Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International Report on 1988 massacre’

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Amnesty International report on 1988 massacre in Iran

Iran: Amnesty International Calls for Condemnation of Iran’s Deterioration of Human Rights Record at the UN Human Rights Council

Amnesty International calls on publicly condemn the deterioration in Iran’s human rights record during the country’s upcoming review session at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 8 November”

On November 6, 2019, Amnesty International released a statement calling the international community to “publicly condemn the deterioration in Iran’s human rights record during the country’s upcoming review session at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 8 November”

The organization urges states taking part in Iran’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to denounce the widespread human rights violations and make concrete recommendations for the Iranian authorities to address them.

“From horrific execution rates to the relentless persecution of human rights defenders, rampant discrimination against women and minorities, and ongoing crimes against humanity, the catalog of appalling violations recorded in Iran reveals a sharp deterioration in its human rights record,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

It is worth noting that on September 20, 2019, Human rights experts from various countries took part in a conference held at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, calling to end the three-decade-long impunity Iranian regime officials have been enjoying in relation to continuing human rights violations across the country, and especially the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. Over 30,000 political prisoners, mainly members and supporters of the Iranian opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), were then executed in just a few months.

“Why should there now be a tribunal on the crime against humanity committed in 1988? First, because lawyers have examined evidence and know beyond doubt that a crime was committed. If Iran disputes that, we have a process for that,” Kristy Brimelow, QC, an international human rights lawyer, said in her remarks.

“In July 2019, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, mullahs’ former minister of justice, responded to allegations of 1988 executions and defended them as the execution of terrorists. But evidence shows the contrary. Many of the people had been arrested for distributing leaflets, many were children.”

“It is time that we write the history within the judicial setting as to what happened in 1988, and this crime against humanity must be recognized beyond political goals, but within its judicial context. Otherwise, what’s the point of the UN?” said Swiss MP Laurence Fellman Rielle

“We are witnessing progress in seeing the perpetrators of this crime being brought before a court. Since launching the campaign for justice for the 1988 massacre victims, many of the perpetrators have been exposed and the crime has been documented,”.

“Amnesty International has also rallied to expose this crime. It has underlined that if the perpetrators are not held to account before a tribunal, more crimes and massacres will take place. Amnesty called it a crime against humanity. Amnesty has also gathered testimonies from hundreds of witnesses,” she added.

Henrik Hermansson, a political scientist and human rights researcher, reminded the conference of a number of reports covering the 1988 massacre.

“We have the locations of 60 mass graves… The 1988 massacre shaped Iran’s political system. The massacre was carried out by many authorities. Many death commission members now hold important positions in the government,” he explained.

“Iran’s large financial institutions are controlled by the perpetrators. Iran’s current supreme leader, who was the regime’s president in 1988, was directly involved. The 1988 massacre became a career-making moment for many Iranian officials.

“When officials are trained on the mass murder of dissidents, mass murder is how they will respond to protests. The continued impunity of this crime contributes to this continued crime.

“We should understand impunity is a cause of human rights violation and a violation of itself. There’s still a role for the UN and international human rights community to end impunity, even if it has political ramifications.

“I call on member states to discuss the 1988 massacre with the Special Rapporteur to make sure it’s not dropped again. Failure to investigate is also a crime,” he concluded.

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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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Amnesty International Issues Written Statement to the UN Urging an Investigation into Iranian Human Rights Abuses


40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council will discuss Iranian regime’s violations of Human Rights in Iran

The fortieth session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will convene on February 25th and run until March 22nd, 2019. Of particular note will be the fourth item on the agenda, a written statement by Amnesty International, the human rights advocacy group that enjoys special consultative status within the UNHRC.

Amnesty International’s written statement explicitly calls on the UNHRC to investigate and report on the Iranian regime’s sustained crimes against humanity. It said that the impact UNHRC Special Rapporteurs could have on the situation could save lives, reduce suffering and demand accountability.

Forced Disappearances

In particular, Amnesty International is calling on the Human Rights Council to investigate “the forced disappearance of thousands of political dissidents over the past 30 years, including many who were under the age of 18 at the time of the arrest.”

The recommendation comes just months after Amnesty International released a damning report following its own investigations into the regime’s 1988 massacre. The group found that the regime had executed thousands of members of the political opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

“While it may appear that these crimes belong to a distant past, the pain and anguish inflicted on the family members of the victims is both severe and current,” the statement read. The Iranian regime continues to withhold information regarding the whereabouts of the victims, preventing their families from disposing of the remains according to their religious or cultural rituals.

Most of the bodies were disposed of in unmarked graves at undisclosed locations that remain concealed to this day. Amnesty International puts the death toll at around 5,000, however, some estimates suggest up to 30,000 political prisoners, mainly MEK members and other political dissidents were killed in the summer of 1988.

The Iranian regime has not taken any action to bring those accountable for these forced disappearances to justice. Quite the opposite, current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has filled his cabinet with a number of prominent regime figures who played an active role in the 1988 massacre. “They have also subjected survivors, families of victims and human rights defenders to reprisals for seeking truth and justice.”

Amnesty International’s statement read, “for years, Iranian officials at all levels have sought to disguise, distort, and “justify” the mass extrajudicial executions.” They have denied the scale of the massacre and attempted to pass the deaths off as “battlefield deaths”.

A Crumbling Wall of Secrecy

In recent years, events have chipped away at the regime’s wall of secrecy surrounding the 1988 massacre. Leaked official records have revealed the planning of the executions. In response, the regime has intensified efforts to vilify and demonize the victims, labeling them “murders,” “terrorists,” and drug addicts.

Beyond the 1988 massacre, even today, the Iranian regime arbitrarily detains journalists, protestors, dissidents, lawyers, activists, religious and ethnic minorities, trade unionists, and members of the MEK. While in regime custody, prisoners are also routinely subjected to torture and inhumane living conditions.

“This succession of grave human rights violations committed in Iran is inextricably linked to the impunity the Iranian authorities have enjoyed,” Amnesty International wrote.

The statement concluded with the human rights group urging “states to break this link, to speak openly and firmly about Iran’s ongoing crimes against humanity.” Amnesty International calls on the UNHRC to find the location of the remains of the victims killed in 1988. It also asks that the UN protects the victims’ family members from harassment and intimidation and puts an end to arbitrary detention in Iran.

Finally, the group asked for the UN to “identify effective pathways to justice, truth and reparation with a view to ensuring those suspected of responsibility are prosecuted in fair trials, without imposing the death penalty.”


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1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

The UN Must Investigate the 1988 Massacre

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.

Patrick Goodenough published an opinion piece on CNS news on Friday, December 7th. The piece, entitled, “New Report: UN Should Investigate Secret Execution of Thousands of Iranian Dissidents 30 Years Ago”, referred to Amnesty International’s latest report on the 1988 massacre.

Amnesty International collected witness testimonies, audio and video evidence, as well as extensive documentation on the extra-judicial killings that took place in the summer of 1988. The report found that the Iranian regime systematically rounded up and killed members of the Iranian opposition, including members of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

Around 30,000 dissidents were executed during the summer of 1988. The regime dumped their bodies in mass graves. The mullahs then worked tirelessly destroy evidence of their atrocities. To this day, they have refused to come clean about the events that took place that summer and refused to reveal the locations of the mass graves.

Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity

Patrick Goodenough quoted Amnesty International’s Middle East and Africa research and advocacy director, Philip Luther, who said, “until Iran’s authorities come clean and publicly reveal the fate and whereabouts of the victims, these crimes against humanity are ongoing”.

Amnesty International is calling for a UN investigation into the forced disappearances and killings.

The report, Goodenough says, suggests that there may have been 32 execution locations used in the killings, spread out across Iran. Prisons during the period were placed on “lockdown” and family visits were suspended, leaving many victim’s families unsure whether their loved one was dead or alive.

Many of Those Responsible Hold Positions of Authority Today

Goodenough laments that many of the regime’s “death commissions” responsible for the abduction and execution of political dissidents in 1988 still hold positions in the regime’s political leadership.

The Justice Minister, Alireza Avaei, has strong links to the 1988 atrocities. As does, the former Justice Minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Hossein-Ali Nayyeri, the head of a supreme disciplinary court for judges, and Ebrahim Raeesi, Iran’s former prosecutor general.

All three men where present at a “death commission” meeting in 1988, of which secret recordings were leaked to the public in 2016. During the meeting, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montarezi is clearly heard warning those in attendance that the extra-judicial killings would bring international criticism. He called the crime, “the biggest crime in the history of the Islamic Republic”.

Montazeri’s defiance of the regime and criticism of its crimes led to his house arrest before he died in 2009.

Goodenough’s report acknowledged that it will take significant public pressure to bring about the opening of a UN investigation into the matter. He quoted Safavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who said that it would take “a major public pressure campaign, perhaps a strong push at the UN by the United States to call on the UN secretary general to initiate an independent inquiry into the massacre”.

Staff Writer



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