Iran: families of victims of 1988 massacre demand justice from the UN

TRANSLATED BY LUCY HARRIES AND PROOFREAD BY JOYCE CHEN

In early February 2018, a ‘citizens’ tribunal’ took place in Geneva to judge the perpetrators responsible for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988. The families and a dozen or so witnesses, supported by several international lawyers and human rights defenders, called on the United Nations to establish a commission of inquiry into this burning, topical issue in Iran.

Since the public protests which erupted in towns across Iran in the beginning of January, thousands of protestors have been arrested. The fear of new massacres cannot be ignored. Twelve prisoners have already been tortured to death, and several families have lost contact with their loved ones. The Islamic legal authorities have promised severe punishments for enemies of God.

For the participants of the initiative, organised by the ‘Justice for the victims of Iran’s 1988 massacre’ (JVMI) committee based in London, the regime’s impunity from this large-scale crime only serves to encourage the authorities to keep going.

Led by the distinguished British lawyer Kirsty Brimelow, the President of the Human Rights Committee for the Bar of England and Wales, the citizens’ tribunal gave its judgement at the end of the hearing on 1st February. It concluded that the 1988 tragedy was indeed a ‘crime against humanity’ and that its perpetrators should be judged by a competent international court commissioned by the UN.

There needs to be a special tribunal to put an end to this impunity

 Sima Mirza’i, a witness of the massacre, described the tragedy that her family has been through; 14 of her relatives lost their lives, either executed or tortured to death between 1981 and 1988. Her parents endured immeasurable suffering and humiliation when, every week, they had to go and collect the belongings of one of their executed children, without being able to collect the body. Five brothers and sisters, all still in high school or primary school, perished in the 1988 massacre: Mostafa, 16, Massoumeh, 18, Khadijeh, 22, Marzieh and Hossein, 26.

These executions of innocent people are truly crimes against humanity. The members of the death committeeshould be brought to justice. There is only one simple question to ask them: why? Why did you kill so many prisoners? Why not reveal the location of the mass graves?Sima Mirza’i wonders in bewilderment.

Jean Ziegler, the Vice-President of the UN Advisory Committee, spoke in front of the citizens’ court. This impunity must stop, he stressed. The Human Rights Council must establish a Commission of Inquiry on the massacres of 88 and the ones that followed. There needs to be a special tribunal to put an end to this impunity, which is an embarrassment to humanity.

History will condemn you

In his macabre Fatwa, Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic regime and anointed forefather of Daesh, gave the order for the massacre with unbelievable cruelty: Since these traitors from Monafeghin (Hypocrites, a pejorative term used by the regime to refer to members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the main opposition movement) do not believe in Islam, and everything they say are lies and hypocrisies, and since their leaders admit to being renegades, also at war against God… it is decreed that those who are incarcerated in the country and who continue to firmly support Monafeghin are waging war against God and condemned to execution. Destroy these enemies of Islam immediately.”

On 9th August 2016, a confidential document, recorded on an audio tape, of a meeting held on 15th August 1988 between the Ayatollah Montazeri, the former heir of Khomeini, and members of the Iranian Ministry for Justice and Intelligence, was made public after being kept secret for 28 years. Montazeri denounced the massacre and condemned the perpetrators: You are in the middle of committing the worst crime against the Islamic Republic and for that, history will condemn us. In the future, your names will go down in history as criminals.

The citizens’ tribunal, supported by four NGOs with consultative status within the United Nations, demanded that UN authorities take immediate action to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 drama and the recent violence against protestors imprisoned in Iran.

Banner photo: Sima Mirza’i, Geneva, Switzerland, 01/02/2018 – Civil society hearing into the 1988 massacre in Iran held at Geneva Press club. The testimony by six witnesses: Sima Mirzai was at the first part of this hearing. The Media Express.

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