By Mahmoud Hakamian
During the final conference in the 5-day event being held in Ashraf 3, home to the MEK in Albania, a number of speakers participated in a discussion regarding the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.
The Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the execution of political prisoners via a fatwa that was issued. Death Committees were set up and more than 30,000 political prisoners were summarily and extra-judicially executed during the summer of 1988. Most of those who were killed were supporters or members of the PMOI / MEK.
The perpetrators and masterminds of this truly horrifying crime are still at large. They have never been held to account, and many of them have been promoted to top level judiciary and governmental positions where they remain to this day.
Leader of the PMOI / MEK, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, said that the massacre was “a blood-drenched encounter”. She said: “The massacre of political prisoners was a blood-drenched encounter between the Middle Ages and a generation which created the 1979 revolution, a generation resolved to achieve a society based on freedom and equality, but encountered the monster of religious fascism.”
The leader of the PMOI / MEK also highlighted that the 1988 massacre is not over, because the confrontation continues. She said the 1988 massacre just opened a new chapter in the struggle.
Mrs. Rajavi said that the Supreme Leader wanted to wipe out the opposition; to obliterate it. However, she said that he completely failed in this goal because the PMOI / MEK is more determined than ever to achieve its goals.
Finally, Mrs. Rajavi said that the United Nations must order a fact-finding commission so that those involved in the massacre are brought to justice. She said that impunity must end now.
Prominent Spanish lawyer, Juan Garcés said that Iran’s criminal code had been violated through the massacre, as had international norms. He said that the Iranian government is incapable of carrying out an investigation into the events, and that the International Criminal Court and courts of justice in other countries must take this responsibility.
Former chief of the human rights office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Tahar Boumedra explained that there are 120 countries that have the capability of being involved in a judicial process. He said that many parts of the process are in place – the facts and crimes have been identified, as have the victims and perpetrators.
Kobra Jokar is a witness to the 1988 massacre. She was imprisoned for six years and recounted her experience of having her face covered from her arrest until she reached her cell. When her face was uncovered, she saw torturers wearing ski masks. They were torturing her husband. She was then tortured in front of her husband who would go on to be executed later.
She was pregnant when she was imprisoned and her baby was forced to suffer the same conditions as Kobra. There were more than 700 people crammed into an area that should have held no more than 70. She said that many of the children that were in the prison with her were left orphaned after their parents were executed. Children were not spared torture, she explained.
Speaking about her eventual escape from the situation, Kobra said that she had become ill and was able to flee while getting medical attention. She was able to leave the country thanks to the help of the Mojahedin.
Also imprisoned during the massacre was Hengameh Haj-Hassan, a nurse that was arrested for treating injured people, like many other nurses and doctors across the country. She recounted her experience in the “cage” that was not even big enough for her to stand up straight in. She was blindfolded and ordered to remain silent. If anyone so much as sneezed or coughed, they would be punished. She has lifelong injuries as a direct result of being caged.
Speaking about the torture she and her fellow inmates endured, Hengameh explained that often it came as a surprise because they were blindfolded for a lot of the time and could not see what was happening around them. Often, prisoners, including Hengameh, were beaten so badly that they ended up unconscious.
She said that loneliness was something that badly affected her and said that the aim of the torturers was to “break” the prisoners.
Homa Jaberi spoke about what she experienced during five years in prison. She was put in what the regime decried as a “residential unit” – basically a secret prison where women were sent. After being arrested for participating in a peaceful demonstration, Homa was immediately subjected to torture and was physically abused for hours.
Homa said that female prisoners were badly mistreated because the regime could not accept the Mojahedin women and their role in society. They were kicked in the stomach to the point of vomiting and they would be humiliated by the prison officials. Her belief in Massoud Rajavi and her faith got her through her time in prison.
Another witness, Saheb Jam, explained that the 1988 massacre has been in planning for two years previous to 1988. He also said that regime officials have tried to cover it up, but it has not, and will not be successful. He said that a prisoner would have been sent for immediate hanging if they sympathised with the Mojahedin. He also said that the political prisoners were witnesses to the regime’s crimes in the prisons, and this is why they were executed.
Mostafa Naderi also witnessed the 1988 massacre. He was one of the ones that the regime “forgot” about. At the time officials were calling out the names of those to be executed, he was actually unconscious after suffering from a medical emergency. He said that several others were lucky to escape execution like he did, but there were many prisons across the country where every single political prisoner was executed.
Mahmoud Royaei spent ten years in prison and witnessed the treatment of many children – many of whom had already spent years being tortured in prison. He said that they were killed for no reason. He also spoke about the other victims of the 1988 massacre – those parents that died of heartache, that couldn’t get over the death of their child or children. The victims are not just those that died in 1988, the massacre’s victims are also those that have lived with the aftermath ever since.
Former United States Senator Robert Torricelli spoke about how humbled he was to be there today and to listen to the accounts of the witnesses. He said that he has never experienced or witnessed such tragedy but said that he was fully committed to the PMOI / MEK’s struggle. He pointed to other crimes against humanity that have been tried in recent years, saying that justice will be served for all the victims of the Iranian regime. He said that those involved will be tried, but that the “ultimate justice” would be to “destroy the regime”.
Fereshteh Akhlaghi a member of the MEK that is responsible for the Martyrs research unit for the past 27 years emphasised that the struggle of the Resistance is more extensive than any exhibition can show. She said that the facts of the 1988 massacre are horrifying and justice must be served.
Peter Murphy of Australian Supporters of Democracy in Iran said that he will be encouraging his government to make sure that a full and proper investigation is carried out, via any and all means possible. He said: “We are part of this great fight for justice.”