U.S. Congress Resolution Seeks UN Inquiry into Iran’s 1988 Massacre

More than a third of Members of the United States House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bi-partisan resolution on Iran referencing the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and calling for the establishment of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the extrajudicial killings.

House Resolution 118 was initially introduced on February 11, 2021 with 113 original co-sponsors. Support for the text has expanded to 162 lawmakers as of March 14, 2021.

H.Res.118 specifically states:  

Whereas, in the 115th Congress, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4744 calling on the United States to “condemn Iranian human rights abuses against dissidents, including the massacre in 1988 and the suppression of political demonstrations in 1999, 2009, and 2017, and pressure the Government of Iran to provide family members detailed information that they were denied about the final resting places of any missing victims of such abuses”;

Whereas the killings were carried out on the orders of a judge, an official from the Ministry of Intelligence, and a state prosecutor, known to the prisoners as “Death Commissions”, which were formed on July 19, 1988, and undertook proceedings in a manner designed to eliminate the regime’s opponents;

Whereas Amnesty International described as a “momentous breakthrough” marking a “turning point” the September 3, 2020, communication by seven United Nations human rights experts, regarding information that “between July and September 1988, the Iranian authorities forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed thousands of imprisoned political dissidents affiliated with political opposition groups in 32 cities in secret and discarded their bodies, mostly in unmarked mass graves”, as United Nations experts warned that “the situation may amount to crimes against humanity”;

Whereas the United Nations calls on the international community to take action to investigate the cases through the establishment of an international investigation;

Whereas the United States should be involved in any establishment of an international investigation into the 1988 extrajudicial killings of Iranian dissidents;

The full text of H.RES.118 is available on the website of Congress: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-resolution/118/text

The draft resolution is in line with the positions in July 2020 by the U.S. State Department spokesperson and in December 2020 by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor supporting an international investigation into the massacre.