The Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran and the Committee for a Democratic Iran held an event in Paris on Saturday, November 26 to discuss the situation of human rights in Iran.
The event, called “Call for Justice: Ending Impunity for Perpetrators of Crimes Against Humanity in Iran and Syria”, featured speeches and discussions from about the future of Iran, the Syrian conflict and the recent wave of executions in Iran.
It also featured speeches from figures in the Iranian political resistance, dignitaries from the Syrian opposition, and major international human rights lawyers, as well as former political prisoners who detailed their personal experiences in Iranian prison for the first time.
They spoke extensively about the events of the summer of 1988, when more than 30,000 Iranian political prisoners, mostly members of the People’s Mojahiden of Iran (PMOI, or MEK), were massacred after the issuance of a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini.
“It’s time to punish the mullahs”, he said.
“As criminal lawyers, as a civil society, we cannot look ourselves in the face if we allow this worst of all crimes–the mass killing of prisoners–to go unpunished; where those who carried it out are still profiting from their positions of power in Iran.”
“We can’t progress as a world society unless we do something about the worst unpunished atrocity in modern history”, he said.
“What happens when you let prisoners go? You have no deterrent effect; and the fact that the United Nations turned a blind eye towards this dreadful crime encouraged [the Iranian regime] to go further.”
“As we sit here in comfort in the great city of Paris, these crimes against humanity are continuing today in the tragic country of Iran”, said Irish Senator David Norris.
Polish economist, politician, and former mayor of Warsaw Marcin Święcicki drew parallels to similar events in Poland in his speech.
“We’re calling for two things: for the government to recognize and condemn the massacre as a crime against humanity, and to ask the human rights commissioner, the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council to order an assembly and bring the perpetrators to justice”, he said.
“In Poland we had a similar crime, 70 years ago…in the year 1914, 30,000 Polish officials and intelligentsia were kept in prisoners of war camps after the Soviet invasion of Poland…the Supreme Leader, Stalin, issued an order to execute these 30,000 innocent people, without trial, without defense, without even talking to them. In the matter of a few months, 22,000 of those Polish citizens were secretly executed.”
“It took several years…until the truth was announced everywhere. What was important for this was the Polish diaspora, Polish immigrants, who could speak about the crime openly, offer opinion, write books about it…I think the victims of the Iranian regime will not be forgotten thanks to your work.”
“I hope you will be able to find the graves, to identify them, to hold funerals for all the victims, to lay flowers on the graves of your colleagues and friends, on the graves of the freedom fighters of Iran who were executed by the terrible regime.”
Taher Bomedia, former U.N. human rights chief in Baghdad, also spoke at the event about the legal potential to bring the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre to justice.
“As you know, an association was launched this summer with a rather ambitious program, which is to bring those suspect of having committed crimes against humanity, the massacres that took place in 1988–to try to identify them; to try to also identify the laws applicable, to try to identify the jurisdictions that could enter into those cases, and to try to prepare a file for the United Nations.
“All I want to say is that the laws of the United Nations are progressively developing, there is a United Nations law commission that is codifying international law, and also progressively developing the law, so this is something we look forward to exploiting.”