He talks how important justice for the thousands killed in Iran in 1988 would be for family members. He remembers how he and his family watched as the Revolutionary Guard took his 16 year old uncle, Hossein, from his home. For seven years, they knew nothing of his fate. By the time they learned that he’d been killed by the regime, three more of Omid’s relatives had been executed.
This family’s loss was not uncommon, thousands died in 1988. Estimates range wildly, from 7,000 to 30,000.
On November 19, Omid participated in a London demonstration, seeking recognition for those who died in 1988, as well as to condemn the growing number of executions taking place in Iran today. Condemnation from the government, “would mean the Iranian regime has to watch itself, it can’t go around violating various conventions on human rights. This would be a major step towards major regime change in Iran and that’s the only way we can stem the flow of executions in Iran,” he told metro.co.uk.
Amnesty International estimates that at least 977 people were executed in Iran last year, and their reports also suggest that scores of juveniles are on death row in the country.
Although diplomatic and trade relations have improved between Iran and Britain this year, after economic sanctions were lifted following the implementation of the P5+1 nuclear deal, human rights abuses, as well as the imprisonment of dual nationality Britons, should be of great concern in regards to these business deals.
In August, the Iranian embassy reopened in London, and a month later, British Airways announced it was resuming flights to Tehran.
Matthew Offord MP, is speaking at the rally. His constituents include many people of Iranian heritage. He previously remarked that the resumption of diplomatic relations was a missed opportunity. “I was a critic of the nuclear deal that was agreed with Iran,” he said. “I think the British Government should put human rights ahead of potential profits because we have a moral imperative to take the lead on it.” He continued, “I think it was huge missed opportunity that we decoupled human rights from the nuclear deal. I think there is concerted action to rebuild that diplomatic relationship between the two countries, [but] I’m concerned that human rights have been quietly side lined or conveniently overlooked.”
Human rights lawyer, Malcolm Fowler, who sits on an independent committee examining the issue, stated that there is enough information for the government to condemn Iran’s actions in 1988 as a massacre. “There is a resistance because it doesn’t suit the trading and diplomatic mind set of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” he said. “It never has and that is despite much resistance putting forward this evidence.”
An audio tape released earlier this year of Ayatollah Montazeri’s meeting with Iranian officials, in 1988, all of whom are still active as officials in the regime today, has Montazeri, former Deputy Supreme Leader and Khomeini’s nominated successor, criticizing the mass execution of political prisoners as “the greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic.” This audio tape sparked renewed calls for justice, including the establishment of the Committee for Justice for Victims of 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), to examine and re-examine evidence. “It provides proof positive of what we’ve been saying for a very long time. We need to assemble this evidence, there is an enormous amount of this.”
“The British government opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and takes any allegations of extrajudicial killings seriously,” according to a Foreign Office spokesman.