Foreign Policy Blogs

Iran Massacre Survivors to Recall Horrors at The Hague Tribunal

Iran Massacre Survivors to Recall Horrors at The Hague Tribunal

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been invited to participate in the
trial but has to date refused to engage with the Tribunal process

 The second phase of the People’s Court process by the Iran Tribunal will be held at the Peace Palace in The Hague between 25-27 October 2012.

The Iran Tribunal seeks to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran against the country’s political prisoners during the 1980s, when between 5,000 and 30,000 Iranian citizens were tortured and executed under the power of Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa for holding beliefs that conflicted with those of the Iranian government. The Tribunal will see eight experienced human rights judges convene to hear firsthand accounts of the atrocities committed against Iranian citizens.

Witnesses will be travelling from across the Iranian Diaspora, which spans North America and Europe, to shed light on humanitarian crimes committed by the Islamic Republic. The precursor to the Tribunal was a Truth Commission held in London in June 2012, which documented and assembled witness statements and compiled a report. It concluded that “These violations of human rights were, devised, instigated and executed (or caused to be executed) by a single authority and as such the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only authority responsible for these acts.”

This is the first hearing of its kind to address the crimes committed by a sitting government and will bring to the fore information that has been suppressed by the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than two decades. It will be an historic investigation into the crimes committed against the people of Iran.

The Truth Commission and the People’s Court do not represent any state power and, therefore, cannot compel the accused to stand before the court. To date there has been no investigation into these crimes and no international pressure on Iran to launch such an investigation. In the absence of any formal accountability through the legal system in Iran, survivors and relatives of the massacred people have taken matters in their own hands.

The Iran Tribunal Campaign is a grass roots movement that has gained momentum, funding, and support over the last twenty five years. It seeks to bring recognition for the victims who were intellectuals, students, leftists, members of opposition parties and ethnic and religious minorities, whose crime was as innocuous as leaflet distribution but resulted in being sentenced to execution by the Death Commission. The prisoners killed were from across the political and religious spectrum.

Prof John Cooper QC, Chairman of the Iran Tribunal’s Steering Committee said: “This Tribunal will allow victims and their relatives to have their grievances aired for legal consideration for the very first time. People have worked tirelessly against a repressive regime for twenty five years to bring this Tribunal to fruition. Following the due process of the Tribunal many people will be eagerly awaiting the final ruling of the Tribunal in October.”

The Chief Prosecutor, Professor Payam Akhavan said, “This Tribunal is a seminal moment in establishing the historical truth about a decade of mass-atrocities that the Islamic Republic of Iran has suppressed for so long. It is a unique opportunity for the Iranian people to hold those in power accountable for past injustices in order to build a better future based on the rule of law. Instead of being punished, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes have been promoted to senior positions in Government; members of the Death Commission sit on the Iranian Supreme Court, in its Parliaments and in its Cabinets. Without speaking truth to power, without accountability for past crimes, it will be difficult to build a culture of human rights in Iran and to move beyond the present culture of impunity.”