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NGOs, activists call for end to “ongoing massacre” of dissidents in Iran

A rally of Iranian opposition PMOI/MEK supporters in front of the UN European headquarters in Geneva
A rally of Iranian opposition PMOI/MEK supporters in front of the UN European headquarters in Geneva

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, September 24, 2020—Twenty-one NGOs urged United Nations High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on September 14 to support launching independent fact-finding missions focusing on the 1988 massacre in Iran and the recent massacre of Iranian protesters.

In a joint letter submitted during the forty-fifth session of the UN Human Rights Council, the NGOs appealed to the UN Special Procedures, in particular Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and Fabian Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of nonrecurrence, to investigate Iran’s 1988 massacre as part of their mandates.

These NGOs included Women's Human Rights International Association, Edmund Rice International Limited, France Libertes : Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, HANDS OFF CAIN, Nouveaux Droits de l'Homme (France), Justice for Victims of 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), Association des femmes Iraniennes en France (AFIF), Comité de Soutien aux Droits de l'Homme en Iran (CSDHI), Association delle Donne Democratiche Iraniane in Italia, Association of Anglo-Iranian Women in the UK, Iran Libero e Democratico (Italia), Iranian youth association in Switzerland, Association des Refugiés politiques en France, Associazione Medici e Farmacisti Democratici Iraniani in Italia, Association des jeunes Iraniens pour la démocratie et la liberté-Luxembourg, Association IranRef (Belgique), Iranska Kvinnosamfundet i Sverige (Sweden), Anglo-Iranian Professionals, and Association of Iranian Political Prisoners-UK.

During the summer of 1988 following a fatwa handed down by then Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and sympathizers of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) were secretly mass executed over the span of just a few months following mock trials lasting less than five minutes. The victims’ bodies were secretly buried at night in mass graves checkered across the country.

The previous Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Asma Jahangir informed the General Assembly in 2017 that “a three-man commission was reportedly created with a view to determining who should be executed.”

On 26 February 2018, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Human Rights Council: “OHCHR continued to receive letters from families of the victims who were summarily executed or forcibly disappeared during the events of 1988. The Secretary-General remains concerned by the difficulty the families faced in obtaining information about the 1988 events and the harassment of those continuing to advocate for further information related to these events.”

Iranian dissidents face ongoing massacre

The NGOs’ joint letter underlined the fact that the horrors of the 1988 massacre continues today throughout Iran.

In August 2020, political prisoner Mostafa Salehi was executed for taking part in anti-government protests in 2018. On September 12, the 27-year-old political prisoner and wrestling champion Navid Afkari was executed after being tortured and forced in “confession” under torture. Afkari’s “crime” too was taking part in anti-regime protests. The regime’s suppressive forces gunned down 1,500 protesters in a few of days during Iran’s major uprising that started on November 15, 2019. Another 12,000 protesters were arrested.

 

Navid Afkari, a 27-year old wrestling champion in Iran, was executed by the mullahs’ regime on charges of participating in peaceful protests

Navid Afkari, a 27-year old wrestling champion in Iran, was executed by the mullahs’ regime on charges of participating in peaceful protests

 

 

Mostafa Salehi, a political prisoner arrested during the December 2017 nationwide uprising in Isfahan, was executed on August 5. He is survived by his wife and two small children.

Mostafa Salehi, a political prisoner arrested during the December 2017 nationwide uprising in Isfahan, was executed on August 5. He is survived by his wife and two small children.

 

In a separate letter sent on September 13, 17 Nobel signatories urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to condemn Navid Afkari’s execution and to dispatch representatives to visit Iranian prisons to meet with political prisoners who are held in inhumane conditions.

 

On September 22, Amnesty International issued an urgent call to halt the execution of Heydar Ghorbani, a 47-year-old Iranian Kurdish political prisoner sentenced to death.

 

Heydar Ghorbani, a 47-year old Iranian Kurdish political prisoner, is facing imminent execution

Heydar Ghorbani, a 47-year old Iranian Kurdish political prisoner, is facing imminent execution

 

Ghorbani too was forced to confess under severe torture and deprived of a fair trial. Ghorbani was arrested on 11 October 2016 and placed in solitary confinement for several months. During this period, he was repeatedly tortured to give a video-recorded “confession” that was broadcast by the state-run Press TV prior to his trial in March 2017, in violation of the presumption of innocence. He said his interrogators kicked and punched him, deprived him of sleep, and forced him to lay on the ground while they walked over his chest causing him a feeling of suffocation. He was denied access to a lawyer during the investigation stage, and his lawyers were denied full access to his court file at the trial stage.

Amnesty International issued another urgent action statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Iranian elite student Ali Younesi, who has been arbitrarily detained since April 10, 2020. Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi, another university student arrested by the regime, are under the risk of torture and execution. Younesi won the gold medal of the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, held in China in 2018. Earlier, he had won the silver and gold medals of the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016 and 2017.