By Pooya Stone

Seven non-governmental organizations wrote a joint statement to the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) about the mass murderers still holding high-ranking positions in the Iranian Judiciary.

Women’s Human Rights International Association, Edmund Rice International Limited, France Libertes : Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, non-governmental organizations in special consultative status, Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, non-governmental organizations in general consultative status, and International Educational Development, Inc., urged Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to support an independent fact-finding mission into the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. This is something Amnesty International called for in their December 2018 report “Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity”.

In the summer of 1988, based on a fatwa by then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian authorities murdered 30,000 political prisoners, mainly those affiliated to the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), according to survivors and human rights groups. Then, the bodies were secretly buried in mass graves, which the authorities have since tried to destroy in order to conceal evidence.

Those responsible still hold esteemed senior positions in the Iranian judiciary or government, according to London-based NGO, Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), including:

• Judiciary Chief: Ebrahim Raisi

• Justice Minister: Alireza Avaei

• Deputy Speaker of Parliament: Abdolreza Mesri

• Advisor to the Judiciary Chief: Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who publicly defended the massacre as recently as July

• Vice President of the Supreme Court: Hossein-Ali Nayyeri

• Supreme Court Justice: Ali Razini, who said the killings were carried out to avoid “red tape”

The previous Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Asma Jahangir, told the UN General Assembly that “overwhelming evidence shows that thousands of persons were summarily killed” and that the victim’s families “have a right to know the truth” about the fate of their loved ones “without risking reprisal”. She said they have a “right to an effective investigation of the facts”, “public disclosure of the truth” and “reparation”.

The NGOs wrote in their statement: “We appeal to the Human Rights Council to end the 31-year impunity enjoyed by Iranian officials over the 1988 massacre. We believe that until the full truth of the 1988 massacre is unveiled and the perpetrators are held to account, there will be no incentive for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to change its policy on human rights. We, therefore, call on the Human Rights Council to set up a commission of inquiry into the 1988 massacre and achieve justice for the victims of that crime against humanity… Furthermore, we appeal to the UN Special Procedures, in particular, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, Fabian Salvioli, to investigate the 1988 massacre as part of their mandates.”