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The 1988 Massacre in Iran Needs to Be Investigated

In a piece about the massacre, Shafiee wrote: “The 1988 massacre in Iran deserves an independent international investigation. It has been kept in the dark for too long.” Bottom of Form
What was the 1988 Massacre?

It was the mass murder of 30,000 political prisoners, mainly members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), on the orders of then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini. He wanted to see the MEK, which was the main opposition, exterminated, so he issued a fatwa ordering that every MEK member or supporter in prison be put on trial again for the support of the MEK, but this time they were facing the death penalty.

Some people, including teenagers and the elderly, had been placed in the overcrowded prisons for “crimes” like reading the MEK’s newspaper or attending a rally and now they were going to be executed for it.

The trial lacked any kind of fairness, even by Iran’s standards, and inmates were blindfolded and brought before a “Death Commission” to answer one simple question: do you still support the MEK? If they answered yes, then they went straight to the gallows.

If they answered no, then they were asked if they would publically denounce the MEK, help to kill MEK members, and work to remove landmines on Iran’s border with Iraq. If they answered no to any of these, then they were also sent to the gallows.

We know all of this from those who miraculously survived the massacre, mostly by being sent to the infirmary before their trial, who still suffer from survivors’ guilt.

Who was on the Death Commissions?

Many of the people that currently hold high-ranking positions in Iranian society served on the Death Commissions in various cities across Iran, including:

• Ebrahim Raisi – a close friend of current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, custodian of the wealthiest foundation in Iran, 2017 Presidential Candidate

• Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi – Justice Minister in Hassan Rouhani’s first cabinet

• Seyyed Alireza Avayi – Current Justice Minister

During the height of the massacre, Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri called on the Tehran Death Commission to stop the killings and warned them that they were responsible for the single greatest crime in the history of Iran. He was sacked and put under house arrest for the rest of his life for his objections.

He said: “The greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you. Your names will in the future be etched in the annals of history as criminals.”

These criticisms can be heard via an audio tape that was released by his son in August 2016, but still no one in the government has been held to account. Instead, those who tried to reveal the crimes had been punished and Montazeri’s son was sent to jail.

What happened after the massacre?

The Regime covered up their crimes, to avoid international outrage and domestic revolt, by burying the dead in mass graves, destroying records, and denying the families of the dead visitation for months afterwards. Recently, they’ve even been caught destroying the grave sites in an attempt to hide evidence amid mounting calls for an investigation into the massacre and for those responsible to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court.

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