have therefore urged our Foreign Secretary and the FCO to take the initiative at the UN and work with our international allies to make sure that this year’s adopted resolution on Iran includes a paragraph that calls for an independent international investigation into the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in order to establish the true extent of this crime as well as a call to bring those found responsible to justice through prosecution in an international court.

Without actual accountability for serious human rights abusers, all of our efforts to protect and promote human rights in Iran will be wasted in vain.