After 35 years since the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 in Iran, when we reflect upon the path taken by the justice movement, a sense of wonder overwhelms us. This incident, akin to a “candle in the darkness,” and the individuals who sacrificed themselves for their country’s freedom, have shattered the veil of a grim world.
As indicated by Khomeini’s handwritten decree, the lives of 30,000 innocent souls were intended to be extinguished in oppressive silence, leaving no trace in Iran’s contemporary history. They were meant to vanish as though they had never existed on this earth.
Prior to this, Ruhollah Khomeini, the orchestrator of this heinous act, along with his accomplices, consistently issued fatwas advocating the brutal execution of members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), insisting that their deaths be as cruel as possible and that they are denied proper burials in Muslim cemeteries.
Under the cover of night, the bodies of these 30,000 victims were clandestinely cast into mass graves, shrouded by soil. Nonetheless, against the regime’s will, news of this atrocity seeped out of the abyss of the dungeons earlier than anticipated.
Through this massacre, Khomeini aimed to eradicate the MEK, which he deemed a prime enemy and threat to his malevolent rule, and to cement the foundation of his ignominious caliphate in the eerie silence of the graveyard. He might have succeeded were it not for the emergence of a resistance. His intentions were to establish an enduring dominion over Iran, unchallenged for centuries. However, fate decreed otherwise.
Presently, the global community stands in support of the Resistance’s pursuit of justice. During the conference titled ‘Four Decades of Crime against Humanity and Impunity from Punishment,’ Prof. Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (2021), remarked, “The narrative of the 1988 massacre has gripped the attention of numerous influential voices in the human rights realm. Human Rights Watch, a distinguished human rights organization, alongside Amnesty International and United Nations mandate holders, have expressed their concerns over the absence of acknowledgment regarding the 1988 massacre. The massacre itself constitutes the crime of enforced disappearance at the very least, and enforced disappearance remains an ongoing crime until the victims receive due recognition. This is the justice you advocate for, Madam President, and your organization. I stand united in this call.”
This course of action pursued by the Iranian Resistance, coupled with international condemnations, has left an indelible mark on the regime’s officials and supporters, compelling them to admit their involvement in this crime against humanity. Notably, following confessions about the 1988 Massacre by an Iran regime documentary filmmaker named Javad Mogui, Shahab al-Din Haeri has now stepped forward to acknowledge that Khomeini orchestrated the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. A number that had hitherto been emphasized solely by the MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
However, in an attempt to shield the regime from backlash, Haeri likens those executed to the Kharijites, drawing parallels with the historical group that rebelled against Ali’s acceptance of arbitration in the conflict with Mu’awiya in 657.
Beyond this rhetoric, Haeri’s admission, along with that of other regime officials and members, marks a new chapter in the revelations surrounding this crime against humanity.
Below is the speech made by Haeri as he acknowledges that the regime’s founder, Ruhollah Khomeini, committed a crime against humanity by ordering the massacre of over 30,000 innocent political prisoners:
“In 1988, approximately 30,000 prisoners serving their sentences were taken and executed in our country. This is a crime that finds no justification within any jurisprudential framework. It has been suggested that these individuals were terrorists or criminals. Even if we accept that some were indeed involved in criminal acts, the proper course would have been to subject them to do legal process. Instead, they were subjected to an overly harsh and strict judicial process.
“Among them were individuals who had merely distributed or read newspapers. Some had been sentenced to two or three years of imprisonment. What rationale warranted their interrogation about their political beliefs? Is maintaining a political stance tantamount to a crime?
“Holding steadfast to one’s political beliefs is an exercise of personal conscience, not a criminal act. It is not a crime to exercise one’s conscience.
“And yet, here, prisoners are being executed. On what grounds does anyone claim the authority to end the life of someone who maintains a particular stance? These are the distortions fostered by the Islamic Republic. It is imperative to loudly denounce these transgressions. The deaths of protesters on today’s streets can be traced back to the crooked foundations laid in the 1980s.
“Even the mildest criticism is met with objections from the Office for the Preservation of Imam’s (Khomeini) Works.
“Any attempt to voice dissent results in complaints from the Office. However, their objections should hold no sway. The erroneous nature of these actions and the works of the Imam should be exposed. I am prepared to substantiate this wherever required.”
It should be noted that, if we envision the justice movement as an ever-growing edifice, its cornerstone was laid by Masoud Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian Resistance, who first sounded the alarm about this crime. Within this structure, the echoes of those 30,000 silenced voices resonate thirty thousandfold, urging the conscience of the world to intervene.
This movement’s purpose transcends merely seeking retribution for the blood of those 30,000 souls. These individuals willingly and knowingly sacrificed themselves for the cause of freedom and a liberated Iran.
This movement attains its ultimate realization through the advancement of the overthrow campaign, with the two becoming inextricably linked.