In the summer of 1988, over 30,000 political prisoners were brutally executed by the Iranian regime. As the majority of victims were members and supporters of the Iranian opposition, it shows just how desperate the regime was to abolish its main threat.
Mojtaba Akhgar is one of the few survivors of the atrocities of that fateful summer and has given a detailed eye-witness account of the massacre. He was initially arrested in 1982 for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the regime’s designated ‘enemy’, and spent the next 10 years behind bars in the regime’s prisons.
Akhgar said, “On July 30, 1988, they took to me to the general ward of the prison. Upon my return, I realized the situation was not normal. My cellmates told me the authorities were separating the prisoners based on their sentences… Very few of us were left in the cell.”
Through morse code, prisoners communicated with each other to find out what was happening and learned of the executions. Akhgar explained how he was taken to the ‘Death Corridor’ on August 6 to wait to be summoned to the ‘Death Commission’ where his fate would be decided by Ebrahim Raisi. After answering a few questions, he was taken back to the corridor and blindfolded. By removing the blindfold slightly, he was able to witness the events taking place.
The MEK said, “By establishing communication through morse code the political prisoners had become aware of their fate, realizing many of their fellow inmates were being sent to their deaths. Many had even begun keeping count of those being executed.”
Akhgar recalled witnessing numerous executions day after day, and how prison authorities often tortured other prisoners. On August 16, Akhgar and other prisoners were transferred to another ward where they stayed for a few days. Later, they were taken blindfolded to the prison yard and informed that they had been sentenced to lashed by the Sharia judge.
Akhgar said, “I was supposed to receive 160 lashes and Javad 100. They tied us to a metal bed and flogged us. I was severely injured and hardly got up from the bed.” For the next month, he was unable to rest or sleep properly as the injuries to his body became infected.
The remaining prisoners were informed that they were the only survivors of the massacre and that they would soon be released. However, they were threatened by prison officials that they would be executed immediately if they were caught attempting to join the MEK.
The MEK said, “A very small percentage of the prisoners survived the 1988 massacre in Iran. The hasty nature of the executions and how the thousands of victims were buried in mass graves sheds more light on the brutality of the mullahs’ regime against the Iranian people.”
Even the families of the victims were threatened and harassed by the regime. Seyed Morteza Hosseini was one of the prisoners executed during the massacre. Being an only child, his mother was desperate to see her son but was continually told that no visitors were permitted. Following his execution, prison officials continued the no visitor charade, before coldheartedly informing her that her son had been executed and handed her a bag of his belongings.
The MEK said, “As Hamid Noury is currently on trial in Stockholm for his role in the 1988 massacre, this should be a prelude for international tribunals to hold Iranian regime officials who ordered the massacre, and those who carried it out, accountable for this genocide and crime against humanity.”