The wave of murders, committed on the fatwa of Iranian Regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, began in the notorious prisons of Evin and Gohardasht, in Tehran and Karaj, respectively. It spread quickly across the country.
Many victims, members of the opposition MEK, had already served their prison terms and were just awaiting their release date, many were elderly or teenagers, many had not even been convicted for their peaceful political activities. It didn’t matter to the “death commissions”, who sent the victims to be killed after five-minute kangaroo trials.
Iran HRM wrote: “The victims were hanged by forklift trucks and cranes or from beams in half-constructed buildings, in groups of five or six at half-hourly intervals all day long. Others were killed by firing squads. The number of those executed were too many to be buried individually. They were collectively ditched in purpose dug trenches constituting mass graves.”
There are over 120 mass graves across Iran filled with the remains of the 1988 massacre’s victims, but many families were never told about the killings, never provided with death certificates, and never given the location of the graves. They were ordered never to mourn them in public.
Those who tried to find the graves have been arrested and tortured, with the Regime trying to erase all evidence of the massacres by building over the mass graves.
In fact, Iran has arrested (and in some cases tortures and executed) the following people fore merely drawing attention to the 1988 massacre:
- MEK supporter Ali Saremi, who gave a speech at Khavaran Cemetery outside Tehran, the site of one of the unmarked mass graves
- Mansoureh Behkish, who lost six siblings during the 1988 massacre, who posted online about Iran’s human rights violations
- Human rights defender Raheleh Rahemipour, who filed a complaint with the UN about the enforced disappearances of her brother and his infant daughter, Golrou
- Maryam Akbari-Monfared, who asked the UN to help her find the truth about the fate of her forcibly disappeared siblings who were members of the MEK
Importantly, no one has been punished for their role in the massacre and many of them still hold high-ranking positions in Iran today. That is why the international community should hold the Regime to account as failure to act is emboldening the Regime’s human rights violations.
Iran HRM wrote: “We urge the international community, the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council and its member states, as well as other relevant United Nation agencies, the European Union, all advocates of human rights and justice to end the immunity of those responsible for the 1988 massacre.”
They advocate for referring Iran’s dossier of human rights violations to the UN Security Council and for the UN to launch an international independent fact-finding mission to determine the fates of the 1988 massacre victims.