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Europe Must Finally Hold Iran Accountable for the 1988 Massacre

Former European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal Quadras argues in a Townhall column that the EU must finally hold accountable the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre in Iran.

The following is the full text of the article:



The Wisdom of Doing Something About Mass Murder

Alejo Vidal-Quadras|Posted: Jan 12, 2021 12:29 PM

Albert Einstein once said: “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” He was forced to flee Europe because appeasement of Hitler had caused war, danger and destruction.

Today, no other example is more analogous than Europe’s dismal fecklessness vis-a-vis the diabolical clerics ruling Iran. In a sign of how corrupt and illegitimate the leaders and officials of the regime are, the Iranian people have risen up twice recently in massive nationwide protests to call for democratic change.

And for good reason.

At least 60 million Iranians (70 percent) live under the poverty line. The currency lost half its value in 2020 alone. The purchasing power of each Iranian rial has decreased by about one-third compared to 2011. Even government sources say that inflation is over 50%. And, the death toll of the coronavirus pandemic is nearing a staggering 200,000, according to opposition tallies. All this plus deep-seated and endemic corruption and mismanagement have left the economy teetering on the edge of collapse.

It is hard to imagine how a group of corrupt rulers can last in power for as long as they have. In addition to Europe’s appeasement, one way the theocracy has managed to cling on to power for the past 41 years has been through sheer suppression and draconian punishments for democracy activists.

In the latest example of suppressing dissent, in November 2019, the regime stunned the world by killing at least 1,500 innocent protesters in a few short days. Amnesty International reported that even after the protests, the regime conducted widespread torture against the thousands that it had detained, including beatings, floggings, mock executions and sexual violence.

Tehran’s cruelty toward the population dates back to the beginning of the regime’s establishment. In 1988, during what human rights organizations have described as a “crime against humanity,” the regime massacred at least 30,000 political prisoners in 1988.

After years of tireless efforts by Iran’s main opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to draw world attention to the 1988 massacre, recently, a number of top UN experts publicized a report about the 1988 massacre, calling for international investigations. The majority of those executed were affiliated with the MEK.

There have been many mass graves reported across Iran holding the bodies of those murdered en masse. However, throughout the last three decades, the regime has tried to conceal the growing evidence of its crimes by “bulldozing them and then constructing new burial plots, buildings or roads over them,” according to the UN report.

As the UN experts noted, the international community has failed to act. In fact, European policy has continued to appease Tehran. And that has led to a more dangerous world.

In 2020, however, MEK activists who witnessed the horrendous 1988 massacre were able to share their accounts with Swedish prosecutors. That is because Sweden currently has in custody one of the perpetrators of this crime against humanity and is investigating allegations against him.

The accused individual, Hamid Noury, was a torturer at Tehran’s notorious Evinand Gohardasht prison. Eyewitnesses recounted dozens of grim and detailed stories about him such as: “While I was in the corridor of death (Gohardasht prison) on August 13 (1988), Hamid Noury called the names of the prisoners in groups and took them to where they were executed.” He personally participated in the execution of dozens of prisoners.

Another said: “I was hospitalized at the Evin prison medical clinic in March 1985. Four tortured prisoners were brought next to my room. … Noury was also present, and although the prisoners were in critical condition, he kept torturing and harassing them.”

Armed with such accounts, early this year, Swedish authorities will begin Noury’s trial. It would mark the first time an Iranian official involved in the 1988 massacre will be tried for their crimes. Noury was arrested in Sweden – ironically in November 2019 – during a temporary visit.

For the tens of thousands of loved ones of those brutally massacred in 1988, the Swedish trial is welcome news. After a decades-long search for justice, some in the world are forced to take action.

But that is not enough. Many top officials of the regime, including the supreme leader, the president, the head of the judiciary, and the justice minister, among many others, continue to hold top-tier positions in the clerical regime. For too long, these alleged mass murderers have escaped justice. And their evil conduct has made the world a more dangerous place.

It is time for European governments and the EU to finally take action. An international investigation into the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in 1988 is long overdue. By doing something about the crimes committed by the people who are evil, European nations can ensure that the world will be a less dangerous place to live.

Mr. Vidal-Quadras (@VidalQuadras) is a professor of atomic and nuclear physics, the President of the International Committee in Search of Justice, and was Vice-president of the European Parliament from (1999-2014).