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Geneva conference calls for inquiry into the massacre of Iranian political prisoners

Dignitaries, politicians reiterated the need to investigate the 1988 massacre in Iran
Dignitaries, politicians reiterated the need to investigate the 1988 massacre in Iran

Reported by PMOI/MEK

 

Sept. 14, 2018 - In a conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, dignitaries, and politicians reiterated the need to investigate the execution of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988 and to bring the perpetrators, many of whom continue to hold positions of power in the Iranian regime, to account.

At the time, Ruhollah Khomeini, then-Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime, issued a fatwa, in which he ordered all political prisoners affiliated with the PMOI/MEK to be executed unless they repented their support for the Iranian opposition group. Tens of thousands of political prisoners were tried in 15-minute trials and more than 30,000 people were executed in the span of a few months.

The event, which many have described as one of the worst crimes against humanity after the Second World War, has become known as the 1988 massacre. Jurists and human rights defenders have constantly called for an independent probe into the crime and the perpetrators to be brought to justice in international criminal courts.

Former Columbian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who spoke at the conference, recounted the events that led to the executions, stressing that most of the victims were “political prisoners who were condemned and were serving their sentence. Some of them were about to be released.”

 

Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt  is a Colombian-French politician, former senator, and anti-corruption activist

 

But the Iranian regime decided to execute them nonetheless. “Each day, there were hundreds of people executed. Imagine in five months, 30 thousand people were executed,” Betancourt said.

Betancourt also underlined that the regime tried very much to cover its crime by carrying out the sentencing and executions swiftly. “The regime is covering the mass graves and prohibiting the families from speaking about it,” Betancourt said, referring the regime’s continued efforts to prevent the scale of the crime to be brought to light.

Betancourt also emphasized the regime’s continued efforts to terrorize the members of the Iranian opposition, including a recent terrorist attempt against the largest gathering of the Iranian diaspora in France.

“The only chance we have to confront terrorism today is to help democracy get back to Iran,” Betancourt said.

Tahar Boumedra, distinguished jurist, former UN representative in Iraq, and the current head of Justice for the Victims of the 1988 (JVMI) underlined the need for an independent probe into the execution of political prisoners in Iran.

“As far as the United Nations is concerned, they’re still asking the government of Iran to investigate the event. They know they will never investigate,” said Boumedra.

 

FORMER UN ENVOY TO BAGHDAD

FORMER UN ENVOY TO BAGHDAD

 

Boumedra also stressed that a recent report by Amnesty International report shows how the Iranian security apparatus is destroying the evidence of the 1988 massacre, especially the mass graves where the victims have been buried.

JVMI, Boumedra’s organization, is also documenting the evidence and facts about the 1988 massacre. “We have documented 70 mass graves with precise locations,” he said, urging diplomats and international organizations to visit the locations.

Boumedra asked the Special Rapporteur of the Human Right Situation in Iran and other human rights personalities and organizations to independently probe the 1988 massacre instead of demanding the Iranian regime to do it. “We want them to actually investigate themselves. We want an international inquiry to look into this,” he said.

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, a member of the Swiss Federal Parliament, called the 1988 executions “one of the most atrocious crimes that hasn’t been investigated by the international community.”

 

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle

 

She also emphasized that some of the perpetrators are still in power in Iran. “The perpetrators of this crime must be tried,” she said.

Spanish lawyer Juan Garcés, former advisor of Chilean President Salvador Allende, highlighted on mullahs’ basis for this massacre and the importance of continuing to gather evidence.

“The 1988 massacre in Iran was a crime and mass murder. They used religious beliefs and treated their opponents as ‘enemies of God’ for executing them,” he explained.

 

Juan Garcés

Juan Garcés

 

“This massacre had a religious element because the victims were killed under the pretext of enmity with God. What can we do in this regard? 30 years have passed. These crimes that have a genocidal nature are usually committed by the state, and naturally, we can’t expect the state to serve justice… We must gather all possible evidence, including those of the victims and the perpetrators. One day, this can all be brought to the attention of an international court of law. Establishing a universal jurisdiction can pursue these cases,” Garcés underscored.

Gilbert Mitterrand, a co-organizer of this event, President of Danielle Mitterand Foundation, calls on the international community to place political observations vis-à-vis the Iranian regime aside and put human rights first.

 

Gilbert Mitterrand

Gilbert Mitterrand

 

“How many more such sessions do we need to hold?... We would like to go further, not only the 1988 massacres but also the current situation in Iran, where human rights continue to be trampled. The international community shows that it has other priorities above human rights,” he said.

“Former UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Asma Jahangir, requested an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre… The international community has condemned the Iranian regime for trying to erase the traces of this crime… The international community is the ally of the Iranian people. We shouldn’t play the game of the mullahs,” Mitterand concluded.

“That massacre is probably the worst crime in Iran’s modern history,” said Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of European Parliament (1999-2014) and the President of the international committee In Search of Justice (ISJ).

 

Vidal-Quadras

Vidal-Quadras

 

Vidal-Quadras also reminded that the late Mrs. Asma Jahangir, the former Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran, was very much concerned about justice for the victims and had issued a report on September 2, last year, on the killing of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, most of the members of the main Iranian opposition group, the PMOI.

“Many of the perpetrators who have admitted to their role in this crime, have not been brought to justice,” Vidal-Quadras said, adding that instead, those perpetrators have been rewarded with ministerial positions.

This includes Mostafa Pourmohammadi and Alireza Avaii, the former and current ministers of justice in the cabinet of the Iranian regime’s president Hassan Rouhani.

“To appoint as minister of justice someone who has committed a crime against humanity is a record in evil,” Vidal-Quadras said.

Vidal-Quadras also emphasized that the violation of human rights is a problem that continues under the current regime. “During the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, more than 3,500 people have been executed. His predecessor was not ‘moderate’ but he killed fewer people. The concept of moderation in the Iranian regime is quite original,” he said.

He also reminded the audience that since protests erupted across Iran in late last year, more than 50 people have been killed in the streets and more have died under torture.

“It’s not an exaggeration if we call this regime a killing machine,” Vidal-Quadras said, criticizing European politicians and state for disregarding the Iranian regime’s abysmal human rights record.

“We must remind our European governments that Iran is not a normal government to do business with. It’s a totalitarian theocracy that survives by instigating civil conflict and terror outside their borders,” Vidal-Quadras said. “This is a very unstable and weak regime, and it has no future. We should not count on the mullahs and have illusions about Rouhani and the so-called moderates. The future belongs to democracy.”

Sanobargh Zahedi, lawyer and Chair of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Justice Commission, emphasized on necessary measures by the international community.

 

Sanobargh Zahedi

Sanobargh Zahedi

 

“The families of the victims still do not how & why their loved ones die, or where they were buried. This is an ongoing form of psychological torture designed to put fear into people. If anyone asks what happened in 1988 or speaks to U.N. mandate holders, they are persecuted, detained and tortured themselves… The people who have committed these murderous crimes have never been held accountable. They have been promoted by the regime for their actions… Iran still executes the most people per capita in the world. Then NCRI calls on the UN Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, the Special Representative, and all special mandate holders to cooperate. Together we can ensure there is accountability and an end to impunity in Iran. We need an international inquiry because the Iranian regime is never going to investigate itself.”

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