Amnesty International condemned recent statements by Mostafa Pourmohammadi, adviser to Iran’s head of the judiciary, defending the mass executions of over 30,000 political prisoners during the summer 1988.
In a statement released on Tuesday, July 30, Amnesty International (AI) said: “Recent statements by Mostafa Pourmohammadi, adviser to Iran’s head of the judiciary, defending the mass extrajudicial executions of 1988 is a stark reminder of the sense of impunity that senior officials linked to the killings enjoy.”
A former minister of justice, Pourmohammadi was Representative of Intelligence Ministry in the “Death Commission” in Tehran.
At the end of July 1988, Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the massacre of political prisoners. Death Commissions were formed in more than 70 cities.
The Death Commissions were comprised of a Sharia judge, Intelligence Ministry representatives and Prosecutor. Some of the Commissions also included substitute members, including the local or provincial prison chief.
Pourmohammadi, who served as President Hassan Rouhani’s Minister of Justice (2013-2017), recently defended the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988.
When asked by the state-run Mosalas Magazine about the 1988 mass executions and the “slander” directed at the regime for the massacre, 59-year-old Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who was pivotal in the executions in Tehran, said that the regime was “at war” and no one should expect it to follow “legal procedures and consider citizen’s and human rights” at a time of war.
Pourmohammadi insisted that he should not be held accountable for the mass executions of summer of 1988. Instead, he blamed those executed, asserting that all remaining members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) should also be held responsible, tried, and punished.
He called the PMOI, whose supporters and members were the main victims of the mass executions, “the worst kind of enemy.”
“They have destructed our image in the whole world. In the past 40 years, nothing has happened against us that the Monafeghin (derogatory term used for the MEK) did not play a direct role in,” the former Minister of Justice said.
Rebuking the Pourmohammadi’s abhorrent remarks, AI said: “Contrary to these narratives, which demonize the victims as “terrorists” and “murderers”, those forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in 1988 were mostly young men and women, some just teenagers, unjustly imprisoned because of their political opinions and non-violent political activities such as distributing opposition newspapers and leaflets, taking part in demonstrations, collecting donations for prisoners’ families or associating with those who were politically active.”
In its Tuesday statement Amnesty International reiterated that, “Defending the mass extrajudicial executions of 1988 provide shocking confirmation of the [Islamic Republic] authorities’ willful flouting of international human rights law both at the time and now and a stark reminder of the sense of impunity that senior officials linked to the killings enjoy.”
Furthermore, AI said it was particularly concerned about comments by Pour Mohammadi accusing those advocating for truth and accountability of “terrorism” and “collusion” with Iran’s geopolitical enemies, and warning that they shall face prosecution.
“These comments, coupled with the appointment, in March 2019, of Ebrahim Raeesi, who, like Pourmohammadi, was involved in the mass extrajudicial executions of 1988, to the position of the head of Iran’s Judiciary, put survivors, family members of those executed and human rights defenders at increased risk of harassment and persecution simply for seeking truth and justice,” AI said.
This is not the first time that Pourmohammadi and other regime officials defent their atrocious crimes and still, they enjoy impunity.
Pourmohammadi was quoted on 28 August 2016 by the state-run Tasnim news agency as saying: “God commanded to show no mercy to the nonbelievers because they will not show mercy to you either and there should be no mercy to the [PMOI] because if they could, they would spill your blood, which they did. … We are proud to have carried out God’s commandment with regard to the [Mojahedin] and to have stood with strength and fought against the enemies of God and the people.”
As Amnesty International pointed out in its report last December on the 1988 massacre that Iran faced an immunity crisis, and that the continuity of crimes in Iran are directly related to the impunity the Iranian regime officials enjoy.
Granting immunity to the regime’s leaders and turning a blind eye on their crimes are the very reasons they have become emboldened in exporting terrorism and in warmongering.