After 30 Years, Justice Must be Done for Families of Iranian Dissidents

It is difficult to imagine the heartache of having a loved one taken from you only to then see the person or persons responsible escape justice. The lack of closure that results from an unsolved crime is surely made all the worse by the unique injustice of a perpetrator being identified and yet enjoying absolute impunity.

Imagine being witness to such a thing, and then imagine how much worse it would be if your loved one’s killer was known to everyone but never faced a day in court, and instead went on to live high on the hog, ascending to greater levels of wealth and power in the society you both inhabit. Even more disturbing is to see that they take pride in the crimes they have committed, and that they continue their ruthlessness. Now imagine that experience stretching over 30 years, multiply it times 30,000, and you may begin to have a sense of what the families of murdered Iranian political activists are dealing with.

This summer marks the 30th anniversary of a massacre of political prisoners that has been widely described as one of the worst crimes against humanity to take place in the post-World War II era. Following a fatwa by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Iranian officials assembled three-person “death commissions” in cities throughout the country, which were tasked with interrogating dissidents over their political affiliations and their views regarding the theocratic system. The trials, such as they were, sometimes lasted as little as a minute, after which those who refused to renounce their political beliefs were summarily executed, usually in groups of several people and without regard for the prisoner’s age or any other mitigating factors, including pregnancy.

The main target of the massacre was the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which was then and still remains the leading voice for pro-democratic resistance to the government of the mullahs. Its membership makes up the vast majority of the 30,000 people who were hanged and quickly buried, in secret mass graves, over the course of a few months. As such, the MEK and its affiliates now count as their members, both within Iran and throughout the expatriate community, most of those who lost friends and family to the regime’s ruthless machinery. And these individuals and groups are leading the call for an international inquiry into the 1988 massacre, as a means to securing justice for its many victims.

This call is going to be reiterated on Saturday in the context of an event that is scheduled to take place simultaneously in nearly 30 cities across Europe and North America. The event will once again showcase the personal stories of the survivors and relatives of the victims. And given that the overlapping events will all be livestreamed to one another and to the global press, it may allow those stories to reach their largest audience to date.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Ken Blackwell