Amnesty International Holds Press Conference Following its Landmark Report on 1988 Massacre
Amnesty International held a news conference today following the release of its new landmark report on the 1988 massacre in Iran.
.@amnesty's Iran researcher @RahaBahreini says "Iran has committed crimes against humanity through the ongoing enforced disappearance of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in 1988"
Watch live https://t.co/E95dG0dHid #TruthAndJusticeNow pic.twitter.com/DTC8ZE2Wbb
— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) December 4, 2018
The report, entitled “Blood-Soaked Secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 Prison Massacres are Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity”, compiled testimonies, documentary evidence, and audio-visual evidence to illustrate the Iranian regime’s barbaric and systematic slaughter of tens of th members of the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).
#Iran’s leaders have openly celebrated the mass slaughter of thousands of political dissidents in 1988, grotesquely hailing the killers as heroes.
— Kumi Naidoo (@kuminaidoo) December 4, 2018
A Carefully Planned and Systematically Executed Mass Murder Operation
The report found that the regime targeted members of the Iranian opposition, including the MEK and groups, keeping their families in the dark about their whereabouts and ultimate execution.
The regime then falsified death certificates and carried out secret burials to hide its atrocities and absolve itself of any blame or scrutiny. Amnesty International found the regime guilty of several crimes under international law, including enforced disappearance, torture, and crimes against humanity.
A Lingering Injustice
For the families of the victims of the 1988 massacre, the report marks a landmark moment in the fight for justice.
They have suffered 30-years of distorted truth and lies about the fate of their loved ones. “To this day, their families are denied [the] truth,” said Amnesty International’s David Griffiths. “[The] new Amnesty International report demands truth and justice now”.
#Iran’s justice system has been horribly contaminated by 30 years of grotesque distortions of the truth about the massacre of thousands of political dissidents. To this day their families are denied truth. New @amnesty report demands #TruthAndJusticeNowhttps://t.co/5dyxuHN8kZ pic.twitter.com/1QxhzJ8KOc
— David Griffiths (@dlgriffiths) December 4, 2018
For a long time, the authorities treated the killings as state secrets, the Amnesty report found. Any time the wall of secrecy was penetrated, the regime responded with harsh reprisals and levied charges against those accused of “disclosing state secrets”.
In a press conference following the report’s release, Amnesty International’s Iran researcher, Raha Bahreini said, “authorities have never acknowledged even one of [the] mass grave sites where they dumped bodies”.
The regime has actually hailed those responsible for the 1988 killings as heroes. Alireza Avaei, the regime’s current Minister for Justice was part of the “death commission” for Dezful and oversaw executions in that city.
The current Head of the Supreme Court for Judges, Hossein Ali Nayyeri, was also part of a “death commission” in 1988, as was Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, who was a representative for the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).
In a statement, Amnesty International said, “families and survivors have been grossly failed by the UN and the international community. The lack of condemnation from the UN Commission of Human Rights at the time and the failure of the UN General Assembly to refer the situation to the Security Council emboldened Iran’s authorities to continue to deny the truth and inflict torture and ill-treatment on the families.”
The ongoing lack of accountability and justice means that families still do not know where their loved ones’ bodies are located. The regime will not acknowledge the existence of mass grave sites, let alone disclose their locations.
Holding Those to Account
In the report, Amnesty International recommended that the UN establish an independent and impartial international mechanism to hold those responsible within the regime to account for their crimes.
This sentiment was echoed by its Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf who said on Twitter, “Amnesty International considers the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances to be crimes against humanity”.
Amnesty International considers the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances to be crimes against humanity and is calling on the UN to set up an independent investigation into the mass enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
— lynn maalouf (@lynn_maalouf) December 4, 2018
The MEK and other campaigners for democracy and justice across the globe will welcome Amnesty International’s investigation of one of the bloodiest and most evil chapters in Iran’s history.
However, it is only effective if international legal mechanisms and the UN can work to pressure Iran into investigating the matter and putting those responsible for these heinous crimes on trial. Those responsible must be made to answer for their crimes before civilian courts. Only then will justice have been served for the families of the 1988 victims.