At a conference in the House of Commons on 18 July, dozens of MPs, and Peers called on the UK government to condemn the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran and to press the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran to form a commission of inquiry in order to bring the perpetrators of this crime against humanity to justice. 

The cross-party MPs were joined by prominent lawyers from the Law Society and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales.

Some 80 MPs from all major parties made a similar call to the government during the last parliamentary session in EDM 448,“Death of Political Prisoners in Iran in 1988.

Dr Matthew Offord, Conservative MP, who chaired the conference said, “It is time for the UN, its Human Rights Council and the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran to recognise the 1988 massacre as a crime against humanity and to launch an investigation into these mass executions so that those responsible can be prosecuted in an international tribunal. This is fully in line with the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council and has international precedent.

The Rt Hon David Jones, Conservative MP, former Secretary of State for Wales said, “The human rights situation in Iran is getting worse in many areas and hopes of any improvements under the so-called ‘moderate’ Rouhani remain an illusion … we have seen an unprecedented spike in the number of executions in Iran since he first took office.

The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, underscored that the 1988 massacre was a serious crime and said, “There must be an end to the impunity for those in Iran who committed this crime against humanity. The international community must act now.

For far too long, the world has failed to hold the Iranian regime accountable for atrocities and crimes against its own people. Human rights must be at the centre of our Iran Policy and making sure that the regime officials, who are responsible for decades of atrocities including the 1988 massacre, face justice in an international tribunal is a constructive first step in such policy”, Labour MP, Steve McCabe added.

The speakers urged the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir to report more extensively on the 1988 massacre and to advice the UN Human Rights Council to set up an inquiry to these mass executions with the view of bringing the perpetrators to justice, utilising UN mechanisms.

In a video message to the conference, President-elect of the NCRI, Mrs Maryam Rajavi, said, “I would like to call on the U.S. and UK governments and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to set up an independent investigation into the 1988 massacre in Iran and hold the Iranian regime officials to account for this crimes against humanity and take the necessary steps to have the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre face justice.

With regards to the Iranian regime’s malign interventions in the region, she emphasised that “Practical steps must be taken, including the designation of the Revolutionary Guards (or the IRGC) as a terrorist entity.

Dr Tahar Boumedra, a legal expert and former chief of UN’s Human Rights Office in Iraq, presented the new report “Inquiry into the 1988 mass executions in Iran” by the London-based NGO, Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI).

The report identified senior officials of the Iranian regime including Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the Justice Minister in Rouhani’s cabinet, and the presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who were responsible for the 1988 massacre. The report also revealed the location of mass graves across Iran where the victims have been buried in secret. The report made the case that the masterminds and perpetrators of the 1988 massacre should be brought to justice through international mechanisms.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chairwoman of the Bar Human Rights Committee, said, “In the summer of 1988 around 33.700 people were hanged. 8.000 were killed in two weeks. In recent years eight previously secret mass graves have been desecrated. Whilst there is no doubt what accrued is a crime against humanity, it also is arguable that it constitutes genocide.

Whilst suspected perpetrators are identifiable and can be located, it is essential that legal mechanisms are implemented in order to facilitate justice for the dead and their families … it is the responsibility of all countries to ensure investigation and accountability. Otherwise, we continue to see atrocities of past poison present”, she added.

Bob Blackman, Conservative MP, while emphasising on the need to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Terrorist Organisation, said, “We have heard today many strong and convincing arguments to why our government and the UN should recognise the 1988 massacre of political prisoners as a crime against humanity and why there should be an immediate investigation into this atrocity to hold the perpetrators accountable … any delay in this regard will just allow the Iranian regime to destroy evidence of its crimes.

Dowlat Nowrouzi, NCRI UK representative, said, “I thank all members from both Houses of Parliament and lawyers from the Law Society and the Bar Human Rights Committee for supporting Mrs Rajavi’s call for justice for the Iranian people by calling on the UK government to act at the UN level to investigate the 1988 massacre and prosecute perpetrators of this callous crime.

Other participants and speakers include: Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP; Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP; Roger Godsiff, Labour MP; David Drew, Labour MP and Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs); Baroness Eaton DBE DL, Conservative member of House of Lords; Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, Crossbench member of House of Lords and Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief; Lord McInnes of Kilwinning CBE, Conservative member of House of Lords; Lord Cotter, Liberal Democrat member of House of Lords; Alastair Logan, member of Law Society Human Rights Committee; and Prof Sara Chandler QC (Hon), President of the European Bars Federation.

British Committee for Iran Freedom

18 July 2017