The Iranian Justice Minister is a known perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of 30.000 political prisoners, one of the greatest unanswered crimes in Iran’s modern history.

The British Committee for Iran Freedom is shocked over the reports of Iranian Justice Minister Ali-reza Avaee’s plan to visit the United Nations headquarters in Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council next week.

The Iranian Justice Minister is a known perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of 30.000 political prisoners, one of the greatest unanswered crimes in Iran’s modern history. He was added to the EU and UK sanction’s list in 2011, and again in April last year, for human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, denials of prisoners’ rights and increase of execution, as President of Tehran Judiciary.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, the late Ms Asma Jahangir, documented this massacre in her latest report and said “Between July and August 1988, thousands of political prisoners, men, women and teenagers, were reportedly executed pursuant to a fatwa issued by the then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. The families of the victims have a right to know the truth about these events and the fate of their loved ones without risking reprisal.” 

The decision to invite the Iranian Justice Minister to address the UN Human Rights Council is an insult to regime’s victims, their families and Iranian activists, like Ms Maryam Akbari Monfared, who are being persecuted, intimidated and detained because they are demanding justice.

The invitation is also highly inappropriate given the brutal crackdown and blind mass arrest by the Iranian authorities in order to quell an ongoing nationwide protests against the regime. Iranian authorities admit today that thousands have been arrested since the protests began on 28 December last year.

At least a dozen have been killed under torture according to Iranian activists and the democratic opposition coalition, the NCRI. The other 8000 who are detained risk execution as the Iranian Judiciary has accused them of “Waging war against God”, which carries death penalty in Iran.

Welcoming Iranian human rights violators, like Alireza Avaei, to the UN only legitimises the regime’s continued crackdown on peaceful protester. It also paves the way for another massacre in Iran’s prisons reminiscent of the tragic event of 1988, tarnishing the UN’s reputation as an international institution devoted to promotion of human rights and justice under the rule of law.

The Iranian Justice Minister and other perpetrators of the 1988 massacre must be held to account not provided an international platform that could justify their crime and atrocities.

The British Committee for Iran Freedom condemns the decision to invite Iranian Justice Minister to the UN and calls on relevant UN authorities, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, HE Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, to withdraw the invitation and cancel his planned speech at the UN Human Rights Council next week.

His place should be given to representatives of the victims of the regime, especially family members of the victims of the 1988 massacre, to tell the world of their ordeal and to make the case for an international accountability process to end the culture of impunity enjoyed by the Iranian leaders.

Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool

Independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords

British Committee for Iran Freedom

22 February 2018