1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

Amnesty International: Regime’s Treatment of Families of 1988 Massacre Victims Amounts to Torture, Crimes against Humanity

1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

More than 30,000 political prisoners, mainly MEK activists were slain during the summer of 1988, a crime against humanity that has yet to be accounted for.

The Iranian regime’s treatment of family members of the victims of the 1988 Massacre constitutes torture, concluded Amnesty International in a June 26th post on its website in honor of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Amnesty further stated that “[t]orture and other inhumane acts amount to crimes against humanity when they form part of a systematic or widespread attack.

More than thirty years have passed since the summer of 1988, when the Iranian regime executed 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were MEK activists, and buried them in mass graves. The families of the victims have never received any justice for this crime against humanity, as none of the perpetrators have faced any consequences for their actions, and many have gone on to attain high-ranking positions within the regime.

Continued Torment

Amnesty International wrote in its statement that the regime continues to torment families of the victims by refusing to disclose the circumstances of their deaths and the locations of their bodies. Those who have asked for the truth or seek justice for their relatives have been harassed, threatened, intimidated, and attacked.

“The Iranian authorities’ ongoing refusal to acknowledge the deaths or to reveal the fate and whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared and killed has placed a cruel burden on family members who continue to be haunted by a sense of anguish, uncertainty and injustice,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“There is no doubt that the agonizing suffering inflicted on victims’ families for more than 30 years violates the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment under international law,” he added.

Amnesty International interviewed families of the victims of the 1988 Massacre and found that many of the victim’s parents had developed physical or mental health issues as a result of their children’s deaths, including heart attacks, depression, delusions, and suicidal tendencies.

Compounding the families’ suffering is the Iranian regime’s determination to cover up the crime. Families have either been denied death certificates or given certificates that cited natural causes, illness, or “death” as the cause of death. Officials refuse to acknowledge the existence of mass graves, despite satellite evidence to the contrary, and have bulldozed or constructed buildings or roads over known mass graves. Relatives are forbidden from holding mourning rituals or commemorations for their loved ones or having public discussions about the massacre.

Support for Amnesty’s Position

Amnesty International holds the position that the Iranian regime is systematically violating the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment of the families of victims of the 1988 Massacre. This opinion is supported by the expert opinions of United Nations human rights bodies on the impact of enforced disappearances on victims’ relatives.

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances recognizes that the anguish and suffering caused to a family by the disappearance of a loved one and by the continuing uncertainty concerning their fate or whereabouts “reaches the threshold of torture.”

 

The UN Human Rights Committee also recognizes that the suffering caused to a family by the disappearance of their loved ones, the secrecy surrounding the execution date and place of burial, and the refusal to hand over a body for burial have the effect of punishing families and causing mental distress,

and as such amounts to a violation of the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Staff writer

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