Iran continues to live with the scars of the 1988 massacre that wiped out a portion of a generation and attempted to end a resistance. Today, that resistance remains alive and strong, as international attention on this crime against humanity increases. The latest report from Amnesty International, entitled Iran Committing Crimes Against Humanity by Concealing Fate of Thousands of Slaughtered Political Dissidents.
“By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity,” said Amnesty International.
The executions were committed over the summer of 1988 and targeted individuals who were members of the PMOI/MEK at the behest of a fatwa from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
The result was death squads that asked a few questions before sentencing thousands to death. Many who had completed prison sentences and were scheduled to be released were executed, along with those who had been released but were rearrested prior to the executions. All had expressed support for the PMOI/MEK or were related to members of the PMOI/MEK.
Fate of Victims Hidden or Denied
The Iranian regime has spent years denying that the executions happened and even attempted to destroy the mass graves where the victims were buried. Various witnesses from the families noted that they were left in the dark regarding the fate of their loved ones.
This type of Iranian justice continues to this day. According to the Justice for Victims of 1988 Massacre (JVMI), it is estimated that upwards of 120,000 people have been executed by the Iranian regime for political reasons since 1979.
“The bodies of the victims were reportedly buried in unmarked graves and their families never informed of their whereabouts…In August 2016, an audio recording of a meeting held in 1988 between high-level State officials and clerics was published. The recording revealed the names of the officials who had carried out and defended the executions, including the current Minister of Justice, a current high court judge, and the head of one of the largest religious foundations in the country and candidate in the May presidential elections. Following the publication of the audio recording, some clerical authorities and the chief of the judiciary admitted that the executions had taken place and, in some instances, defended them,” said a report from the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran on August 14, 2017.
Officials from Death Committees Still Part of Iranian Government
Today, those same officials are still part of the Iranian regime and continue to hold high positions in the current president’s cabinet. The Amnesty International report compiles evidence showing that various officials participated in the executions in 1988 as members of the death commissions.
“The grotesque distortion of the truth about these heinous crimes, coupled with the clear lack of remorse displayed by those with blood on their hands, is sickening. All individuals involved in committing and concealing these crimes must be brought to justice in fair trials that exclude the death penalty,” said Philip Luther from Amnesty International.
He also noted that the failure of the UN and the international community to pursue truth and justice for these atrocities and called for them to no longer be shielded from the consequences of their actions.