At the end of July 1988, Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the massacre of political prisoners. Death Commissions were formed in more than 70 cities.
The Death Commissions were comprised of a Sharia judge, Intelligence Ministry representatives and Prosecutor. Some of the Commissions also included substitute members, including the local or provincial prison chief. The religious judge and the prosecutor were appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council that was at the time headed by Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili.
The true number of perpetrators of the 1988 massacre may never be known; however, in 2016-2017, with the resurgence of a public movement demanding accountability and justice for the victims of the massacre, more information became available. Many families of victims who had remained silent in fear of persecution began providing their information. The political dispute among various factions of the regime also led to the revelation of new information.
JVMI has collected the relevant information regarding the perpetrators and has collated a list of 96 individuals who acted as members of the Death Commissions in 1988 or supervised their operations. At least 87 of those individuals were members of the Death Commissions. It is shocking that many of the perpetrators continue as of the summer of 2017 to hold key positions in various branches of the Iranian government.
The current Minister of Justice, Alireza Avaie, was a member of the Death Commission in Khuzestan. His two predecessors, who held office in the previous eight years, Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi and Morteza Bakhtiari, were also members of the Death Commissions. In addition, the Minister of Justice from 1989 until 2005 was Mohammad Esmail Shushtari who in 1988 headed the state Prisons Organisation and was an active member of the Death Commission in Tehran.
Seventeen other members of the Death Commissions are currently holding judicial offices including the post of Supreme Court judges. Two Members of Parliament, seven members of the Assembly of Experts and two members of the powerful State Expediency Discernment Council are also among the members of the 1988 Death Commissions. Additionally, Some of Iran’s largest financial and trade institutions are run and controlled by the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre. Iran’s current Supreme Leader, who was President in 1988, was directly involved in the massacre.
Use our interactive map to find further details and photographs of the members of the Death Commissions whose identities have been announced by the JVMI: