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Massacre of political prisoners last week sparks hunger strike in Netherlands

The Hague, Netherlands 11/08/2016 - Protestors began a 3-day sit in and hunger strike to protest the recent executions of political prisoners in Iran and to commemorate the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners.

Wednesday marked one week since the execution of at least twenty Iranian political prisoners, most of them members of the Kurdish minority group, by Iran.

The prisoners, who were being held in Gohardasht Prison near Tehran, were apprehended last Tuesday and taken into a special ward run by Iranian security forces. Their families were informed of the impending executions, but were later redirected to a cemetery after being told the executions had already taken place.

The events have drawn international criticism, heightened scrutiny of Iran’s use of the death penalty by the European Union and the U.N., and sparked protests around the world.

The most recent of these has taken place at The Hague, Netherlands, where a three-day sit in and hunger strike by Dutch-Iranians began this Wednesday. The protestors, who are camped outside the Dutch parliament building, are protesting both the events of last Wednesday and Iran’s use of the death penalty in general.

The protestors are calling for the Dutch government to categorically condemn last Wednesday’s executions and to join with other European countries in condemnation of Iran’s use of the death penalty.

The demonstration is one of many in Europe that highlight both the recent spike in executions and commemorate the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners by Iran, most of them members of the PMOI (or MEK), Iran’s major political opposition group.

Demonstrations such as this are of particular relevance to Iranians who want to highlight the increase in executions and political repression in Iran while Iran’s “reformist” government seeks to foster business ties with European countries.

The international community’s typical silence when confronted with news of arbitrary death sentences and repression in Iran is beginning to fade, however, as increasingly alarming news of state violence by Iran becomes more difficult to ignore. The European Union and United Nations’ categorical condemnation of the death sentence puts them at odds with Tehran, where more than 2,600 executions have taken place since President Hassan Rouhani took power in 2013.

Amnesty International described last week’s executions as a “crime against humanity”, a statement echoed by Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who added that the perpetrators “must be brought to justice”. The NCRI seeks to hold Iranian judges and politicians accountable for their actions in international criminal tribunals.

This week saw a similar protest occur outside Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister of the U.K., where protestors also launched a 3-day hunger strike.

In Iran, mothers of the victims of last week’s executions joined in with other mothers involved in political activism in an emotional funeral service that also functioned as a protest against Rouhani’s government.

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