Although 25 years passed before Canada formally acknowledged the#1988massacre “every Canadian citizen and policymaker can be proud that their country is ahead of the curve when it comes to recognizing the emergence of new information about the Islamic Republic,” Kilgore declared.
In the summer of 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious edict, known as a fatwa, and began a crackdown on political dissent near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War. Any political prisoner who failed to demonstrate loyalty to the regime was faced with execution.
The so-called Death Committee presided over “trials,” most lasting only a few minutes, and 30,000 men and women, most of them activists affiliate with the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were executed.
Over the course of a few months, thousands of people were hanged, including pregnant women and minors as young as 15. People whose crimes consisted of reading opposition newspapers or expressing sympathy for the PMOI were hanged alongside active dissidents.
The 1988 Massacre set a precedent to the present day, as Iran ranks as the country with the highest rate of executions per capita. “The international community recognizes those statistics, but appears to attach little emotional weight to them. Knowledge of Tehran’s obsession with the death penalty does not necessarily translate to an understanding of the full extent of the regime’s brutality. Widespread ignorance about the 1988 massacre contributes to that lack of understanding. If more parliaments would adopt resolutions such as Canada’s, which “condemns the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as constituting crimes against humanity,” then more populations would understand the severe peril that Iranian democrats and dissenters face daily,” writes Kilgore.
This past August an audio recording emerged after 28 years. On it can be heard Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri’s condemnation of the massacre of PMOI supporters. Montazeri was designated to be the Islamic Republic’s second supreme leader, but for his words of conscience, he was driven out of the regime and placed under house arrest until his death. However, the information conveyed by the audio recording lives on and cannot be questioned.
Unprecedented attention inside Iran and in the West, have resulted from the facts heard on the audio recording, and Montazeri’s promise that the names of those involved in the massacre “will be etched in the annals of history as criminals,” may be realized. Governments and legislators worldwide have received requests to condemn formally the individual perpetrators, many of whom still hold power in Iran.
Kilgore asks, “How can any country which understands the 1988 massacre and the ongoing human rights crisis in Iran seek expanded relations with the fundamentalist theocracy?”
In light of the unanimous consent for Canada’s 2013 resolution of condemnation, an inquiry into the 1988 massacre should be demanded by the United Nations, and the surviving architects of the massacre should be charged with crimes against humanity, according to Kilgore. “This action would be an important first step toward bringing an end to Iran’s widespread political repression and thus ultimately clearing the way for a secular, democratic government in the Middle East.”