Human Rights Watch (HRW) says overwhelming evidence shows that the Iranian authorities’ mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 amounts to crimes against humanity.

The rights group said in a report published on June 8 that Iranian authorities, acting on the orders of then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, “summarily and extrajudicially” executed thousands of political prisoners across the country, yet “there has been no accountability for these crimes in Iran.”

Given the lack of action inside the country, HRW said foreign courts should take up the cause and prosecute Iranian officials implicated in the killings, just as Sweden is doing with former Iranian official Hamid Nouri, who is on trial in Stockholm over the 1988 mass executions.

“For decades the families of the 1988 mass execution victims have relentlessly pursued truth and justice for their loved ones without success,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at HRW.

“Now that a trial in Sweden has put a renewed spotlight on one of the darkest chapters of Iran’s modern history, it is critical for prosecutors in other countries to pursue justice for these heinous crimes,” she added.

The Iranian government has never acknowledged the mass executions, nor provided any information about the number of prisoners killed. Instead, HRW says, the authorities have sought to silence those seeking truth and justice for these alleged crimes.

“Available evidence shows that Iranian authorities from July to September 1988 executed thousands of prisoners in violation of their fundamental right to a fair judicial process,” HRW said.

“Under international law, extrajudicial killings and other abuses committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population are crimes against humanity. ‘Widespread’ refers to the scale of the acts or number of victims. ‘Systematic’ indicates a pattern or methodical plan. The mass executions in Iran were both widespread and systematic,” it added.

Nouri is charged with international war crimes and human rights abuses in connection with the murders of more than 100 people at a prison in Karaj.

Swedish prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for Nouri, who has been held in custody in Sweden since his arrest in Stockholm in November 2019. The Stockholm District Court has said that a verdict in the case is expected on July 14.

Source » rferl