On Wednesday, November 17, the 40th session of the Swedish trial of Hamid Noury, an Iranian prison official, continued in the western Albanian province of Durres, where it is being hosted. Hamid Noury is being held to account for torturing inmates and playing a role in the extrajudicial executions of 1988 in Iran. Swedish authorities had arrested Noury on November 9, 2019.
During the past two years, Hamid Noury denied his involvement in human rights violations, particularly the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members, and supporters of the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI).
The hot subject in Iran is the people’s decision to seek justice from the regime. Especially for the victims of the 1988 massacre and the November 2019 protests.
Iran experts believe that justice-seeking for the victims of the 1988 massacre and the November 2019 protests are on the same path.
In line with Hamid Noury’s trial in Sweden as one of the perpetrators in the 1988 massacre, Iranian people are asking for the prosecution of the regime because of its mass killing of protesters in November 2019 too. Something that the mothers and families of the victims are now searching for since that event.
But that’s not all. Now the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his government are adding their deliberate ignorance of the coronavirus and its victims which according to the statistics of the opposition has exceeded 450,000 and it on the verge of 500,000, to their mass killings, to have the chance to survive extended by even one more day.
The dimension of these crimes has not been revealed clearly until now. But now the chance to seek justice for even for a small part of these crimes has been created and Iran’s people will not miss any it to bring these criminals to the desk of justice. The hand of this religious tyranny is covered with blood, and they will be not able to hide or wash it up.
If there would not be any will to prosecute these criminals they will continue their massacres, even more brutally, this is something that everyone can see in the regime’s actions in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen over the past 15 years. This is something that makes these trials against Iranian officials from Stockholm to Durres and the Aban Tribunal important.
During their testimonies in the last five court sessions, former political prisoners Mohammad Zand, Majid Saheb-Jam, Asghar Mehdizadeh, Akbar Samadi, and Mahmoud Royaei, pointed to the role of Hamid Noury in gross and systematic human rights violations, particularly in extrajudicial executions of 1988.
“They took me to a room that was later used for the ‘Death Commission.’ He was there, [Noury] changed my verdict,” Mohammad Zand testified in the court on November 10. “I realized Nasserian [the aka name of Mohammad Moghisseh] was the prison’s judiciary official and Hamid Noury was his chief of staff.”
“When we had been taken to Gohardasht prison, the guards brought us to a corridor, an almost empty ward, and the guards stood in lines to form a tunnel for the prisoners. As the prisoners passed through the human tunnel, the guards beat them with sticks and cables,” Saheb-Jam said in his testimony on November 11.
“I was surprised to see [Hamid Noury] there,” he said. Saheb-Jam had previously seen Noury in Evin prison, where the latter served as a normal prison guard, taking prisoners to the bathroom, torture chambers, and for breaks. “I had seen him more than ten times in Evin,” Saheb-Jam continued.
“I said to myself, God, what is going on here?” Mehdizadeh recalled. “I saw 12 MEK supporters standing on a chair each with a rope around their necks. I witnessed that next to them were other bodies of the martyrs whose feet were grabbed by the guards and dragged out of the hall.”
“As we were being transferred, Davoud Lashgari [one of the senior authorities of Gohardasht] saw us and yelled at the prison guards, ‘Why have you brought this group? Don’t bring them until I’ve called them by name,’” Samadi said.
“They had emptied a building in preparation for the massacre,” Samadi recounted, adding, “Since this section had no connection to the other sections, and the administrative building prevented this ward from being connected to other wards, it was located far from the other wards. That is why they had chosen it as the site to carry out the executions.”
“When I was there, I witnessed several times that Hamid Noury read out the names of the prisoners who were to be executed,” Samadi said.
“They asked them what their accusation was. As soon as they said they were supporters of the MEK, the guards severely beat them,” Royaei said. “One or two hours later, they were brought back, bruised and bloodied. The guards said we’ll come back for you on Saturday.”
“These series of events reminded us of the dark memories of 1981. Every night, hundreds of prisoners were executed while the authorities shouted, ‘Death to the Monafegh’ [the term the regime uses to refer to the MEK,” Royaei said. “I personally thought that they can’t execute everyone, and it would have a very heavy price for them. I thought that they were only executing the group of prisoners who had been transferred from Mashhad to Gohardasht.”
1988 Massacre Survivor Hossein Farsi Testifies
On July 29, 1988, Farsi and other inmates who were in section 7 of Gohardasht were brought to a corridor on the third floor.
“There was a table in the hall and the guards were sitting around it. I saw Nasserian [Mohammad Moghiseh], Hamid Abbasi [Noury], and three other guards,” Farsi said in his testimony.
“When my turn came, he asked my name and said, ‘Do you request to be pardoned?’ I said no. I saw Hamid Abbasi and the other guards laugh. Nasserian told me to go and continued the same procedure with the rest of the prisoners,” Farsi said.
Farsi returned to his ward. On the next day, a guard entered the ward at 7:30 am and violently pulled out the prisoners.
“They took us to the first floor through the kitchens staircase. When I got there, several prisoners were sitting on the floor blindfolded,” Farsi said.
“In front of me were two clerics and a plainclothes agent,” Farsi said. “One of the clerics was [Hossein Ali] Nayyeri. I knew him. On his right was another cleric that I didn’t know. On his left was Morteza Eshraghi, the prosecutor. I knew him too.”
“Everything fell into place at that moment,” Farsi said. “I told Mojtaba [the other prisoner] they will execute everyone. He asked why? I said to the people in the room, one of them was the prosecutor and the other one was a religious judge.”
“Nasserian told Hamid Abbasi to take the prisoners to the ward and then returned to the courtroom,” Farsi said. “Hamid Abbasi and two or three other guards guided the prisoners to the Death Hall.”
The next day, Nasserian came back to his cell with the same paper he was holding previously.
“He threatened to execute me and said, ‘tell me how you communicated with the MEK in Ward 7 and how did you listen to the Radio Mojahed program. We will execute you. We executed your brother in Evin a few days ago and left your mother grieving. She will grieve over your death too, and your leader Massoud Rajavi will grieve over all your deaths,’” Farsi said.
On August 13, a guard came to Farsi’s cell and told him to put on his blindfold and took him to the corridor, where several other prisoners had been gathered. They were taken to the corridor of the courtroom again.
“There were many prisoners in that corridor, and many others in the corridor of the courtroom,” Farsi said.
After sitting there for a long time, Farsi was taken to the Death Corridor. Around noon, Noury and two other guards came and read the names of around 20 people.
“When he finished reading the names, he laughed and said, ‘This is the Ashura of the MEK. Go, it’s the repeating Ashura of the MEK.’ And then he took them to the [Death Hall]. The rest of us returned to our cells,” Farsi said. (Ashura is the day in which Imam Hossein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, was murdered along with all his followers.)
On August 13, Farsi was taken back to the Death Corridor and sat there for several hours. In the afternoon, Nasserian took Farsi to the Death Commission again. Nasserian told him to remove his blindfold and introduced him to the Death Commission.
“On that day, they were five people. Three of them were Nayyeri, [Mostafa] Pourmohammadi, and Eshraghi. One of them was Fatehi, a prosecutor of Karaj, and the other was Naderi, another prosecutor from Karaj,” Farsi said. “They told me you were supposed to write something. I said I already did. They said that there was no paper. Nayyeri told me to go and write whatever it was that you were supposed to write and told Nasserian to take me away. I went and sat and wrote it down.”
While he was in the corridor, he talked to the other prisoners who were there. They joked and talked about heaven. Some of the prisoners sang songs and poems about the price of freedom.
“Everyone knew what was going on and what was happening,” Farsi said.