Relatives of the victims of Iran’s 1988 massacre of political prisoners have sent a report from their attempt to visit their loved ones’ mass grave in Khavaran Cemetery, south-east of Tehran.
The sister of one of the martyrs of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) writes: “On the final Friday of the [Iranian calendar] year on March 18, I went to Khavaran. I just had enough time to spread the flower petals from the flowers in the vase I had taken there on the canal. The authorities quickly expelled us.”
Iran’s fundamentalist regime routinely prevents the families of executed political prisoners from commemorating the death of their loved ones.
Some 30,000 political prisoners, primarily affiliated to the main democratic opposition PMOI (or Mujahedin-e Khalq) were executed in the summer of 1988.
One month after Ruhollah Khomeini was forced to accept 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 opposition group PMOI (MEK).
The brutal prison massacre has been described by some international human rights lawyers as the greatest crime against humanity that has gone unpunished since the Second World War.
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 many prisoners were summarily killed. Young girls, old parents, students, workers, and many of those who had already finished their sentences prior to 1988 were among those who vanished in the span of a few months. Their bodies were dumped into mass graves, including in Khavaran Cemetery.
Khomeini had assigned an “Amnesty Commission” for prisoners. In reality it was a “Death Commission: comprised of the three individuals: A representative of the Ministry of Intelligence, a religious judge and a prosecutor. Most trials lasted for just a few minutes and resembled more of an interrogation session. The questions were focused on whether the prisoner still had any allegiances to the PMOI, whose supporters made up more than 90 percent of the prisoners. If the prisoners were not willing to collaborate fully with the regime against the PMOI, it was viewed as a sign of sympathy to the organization and the sentence was immediate execution. The task of the Death Commission was to determine whether a prisoner was an Enemy of God or not. In the case of Mojahedin prisoners, that determination was often made after only a single question about their party affiliation. Those who said “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.