Anniversary of the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in IranPublished by International Liberty on July 29, 2015
July marks the anniversary of the signing of decree by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini that led to the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. On 31 July 1988 Khomeini’s then successor, Ayatollah Montazeri wrote an open letter to Khomeini complaining about mass execution of PMOI prisoners. He was deposed immediately after writing the letter.
In the weeks after Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a cease-fire in his eight-year war with Iraq, the fundamentalist ruler of the mullahs’ regime ordered a mass execution of all political prisoners affiliated with the main Iranian opposition group, the PMOI.
The prison massacre, described by international human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, as “the greatest crime against humanity that has gone unpunished since the Second World War”, saw the execution of some 30,000 defenceless prisoners.
Near the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Khomeini who felt that defeat was imminent, decided to take his revenge on the political prisoners. He issued a fatwa (or religious decree) ordering the massacre of anyone who had not repented and was not willing to collaborate fully with the regime.
Khomeini decreed: “Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the Monafeqin (PMOI) must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately.” He added: “Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the PMOI are waging war on God and are condemned to execution…It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God.”
The Iranian regime has never acknowledged these executions, or provided any information as to how these prisoners were summarily killed. Young girls, old parents, students, workers, and many of those who had already served their prison terms were among those who vanished in the span of a few weeks. Their bodies were dumped into mass graves, including in Khavaran Cemetery near Tehran.
Khomeini had assigned commissions for carrying out this decree. The ‘Death Commissions’ comprised of the three individuals: A representative of the Ministry of Intelligence, a religious judge and a prosecutor. ‘Trials’ lasted just a few minutes and resembled an interrogation session. Questions were asked to determine whether the prisoner still had any allegiances to the organisation. The task of the ‘Death Commission’ was to determine whether a prisoner was an Enemy of God or not. In the case of PMOI prisoners, that determination was often made after only a single word by the prisoner. Those who used the word “Mojahedin” rather than the derogatory term “Monafeqin” (meaning hypocrites) were sent to the gallows.
None of the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran and none of the regime’s senior officials including the Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, have been brought to justice to date.