In 1988, there was a brutal nationwide massacre in Iran. Those killed were activists of the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK). The Iranian regime of then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini was responsible, but it was never acknowledged.
Now, a shocking audio recording has been published for the first time, acknowledging the brutal massacre. The speaker in the audio recording is Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former heir-apparent.
Montazeri can be heard in the recording, as he addressed a meeting with the death committee. The members of that committee were Hossein-Ali Nayeri, regime sharia judge; Morteza Eshraqi, regime prosecutor; Ebrahim Raeesi, deputy prosecutor; and Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
Here is what Montazeri told the members of the death committee: “The greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you. Your (names) will in the future be etched in the annals of history as criminals. He also added, Executing these people while there have been no new activities (by the prisoners) means that the entire judicial system has been at fault.”
It was the summer of 1988, and jails across Iran held 30,000 political prisoners. Khomeini issued a fatwa which served as the basis for the regime summarily and extra-judicially executing those prisoners. There was never any acknowledgement of the executions nor of the number of prisoners killed.
Montazeri gave one example of the extra-judicial nature of the executions of PMOI (MEK) activists at the time. He says: “There was a case where a persons brother was a prisoner. At the end they said his sister is also a suspect. They went and brought his sister. They executed him. His sister had been brought in only two days earlier and was 15 years old. They asked his sister, what do you have to say? She said, I sympathized with these people. They said since her brother had been executed, execute her as well. And they executed her too.”
Montazeri reveals that the regime had planned for the massacre for a long time. He is heard on the tape saying “(The ministry of) Intelligence wanted to do it (the massacre) and had made investments. And, Ahmad (Khomeini’s son) had been personally saying for three or four years (prior to the massacre) that the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq) must all be executed, even if they read their newspapers, publications and statements.”
Montazeri adds, “The MEK are not simply individuals. They represent an ideology and a school of thought. They represent a line of logic. One must respond to the wrong logic by presenting the right logic. One cannot resolve this through killing; killing will only propagate and spread it.”
When judiciary minister Moussavi Ardebilis defends the massacre, Montazeri rebukes him. At the time, both Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then-Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament), and Ali Khamenei, then-President, also repeatedly defended the massacre committed by the regime.
Montazeri was concerned about damage to the absolute rule (Velayat-e Faqih) of the supreme religious leader. He said the people are revolted by the Velayat-e Faqih system because of the brutal scale of the massacre.
It has been 28 years since Montazeri’s meeting with the Death Committee. And now the recording is released.
Shahin Gobadi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reacted to publication of Hossein-Ali Montazeri’s shocking audio recording.
Gobadi said “It is imperative to put the clerical regimes leaders on trial for committing crimes against humanity.”
The massacre of political prisoners began in late July 1988, and continued for several months, until autumn 1988. Most of the 30,000 political prisoners were members of PMOI/MEK. The victims of the massacre are buried in mass graves across Iran. Some are buried in Khavaran Cemetery in south-east Tehran.
Most of the people who were executed were serving prison sentences for their political activities. Some had already finished their sentences but were still kept in prison. Some had been imprisoned and released, but were arrested again and executed during the massacre.
Attrocities perpetrated by the Velayat-e Faqih continue today, throughout the Middle East and on the PMOI/MEK members in Camp Liberty, Iraq. Montazeri was right. An ideology cannot be stopped by killing, but the Iranian regime has not learned this truth.
You may listen to the original copy of the audio (in Farsi) here: