A meeting in Auvers-sur-Oise took place on Saturday, September 3rd, to commemorate the victims of a 1988 massacre in which more than 30,000 Iranian political prisoners were killed, and to seek justice for the victim’s families.
The event drew delegates from around the world to reflect on the impact of the events, the search for justice, and the current balance of power in Iran, where recent events have provoked sharp divisions within Tehran.
Ed Rendell, chairman of the 2016 U.S. Democratic National Convention and advocate for political change in Iran, spoke at the event.
“If this [revelation] doesn’t spawn outrage, nothing will. Many Nazis were prosecuted way after 28 years,” he said, referring to the potential for prosecution of those implicated in the massacre.
“You have people sitting in the seats of Iranian power who are directly responsible for this. This is a test for France, Great Britain, Germany, the United States; all the countries of the world that say ‘human rights matter’, and that these people must be treated exactly as Nazi war criminals were treated. We can accept no less.”
Struan Stevenson, who was a Scottish MP, a member of the European Parliament for Scotland and current president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, which he founded in 2014, also spoke at the event.
“We have evidence of prisoners who were brought to a waiting cell to await their own execution and they could see the people in front of them being strung up on the gallows; they were writing their will and their last prayers to God on the walls of the cell before they were dragged out and hanged. There were 30,000 of these martyrs taken in a way that was secret, kept even from the families of those executed.”
“The key person on the ‘death commission’, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, is now the Justice Minister under Rouhani in Iran…Is this some kind of sick joke? This guy is the Justice Minister? And yet the West believes that it can do business deals and trade deals with the so-called moderate Rouhani, who we’ve just heard in his 3 years in office has personally supervized the executions of nearly 3,000 people!”
“This must be a key item in Geneva; it must be taken before the Security Council”, he said to applause, referring to the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Security Council in Switzerland.
Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde and Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Nicolas Sarkozy, criticized the international community’s silence on the massacre.
“We are dealing with this kind of realpolitik that makes some people prefer not to turn over stones because they don’t want to see what blood is underneath,” he said.
“All these international courts that have been made on special cases: we have Rwanda, the massacre in Lebanon. And right now is the time that we should create a special tribunal. People will say ‘it took place too long ago’; but we have to create a court to judge the mollah’s crimes.”
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI) was one of the first speakers. She recounted agonizing stories of the imprisonment and execution of members of the resistance in 1988, many of whom were defiant in the face of imminent death.
The 1988 massacre, in which thousands of members of the People’s Mojahiden of Iran (PMOI) were executed for their political affiliation, has so far gone unrecognized by all western governments except Canada. It has been called the largest unacknowledged crime against humanity since World War II.
A resurgence of interest inside and outside of Iran in the events of 1988 was sparked by an audio tape released by the son of Hussein-Ali Montazeri, the heir apparent to Ayatollah Khomeini at the time of the killings. In the tape, Montazeri condemns the massacre before a “death panel” consisting of high-ranking Iranian cabinet members in a conversation which frankly discusses the organized nature and huge extent of the executions. This and other acts of dissent by Montazeri resulted in his expulsion from the Iranian government; he was placed under house arrest until 2003.
Mrs. Rajavi has launched a “movement to seek justice” for the 1988 massacre, calling upon the Iranian government to release the names of those executed, the location of their graves, and to identify all members of government involved in the killings. Although little has been done to address the 1988 massacre, those looking for closure hope that the events of this year will mark a turning point in their search for resolution.