For those who lost family members in 1988, the wounds of that experience are still raw, almost 30 years later. Their continued calls for justice are being heard by members of the international community, but their pleas for international assistance have become more urgent in the wake of the recent arrests of protesters.
Many of those who are speaking out against the regime have expressed concern that the current arrests put the protesters at risk of the same fate. Numerous protesters died in the authorities’ custody after being arrested for participating in the protests that spilled over from 2017. On February 1, a civil society hearing was held in Geneva, which was organized by the Justice for Victims of 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI); and sponsored by four NGOs with Consultative Status at the UN.
During the hearing, the participants urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the massacre in 1988 that lasted for months. It is estimated that 30,000 political prisoners were killed during that massacre.
Participants in the civil society hearing expressed consensus that the 1988 massacre was a crime against humanity. They also stressed that the international community was long overdue in taking decisive measures to hold Tehran accountable. In fact, they noted that the lack of action by the international community has emboldened the Iranian regime to continue its oppressive actions against the Iranian people.
As part of the hearing, distinguished British #lawyer #Kirsty Brimelow QC presented an indictment against the regime, as well as ample evidence that established that the massacre was a crime against #humanity, and that the actions of the regime during the recent protests indicates that officials are continuing in the same course of crimes against humanity and the Iranian people.
The hearing included four sessions. The first was the presentation of the indictment by Brimelow. The second session allowed the attendees to hear opinions from preeminent international human rights experts, Professor Jean Ziegler, Dr. Juan Garcés, Tahar Boumedra, and Eric Sottas. All four spoke of the need for the UN to take appropriate action and noted that under international law, these crimes must be investigated.
The third session was an oral testimony from survivors and eye-witnesses of the events of 1988. One survivor noted that he spent 11 years in prison under the regime and five in solitary confinement. It must be noted that the #regime’s action in 1988 have continued, as they use imprisonment, execution, and torture to suppress any views that contradict the #mullahs’ fundamentalism.
The final session was a conclusion where the adjudicators gave their comments regarding the hearing and the international law that was applicable to the 1988 #massacre. Both adjudicators concluded that the UN has an obligation to investigate the 1988 massacre in Iran. Previous reports and statements by various individuals from the UN and other NGOs were also referenced.
One of the reports included comments from Asma Jahangir, the Special Rapporteur of the situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who stated in her report on August 2017, “Between July and August 1988, thousands of political prisoners, men, women, and teenagers, were reportedly executed pursuant to a fatwa issued by the then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. A three-man commission was reportedly created with a view to determining who should be executed. The bodies of the victims were reportedly buried in unmarked graves and their families never informed of their whereabouts. These events, known as the 1988 massacres, have never been officially acknowledged.”
Jahangir also noted in her report that in 1989 the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, expressed concern over the ‘global denial’ of the executions and he had called on the Iranian authorities to investigate at that time. Yet, 29 years later, that investigation has not been undertaken by the Iranian authorities and the international community, particularly the UN, has not instigated an inquiry.
In a report by UN Secretary General António Guterres to the UN General Assembly about the “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, dated 31 October 2017, stated: “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) continued to receive a large number of complaints from families of the victims of executions which took place in 1988. In a joint statement issued in March, 20 human rights organizations called on the authorities to stop the harassment, intimidation and prosecution of human rights defenders seeking truth and justice on behalf of individuals who were summarily executed or forcibly disappeared during the 1980s and of their families.”
It is clear from the evidence presented at this hearing demonstrated that it is clear that the international community needs to step in for the Iranian people, as the regime is not likely to ever acknowledge its crime against humanity and its ongoing repression of the Iranian people.