In August, evidence in the form of an audio file was made public.

In it, Hossein-Ali Montazeri chastises those responsible for the largest massacre of political prisoners since World War II.

Far from being a liberal, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri detested democracy, and was once slated to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.  “Montazeri was an ideologue of the rigid Shia dogma that would lead to the massacre of 30,000 innocent men, women (even if pregnant) and children.” claims Shelton, adding, “Yet, as the newly released audio recordings clearly indicate, even Montazeri felt compelled to speak out against the bloodbath.”

Montazeri’s warning can be heard on the recording, “This sort of mass executions without trials, particularly as it relates to prisoners and captives — they are your captives, after all — definitely over time will favor them, and the world will condemn us and they will be even more encouraged in their resistance. Killing is the wrong way to resist against a thought, an idea . They have one thought, one idea. Responding to a process, a logic, even a faulty logic, with killing will solve nothing. It will make it worse. We will not be in power forever. In the future, history will judge us .”

He was speaking about the mass killing of targeted dissidents who were already sentenced and imprisoned, activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK).

Montazeri paid a high price for following his conscience.  He was sacked and put under house arrest, while those who remained complicit in the murders were promoted.  Those members of the “death commission” remain in senior positions within the ‘moderate’ government of Hassan Rouhani. 

Iran’s ‘moderate’ regime is still run by the same officials whose brutal, radical ideology guided that mass execution. Shelton points out that, “Mostafa Pourmohammadi is the justice minister in Mr. Rouhani’s Cabinet. Hossein-Ali Nayyeri is the current head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges. Ebrahim Raeesi was the clerical regime’s prosecutor general until several months ago and has recently been appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as the head of the Astan Quds-e Razavi foundation, which is a multibillion-dollar religious, political and economic conglomerate and one of the most important political and economic powerhouses in the clerical regime.”

Shelton says, “Just ask the people of Iran itself, as well as those of Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. How is it that this historic leak has, with few exceptions, been met with indifference? Not only does it present an opportunity for justice for the 30,000 victims and their families, but it could and should also shape some of the most important debates in foreign policy today.”  Shelton calls this an insult to those Iranians who paid the ultimate price in 1988 and a death sentence for innocent Iranians today. 

The truth of his statement is clear, as under Rouhani’s “moderate” leadership, come 2,600 people have been executed.  Additionally, in Syria, Iranian meddling and support Bashar Assad has led to suffering and death on a massive scale. 

“Just a few days ago, a five-year-old Syrian child named Omran Daqneesh became the face of the latest round of suffering and death in Syria, in a campaign made possible by the Iranian government,” says Shelton. 

There was no such thing as social media in 1988, but today’s victims will have a human faces, like Omran’s. Their despair will be captured and displayed to the world, hopefully acting as a wake-up call.  “It is time for us to raise our voices in the name of the victims of Iranian terror who cannot, either because they are being suppressed or already dead,” declares Shelton, and asks, “Isn’t it time to call for justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre and hold the perpetrators accountable?”