A conference in Paris has given studied attention to the Iranian officials and cabinet members who remain in power after playing a direct role in the 1988 prison massacres in which more than 30,000 political dissidents were executed.
The 1988 massacre of 30,000 members and supporters of the People’s Mojahiden of Iran (PMOI), the largest Iranian political opposition group, has not only gone unpunished: many of those who were most responsible for it remain in important government positions.
A conference in Paris on Tuesday, September 6, “Dénonciation des dizaines de noms d’autorités actuelles impliquées dans le massacre de 1988” (“Accu
sation of the dozens of Iranian officials in power today who are implicated in the 1988 massacre”), sought to bring attention to the names and trajectories of the individual architects of the massacre.
“These events should be at the heart of an international debate”, said William Bourdin, a French lawyer and criminal law expert noted for his defense of victims of crimes against humanity.
“In contemporary history there is no example of such a prison massacre in such a short time. There have been massive massacres of war prisoners, of civilians; but a massacre so intense and brief, of prisoners who were condemned while serving or after having served their sentences, is an exceptional act… It is a crime against humanity of great scope and magnitude.”
“The truth of this crime is now known…The crime is exceptional both for its brevity and for its long duration, as many of those responsible are still in power… It is an obligation of the international community to respond to this crime.”
The conference is part of a larger effort to increase awareness of the crime in light of recent revelations that demonstrated the extent of Tehran’s complicity in the killings.
The massacre was launched after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious dictate, or fatwah, ordering the massacre of political prisoners. “Death commissions” were established in more than 70 towns and cities; until the conference, only the names of those in Tehran’s death commission were known to the public.
In the months following the issuing of the fatwah, more than 30,000 political prisoners, some of whom were only 14 or 15 years old, were executed and secretly buried in mass graves.
At the conference, the names of 59 individuals implicated in the massacre who retain power were released by Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Iran (NCRI). Among them were already-known government ministers, such as Ayatollah Khomeini and current Minister of Justice Mostafa Pourmohammadi, although many of the names were new. The links between the accused ministers and Iran’s political and financial institutions were also elucidated.
“We are faced with a crime against humanity and a massacre of political prisoners scope of which was unprecedented since World War II,” said Mohaddessin. “But even more important is that the regime in power in Iran is currently being led and administered by the very same officials who were responsible for this crime against humanity.”
“The Iranian people and Resistance demand an international investigation into the 1988 massacre. They also demand that any economic relations with the regime be predicated upon a halt to executions. We call on the international community, in particular Western and Muslim countries, to condemn this great inhuman and un-Islamic crime. Silence in the face of this crime violates the principles of democracy and human rights and goes against the teachings of Islam.”
The demand reflects the “movement to obtain justice” sought by Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI. The group seeks an internati
onal tribunal akin to those created for war crimes in Lebanon and Rwanda to prosecute the remaining Iranian ministers responsible for the massacre.
While the goal of prosecuting the remaining ministers after 28 years may seem far-fetched, supporters have pointed out that nazi war criminals were still being punished for their crimes in the 1990s. As long as the families of the victims remain aggrieved and the Iranian political opposition remains intact, the quest for closure and resolution will remain ongoing.