Thursday, August 13, 2020


Good evening, Madam Rajavi, I am privileged to join the commemoration with you of the thousands of martyrs of the prison massacre of 1988. Some years ago, I was asked by the Boroumand Foundation to do an investigation of what actually happened because the world didn’t really know about it. I went through Europe to interview about 40 survivors of that dreadful period 32 years ago, and was staggered. I produced a report. With this book, Mullahs Without Mercy, I explained to the world outside Iran, the world that hadn’t been aware, that this was the worst of all crimes against humanity since the concentration camps of the Second World War. It happened 32 years ago, late in July 1988 as the war with Iraq was ending in a truculent truce: prisons in Iran suddenly went into lockdown, which meant all family visits were canceled, televisions and radios switched off, the newspapers discontinued, prisoners were kept in their cells and disallowed exercise or could go to the hospital.

The only permitted visitation was from a delegation, turbaned and bearded, which came in black government BMWs to outlying jails. Nearly every prisoner was paraded before the delegation which included a religious judge, a public prosecutor, and an intelligence chief. Thousands had been jailed for adherence to the Mojahedin-e-Khaleq Organization, the MEK, and the delegation had one question for these young men and women, most of whom had been detained since 1981 for merely taking part in street protests or possession of political reading material, that would determine their fate. Many of them were what is called “melikesh,” meaning they have served their sentence and were being wrongly in jail. Those who answered that they had a continuing affiliation with the MEK were blindfolded and ordered to join a line that led straight to the gallows. They were hung from cranes one at a time or in groups of six. Some were taken to army barracks at night, directed to make their wills, and then shot by firing squad. Their bodies were doused with disinfectant, packed in refrigerated trucks and buried at night in mass graves.

Months later, their families desperate for information about their loved ones would be handed a plastic bag with their few possessions. They were refused any information about the location of the graves and ordered never to mourn in the public. By mid-August 1988, thousands of prisoners had been killed in this manner by the state without trial, without appeal, and utterly without mercy. It got worse, Ayatollah Montazeri, a true hero, tried to stop it, but he was outmaneuvered

There wasn’t accountability because the U.N. was weak at that time and failed them in its duty. We must hold these people accountable because many of them are still alive.

Well, is there any hope of accountability now? People are tearing down statues of slave traders, and they will tear down the statues of the ayatollahs. They will rewrite the history of Iran with the truth, the truth of the bloodthirstiness, the truth of the barbarity which future generations of Iranians will want to erase just as the German people were able to condemn and erase Nazis and their horrors. Britain, Canada, America, Australia, and the countries that have these targeted sanctions and laws should target the surviving masterminds of the 1988 barbarities.

Name them, shame them, and blame them, because, in that way, we can go on the offensive against the perpetrators of one of the worst since the war, one of the worst crimes against humanity.

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