A group of political prisoners in Iran’s notorious Gohardasht Prison, in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, paid homage on 29 December 2016 to the victims of the 2009 uprising and those of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.
The gathering started at about 2:00pm by observing a minute of silence in honour of the ‘martyrs of freedom’. Some 20 political prisoners attended the event and several of them delivered speeches strongly critical of the regime. Participants supported remarks by their fellow inmates by shouting aloud, “Death to Khamenei”, “Death to velayate faqih (absolute rule of clergy)”, “Shame on Khomeini” and “Down with criminal rule of the clergy”.
Assu Rostami, moderator of the ceremony, gave the opening remarks: “We are going to cry out for justice in the face of the killers from our cells under the absolute rule of fascists in such a way that the heroic and mojahed people (combatant people, a reference to the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran – PMOI) would see clearly the frustration and helplessness of the criminal regime. And they would witness with their own eyes the result of the blood shed from mojahed combatants of freedom and martyrs of the 1988 massacre that has lamed the monstrous regime to the extent that it cannot even silence the voice of justice in its own jails…”
He then called on the first speaker, Khaled Hardani, to speak about the massacre of political prisoners in 1988.
Hardani began his remarks by paying tribute to the ‘martyrs of freedom’ and said: “The clerical regime is founded right from the beginning on two bases. Firstly, export of the revolution, i.e. ‘fundamentalism’, to the region as we currently see in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and other countries and advocating sectarianism where children and women, in particular children in Aleppo, are real victims of evil policies of the clerical rule… Secondly, executions, killings, and torture which started from the early days [of the revolution] in 1979… this reached a climax in 1988 with the massacre of more than 33,000 political prisoners within two months. That trend still continues where I saw with my own eyes how Sunni Muslims were taken from hall number 10 of our ward to be all executed. This is the true face of the rule of Islamic Republic.”
The next speaker was Ali Moezi, a living witness to the crimes of the regime against the youths. He referred to the movement seeking justice for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners launched through the initiative of opposition leader Maryam Rajavi which has attracted widespread international support from jurists, parliamentarians and many distinguished personalities and human rights organisations. He expressed hope and demanded that the leaders of the regime and those responsible for the heinous crime be brought to justice. He emphasised that he does not believe in capital punishment. He reiterated the demand made by Mrs. Rajavi requesting the names and details of all those executed and their burial location. He highlighted two points, first, the efforts of the regime to conceal the facts about the massacre of 1988 and let it be forgotten, and second, the meaningful silence of the international community at the time when massacres took place for lucrative trade interests with the regime. He quoted one of the regime’s interrogators who told an inmate that “we are trying to make people forget about the killings of the 2009 uprising, but you are now raising the issue of the 1988 massacre that took place thirty years ago.”
Moezi evoked memories of Ali Saremi, a member of the PMOI who was serving time in the same ward during 2009 and 2010 for organising a ceremony for the victims of the 1988 massacre in Tehran’s Khavaran Cemetery and later executed for revelations he made about the massacre in that ceremony. Moezi quoted Saremi who said in that ceremony that Iranians must join the Resistance.
Moezi said: “The justice-seeking movement can expand and cover all the executions of the 1980s, the chain murders, terrorist killings, the execution of Sunni Muslims, attacks on Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, and the recent war crimes in Syria and Aleppo. We have been supporting the justice-seeking movement and hope it will pave the way for the downfall of fascist, inhuman regime and freedom of Iranians”.
Hamid Babai was the next speaker. He reiterated that Iran people are politically alert and have not forgotten the regime’s dark record. He emphasised that the 1988 massacre will never be forgotten. He said, “We are not afraid of imprisonment or even execution and will never rest in any circumstances until the day the absolute rule of clergy is removed”.
Two other speakers, Amir Qazian and Abolqasem Fouladvand, outlined the crimes of the regime over the years including the execution of Sunni Muslims. Mr. Fouladvand described massacre of political prisoners in 1988 as ‘genocide’.
In conclusion, Assu Rostami read out the resolution of the gathering while inmates chained their hands together. The resolution in part said, “Today, the justice-seeking cry for victims of political prisoners’ massacre can be heard even from prison cells in high security prisons. We, the political prisoners, pay tribute to martyrs of the 1988 massacre and pledge to seek justice for them and put all those responsible for the crimes before a tribunal”.
The event ended with anti-regime slogans chanted loud enough to be heard by prison authorities and guards.