UN urged to set up Commission of Inquiry into 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

UN urged to set up Commission of Inquiry into 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

UN urged to set up Commission of Inquiry into 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

Call to end impunity for perpetrators of crimes against humanity

A civil society hearing in Geneva heard on Thursday, 1 February 2018, witnesses and legal experts and offered an adjudication of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran. The hearing was the first of its kind by NGOs in Geneva and urged immediate action by the UN to address the current wave of mass arrests and killings in Iranian jails following the recent anti-government protests.

International civil society and NGOs urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the months-long massacre during which the Islamic Republic of Iran executed an estimated 30,000 political prisoners, mostly activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

During the Geneva hearing, former UN Judges, senior human rights officials and human rights experts and advocates stressed that such an inquiry, long overdue, is now especially crucial in light of the arrest of thousands of peaceful anti-government protesters at the turn of the year, after which numerous protesters died while in authorities’ custody.

Beginning on December 28, two weeks of nationwide protests sent shock waves through the Iranian regime. Thousands of Iranians have been arrested and upwards of 50 killed, at least 11 of them under torture. Many more are at risk of a similar fate.

Participants in the hearing expressed consensus that the 1988 massacre clearly constitutes a crime against humanity. They stressed that the international community and in particular the UN are obliged to take all necessary measures to end impunity in this case and they warned that failure to hold Tehran accountable has simply emboldened the ruling theocracy to continue its gross human rights violations. According to the indictment presented at the hearing, many of the leading perpetrators of the 1988 massacre remain alive today and even continue to hold positions of prominence in Iranian politics and law.

The indictment was presented by the distinguished British lawyer, Kirsty Brimelow QC. She presented ample evidence establishing that the 1988 massacre constitutes a crime against humanity and referring to the current situation in Iran, particularly, the recent mass arrest and killing of protestors in custody, concluded that the crime against humanity in Iran perpetrated by the same officials continues today.

The day-long event was organized by Justice for Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI). It was sponsored by four NGOs with Consultative Status at the UN.