The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, presented a report last week to the UN General Assembly concerning the Iranian regime’s consistent human rights violations.
Last Saturday, Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), published a statement welcoming Guterres’ report and repeated the call for the regime to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity, and for Ali Khamenei, Ebrahim Raisi, Mohseni Ejei, and other officials to be prosecuted for their actions in the atrocities.
The three named officials are, respectively, the regime’s supreme leader, president, and judiciary chief. Ejei inherited his position from Raisi, whom Khamenei appointed to head the judiciary in 2019 and then promoted as president after Raisi.
Raisi’s participation in the oppressive crackdown of the November 2019 uprising in Iran, as well as his major involvement in the 1988 massacre, brings his promotion to the presidency into question and provides the biggest assertion of impunity within the Iranian regime.
In response to the report, Eric David, a professor at the University of Brussels noted that documents in regards to the massacre prove that the victims were targeted for belonging to ‘a current of Islam that the mullahs’ regime contested’ and as a result, there is enough evidence to label the massacre as an act of genocide.
Over 30,000 people were killed during the massacre, and some eyewitnesses believe that even this is a conservative figure. In one of 16 video testimonials that were published on the NCRI’s website in advance of the conference, the former political prisoner Mahmoud Royaei stated that ‘in some prisons, there were absolutely no survivors to give their testimonies about the events’.
Only if the United Nations conducts a formal investigation into this atrocity will the full details of the massacre possibly come to light. For the past 33 years, regime officials have consistently tried to conceal all evidence of what happened in the summer of 1988. Many construction plans have been approved to bulldoze the sites of the mass graves of the victims, with some having roads or buildings built over them. The regime has also been known to intimidate many families of the victims into silence.
Four individuals sat on the lead death commission in Tehran, one of whom was Ebrahim Raisi, then the deputy prosecutor for the capital. Several of the former prisoners who provided video testimony to the NCRI recalled seeing him in their prisons.
Due to the serious nature of many of the crimes against humanity committed in Iran over the years, this allows the crimes and perpetrators to be prosecuted both in the UN’s International Criminal Court and inside any country that upholds international law in regards to genocide and crimes against humanity.
During the NCRI’s recent conference, Geoffrey Robertson, a British human rights barrister argues that under the Genocide Convention, Western countries are obligated to hold the regime accountable for their atrocities.
Swedish authorities have already demonstrated the validity of universal jurisdiction with respect to the 1988 massacre, initiating prosecution last month for Hamid Noury, a former prison official, on charges of war crimes and mass murder. The other western nations should follow Sweden’s lead and hold the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre to account.