News : Human rights

NGOs Urge UN to Pursue Justice for Iran's 1988 Massacre Victims

The NGOs appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to put an end to the impunity that the Iranian regime officials have enjoyed for more than three decades

A number of organisations have written a statement to the United Nations to highlight the injustices in Iran with regards to the leaders that played a part in the 1988 massacre in which 30,000 political prisoners, mainly members of the main opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK), were executed.

The statement was written by the Women's Human Rights International Association, Edmund Rice International, France Libertes, Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, and International Educational Development.

They called on the United Nations to take action, explaining that following a 2017 investigation, the identities of 87 Death Commission members were uncovered. They said that many of these people currently hold high-ranking and senior government positions.

The statement named several of the members of the 1988 Death Commissions, including Ebrahim Raisi, the current Judiciary Chief; Alireza Avaei, the current Justice Minister; Abdolreza Mesri, the current Deputy Majlis (parliament) Speaker; Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the current advisor to the Judiciary Chief; Hossein-Ali Nayyeri, the current Head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges and Vice President of the Supreme Court; and Ali Razini, the current Supreme Court Justice.

The 1988 massacre has been a highly emotive subject in Iran because it is something that the regime has enjoyed impunity for. No-one has been prosecuted, much less held to account, for this terrible crime against humanity. And to make matters worse, many of the families of the victims do not know the final resting place of their loved ones. Furthermore, many families that have been pushing for justice have been met with threats and violence by the authorities.

In the statement, the writers pointed out that regime officials have been defending the massacre in recent months. In July this year, advisor to the Judiciary Chief Mostafa Pourmohammadi defended the massacre to state-run media and said that PMOI (MEK) activists will continue to face capital punishment. Supreme Court Justice Ali Razini said that the 1988 executions were carried out quickly so as to avoid “being held up by red tape”.

The representatives also highlighted in their letter that authorities in Iran have been destroying evidence related to the 1988 massacre. Dozens of mass graves have been destroyed or razed, making it more difficult for truth about the scale of the crimes to be established. Justice must be pursued now so that the regime officials do not have the opportunity to cover anything else up.

The NGOs appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to put an end to the impunity that regime officials have enjoyed for more than three decades. “We believe that until the full truth of the 1988 massacre is unveiled and the perpetrators are held to account, there will be no incentive for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to change its policy on human rights.”

The representatives urged the Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry into the crime against humanity so that justice can be achieved for the many victims.

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