The JVMI unveiled its new report on Iran’s 1988 massacre at the latest United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
The 360 page report – Inquiry into the 1988 mass executions in Iran – was made public on 15 March 2017 at a press conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
The report evidences the facts, the suspect perpetrators, the victims and the whereabouts of their mass graves. The report is produced with the aim of assisting the United Nations and the diplomatic community in documenting and following up on the mass extra-legal executions of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran which had been categorized by world renowned international lawyers as a crime against humanity.
Tahar Boumedra, a former UN official and the lead author of the report, stressed that a UN inquiry into the 1988 mass executions of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran is overdue. He urged the UN Special Procedures to take the matter in their hands to seek the truth, justice and ensure non-recurrence.
Calls for justice
A delegation of the JVMI attended the Human Rights Council’s 34th session in March 2017, bringing the call for accountability over the 1988 mass executions to the attention of UN leaders and diplomats.
The delegation met with numerous UN officials and members of the diplomatic community, presenting them copies of the JVMI report and pressing the case for an impartial international investigation into the mass executions.
In addition to the press launch of the JVMI report, members of the JVMI addressed a side event about the 1988 massacre organised by several Non-Governmental Organisations at the Palais des Nations on 14 March.
Representatives of the JVMI and other NGOs also addressed the Human Rights Council’s Interactive Dialogues and General Debates, urging the council and UN Special Rapporteurs to investigate the 1988 mass executions.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOdJ6H0Ffmg&w=300&h=169&rel=0 ]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9bQ49lpdKg&w=300&h=169&rel=0 ]
JVMI members also took the opportunity in various related side events to inform the community of nations and other NGOs about the mass execution of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988. There remarks were welcomed by members of other participating NGOs.
The JVMI’s report launch and related activities at the Human Rights Council session were also widely covered by the international media including the Swiss dailies Tribune de Geneve and 24 Heures, Voice of America television’s Persian Service, the Saudi Arabian television station Al Ekhbariya TV, the Spanish news agency EFE, the Associated Press, European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) and Getty Images.
In addition to the JVMI, other NGOs at the council highlighted the need for accountability and justice over the 1988 mass executions of political prisoners in Iran. This included a Joint Written Statement by six NGOs with consultative status, a separate side event organised on this topic on 14 March and a joint statement by 20 human rights organisations reiterating that Iranian authorities should stop the harassment, intimidation and prosecution of human rights defenders seeking truth and justice on behalf of individuals who were summarily executed or forcibly disappeared during the 1980s and their families.
The UN responds
JVMI’s activities on the 1988 mass executions received a strong response from the UN, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran and the diplomatic community.
As one European diplomat put it: “At each Council session there are usually one or two main themes for which there is the most amount of attention from the civil society and NGOs. This year the 1988 massacre in Iran is one such theme”.
For the first time in nearly three decades, the issue of the 1988 mass executions was highlighted both in the reports to the council by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran and the UN Secretary General.
Both reports pointed to the regime’s repression of family members demanding justice over the mass killings.
The report by Ms Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, said in part:
“31. In a report it published in July 2016, a non-governmental source highlighted 18 cases of denial of medical treatment and indicated that the objective of this practice was to intimidate and punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. More than a half of the 16 communications sent by the Special Rapporteur to the Iranian authorities during the second half of 2016, include allegations of denial of medical treatment.
32. In the case of Ms. Akbari Monfared, who was serving a 15 years in prison in relation to her membership in the banned opposition group known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), the denial of medical treatment reportedly took place after she published a letter demanding justice for her brothers and sisters who were reportedly executed in 1988. The Government responded to most of these cases indicating that prisoners were in good health condition and that they were benefiting from proper health and medical facilities.
58. In November, a cleric, son of one of Iran’s founding revolutionaries was sentenced to several years in prison after he released a decades-old audio tape in which his father denounced the mass execution of political prisoners during the summer of 1988. Mr. Ahmad Montazeri was arrested on charges of “acting against the national security” and “releasing a classified audio file”. He was also charged for “propaganda against the system”. Mr. Montazeri’s father, a Grand Ayatollah, was one of few Iranian leaders to voice opposition to the reported 1988 execution of thousands of political dissidents who had already been tried and sentenced to prison in detention facilities throughout the country.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a separate report – Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran – to the Human Rights Council:
“31. In October, Ms. Akbari Monfared, who was serving a fifteen years prison sentence in relation to her alleged membership in the banned opposition group known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, or MEK), was reportedly denied medical treatment after publishing a letter demanding justice for her brothers and sisters who were reportedly executed in 1988.
62. In November, Mr. Ahmad Montazeri, a 60-year-old cleric, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a clerical court in the city of Qom on charges of “acting against the national security” and “releasing a classified audio file”, and for “propaganda against the system”. In August, he had released an audio recording of a discussion dating back to 1988 in which his father, Mr. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, reportedly argues with leaders of the judiciary and condemns the execution of thousands of prisoners in 1988. The trial of Mr. Montazeri was reportedly held behind closed doors, and he was prevented from choosing his own lawyer. The Secretary-General’s predecessor expressed deep concern over the imprisonment of Mr. Montazeri and the apparent lack of investigation into the revelations contained in the audio recording.
During the last months of 2016, OHCHR received the copies of 31 letters addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. These letters are complaints from families of persons killed in the mass executions which reportedly took place in 1988.”
The JVMI continues its calls for justice over the 1988 mass execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran.