30th Anniversary of the 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran
Speech by Dr Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Former Vice-President of the European Parliament & President of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)
Amsterdam – 25 August 2018
I am very thankful to the Iranian community in the Netherlands for organizing this event on the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Massacre in Iran.
As it is well known, thirty years ago, more than 30.000 political prisoners were executed in Iran in the summer of 1988. Many prisoners were only asked a few questions before being taken to the gallows and buried in mass in unmarked graves. All according to a fatwa, or decree, issued by the Iranian regime founder Ayatollah Khomeini, still in power and alive at that time.
As we know this massacre is one of the worst crimes in Iran’s modern history. Until today, no perpetrators have been arrested for this atrocious state-sanctioned crime. On the contrary, many of the known perpetrators who have even admitted their role in this crime have been rewarded and hold senior or ministerial positions in Iran today.
The vast majority of the victims were affiliated to the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK). Their crime was that they remained steadfast and said No to Khomeini.
Two years ago, we at ISJ published a report after the son of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri released an audio tape that contained the conversation of his father with perpetrators of this crime who are still today holding top positions in the regime. That revelation that came along with the campaign that had been launched by Mrs Maryam Rajavi to seek justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre, became a wake-up call to the international community.
The regime has begun the destruction of some of the sites of the mass graves. Only last month Amnesty International launched another urgent campaign to prevent the Iranian regime from building a road over the mass graves of political prisoners who were assassinated in the 1980s.
Regarding the current human rights situation in Iran, we could only look at the number of executions. During the presidency of the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani, more than 3500 people have been executed in Iran so far.
The regime has also responded brutally to the nationwide protests and uprisings which began in late December and has continued in different cities. Thousands have been arrested and more than 50 have been killed in the streets. Many have also died under torture in custody.
The regime has confessed to the role of PMOI in organizing these protests. In fact, PMOI have been re-building their underground network inside Iran by forming protest cells which consist of teams of 2, 3 or more. They were responsible for starting many of the recent protests, rallies and strikes which have happened all over Iran. These organized protests have made the mullahs extremely worried and that is why they are panicking.
The regime has launched a massive misinformation campaign against the Iranian opposition by using some agents who call themselves former PMOI members and go to see politicians and make false allegations. Some of them are active here in the Netherlands.
There also indications of the regime wanting to eliminate its main opposition by terrorism. Recently several Iranians were arrested in Belgium and Germany, including an Iranian diplomat. They were trying to attack the recent annual grand gathering of the Iranian resistance in Paris.
Only last week the US Justice Department announced that two Iranians were arrested in USA for spying against PMOI.
All these news give us this message that we are at a turning point. It shows that the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been the main source of exporting Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism is now fighting for its survival.
We in Europe should side with the people of Iran. The current policy of the EU and Mrs Mogherini, in closing their eyes to human rights violations and repression of women and just focusing on business and trade, is a disgrace.
We must condition our relations to Iran to a halt to executions and a significant progress on human rights. All the protesters who have been arrested must be immediately released. We must remind our European governments that Iran is not a normal country to do business with. There are no free elections in Iran. Iran is indeed a dictatorship but of especially malignant type. It is a totalitarian theocracy which survives by the repression inside and instigation of was, terrorism and civil conflicts outside its borders.
Human rights must be our guideline and nothing else. As a European, I feel ashamed by what our governments and the EEAS are doing. We should tell them that contrary to what they think, this is a very unstable and weak regime and has no future. So even for our long-term interests we should not count on the mullahs and have illusions about Rouhani or so-called moderates, there are no real moderates in this religious dictatorship. The future belongs to democracy and not these backward, brutal and murderous fanatics that oppress cruelly their own people and are the worst threat to peace and stability in the Middle East and in the whole world.