Iran Acknowledges Massacre of Political Prisoners
By: Keyvan Salami
“It is not easy to keep silent when the silence is a lie.”
Victor Hugo - Les Miserables
For three decades Iran lied about the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in summer of 1988, and kept silent about this atrocity. But in this year’s presidential election as conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisie, one of the perpetrators of the massacre, was selected as one of the main candidates, the issue surfaced, forcing regime officials, one after another, to confess about the carnage.
“Executions in 1988 were fair and legal…[Iranian regime founder Ruhollah] Khomeini carried out a measure no other clergy was able to throughout history …Khomeini was decisive and had no reservations over God’s will, and God’s will was that all enemies of God must be executed…Imam (Khomeini) did not pay any attention to the West’s human rights claims… At the time 80 to 90 percent of high school and university students supported opposition groups. We started the trails and after convicting them, in a period of two to three months the card was turned around… my friends and I, all together we were 20 judges in the country, and we carried out something that guaranteed the security of the country for that year and the years to come, so the MEK can never rise again, because in a period that they were getting strong we suffocated them.” said Mullah Ali Razini, prosecutor of branch 41 of Iran’s Supreme Court, about the 1988 massacre in his July 2nd interview with the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
In the summer of 1988 Khomeini issued a religious decree calling for the massacre.
“Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the [People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK)] must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately!…Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the MEK are waging war on God, and are condemned to execution…It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God,” reads part of the decree.
A committee of four men was formed to implement the order, and in a matter of few months over 30,000 political prisoners were executed, mostly members and supporters of the main opposition PMOI/MEK.
Last year the revelation of an audio tape and unpublished letters of the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, former successor to Khomeini, shed light on new dimensions of this great crime. Pregnant women and girls as young as 14 and 15 years old were among those executed, Montazeri wrote.
“A full accounting of what’s called the “death commission” created by Khomeini has yet to be carried out. But thousands died — by hanging or firing squad or in places such as Tehran’s Evin prison,” according to a 1990 Amnesty International report.
The families of the victims had been imprisoned, tortured and suppressed not to ask about their loved ones.
“Prisoner of conscience Maryam Akbari Monfared has been threatened with an additional three-year prison term and exile to a remote prison. This was in reprisal for her open letters seeking truth and justice for her siblings who were extrajudicially executed in 1988. She has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since 2009 serving a 15-year sentence,” Amnesty reported on 3 November 2016.
In another report in 2009, Amnesty called on “Iranian authorities to immediately stop the destruction of hundreds of individual and mass, unmarked graves in Khavaran, south Tehran, to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into mass executions which began in 1988, often referred to in Iran as the ‘prison massacres’. The organization fears that these actions of the Iranian authorities are aimed at destroying evidence of human rights violations and depriving the families of the victims of the 1988 killings of their right to truth, justice and reparation.”
All we hear in the West is about Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, and their malignant actions in the neighboring countries. For far too long the West has turned a blind eye to Iran’s atrocious human rights violations.
Marking the 29th anniversary of this horrific purge, the time has come to hold the mullah’s regime accountable for crimes against humanity.