The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran has in her latest report made numerous references to the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, pointing out that the families of the victims have a right to know the truth about these events and the fate of their loved ones without risking reprisal.
Asma Jahangir’s report (A/72/322) was transmitted to the UN General Assembly by Secretary-General António Guterres on 14 August 2017. The full text of the report is available HERE.
The SR-Iran states:
“11. (…) The Guardian Council, a body of six clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader that oversees the electoral process and vets the candidates, announced that the candidatures of only six men (0.37 per cent of the applicants) had been approved. Among them was Ebrahim Raisi, who reportedly had served on a committee that had ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
“71. In March, families who visited a mass grave located in the city of Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province, where up to 170 political prisoners are believed to be buried, reportedly discovered that the previously flat area had been covered with soil to create a raised mound over the grave. In mid-May, bulldozers were reportedly seen working on a construction project directly alongside the mass grave site at Ahvaz, located on a barren piece of land 3 km east of Behesht Abad Cemetery, where the remains of at least 44 people killed during the summer of 1988 are believed to be located. The plan is reportedly to ultimately raze the concrete block marking the grave site and build a “green space” or commercial development over the site.
“72. In her first report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur raised the case of Maryam Akbari Monfared, who had been denied medical treatment and threatened with the cancellation of her visitation rights for having published a letter calling for an investigation into the executions of 1988.43 In May, Ms. Akbari Monfared’s husband was summoned for interrogation by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security and threatened with the prospect that his wife would face an additional three-year prison term and exile to a remote prison in Sistan and Baluchestan Province if she continued to write open letters about the 1988 events.
“73. Between July and August 1988, thousands of political prisoners, men, women and teen-agers, were reportedly executed pursuant to a fatwa issued by the then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. A three-man commission was reportedly created with a view to determining who should be executed. The bodies of the victims were reportedly buried in unmarked graves and their families never informed of their whereabouts. These events, known as the 1988 massacres, have never been officially acknowledged. In January 1989, the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, expressed concern over the “global denial” of the executions and called on Iranian authorities to conduct an investigation. Such an investigation has yet to be undertaken.
“74. In August 2016, an audio recording of a meeting held in 1988 between high-level State officials and clerics was published. The recording revealed the names of the officials who had carried out and defended the executions, including the current Minister of Justice, a current high court judge, and the head of one of the largest religious foundations in the country and candidate in the May presidential elections. Following the publication of the audio recording, some clerical authorities and the chief of the judiciary admitted that the executions had taken place and, in some instances, defended them.”
The report adds in its conclusions and recommendations:
“109. Over the years, a high number of reports have been issued about the 1988 massacres. If the number of persons who disappeared and were executed can be disputed, overwhelming evidence shows that thousands of persons were summarily killed. Recently, these killings have been acknowledged by some at the highest levels of the State. The families of the victims have a right to know the truth about these events and the fate of their loved ones without risking reprisal. They have the right to a remedy, which includes the right to an effective investigation of the facts and public disclosure of the truth; and the right to reparation. The Special Rapporteur therefore calls on the Government to ensure that a thorough and independent investigation into these events is carried out.”
Twenty-nine years after the 1988 mass extra-legal executions of political prisoners in Iran, JVMI believes that until the full truth is unveiled and the perpetrators are held to account for their crimes, there will be no incentive for the government of Iran to change its policy on human rights. We urge the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to launch an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre to reveal the truth, hold the perpetrators to account and seek justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.