Amnesty International said Wednesday that the letter by United Nations human rights experts regarding the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran was a “turning point” in the 30-year-long struggle for justice and “a push for accountability, on the eve of International Human Rights Day”.

“The UN experts’ communication is a momentous breakthrough. It marks a turning point in the long-standing struggles of victims’ families and survivors, supported by Iranian human rights organizations and Amnesty International, to end these crimes and obtain truth, justice, and reparation,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

She went on to explain how Iranian authorities had systematically concealed the massacre for over three decades, even refusing to disclose the locations of the bodies, which means that the victims were subjected to enforced disappearance.

In their letter to authorities in Iran, the UN experts said that the 1988 massacre “may amount to crimes against humanity” and called on the international community to set up an international investigation if the regime refuses to investigate itself and “uphold its obligations under international human rights law”.

What Happened in the Summer of 1988?

On the fatwa of regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, 30,000 political prisoners who were already serving or had finished their sentences were extra-judicially executed following show trials that lasted less than one minute.

Many of those who carried out this atrocity, including Justice Minister Alireza Avaei and Judiciary Head Ebrahim Raisi, hold top positions in Iran.

Amnesty published a report, titled “Blood-Soaked Secrets”, after interviewing many survivors or relatives of victims.

“Between July and September 1988, the Iranian authorities forcibly disappeared and extra-judicially executed thousands of imprisoned political dissidents in secret and dumped their bodies, mostly in unmarked mass graves,” the report stated, adding, “Since then, the authorities have treated the killings as state secrets, tormenting the relatives by refusing to tell them how and why their loved ones were killed and where they are buried.”

Yet still, nothing has been done and no one held to account.

“The lack of action vis-à-vis continuing crime against humanity is a scar on the conscience of humanity…The time has come for the international community to end three decades of impunity for the clerical regime leaders in Iran and to hold them accountable for their crimes,” said Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

“The time has come for referring the dossier of human rights violations in Iran, particularly the executions of the 1980s and the 1988 massacre, to the UN Security Council,” Maryam Rajavi added.