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Iran: Amnesty International Statement on “Shocking” Comments Defending 1988 Crime Against Humanity

By Mahmoud Hakamian

Amnesty International has issued a statement with regards to the comments made by a senior Iranian official about the 1988 massacre – a crime against humanity in which 30,000 political prisoners were executed following orders by the Supreme Leader at that time.

The regime set up “death commissions” who questioned prisoners about their political beliefs. If they refused to “repent”, in other words if they continued to oppose the regime, they were callously sent for execution. Women, including pregnant women, men and children were sent to the gallows.

The regime has never been held accountable for the tragedy and the families and loved ones of the victims still have many questions. The victims were buried in mass unmarked graves and those that are seeking justice are persecuted and intimidated by the regime’s security agents.

Advisor to the Iranian regime's Judiciary Chief and former Interior and Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi defended the 1988 massacre. He said that those who died (mostly members of the People's Mojahedin of Iran, PMOI or MEK) were the “traitor enemy” and “criminals”.

He questioned, “Are we really expected to talk about legal debates and civil and humanitarian protections when we are in the middle of a war?” This is further proof that the Iranian regime has no regard for international law and shows that the executions in 1988 were extrajudicial and arbitrary.

Pour-Mohammadi described the PMOI as the worst enemy possible because it destroyed the regime’s image “all around the world” and said that it has been involved in every act of destruction against the regime.

Amnesty International pointed out that Pour-Mohammadi comments are a further propagation of the regime’s false narrative to hide the truth. “This situation makes it all the more urgent for the UN and its member states to speak openly and firmly against the systematic impunity surrounding the mass extrajudicial executions of 1988 and the ongoing concealment of the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their remains.” Failing this, Amnesty International said that the Iranian authorities will be further emboldened and the families of the victims will continue to suffer.

Amnesty International’s public statement said that Pour-Mohammadi’s comments are a “shocking confirmation of the authorities’ wilful flouting of international human rights law both at the time and now”. It also said that it is another reminder of the impunity enjoyed by senior regime officials that participated in the 1988 massacre.

The organisation also said that it is extremely concerned about Pour-Mohammadi’s comments that those seeking truth and accountability would face prosecution, confirming that the regime is going to continue targeting and harassing family members of the 1988 victims that are actively looking for justice and the truth.

Amnesty International said that it was renewing its call to the United Nations and all member states to “speak firmly and openly about the systematic impunity surrounding the crimes against humanity related to the mass extrajudicial executions of 1988”. It calls on the UN and its member states to make sure that the families of the victims are provided with truth and justice.

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