Russian massacres in Ukraine and mass murders of prisoners in Iran

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The author, whose brother was executed in Iran in 1988, argues that the Russian atrocities in Bucha are not much different from the massacres of prisoners in Iran.

Opinion – Earlier this month, the world woke up to horrifying images of the bodies of dead civilians lying in the streets of Bucha, Ukraine – some with their hands tied, others with gunshot wounds to the head. These shocking images of bodies on the streets prompted a wave of international condemnation of Russia.

In response to the war crimes charges, the Russian Defense Ministry denied responsibility. Russia’s UN ambassador Wesley Nabin Zia said Moscow would present “practical evidence” to the Security Council showing that its forces had nothing to do with the killings of Ukrainian civilians. The Russian propaganda machine also claimed that Ukrainian forces either “organized” or committed the war crimes themselves.

All dictators use the same playbook. In 1988, the Islamic regime of Iran suddenly executed over 5,000 political prisoners, who had previously been sentenced to prison terms, and spent several years behind bars. The only notification the families received from the authorities was a phone call or a short meeting with the authorities informing them that their children had been executed because “they were apostates and had abandoned their Islamic religion. » The families of the victims have been informed not mourning their loved ones or holding memorial services. Back when social media and satellite images were a dream of the future, families found one of these mass graves, took pictures, prepared lists of names of hanged people, sent them to the Nations United Nations and Amnesty International and demanded investigation, justice and accountability.

A body unearthed at Tehran’s Khavaran Cemetery where executed prisoners were buried.

Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations at the time, like Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, denied the families’ accusations and called the allegations “mass executions.”political propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

The 1988 massacre is now well documented. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called the killings “ongoing crimes against humanity”. In 2012, The Iranian courta one-of-a-kind grassroots movement inspired by the famous Russell Tribunal of the 1960s, came together to document the atrocities of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s. and human rights lawyers around the world, have unanimously concluded that these crimes meet the definition of crimes against humanity, as described in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In 2013, the Canadian Parliament recognized the massacre as constituting crimes against humanity.

Thanks to satellite technology, we know that Russia is lying and that Ukraine’s accusations are true. The Iranians have similar photos of one of the mass graves, called Khavaran. Khavaran Cemetery is an irregular and unmarked cemetery located in the southeast of Tehran. Since early 1981, the Islamic regime in Iran has buried left-wing opponents in Khavaran because “they were apostates and should not contaminate the resting place of Muslims”.

Once the families received news of the executions, some traveled to Khavaran. These families saw shallow graves with plastic bags and clothes sticking out of the ground. They started moving the earth with their hands and found dozens of bodies thrown on top of each other. The mothers and relatives of the victims were shocked and could not understand the unfolding scene. Families took some pictures horror around them. Part of a young man’s head and face was lying in the dirt, someone’s hand was hanging in the air, and there were pieces of clothing sticking out of the ground. These images prove the crime of Iran’s Islamic regime and show how far a brutal government is willing to go to eliminate its opponents.

Families of the 1988 victims remember them at Khavaran Cemetery. Undated

To punish Russia for its crimes in Bucha, new sanctions against Russian banks and institutions were announced, and two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Maria and her daughter Ekaterina, and members of the Russian National Security Council have been added to the sanctions lists.

In the case of Iran, not only have those involved in these crimes against humanity not been punished, but they have also been given higher positions. Khamenei, president at the time, was elevated to the rank of Supreme Leader and has ruled the country for 33 years with an iron fist. Mostafa Poormohammadi, Deputy Minister of Intelligence, became Minister of Justice. Hossein-Ali Nayeri, religious judge at the Revolutionary Court, became president of the Supreme Disciplinary Court of Judges. Ebrahim Raisi, deputy prosecutor, is now the Islamic regime of the Iranian president. Most shockingly, however, is that Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN, is now professor of religion at Oberlin College in Ohio and teaches peace and ethics, among other subjects!

Despite several letters that family members of victims of the 1988 massacre wrote to President Ambar of Oberlin College and board of directors and two protests which they staged in front of the college, the administration refuses to fire Mahallati.

Professor Jeffrey Robertson, a human rights lawyer, author, academic and expert on crimes against humanity, concluded in his report 2000 on the 1988 massacre that Mahallati is implicated in crimes against humanity, and Amnesty International Report 2018 drew the same conclusion. Oberlin college says their internal investigation did not show that Mahallati knew about the Massacre, so he could continue to teach American students!

In 1988, the International Criminal Court was not yet established. Crimes against humanity and enforced disappearances were not codified in law as is currently the case. Yet Iran was one of the signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Thus, the Islamic regime of Iran was bound by these rules. Besides, Amnesty’s senior research adviser wrote, “All current and former officials who continue to treat the massacres as state secrets are effectively standing with those who have blood on their hands.” All of this should be enough for a liberal arts college with an honorable past like Oberlin College to do the right thing and end the employment of Mahallati, who preaches peace when he has done so much for disturb her.

As an Iranian-American, I have long observed human rights abuses in my country seen as an accessory to larger international political struggles. But most difficult of all has been watching Americans who claim to be committed to protecting human rights ignore the suffering of the Iranian people, past and present. The unfortunate event in Ukraine, the bravery of its people and its leaders and the war crimes committed by Russia have opened a new chapter in diplomacy. One can only hope that these new conversations will extend to Iranians and their four decades of plight, and finally, that the international community will help the families of the victims of this brutal regime to receive some form of justice and accountability.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Iran International

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