Iran’s 1980s massacre of political prisoners exposed

by Michael Petrou

The Iran Tribunal — a sort of people’s truth commission that doesn’t have any legal standing — has released an interim judgment following its investigation into the massacre of political prisoners by the new Islamic Republic of Iran during the 1980s.

Conceived by victims of the Iranian regime and their relatives, the tribunal was established in 2007 and heard from its final witnesses this month in The Hague. Iran was invited to take part but did not respond.

The interim report concludes:

There are six forms of gross human rights abuses to which the evidence presented to the Truth Commission and this Tribunal point incontrovertibly: murder; torture, unjust imprisonment; sexual violence; persecution and enforced disappearance.

Quoting the prosecutor’s closing submissions, the interim report continues:

Firstly, the Islamic Republic of Iran committed murder. Nima Sarvestani’s documentary showed graves of executed prisoners stretching out as far as the eye can see; the gravedigger of Shiraz reported the delivery of sixty bodies on a single occasion, of victims at most twenty years old. Men were arrested at ten in the morning and dead by eleven; entire families were eliminated and whole wards purged; rows of prisoners were shot by firing squad, still breathing until they were finished off by coups de grâce; and we heard from this morning’s witness of how child prisoners were required to administer these coups de grâce; truckloads of bodies were tipped into mass graves. The Tribunal heard extensive evidence of the murder of minors. In no case was an execution ordered in accordance with due process. In 1988, pursuant to a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, over 5,000 political prisoners were killed (most were hanging) over the space of a few months.

Secondly, there has been not one witness who was not tortured in prison, both physically and mentally. Prisoners were hanged from the ceiling by their arms, flogged on the soles of their feet, beaten, deprived of sleep, kept in solitary confinement, subjected to mock executions and forced to watch other prisoners being tortured – or were tortured in the presence of their children. Shokufeh Sakhi told the Tribunal how she was subjected to sensory deprivation in a dark box (the “coffin”) for hours on end, month after month. The general effect was to turn prisoners into zombies” by destroying their senses of self and dignity. Another witness told the Tribunal of the “psychological rape” that turned him into a “puppet”, who would shoot his fellow prisoners as member of a firing squad of tavabeen (repenters).

There is something that at first glance seems Quixotic about this whole process. Eventually the tribunal will issue a full judgment, which will likely come to a similar conclusion as does this one. And then … nothing. There will be no punishment — nor, for that matter, will there be any reconciliation, as no one as asked for forgiveness.

And yet investigations like these, and those undertaken by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, serve a practical purpose, beyond committing cruel truths to the historical record, so that they will be more difficult to later deny. They remind Iran’s current leaders — its torturers and its executioners — that they too are being watched. One day their regime of lies will collapse, and they will be held to account. Knowing this may just stay a bully’s hand, or perhaps rob him of sleep.

 




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Iran’s 1980s massacre of political prisoners exposed

  1. You mean the one televised on NightLine every 24 hours………

  2. Im Iranian, these are bs lies.

    • really, these are all lies? you have no soul and no God.

      • Your comment is irrelevant. Please focus on the topic

    • hoosain or should I say insain I would not be proud to tell people that i am iranian being that thay are not very smart you should sign up with the iranian navy get in one of there super speed boats and go after the us navy you will be able to post when you are spending your days with davy jones at the bottom of the sea

    • and get a few rolls of tin foil to make hats for all your freinds what time do you open up trolls are us

  3. Macleans needs to stop spreading pre war propoganda.

    • I bet you are being paid by iranian regime to deny any crime that Islamic Republic has done to its people.

  4. Dear Michael, Many thanks for this great article. As always, your report is very educational and eye-opening.

  5. Hoosain, YOU are the bastard son of those liars and murdererd who use GOD to rape, murder, torture and rob your own people. YOU have no clue what the word “GOD” means. You and people like you deserve what you dish out to others. GO TO HELL

  6. hoosain you are another brainwashed moron who does not see the truth if it hit you if a member of your family where killed you might see how the towel heads with saw dust for brains just want power and thay care less about the people pack your bags and load your camel and move to NK its one of same with iran

  7. propoganda look what comes out on the news wires each day from iran you have generals that think thay can damage the us navy that is a joke thay seem to have a problem with things that go boom around them and cars that blow up iran should never be able to get a bomb now thay are training to jump out of planes I hope thay get that on film trolls jumping out of a plane with weights in there shoes so thay dont blow 100 miles off course

  8. These sort of articles always seem to bring out the worst commenters on both sides…

    • The big superpowers very well knew about these killings at
      the time, they already know about them right now as well AND simply No-one does
      care. If it is in the best interest of the West to expose these murders then
      they will do something about it. Otherwise like before they do some back-door
      dealings with the Islamic Regime and simply ignore these murders once again.
      Come on Freedom, Justice and so forth are only for movies.

  9. These are certainly terrible things. Too bad we in the west haven’t spent the intervening decades working hard to engage middle eastern countries in a way that would bring everyone away from violence, instead of following a path that bogged us doiwn in two of the most foolish wars ever.

  10. Wow…wackos galore on here now. The same kind of thinking that led to the Holocaust

    Stop with the religious shit, people.

  11. Please see below article from the Economist on the recently concluded Iran People’s Tribunal at The Hague. A Testimonial of some 100 witnesses who suffered injustice by the Islamic Republic of Iran and was aired to millions in Iran via satellite TV and is the first step towards justice for those who have suffered in silence for over 32 years in Iran. http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2012/10/iran-1988

  12. Most if not all Iranians know of such massacres at one time or another…Most know of this particular one, and none will ever forget! The day will come, one day when these filthy traitors will all be executed for crimes they have been party to for 33 dark years.

  13. Time to indict Iran’s leader Khamenei for those crimes.

  14. The big superpowers very well knew about these killings at
    the time, they already know about them right now as well AND simply No-one does
    care. If it is in the best interest of the West to expose these murders then
    they will do something about it. Otherwise like before they do some back-door
    dealings with the Islamic Regime and simply ignore these murders once again.
    Come on Freedom, Justice and so forth are only for movies.

  15. excellent article

  16. Indeed good article. It has to be reminded though there are no shortages of the mullahs’ regime lobbyists and apologists in Canada.

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