Sunday, May 31, 2015

TAREK FATAH - Khomeini’s savagery celebrated in Canada (June 2013) // Deadly Fatwa: Iran's 1988 Prison Massacre (Report by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center)

Twenty-five years ago this month, 5,000 Iranian political prisoners were executed on the direct orders of the then-Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. Their crime? They were feminists, communists, socialists, students, Kurds, Baha’is, Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris and Baloch; all arrested for distributing leaflets and organizing protests against the Mullahs who had stolen the 1979 revolution against the autocratic monarchy of The Shah.

It was the summer of 1988. The exhausting eight-year long Iran-Iraq War was staggering to a close. With the UN distracted in drawing up a post-war ceasefire, Khomeini decided to wipe out the existence of any opposition. He issued a fatwa to execute all political prisoners who refused to accept his rule. After 10-minute mock trials, the condemned were the hung on cranes or shot by firing squads, with their bodies dumped in unmarked mass graves.

If Khomeini thought his crime would pass unnoticed in the fog of war, he was wrong. A quarter of a century later, the massacre conducted in the name of Islam and the Islamic Republic is still reverberating around the world. On Wednesday, the Iranian massacre of 1988 will bring Canada’s government and opposition MPs together to make common cause with the people of Iran who still suffer under the brutal dictatorship of the Ayatollahs.

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, an international human rights lawyer, will be joined at a press conference by Paul Dewar of the NDP and the Conservative Party’s James Bezan. They will present a motion to the Commons condemning the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 and label it as a “crime against humanity.” In addition, the motion will call to establish September 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.

Behind this initiative is the “Massacre88 Campaign.” Their spokesman is Kaveh Shahrooz, a Toronto lawyer who lost his uncle Mehrdad in that massacre. Writing in the Ottawa Citizen last week, Shahrooz said: “As a child, I’d sometimes visit him in prison and recall the signs of gruesome torture on his body. The authorities stopped our prison visits in the summer of 1988. After two months without news of him, my grandmother was called to the prison to collect Mehrdad’s few belongings ... my family has never truly recovered from that loss. My grandmother and mother have both passed away since then, both with the unfulfilled wish of seeing justice in Mehrdad’s case.”

Shahrooz is not alone. Millions of Iranians fled the country. Some came as refugees to Canada and still carry those scars. Mehdi Kouhistani of the Canadian Labour Congress remembers his childhood friend Sadiq Riyahi, who, along with his brother, was hanged in 1988. “I miss my friend even today. He died a brave man. They say he was spared from those condemned to die, but when he saw his brother in the line-up of men being led to the firing squad, he leapt to his brother’s side and gave up his life in solidarity.”

Yet, there are those among us “Canadians” who last Sunday celebrated and honoured the mass murderer Ayatollah Khomeni at the Islamic Society of York Region, waving pictures of the horrid man Iranians label as their Hitler. Imagine an event in Canada to honour Augusto Pinochet or Pol Pot? Would anyone dare even attempt to do so? As these pro-Khomeni Canadians went into the Mosque to celebrate the mass murderer, about 100 Iranian Canadians and their supporters picketed them, chanting slogans against Khomeini and the Islamic Republic. There were white and black, Jew and Muslim, Kurd and Baloch, all representing Canada’s true spirit

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In late July 1988, the Islamic Republic of Iran began summarily interrogating, torturing and executing thousands of political prisoners throughout the country. The massacre continued into the fall. Wellplanned and deliberately accomplished in secret, the massacre effectively eliminated any remaining political opposition to then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime. Although the exact number of victims is not known, thousands of prisoners were tortured and executed over the course of only a few months.The victims included prisoners who had served their sentences but had refused to recant their political beliefs, prisoners who were serving sentences of imprisonment, people who had been detained for lengthy periods but had not been convicted, and former prisoners who were rearrested. Many had been arrested when they were teenagers for commission of low-level offenses such as distribution of pamphlets. The political views of the victims stretched from support for the Mojahedin-e Khalq (Mojahedin), a Marxist- Islamic Party that had engaged in violence in an effort to overthrow Khomeini, to support for the Tudeh Party, a secular Marxist party that until 1983, supported the regime.

This was not the first time the Islamic Republic had executed thousands of its political opponents or even the first time the regime had executed its opponents en masse. However, the 1988 massacre stands out for the systematic way in which it was planned and carried out, the short time period in which it took place throughout the country, the arbitrary method used to determine victims, the sheer number of victims, and the fact that the regime took extensive measures to keep the executions secret and continues to deny that they took place. The executions began pursuant to a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini immediately following Iran’s announcement that it had agreed to a cease-fire in the devastating eight-year Iran-Iraq war. The fatwa created three-man commissions to determine who should be executed. The commissions, known by prisoners as Death Commissions, questioned prisoners about their political and religious beliefs, and depending on the answers, determined who should be executed and/or tortured. The questioning was brief, not public, there were no appeals, and prisoners were executed the same day or soon thereafter. Many who were not executed immediately were tortured.

The Iranian government has never identified those who were secretly executed and tortured, and has never issued an official explanation for why political prisoners of different beliefs, many of whom had been imprisoned for years, were suddenly executed in the summer of 1988. By that time, most of the Mojahedin leaders had left the country or been killed, and the majority of the Mojahedin prisoners were from the lower ranks. Tudeh and other leftist parties had basically ceased to exist in Iran. Many of those executed had been convicted of relatively minor offenses—the more serious offenders had been executed in prior purges. The regime knew that the massacre was a violation of international and Iranian law, and that news of the executions would severely damage its reputation. Therefore, it made every effort to keep the interrogations and executions secret… read on:

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