Remembering a massacre in Iran

MPs vote on a motion to condemn the massacre of 5,000 Iranian political prisoners


This afternoon in the House of Commons, MPs will vote on a motion to condemn the massacre of some 5,000 political prisoners by the Iranian government in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity, to honour the memory of the victims, and to establish September 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.

The motion, which is expected to receive unanimous consent, is the fruit of a campaign by a loosely affiliated group of Iranian Canadians — including Toronto lawyer and human rights activist Kaveh Shahrooz, and journalist Sima Sahar Zerehi.

“At the moment it’s mostly symbolic. It counters the Iranian 25-year-effort to deny this ever happened,” says Shahrooz, whose uncle was among those murdered.

But it’s not an entirely symbolic measure, he says. “What happened 25 years ago informs our understanding of what’s happening in Iran today. It’s the same culture of impunity.”

Sahar Zerehi hopes that holding Iran accountable for the massacre of 1988 will help shift the dialogue on Iran from one that is often limited to the threat Iran presents to the outside world to one that includes a discussion of the abuses Iran continues to visit on its citizens. “There has been a lack of focus on human rights violations,” she says. “The greatest threat that Iran presents is to its own people.”

Mobilizing support for the campaign among Iranians in Canada had its challenges, says Shahrooz. Some worried that calling attention to a decades-old massacre might distract from ongoing oppression in Iran. Others feared the massacre might be used to support the case for military action against Iran.

Victims of the massacre came from a variety of backgrounds, from liberals to leftists to members of the People’s Mujahedin — which Canada until recently considered a terrorist organization. The campaign needed to gather support from people who don’t often work together. But it did. The campaign itself is non-partisan and unaffiliated with any political organization.

Partly to counter the notion that this campaign is part of a Conservative or right-wing agenda, those involved worked first with the NDP and especially Ottawa MP Paul Dewar. Shahrooz and Sahar Zerehi say they received strong support from all parties, and no one involved tried to politicize the issue.

“It demonstrates the revulsion of the entire Canadian political spectrum,” says Shahrooz.

Here is a link to the campaign.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney have released a statement.


Remembering a massacre in Iran

  1. Where is our day of remembrance for the 600,000 children who passed due to malnutrition caused by the sanctions on Iraq? Or for the Palestinians living in Gaza who are slaughtered by Israeli airstrikes? I am not discrediting the nobility of this movement I am simply questioning if the motives for this are pure? Perhaps political?

    • Heloooo. We are persians and arab problems has nothing to do with us.

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    • Did happen. and there are mass graves to prove it

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          • Find people like me? Bring people like me to justice? I take that as a direct threat sir and I have your IP address. I am a Canadian Jew. Don’t mess with me! האם אתה לא פעם מאיימים אותי!

          • I highly question that . You are not Canadian Jew . Either and Arab or Iranian living either in Iran or here who work with regime of Iran . People like are what is wrong with this world . Go back to where you came from . Canada dose not need dirt like you .

          • Oh so, Peyman, you can tell what my religion is based on a few words. Right….I suggest you quit making a fool of yourself. I am a proud Jew and I support peace with the Islamic Republic of Iran. I am a big fan of Israel, my Jewish homeland too. ;-)

          • lol sure you are Jewish. What a joke you are. Read all of your other comments. You are nothing more and nothing less than an Islamic Republic hooligan. There are snakes like you who have immigrated in Canada doing the bidding of Islamic Republic regime. Fortunately Canada has taken the right steps in shutting down the terror hub that was known as the Islamic Republic embassy.

          • What about my other comments? I am Jewish. Shalom. I support peace with my Arab and Persian brothers. They are Muslim and I respect their religion. You seem to support war and other evil things.

          • You are NOT Jewish. A pro-Islamic Republic Jew? LOL… sure… you Hizbolli sag.

          • Hey…c’mon bro. I am just wanting peace for once. I don’t like my country being associated with an imperialist agenda. Thank you dude ;-)

          • I live in London Ontario . Why don’t you come down here and let’s meet face to face and send me an email when you get here and tell me where you are .

          • Well, if you accept the fact that Iran is an Islamic Republic, I would gladly meet up with you in Richmond Hill, ON.

      • there are no mass graves and you are not Iranian.

        • When you make such comments you demonstrate yourself to be not an Iranian but a dishonest liar and Mullah slave. Khejalat bekesh kos kesh.

      • Absolutely. This event was highlighted by the U.N. And I had a distant family member executed in this event and she was only 16-years old and was raped before she was executed. Her crime? Passing leaflets out. This regime is truly hell on Earth.

  3. Baha’i and Persian Jews don’t speak for Iran…stay in Canada or respect the fact that most Iranians support their Islamic government. Iran’s population is 99% Shi’a Muslim and they respect Imam Hussein very much. Swallow the pill already.

    • Baha’i and persian jews are more of persian then you are

    • agreed!!

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      • Your flag is that of the Shah’s flag. The Shah murdered innocent people in Iran and was a ruthless dictator. You are no better than a Baath party member of Saddam Hussein–a supporter of a secular dictator like Mubarak.

        • My flag is the IRANIAN flag that nearly all Iranians keep in their hearts. The Shah while imperfect was an Iranian who loved Iran. He was a MILLION times better than these maniacs who occupy Iran and have committed mass genocide against the Iranian people, execute religious minorities, homosexuals, women and others for their perverted radical religious views. I am not a monarchist but I and most Iranians can criticize the Shah while at the same time respecting him for being an Iranian patriot. You in contrast are a Hizbolli kos kesh which supports the totalitarian theocratic fascists of the Islamic Republic – HELL ON EARTH.

          • Yes, and that’s why there’s more female university students than male students…that’s why Iranian women can drive a car in Iran and unlike in Saudi Arabia (which is fully supported by the United States and Canada) where women have NO RIGHTS. Iran has a synagogue and a church unlike Saudi Arabia. Jews are represented in the Iranian parliament. Save your Mubarak speech for the sheeple buddy!

          • Female university students because of the universities opened under the Shah’s time. If the Mullahs had their way, women would receive no education as many of the Mullahs have even stated in their public pronouncements. Women in Iran under this regime are worth 1/2 of men when it comes to being treated as humans and this includes in court of law, inheritance, etc. You are a disgraceful Hizbolli kos kesh and the time will come when international coalition forces will take the necessary steps in taking out your maters. How bad things have come that Hizbolli kos kesh compare Iran to other ARAB Islamist countries. We ARE Iranian. We were heading on the path to European models of economic and secular success. Under the Shah, the dollar was worth 7-SINGLE tomans. Now nearly 4000. You are a disgraceful and disgusting Hizbolli that will one day soon have to pay and answer for the crimes against humanity that your jendeh masters have inflicted upon the Iranian people and Iranian nation.

          • The toman is around 3650…close to the Israeli shekel. Anyway, dude…back in 1988…if you purchased 300k worth of Canadian real estate…it would be worth around 600k now. So it doubled in 25 years. If you bought 300k worth of real estate in Tehran back in 1988, you would be a multi-millionaire like me.

          • Your time will come to an end Hizbolli snake. You are a disgraceful Islamist. Tof roh Mohammad. Tof roh Ali. Kos kesh nana sag jendeh.

          • See. You just hate Islam. That’s your problem. You can’t live with the fact that Iranians love their religion—Islam. It’s a fact that 99% of Iranians are Muslim. You can’t dispute this…it’s a fact buddy. And even if they are Muslim by name…you have no right to insult their religion…it’s like saying something anti-semitic to a secular Jew…how dare you!

          • Iranians DO NOT love Islam. I was in Iran last in 2010 for over 8-months. Vast majority of Iranian people DESPISE organized religion. Sorry buddy, Iranians want nothing to do with religion. A sizable percentage of Iranians inside of Iran don’t even call themselves Muslim in private (they would be executed of course by the regime). You are a first class ignoramus and a disgusting kos kesh ashgal.

          • Oh really. I did several independent polls and most Iranians support their religion just like most Christians support their religion and most Hindus support their religion. Sorry, your argument is not valid. Take a poll and show me the results. I have mine…and they show that most secular Iranians still support an Islamic republic. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won the election….so give me a break dude…;-)

          • LOL… yes, such a “scientific” poll you conducted right? lol… your kind will soon enough pay for your crimes against humanity. History teaches us this is inevitable. Stupid kos kesh.

          • Iran has been tolerant of Jews and other minorities…including Christians. They have a voice in their parliament whose members are chosen through an electoral process similar to ours. I believe it is time we gave up all the hate-talk man and start peace with Iran.

          • And I have every right to insult the evil ideology of Islam. Tof toh Mohammad. Toh tof toh.

          • hehe

          • lol , you Shias are being outnumbered in Syria . You might act like tough guys in Tehran but in Syria we have people from Saudi Arabia, Jordan , Israel , Qatar , U.S. , Bahrain , Belgium , UK , France , Turkey , North Lebanon , Egypt , Libya .. who are killing Shias one by one .

            In 5 years me and Sassan will be like , ” hey , remember when those annoying Shias were around ? pfft thank goodness theyre gone “

          • Not on Israel’s watch! ;-) We don’t support terrorism.

          • Well now we know that you support terrorism! Thank you for revealing to the entire world!

          • Tell that to Bahai’s how “free” they are. Tell that to people who (lots of people) don’t believe in Islam but can’t say so or they would be executed as “apostates”. Tell that to the Jewish people who support Israel and have to prove that they are self-hating Jews. Tell that to Christians in which they live in apartheid in Iran. When a Christian kills a Muslim in a car crash the amount of “blood money” is astronomically higher in comparison to a Muslim killing a Christian in a car crash. This regime has done one thing positive and only one thing. It has driven Islam and religiosity out of the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Iranians. Iranians are secular people today because of two reasons: our pre-Islamic culture and the barbarity and Islamofascism of this regime. The day will soon come when Islam will have no longer have any influence in a FREE Iran.

          • You are just anti-Islamic. End of story. There’s no point in arguing with you. You want Muslims to be your “nokar”

        • You mean like this flag ;-)

          • Hehe. At least you have a sense of humour!

          • the Lion and the Sun is a 2500 year old symbol – one of the most ancient symbols of our land/culture and is recognised by the vast majority of Iranians. It has nothing to do with the Shah’s politics.

            Iranians did not vote to get rid of the Lion and Sun Flag and they did not vote to replace it with a flag with Arabic written all over it. That was done by the Mullahs.

          • Sorry man. That flag is associated with Imperial Iran that was occupied by the Soviet-Union and Britain. It’s a humiliation. I am all about preserving Iran’s independence…..since 1979.

          • You are about sucking up to your masters who have you on their payroll. You are an Islamist snake and your time will soon come to be taken out by the international community.

          • Not on Israel’s watch! Israel and other responsible powers will make sure the Middle East remains peaceful.

    • I agree Bahais in Canada should stay where they are , and Persian Jews in Israel should stay there .

      However , Bahais and Jews in IRAN do have a right to speak .

      • Jews in are welcome in Iran. And so are Baha’i people. Iran welcomes everyone as long as they are not trying to create tension with Shi’a Muslims. The last thing we need is sectarian violence.

        • Bahais will keep talking , and talking and talking . What are you gonna do about it ?

          • Ok. Well I hope you fare well my Baha’i friend. I like you. But please respect the Islamic Republic of Iran. Thank you.

          • or perhaps whats left of it ? hehe . You havent respected the Syrian people , you destroyed Lebanon the pearl of the Middle East by establishing a state within a state , making Christians a minority and killing people like Rafik Hariri who disagreed with you

          • If Fareed Zakaria liked it…no reason why you shouldn’t ;-)

          • I simply dont like your government because they are spreading terrorism throughout the entire middle east , not for religious reasons. oh and btw Bahais recognize Shia Islam so I doubt there is sectarian tension

          • Iran has never supported terrorism. If you can name one incident…please list.

          • The Islamic Republic supports Hamas , a terrorist organization .

            Even though the palestinians sided with Saddam Hussain in the Iran-Iraq war , you STILL support them with weapons and money

            Even though the palestinians side with the Syrian opposition , you STILL send them weapons and money only to kill Israelis .

            Is that not weird to you ?

          • Iran just cut off funding for Hamas.

          • LOL

          • NO GOOD PERSON of the world respects an evil regime that hangs homosexuals, stones women to death, rapes young girls before executing them through “temporary marriages” so that they don’t “die as virgins”. Iranian people don’t and the good people of the world don’t. At the end of the day, this occupying regime of your masters will be taken out.

          • Oh C’mon…that stuff happens in America too! You can’t blame the actions of a few sick individuals on the entire people of Iran and their government. Hey people are executed in Texas and there are child molesters everywhere. You can’t justify a regime change in Iran based on a few incidents here and there. Overall, the crime rate in Iran is signicantly below that of Western countries.

          • What a cowardly statement. This is done BY THE REGIME. It is state government policy. You are a disgusting moral degenerate.

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          • lolllllllllllll

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    • being Iranian I can tell you this is all a made up story, the majority of people that were prosecuted and put through a fair trial and eventually executed were MEK members that were terrorists. MEK are responsible for various terrorists acts in Iran since the 1960’s. This is all a show for the Canadian government to spew more anti-Iranian rhetoric. It’s really pathetic.

      • You are no Iranian. You are an Islamic Republic Hizbolli hooligan that spouts Islamic Republic propaganda. You are a disgraceful imbecile and an embarrassment not only to Iranians but to Homo sapiens everywhere.

    • You are a shameful person to say this “massacre”. This has also been highlighted by the U.N. and recorded by the international community. This is just one of such massacres. My distant family member who was 16 was killed in this event. Her crime? Passing out a leaflet. This is a regime of genocide and terror. Your comment demonstrates the moral coward and degenerate of a human being that you clearly are as demonstrated by your ridiculous comment.

  5. The number I’ve heard and read over the years is closer 10k. And,
    yes, these were the people who put in the effort over the years to
    force out the Shah … despite his on-going support from the US and Europe.
    When they were successful the mullahs slipped in the side door and turned
    on them because … secular,dontcha know. And, because they were seen as
    politically suspect they had no friends when the mullahs led them away.

    To pretend to honour them now is a bit stomach-turning. And it is only
    happening because we have now determined that Iran is the current
    Boogie Man.

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          • You are a Hizbolli Mullah. You are no Iranian you dirty Mullah sag.

          • and you are American, you said it multiple times you don’t identify with Iran or Iranian so I suggest you shut it , haroomzadeh!

          • I am very much Iranian, was born in Iran, have been to Iran several times including last in 2010 for a long period of time, have most my family in Iran and am in touch with Iran every day. In contrast, you are a Mullah sag and someone the Iranian nation will spit in the face at once we get rid of these savage Mullahs. You are a disgusting person.

  7. Thank you for this article. The truth about this regime must be exposed at every turn. Iran has turned into one big concentration camp of over 75-million people. The crimes of this regime must continued to be shared to all the good people of the world. Thank you Canadian government, thank you Canadian people. Much appreciated from the Iranian people.

  8. Free the First Nation of Canada!!!!!!!

  9. To say that the people of Iran are living under brutal conditions would be an
    understatement. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has made it abundantly clear in
    word and deed what he thinks of the West and our nice, quaint notions of a
    pluralistic, secular democracy. The Khamenei regime has used the excuse of economic
    sanctions to direct blame away from his policies, but the truth is that the
    debate about sanctions effectiveness is just a sideshow for the main act of
    trying to apply the global political pressure necessary to change the regime. It’s
    convenient to blame the West when your own polices are to blame. And after
    these sham elections of his handpicked candidates what happens next? Unless
    we…and I mean the collective online “we”…continue to support dissident groups
    like NCRI and outfits like Amnesty International in this fight, nothing is
    really going to change and we’ll be right back where we started.