By Azam Haj Heydari
The WIP, August 25, 2010
The 1988 massacre in Iran and the repetition risk of another catastrophe is a serious international concern. We need global support to to save the life of present political prisoners in Iran among them many women who are the first victims of such atrocities. This is call upon all to awaken consciousness throughout the world to help to prevent another catastrophe.
In Iran’s history, the summer of 1988 represents a time of genocide and massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. Yet to this day, human rights violations and arbitrary executions are continuing in Iran. Due to the appeasement policy and concessions towards Tehran’s mullahs, however, the international community has kept silent regarding this genocide.
The Iranian regime carried out the most ruthless massacre of political prisoners in Iran’s modern history, genocide by the definition, under the direct order of Khomeini. The purpose of this horrendous crime was to confront the regime’s defeats in its 8 year war with Iraq. This plan was in preparation for many years and implemented by the ‘Death Committee’. Currently, Khomeini’s successors have begun a new crime to once again rebuff the existing crisis of the regime. The Iranian regime’s judiciary chief has issued 1120 death sentences and due to international revelations and human rights condemnations, this issue is on hold anticipating Khamenei’s personal admission. (Nedaye Sabz Website, 9 August 2010 – The Nedaye Sabz Azadi reporter has learned the judiciary chief has written a secret letter to Ali Khamenei asking for permission to execute 1120 prisoners.)
Tehran and prisons like Evin and Gohardasht were the epicenter of this killing spree in 1988. The regime’s ‘Death Committee’ was obligated to employ this crime against more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran’s prisons. The members of this committee are currently sitting in high posts in Ahmadinejad’s government. No prison, city or village was exempted from this massacre. The ‘Death Committee’ visited each and every prison and determined the fate of every single political prisoner and PMOI supporter. After 22 years, the dimension and mysteries of these horrific killings, neither in magnitude nor in manner, have not been revealed.
Thousands of families in Iran are still unaware of their loved ones destiny. The Iranian regime has never to this day informed the families of the thousands of political prisoners that were executed and buried in mass graves across the country. The prisoners’ names and specifications were all registered, each of them having received jail sentences. Many of the executed prisoners had finished serving their jail sentenced yet the regime had refused to release them. According to witnesses (who are ready to testify in any international courts) from inside the prisons, in some nights 350 prisoners were sent to the gallows. For example, the head of Mashhad’s Vakil Abad Prison said during a telephone call, “Those in Mashhad’s prison have been finished off.”
This unprecedented and horrendous killing spree took place under the written fatwa, daily orders and direct supervision of Khomeini himself. During the weeks that this massacre was taking place, all the Revolutionary Guards and prison officials were on high alert and other than just one telephone line provided for the ‘Death Committee’, there was no other means of communication. The IRGC members and prison guards and officials were forced to take part in the killings to have a part in the genocide, not allowing the chance to disclose the secrets to the outside world.
Only a limited number of prisoners who witnessed various scenes are alive today. A number of witnesses lost their sanity after witnessing such horrifying scenes, not being able to speak about the atrocities for months. Among these witnesses, a few have been able to depart from Iran and are currently living in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Many of those executed were under the age of 18 and 58% were under the age of 30. Many families that are living in Camp Ashraf today have lost 3 to 10 members of their family during this massacre. The Shojaii family lost 12 of its loved ones.
Of course, the information gathered about this massacre is very incomplete and limited. The dimensions of this atrocity were so enormous that Montazeri, Khomeini’s successor and Iran’s 2nd religious figure at the time, wrote a letter to Khomeini objecting to this massacre. Becoming furious, Khomeini relieved him of his post and sentenced him to house arrest for the rest of his natural life. Ayatollah Montazeri passed away last year just a few days before the Ashura uprising in Iran. Currently, a region in Tehran containing a number of mass graves of the massacred is named Khavaran and has become a place of worship for the Iranian people. Political prisoner Ali Saremi, whose death sentence for visiting his son in Ashraf has been recently approved was arrested and tortured after appearing in Khavaran in South Tehran. There he paid tribute to the massacred and spoke in commemoration of the martyred victims.
Today, after 22 years and following the Iranian nation’s uprising during the last year, the eyes of the world has opened to just a small portion of the crimes committed against the Iranian people. An international campaign led by the Iranian Resistance, with political, parliamentary and legal figures in Europe and the US taking part, has called for an investigation of this crime against humanity and the trial of those involved in this genocide that is continuing to this very day. The current government posting officials of the Iranian regime are the torturers and those responsible for this vast crime. Witnesses of these crimes, inside or outside Iran, and especially in Ashraf, have announced their readiness to take part and testify in this regard in any court. Keeping the public opinion around the world informed of what actually occurred is a humanitarian duty to prevent the reoccurrence of genocide in Iran. It will without a doubt place the international community alongside the Iranian people that are victims to horrific oppression every day. Coinciding with international sanctions against the Iranian regime and the Revolutionary Guards, human rights condemnations are required to fulfill the pressure needed to bring change in Iran.
Azam Haj Heidari is an Iranian female prisoner of conscience who has witnessed women’s torture and ill-treatments in the Iranian Mullahs’ prisons. She is the author of a book called "The Price of Remaining Human", that was recently published in Europe.