Iran's massacre of more than 30,000 people was recently disclosed by Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's son, Ahmad, a moderate cleric, who posted a confidential audio of his father on his website but was ordered by Iran's intelligence service to remove it.
Born in Esfahan, Iran, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is a human rights activist, an Islamic theologian, and was the designated successor to the Islamic revolution's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, until the very last moments of Khomeini's life. His pictures were posted next to Khomeini's in the streets.
In the recording, Montazeri states:
"You [Iranian officials] will be in the future etched in the annals of history as criminals. The greatest crime committed under the Islamic Republic, from the beginning of the Revolution until now, which will be condemned by history, is this crime [mass executions] committed by you."
While some international human rights organizations, the Obama Administration and the United Nations appear to have turned a blind eye this massacre and other crimes against humanity, several officials have taken steps. A U.S. House of Representatives Resolution condemning the massacres and other executions was introduced by the House Homeland Security Chair, Mike McCaul, and cosponsored by Chairman Ed Royce, Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions. The resolution was introduced when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who heads a government that is ranked number one in the world for executions per capita, was addressing the 71st Session of the United Nation General Assembly. During his speech, according to the Associated Press, an unprecedented number of protesters gathered in Dag Hammerskjold Plaza outside the UN -- including Senator Joe Lieberman, and Sir Geoffrey Robertson, former Head of the UN war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone, who wrote a report on Iran's 1988 massacre that was published on the United Nations Arts Initiative website.
The House resolution states:
Whereas over a 4-month period in 1988, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran carried out the barbaric mass executions of thousands of political prisoners and many unrelated political groups;
Whereas according to a report by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the massacre was carried out pursuant to a fatwa, or religious decree, issued by then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that targeted the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK);
Whereas according to a November 2, 2007, report by Amnesty International, "between 27 July 1988 and the end of that year, thousands of political prisoners [in Iran], including prisoners of conscience, were executed in prisons nationwide.";
Whereas according to Amnesty International, "the majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI, but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups ... were also among the execution victims.";
The resolution goes on to detail some of the most egregious crimes against humanity and "the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us":
... the killings were carried out on the orders of a judge, an official from the Ministry of Intelligence, and a state prosecutor, known to the prisoners as "Death Commissions" which undertook proceedings in a manner designed to eliminate the regime's opponents;
Whereas those personally responsible for these mass executions include senior officials serving in the current Government of Iran;
Whereas prisoners were reportedly brought before the commissions and briefly questioned about their political affiliation, and any prisoner who refused to renounce his or her affiliation with groups perceived as enemies by the regime was then taken away for execution;
Whereas the victims included thousands of people, including teenagers and pregnant women, imprisoned merely for participating in peaceful street protests and for possessing political reading material, many of whom had already served or were currently serving prison sentences;
Whereas prisoners were executed in groups, some in mass hangings and others by firing squad, with their bodies disposed of in mass graves;
In addition: "the families of the executed were denied information about their loved ones and were prohibited from mourning them in public," and more fundamentally:
"The current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was reportedly aware of, and later publicly condoned the massacre; Whereas in violation of its international obligations, the Government of Iran continues to systematically perpetrate gross violations of the fundamental human rights of the Iranian people;"
Intriguingly, all those people whom Montazeri is addressing and warning in the audio -- all of those who were involved in these crimes -- currently appear to enjoy high positions. Mostafa Pourmohammadi was a representative of the intelligence ministry at the notorious Evin Prison, and he was recently appointed by the so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani to be justice minister. Ebrahim Raeisi was a public prosecutor and was appointed under Rouhani government to be the head of Astan Quds Razavi, which has billions of dollars in revenues. Hussein Ali Nayeri was a judge and is now a deputy of the Supreme Court of Iran.
In his memoir, Montazeri writes that he told Hussein Ali Nayeri to stop the executions at least in the month of Moharram, but Nayeri said: "We have executed 750 people in Tehran so far... once we finish the job with [execute] another 200 people, then we will listen to whatever you say". Montazeri wrote several letters to the Supreme Leader Khomeini as well, warning him.
Jahangir Razmi's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the execution of Kurdish men and others by the Iranian Islamic regime in 1979.
We should not solely view Iran from the prism of the nuclear deal.
To be on the right side of history and to stand for individual rights, human rights, social justice and liberty, Congress needs to take action, condemn the Iranian government, pressure Iran to provide more information for the families of the victims, and urge the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran and the UN Human Rights Council to open a full investigation, and create a commission, to follow up with this matter.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, political scientists and Harvard University scholar is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He can be reached at Dr.firstname.lastname@example.org.