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Ms Asma Jahangir

With greetings and respect

Petition by families of those executed in Iran in the decade of 1980’s

We the undersigned, mothers, families of the bereaved of the Khavaran Cemetery and other families of the executed of the 1980s from throughout Iran hereby indict the Islamic Republic of Iran. We bear witness to the fact that responsible authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, from the very beginning of gaining power, have executed thousand of our children and dear ones without any form of just judicial procedure. In the years 1981-85 not a day passed without news of the execution of a loved one, either singly or in groups. The crimes peaked in the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988. A few days after accepting the UN resolution that ended the Iran-Iraq war, according to current data, approximately 4,000 to 4,500 prisoners were executed. Virtually all of them were serving prison sentences passed by Revolutionary Courts in an unjust fashion. Some had even ended their sentence and should have been released. The tape recordings of the conversations of Ayatollah Montazeri with the death squad of the summer of 1988, which after 28 years was published by his son Ahmad, and who for this reason was imprisoned, confirms these crimes. This systematic and super-judicial massacre was on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini and was carried out by the judiciary, and the security and information services and with the full knowledge of some of those in authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, can according to international law be classed as “Crimes Against Humanity”.

Over the last 35 years, we have repeatedly made our petition and demands directly to those in power and the responsible authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and have asked them to reveal the truth and be accountable for these crimes. On the 26th December 1988 a significant number of the families of those executed in the 1980s, in particular the enormous massacre of the summer of 1988, gathered outside the building housing the Justice Ministry to submit their demand to the office of the then Justice Minister, Hassan Habibi, but the gathering of the families was forcibly dispersed making it impossible to hand over the demand. At that time, the families, because publication in the internal press of the country was not possible, sent them for publication to the media outside Iran, and through this the current Minister became aware of our demands. Below we will enumerate the points raised by those demands:

1. The dates of the court sessions, the time taken for the court to deliberate the case of every victim, the reasons for a repeat referral to a court, and the place the judgement took place for each and every one of the victims must be revealed.

2. The families to be informed of the place and date of the burial of all the victims.

3. The final will and testament of all the victims to be handed over to their families.

4. The number and names of all those executed be announced.

5. Since these actions openly contravene the Constitution of the Islamic Republic and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, we demand the indictment of those responsible for this painful calamity and demand that they be arrested and tried in an open hearing.

6. We demand that the Islamic Republic agrees to the visit of an international delegate to inspect the prisons of the country, and allow them free access to political prisoners and the families of the victims of the recent catastrophe.

The complete text of this petition, which has important historic interest, is attached to this letter.

Over the years numerous petitions and demands have been sent from the family of those executed to relevant bodies in the Islamic Republic. On the tenth anniversary of the enormous massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 and the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, an appeal was made in December 1998 by some of the family of those executed in the 1980s and sent to the Mohammad Khatami, the then President of Iran, who, as President, is responsible for implementing the law according to Article 113 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. We should point out that this petition was based on, and compatible with articles in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of those Responsible for the Crime of Genocide, and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, all of which has been unequivocally accepted by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In this petition, a careful comparative examination was made between the above documents and the acts of the governing authorities in the Islamic Republic a summary of which we will enumerate below:

1. Regarding the arrests, interrogations, and illegal trials in relation to political activity and thought, in the investigations made for this petition, we have concluded that the entire trial procedures that have taken place are, in our view, illegal and we request that:

a. a delegate is assigned by yourself to investigate the methodology of arrest, interrogations, and trials.

b. the files of the judicial criteria, the prosecuting attorneys, the religious (sharia’) judges (hakem shar’) be sent to the appropriate authorities for investigation.

c. The political prisoners to be rehabilitated and compensated, even though there is absolutely no recompense for a lost life.

2. Regarding the death sentences meted out in illegal court hearings. With regards to the above article we ask for the following:

a. The illegal actions of the religious (sharia) judge investigated in an appropriate court.

b. All the orders for execution be re-investigated and in case of annulment those executed be rehabilitated and the damages inflicted recompensed, even though real compensation is impossible.

c. The burial place of all those executed be shown to their families. The right and opportunity to hold memorial services in public locations be officially recognised. Grave stones should be permitted on the graves of all executed prisoners and hindrance and harassment by all organisations without jurisdiction be prevented.

3. Regarding the mass execution of political prisoners in the summer of 1988:

Referring to the points raised above, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of those Responsible for the Crime of Genocide referred to earlier, we accuse those responsible for this massacre as meeting the requirements, and falling within the definition of the above-mentioned Convention for these category of crimes and ask for:

a. Those responsible for this crime against humanity be tried in an open tribunal, according to the criteria set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of those Responsible for the Crime of Genocide, and representatives of the families of those executed be invited as plaintiff.

b. All those executed in 1988 be exonerated and compensated, even though full compensation is an impossibility.

c. The place of burial of those executed be recognised as an official burial ground for the victims of mass killing.

A further open letter was written by the family of one of those executed in the 1980s to Hossein Rohani, the current president of the Islamic Republic, asking for clarification of “the why and the how of the arrests and executions, the why and how of the unjust and secret trials, and why are families denied the right to know the burial ground of their executed loved ones, nor the right to mark the grave, conduct memorials freely or to complain”.

Responsible authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran have not only not responded to these requests, but have doubled the pressure and intimidation. And on several occasions, the last time in December 2008, they have destroyed the Kahavan cemetery with bulldozers and removed all the signs we had placed on the possible place of burial of our loved one, in order to remove traces of their crimes and prevent our gatherings. Other burial places of other murdered dear ones in other burial ground in Tehran and other cities have had a similar, or even more tragic, fate.

Many of us still do not know where our loved ones are buried, but some of us because of exhumation of our loved ones by the family, or seeing the bodies of other executed dear ones at the time of burial by the authorities in Khavaran, are certain that a number of them from the beginning of the 80s, are buried in Khavaran, behind the Armenian Cemetery, in the Baha’i burial ground in Khavaran Road, Lapeh Zanak street in the South-east suburb of Tehran, and a number of those executed of the summer of 1988 are in mass graves in this cemetery. We, who are denied the right to free memorial services in our homes, have made this desolate and unmarked graveyard as our haunt and gather there to keep their memories alive. But with the continuous attacks by the authorities, their violence against us, they have denied us even this simple right. But with our steadfastness in insuring our presence in Khavaran, we are constantly being subjected to harassment, threatened and persecuted, summoned and arrested by the military and security forces. Again and again they have prevented us from holding memorial services for those executed in Khavaran and our own homes, or have raided Khavaran cemetery and our private homes. In this regard many of the families of those killed have been threatened, arrested or expelled from their work. This situation continues to this day.

We have used every opportunity to petition international authorities, by gathering outside offices attached to the UN in Tehran, or writing to these institutions, asking for help. During the visit of Reynaldo Galindo Pohl to Iran in January 1990, we gathered in front of the UN office and asking to meet him and hand over our petition. The authorities broke our gathering in an extremely savage fashion and dispersed us, preventing that meeting. Again in 2002 we wrote to those reporting to the UN Commission on Human Rights who were visiting Tehran.

Ms Asma Jahangir

The family of the victims of state crime, including the undersigned, are facing a dispiriting dead-end. On the one hand the judicial and security-political system of the Islamic Republic, despite our uninterrupted perseverance, has left our petitions and demands unanswered and we have been deprived access to a just tribunal. On the other hand, there are no appropriate routes in the international legal system through which our petitions and requests for justice could be submitted. We protest at such a situation. We expect that, while the responsible authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran continue to ignore our calls for justice, international institutions apply pressure on the Islamic Republic to create conditions whereby it becomes possible to submit and pursue our calls for justice for the victims of political and extrajudicial murders and the massacre of opponents and critiques in Iran in a just tribunal.

Moreover, the fate of many of our relatives remains unclear. We know little about how they were tried or killed. Many are buried in unmarked individual graves, and many others in mass graves. We, the families of the deceased, are continuously harassed by the security forces who are trying, with whatever means, to prevent our presence in the place of burial of the executed, and in particular the Khavaran cemetery which with the efforts of the Khavaran mothers and family, and with help from community and political activists, has become one of the most important symbols of the violation of human rights in Iran.

We ask that examination of these issues is placed on the agenda of the Special Rapporteur to the UN on Human Rights in Iran. We also request a greater involvement of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to pursue the fate of the large number of our dead whose fate is unknown.

Finally we again call attention to our demands that we have been pursuing for the last 35 years:

1. On what charges were our dear ones arrested and why were they tried in secret without the presence of an attorney.

2. Who are the persons responsible for the executions of political prisoners in the 1980s.

3. The reason for the execution of political prisoners in the 1980s be openly announced and their names, details and the method of execution be entered and registered in the country’s internet system of the list of the deceased in Iran.

4. The burial place of those executed in the 1980s decade be accurately revealed, with clear and adequate evidence, to the families.

5. The final testament and will of the political prisoners and their other belongings be handed over to their families.

6. Permit the families to mark and decorate the graves of their beloved ones.

7. The families be permitted to freely hold memorial services in their homes and in the cemeteries.

8. Our right to demand justice be recognised so that, in order to shed light on the above points, we can pursue our legal complaints or new complaints to appropriate bodies within the Islamic Republic of Iran without fear of persecution and harassment by the security institutions of the country, and follow-up our cases until we reach a resolution that can be expected under current conditions. With respect and thanks

Name and family name of those seeking justice, and details of those who have lost their life, the place of arrest and execution are given in the attached table.


His Excellency António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, Secretary General to The United Nations,

Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Dr. Abdol Karim Lahiji, president (in honoraire ) of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)

Dr. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Dr Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

Amnesty International

Read the : Appendixes