The final day of the 2023 Iran World Summit centered around the litigation movement. Unlike a mere commemoration, this meeting, which is a recurring component of Iranian resistance gatherings, serves as a legal trial. Its objective is to hold the criminal leaders of the Velayat al-Faqih system accountable—those who orchestrated and executed the massacre of political prisoners in 1988. According to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council Resistance of Iran, this litigation is an integral part of the ongoing uprising aimed at overthrowing the oppressive regime.

In present times, both within Iran and worldwide, conscious individuals are questioning why the 1988 massacre occurred. How did 30,000 of Iran’s brightest youth meet their tragic end, buried in anonymous mass graves, all due to a single handwritten decree from Khomeini? Why has this grave crime remained unresolved, with the perpetrators still enjoying immunity?

These pressing inquiries took center stage on the third day of the Free Iran World Summit.

The summit underscored that the “litigation movement” has now acquired a global dimension. Numerous speakers at the gathering referred to the 1988 summer massacre as a “genocide” and categorized it as a “crime against humanity.” We shall now reflect upon some of their poignant statements.

Tahar Boumedra, Chair of the Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), expressed the following: “During the 1988 massacre, there was a blackout where information didn’t come out straight away from Tehran. Mr. Massoud Rajavi contacted the United Nations, informing them about 800 victims.

Later, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri wrote his memoirs and revealed many things. In letters, Khomeini’s son asked about the prisoners and Khomeini responded to that letter and ordered to kill them all without hesitation.

The JVMI decided to revive public awareness on what really happened. Our investigation is based on the expertise of international lawyers. We used very high standards for evidence. We used very high UN standard for identifying the suspect perpetrators. And that was published in two books. The second book identified the geographical locations of mass graves, and we went around in Geneva and everywhere, knocking on every door of the United Nations and the diplomatic community. We gave them reports. We gave them the evidence. And we called for the establishment of an independent international Commission for Inquiry and these crimes.

The actual Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the situation of human rights Javaid Rehman has produced a number of reports, and he worked with other UN human rights thematic groups. And they all came together to call for the establishment of an international Commission for Inquiry into the massacre of political prisoners in Iran. That’s a very important breakthrough.

But the real breakthrough was that of the Stockholm District Court that convicted Hamid Noury for crimes against humanity. This is just the beginning. JVMI will continue until justice and the rule of law prevails.”

Joachim Rücker from Germany, President of the UN Human Rights Council in 2015, expressed strong support for JVMI, acknowledging the significance of the event commemorating the 1988 massacre after 35 years.

He recognized the importance of utilizing the UN system, particularly the role of Special Rapporteurs, as crucial instruments for the international community. He highlighted the UN Human Rights Council’s special session held on November 22 to investigate reported human rights violations during the protests in Iran. Rücker expressed hope that the upcoming oral report from the Commission would uncover the facts and address the fate of individuals affected by recent events.

While recognizing the ongoing persecution since September 16, Rücker emphasized the need for further action regarding the 1988 massacres. He urged continued joint appeals to the international community, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Human Rights Council to establish an investigation Commission specifically for the 1988 massacres.

Kenneth Lewis from Sweden, representing the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), highlighted the historic trial taking place in a Swedish court, where one of the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre is being tried. He praised the investigation presented in the Stockholm District Court as the most comprehensive fact-finding commission imaginable, consisting of over 11,000 pages of evidence gathered over 92 days.

Lewis emphasized the significance of Khomeini’s fatwa, which was not a mere religious opinion but an explicit order to execute anyone remaining loyal to the PMOI in Iranian prisons. He commended the testimonies of 34 plaintiffs and the remarkable efforts made by his clients in Ashraf 3 to support the trial by creating a museum, a film, and a model of the Gohardasht prison.

Lewis noted that the regime initially remained quiet about the case before President Raisi’s election. However, once Raisi assumed power, the regime grew increasingly alarmed as evidence implicating not only him, but the entire regime was presented in court. The Iranian press’s hysterical reaction and their claims of unfair treatment for the defendant Nouri were deemed hypocritical in the face of the extensive evidence of real torture presented during the trial.

Lewis asserted that individuals like Ebrahim Raisi, Nayyeri, and Khamenei should also face trial, as they were aware of and complicit in the atrocities committed. He emphasized the importance of the trial, the evidence presented, and the acknowledgement of the guilt of not only Hamid Noury but all the implicated leaders.

Prof. Ariel E. Dulitzky from Argentina, the former Chair of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, drew attention to two significant numbers. The first number is 30,000, which represents the victims of the 1988 massacre. Prof. Dulitzky related this number to the 30,000 individuals who disappeared in Argentina during the dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, including two of his own cousins. He emphasized that during those years, there was no UN working group on Enforced Disappearances.

The second number is 35, marking the 35th anniversary of the 1988 massacre. Prof. Dulitzky reflected on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, which took place in a detention center in Argentina where 5,000 people had disappeared. He expressed the significance of representing the United Nations in that setting, highlighting the responsibility we all share in clarifying the disappearances of individuals.

Prof. Dulitzky stressed that the victims of disappearances are not just statistics but real people—fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, wives, husbands, and friends—who had hopes and ideas. He explained that enforced disappearances are state crimes because they are carried out by state officials, and for the families of the victims, it is an ongoing crime until the truth is revealed, information is provided, and proper burials can take place.

Moreover, Prof. Dulitzky emphasized that enforced disappearances are not limited to the past, as they continue to occur in various parts of the world. He characterized enforced disappearances as techniques of terror used by regimes to instill fear in the civilian population. He also highlighted that the victims of disappearances extend beyond those who have disappeared to include their relatives who have suffered harm due to the disappearance.

Prof. Dulitzky stressed the rights of the relatives to know the truth, including who committed the crimes and who covered them up. He called upon the international community to cooperate, investigate, and provide closure to the families of those who have disappeared.

Dr. Melanie O’Brien from Australia, the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), highlighted the importance of holding perpetrators of past atrocities accountable to prevent the repetition of history. She emphasized the ongoing human rights abuses by the Iranian government, which amount to international crimes.

Dr. O’Brien drew attention to the 1988 political protests in Iran, where thousands of people were executed for their political and religious beliefs. However, only one perpetrator has been held accountable for these crimes. She pointed out that similar violence is occurring today, with protesters being met with severe violence, arrests, and executions.

Crimes against humanity, including detention, disappearance, torture, and killings of Iranian civilians in both 1988 and the present, qualify as a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population. Dr. O’Brien noted that the Iranian government is unlikely to hold itself accountable, especially since individuals responsible for the 1988 crimes have been promoted to high government positions, including the current president, Ebraham Raisi, who was a member of the Death Commission.

To ensure justice for the victims and their families, the international community must unequivocally support accountability processes. While referring the situation in Iran to the International Criminal Court through the UN Security Council is unlikely due to potential vetoes, Dr. O’Brien suggested using domestic criminal law in third countries. She cited the example of Sweden’s conviction of Hamid Nouri as a result of universal jurisdiction.

Dr. O’Brien called for other countries to follow Sweden’s example and prosecute individuals involved in the 1988 executions and ongoing crimes. This would serve as a travel ban, as those individuals would be arrested if they traveled abroad. Additionally, mechanisms focusing on truth-telling and exposing the crimes of current and previous regimes should be established, possibly through a United Nations-led investigation.

Despite limitations, such as Iran’s limited engagement with the international human rights law system, Dr. O’Brien highlighted the potential use of customary international law by other countries to bring a case against Iran in the International Court of Justice.

In conclusion, Dr. O’Brien urged national and international leaders to implement these solutions to ensure justice for the torture, enforced disappearance, and executions in Iran.

Pierre Sané from Senegal, the former Secretary General of Amnesty International, expressed his concern over the human rights crisis in Iran. He emphasized that Iran demonstrates a wide range of human rights violations, including massacres, torture, executions, enforced disappearances, violence against women, property confiscation, and brutality.

Sané noted that there seems to be a hesitation among progressive governments and the global movement to criticize Iran and the Islamic Revolution, potentially due to fears of Islamophobia. However, he stressed that human rights violations are about the victims and that international human rights law applies to all governments, regardless of ideology. The universal rights of humanity must be upheld, and the Iranian people are still members of humanity deserving of these rights.

Sané argued that politics should not be allowed to overshadow the duty of solidarity with victims of human rights violations and those fighting for a human rights regime. Impunity must come to an end, as it undermines the foundation of human rights. International solidarity, which represents our obligations to fellow human beings, is crucial in upholding human rights.

Sané pointed out that solidarity has been successful in various historical struggles, such as ending apartheid in South Africa, overthrowing military dictatorships in Latin America, and bringing an end to the Vietnam War. He called for increased solidarity in the fight for human rights in Iran, emphasizing that human rights cannot exist without human obligations.

Ambassador Zorica Marić-Djordjević from Montenegro, the former Special Representative of Montenegro to the UN Human Rights Council, highlighted the necessity of changing the regime in Iran in order to end its impunity and address the threat it poses to the region and the world. She referred to the regime as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and a greedy partner to the international community, continuing to fund militant groups in the Middle East.

Marić-Djordjević called on the UN Secretary-General to demand that the Tehran regime repeal its fatwa and release all political prisoners without delay. She emphasized that after decades of barbaric rule by the mullahs’ regime, the people of Iran are demanding change. The regime’s own investigations into its crimes have not yielded results, and many perpetrators of the 1988 massacre remain in power without facing prosecution.

The ambassador acknowledged the Swedish court’s successful sentencing of former prison guard Hamid Nouri to life in prison but stressed that more needs to be done. She echoed Mrs. Rajavi’s statement that women’s rights extend beyond the choice to veil or not, emphasizing that women should have the right to choose their own lives and leaders, including the opportunity to be leaders themselves.

Marić-Djordjević also highlighted the importance of remembering all the victims of enforced disappearance, particularly on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance on August 30th. She called for the establishment of an independent International Commission with an international mandate to investigate and clarify the fate and whereabouts of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons during Iran’s 1988 massacre.

Anand Grover, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, expressed his deep concern over the execution of approximately 30,000 Iranian citizens in 1988 by the Iranian regime. He emphasized the need to remember this crime against humanity and use it as motivation for continued struggle towards a free Iran.

Grover commended the leadership of the movement for women’s rights in Iran, led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. He expressed hope that young women would continue to lead the movement in the future. He also acknowledged the diverse groups within the Resistance movement, united by their common goal of removing the repressive leadership in Iran.

The former Special Rapporteur highlighted the regime’s refusal to inform the relatives of the executed individuals about their fate, despite numerous demands from Iranians and the international community. He mentioned that some individuals in power later admitted that the executions were carried out based on a fatwa targeting those loyal to the Mujahedin.

Grover praised the courage and conviction of those who chose to remain loyal to their beliefs, even in the face of death. He emphasized the importance of their sacrifice and their belief in the right to express different opinions without reprisal.

The victims of these executions, according to Grover, deserve justice in a society that upholds freedom of thought, expression, belief, and worship. He called for demanding accurate information on the fate and whereabouts of the deceased, providing death certificates, ending threats and harassment against the families of the victims, and investigating and prosecuting those responsible for impunity.

The former Special Rapporteur expressed disappointment with the UN’s response to the situation in Iran, noting that while resolutions were passed, there was a lack of follow-up and action from the UN General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights. However, he remained hopeful that an inquiry into the executions of 1988 could be conducted by the UN or an independent body of judicial members. He urged the international community to support efforts to achieve justice for the victims.

Irene Victoria Massimino Kjarsgaard, a former Rapporteur of the High Criminal Court of Buenos Aires Province, draws parallels between the barbaric acts of the present and the 1988 massacre in Iran. She highlights that the 1988 massacre, initiated by Ayatollah Khomeini’s order, resulted in the execution of an estimated 30,000 political prisoners, and it was carried out by Ebrahim Raisi, the current president of Iran and a member of the Death Committee at that time.

According to Kjarsgaard, the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre, as well as the absence of justice and recognition for the victims, is directly connected to the ongoing institutional crimes committed today. She emphasizes that impunity itself is a crime.

From a legal standpoint, Kjarsgaard explains that the crime of enforced disappearance has a distinct characteristic: it is an ongoing crime. It continues to produce effects as long as the disappeared individuals remain missing. Enforced disappearance is defined not by a specific action, but by the continuous absence of documents and bodies. The permanent and constant absence of the bodies and documentation is what defines enforced disappearance. In the context of Iran, this crime began in 1988 and persists to this day.

Kjarsgaard underscores the significance of accountability as a form of justice, stating that it is the starting point for the healing process. Accountability helps identify perpetrators and dismantle structures of criminal power. She acknowledges that it is not always possible to hold perpetrators accountable, but that should not deter the pursuit of justice. Justice is essential for the victims and is a fundamental right. Without justice, society remains in a state of permanent denial.

Stanislav Pavlovschi, a former Minister of Justice of Moldova and a former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, reflects on the tragic 1988 massacre in Iran. He emphasizes that justice delayed is justice denied and asserts that the time has come for justice to be served. He believes that such horrific events should have no place in a world that upholds human dignity.


Pavlovschi advocates for global efforts to ensure that such massacres never happen again. He underscores the gravity of impunity for those involved in the crime. While acknowledging the United Nations’ attempts to take steps towards addressing the issue, he asserts that an investigation is necessary to establish the truth. He questions whether such tragic events would occur if Iran had a truly impartial judiciary system, where defendants have the freedom to choose their own lawyers and where judges make decisions based on a comprehensive review of evidence and testimonies.

Pavlovschi highlights the sanctity of life, stating that it is given by God and can only be taken away by God. He expresses concern about credible information regarding the use of torture by law enforcement agents, emphasizing that the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits all forms of torture and degrading punishments.

He laments the loss of youth, the future of the country, due to the actions of the regime. Pavlovschi recognizes Iran’s rich culture and history and believes that the Iranian people deserve to enjoy a modern life.

Finally, he proposes opening a discussion on the establishment of an inter-Asian court of human rights to address human rights violations not only in Iran but also in other parts of Asia. This suggests his belief in the need for a regional approach to address human rights concerns in the region.

Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian Senator, and Presidential candidate, shares her perspective on the ongoing human rights violations and oppression in Iran. She emphasizes that this issue transcends political ideologies, as it is a matter that deeply affects the souls of individuals.

Betancourt draws attention to the 35-year history of mass killings and human rights abuses in Iran, describing it as an ongoing massacre. She expresses her perplexity at the actions of world leaders who are aware of these crimes but still engage in agreements and negotiations with Iran. She voices concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support for oppressive regimes and violent conflicts around the world, such as providing weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The former senator condemns the practice of Iran detaining individuals, including tourists, on false accusations of espionage. She criticizes the European countries for allowing the release of criminals associated with the Iranian regime while yielding to their pressure and limiting the activities of the Iranian resistance.

Betancourt expresses her outrage at the French government’s decision to prevent a meeting of the Iranian resistance, considering it a submission to Iranian pressure. She questions the ability of democratic countries to guarantee the security of their citizens and highlights the bravery and resilience of the Iranian people, particularly women and young men, who face real bullets in their struggle for freedom.

In conclusion, Betancourt asserts her solidarity with the Iranian people, standing alongside them and supporting Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian resistance. She declares her determination to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

Gilbert Mitterrand, the President of the Danielle Mitterrand Foundation (France Liberté), expresses his support for the Iranian people and their quest for truth, justice, and accountability. He emphasizes the importance of holding rallies and advocating for the Iranian authorities to be held responsible for their actions against the population.


Mitterrand highlights that his foundation has been a long-time supporter of Maryam Rajavi, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the residents of Ashraf. He reaffirms France Liberté’s commitment to standing with the Iranian people, as they have done in the face of regime policies and blackmail.

Regarding the 1988 massacre, Mitterrand insists on seeking clarification and demanding accountability for the crimes committed by Iranian authorities over the past 40 years. He points out that Ebrahim Raisi, the current President of Iran, was personally involved as a member of the Death Commission during that period.

Mitterrand expresses confidence that the will and courage of the Iranian people will ultimately prevail. He calls for concrete action to address the ongoing crimes being committed by the regime, beyond focusing solely on the 1988 massacre. He believes that the people of Iran deserve the freedom to choose their own future, endorsing Maryam Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan for a democratic transition in Iran. He asserts that it is the Iranians themselves who should determine their destiny, and it is crucial to support them in their struggle.

Eric Abetz, a former Australian Senator and leader of the government in the Senate, expresses his strong support for the Free Iran movement and the cause of a free Iran. He believes that those born into countries that enjoy freedom have a duty to assist those fighting for the same freedoms.

Abetz emphasizes that evil exists and identifies the Tehran regime as evil. He argues that the regime’s continued presence in power is unacceptable, considering the brutal executions in 1988 and the ongoing repression and violence. He believes that it is time for action and the removal of the regime, rather than mere talk or attempts at reform.

Abetz criticizes the idea of appeasement and argues that history has shown that it only emboldens bullies and tyrants. He calls on the United Nations to acknowledge the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leader, Mrs. Rajavi, as the legitimate government for the Iranian people.

He asserts that what will guarantee success is a well-defined plan, such as the Ten-Point Plan, which the movement has put forward. He also emphasizes the importance of inspiring leadership with integrity, which he believes is embodied by Mrs. Rajavi. Abetz praises the determination of the Iranian people and their resilience in the face of imprisonment, torture, and bloodshed. He concludes by urging personal commitment to the cause of a free Iran and the application of external pressure to bring about change.

Tony Clement, a former Minister of Treasury of Canada, expresses his sympathy for the victims of the Iranian government, which he describes as a terrorist government. He pays tribute to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq) for their efforts in keeping the memory of the victims alive.

Clement highlights the dangerous nature of the Iranian government but also emphasizes its incompetence. He cites examples such as the regime’s defense of shooting down a Ukrainian flight by claiming they thought it was a cruise missile, as well as their mishandling of the Covid pandemic. He believes that their incompetence gives hope because it demonstrates their fallibility and imperfection.

He expresses confidence that the Iranian government will be defeated through the actions of Iranians both inside and outside the country, as well as the weight of their own mistakes and idiocy. Clement urges people not to despair and assures them that a new Iran is on the horizon.