UN must investigate Iran’s massacre of political prisoner

The United Nations often faces criticism for a failure to intervene quickly enough in situations involving the gross violations of human rights. This is something that Tahar Boumedra, a former chief of the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), is well aware of and why he is bringing another such case to a civil society hearing in Geneva.

The group of NGOs, who will hold their meeting next door to the UN headquarters in Geneva, are to hear about the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, which is still yet to be investigated by the proper authorities.

The group of NGOs who are conducting their own investigation into the massacre will hear testimonies from survivors of the massacre, relatives of victims and human rights experts.

This could not be more timely, given the mass imprisonment of 8,000 anti-regime protesters in the past month, who are being threatened with the death penalty.

At least 10 of the political prisoners have already been tortured to death, with the Regime claiming that these are suicides. However, the Regime is notorious for secretly executing its political opponents, so we should not take them at face value.

Boumedra wrote: “If the U.N. wants to stop another slaughter of innocent Iranians whose only crime is to demand basic rights and an end to clerical rule, then the time to act is now. The High Commissioner should seize the moment, and all U.N. Member States must lend him their support in the formation of a commission to investigate the 1988 massacre and bring an end to the impunity in Iran.”

Ahead of the NGOs’ investigation, let’s take a look at what we know about the 1988 massacre.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini feared an internal uprising at the end of the Iran-Iraq War and issued a fatwa for the execution of all prisoners who remained loyal to the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK) on the basis that their political affiliation meant “waging war on God”.

He ordered the formation of the “Death Commissions”, three-member panels who would stage kangaroo trials of five minutes or less, and execute all political prisoners who refused to renounce their beliefs.

The deaths were covered up, the bodies thrown into mass graves, and the families unable to find out what had happened, without suffering reprisals from the Regime, such as imprisonment.

Many of those who served on these Death Commissions still hold power in the Iranian Regime today, including Minister of Justice Alireza Avayi, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Asma Jahangir.

Although there have been many reports by human rights organisations, these officials enjoy complete immunity for their crimes against humanity because the international community refuses to hold them to account.

The NGOs’ investigation is a start, but the international community must go further.

Boumedra wrote: “The perpetrators of previous grave crimes in Iran must not be allowed to embark on a new systematic purge of the protesters. The international community must send a firm message to the Iranian authorities that impunity will no longer be accepted nor tolerated.”

Source » ncr-iran

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