Amnesty International accused on Tuesday the Iranian authorities of “committing crimes against humanity by concealing the fate of thousands of slaughtered political dissidents,” who were said to have been massacred in Iranian prisons in 1988.
The humanitarian organisation’s report, entitled: “Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity,” describes mass enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by the Iranian security services, which have gone unpunished for three decades.
“These blood-soaked secrets from Iran’s past continue to haunt the country to the present day,” Amnesty’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said. He added that the report “unravels the web of denials and distortions that the Iranian authorities have perpetuated over 30 years, both at home and internationally, to hide the truth that they forcibly disappeared and systematically killed thousands of political dissidents within a matter of weeks between late July and early September 1988.”
Since the commission of these crimes, Luther noted, “the Iranian authorities refuse to acknowledge the mass killings, tell relatives when, how and why their loved ones were killed and then return their bodies.”
He pointed out that the families of victims have been denied the right “to bury their loved ones and mourn their loss,” explaining: “Those who dare to seek truth and justice have faced relentless harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as torture and other ill-treatment.”
The humanitarian report said that the individuals responsible for the crimes had evaded justice, adding that some of them “have held and continue to hold powerful positions in Iran today.”
The international organisation further explained that the Iranian authorities locked down prisons across the country in late July 1988 and suspended family visits without giving reasons. Weeks later, it added, “at least 5,000 political dissidents were extrajudicially executed in a coordinated effort to eliminate political opposition.”
The majority of the executed victims were affiliated to the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) group, leftist political organisations and Kurdish opposition groups, according to Amnesty.