Khamenei defends Iran’s 1980s political executions that killed thousands

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Iranian leader Ali Khamenei defended the mass executions of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 in various prisons in Iran, describing them as “terrorists” and “hypocrites.”

Thousands from the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), leftist organizations and nationalist activists, were in prisoned and executed because of their opposition to the rule of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist - a theory in Shia Islam which holds that Islam gives a an Islamic jurist custodianship over people, also referred to as “Faqih.”

In his speech on Sunday, on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, Khamenei said that the 1980s were an era of great glory, stressing that “the place of the victim and the executioner should not be changed. The Iranian people suffered injustice.”

Khamenei’s remarks come after an international move demanded accountability of members of the “death committee” who executed thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 under the order of Khomeini.

Its members include the current candidate for the recent presidential elections, Ebrahim Raisi, as well as Mostafa Pourmohammadi who is the current minister of justice in Hassan Ruhani’s government, in addition to other officials in the Iranian judiciary, namely Hussein Ali Neri and Murtada Ishraqi.

London-based human rights group Amnesty International released a statement on Friday demanding Iranian authorities to disclose the identity of the political prisoners executed during the massacres of the eighties, buried in mass graves in Ahwaz and Mashhad.

The statement, joint with the Justice for Iran organization, read: “The violation of the site of the mass grave in Ahwaz, southern Iran, which includes the remains of at least 44 extrajudicial executions would destroy important forensic evidence and eliminate opportunities for justice for prisoners who were mass-killed across the country in 1988.”

In March, the Supreme Court of Iran’s clerics issued a ruling against Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Shiite cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was the successor to Khomeini, and the leader of the first revolution until his isolation in 1988. He was sentenced to six years in jail for publishing a tape containing part of the meeting of his father with members of the death committee.

Senior members of the US House of Representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties put forward a draft resolution condemning the Iranian regime for “the execution of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 who were members of the PMOI, leftist organizations and nationalist activists.”

In a joint statement on October 7, 60 members of the European Parliament called for the prosecution of the leaders of the Iranian regime and considered the massacres a “crime against humanity.”

According to Amnesty International, so far no Iranian officials have been investigated and brought to justice for extrajudicial executions, and some of the alleged perpetrators remain in political or other influential positions, including in the judiciary.

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