For those who don’t know what the fuss is all about, here’s a recap of the 1988 systematic massacre of Sunni political prisoners by the explicit orders of Khomeini: During the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Khomeini was helped by the predominantly Sunni Mojahedin-e-Khalq (the MEK or the MKO or the People’s Mujahedin Organization). Within years, the MEK became disillusioned by the religious fanaticism of the regime and carried out numerous assassinations and then fled to Iraq leaving behind tens of thousands of their brothers in jails in Iran. As the Iran-Iraq war reached its end, the MEK/MKO, designated by the Iranians as a terrorist organization, organized an attack on Iran from Iraq. Khomeini, who was under great duress for signing the peace treaty with Iraq, decided to hit back at the MEK and issued a fatwa (a religious edict) to execute all of the MEK prisoners in Iran after holding on the spot trials in prisons by “death squads”. Preparations began by cutting off all communications between the prisoners and the outside world and during three months in 1988, the Iranian authorities carried out mass executions (6 hangings at a time or firing squads) based on these “trials” in which people were sent to the be hanged on the spot if they professed support for the MEK. The executed Sunnis were dumped in mass graves and their families were notified at a later date of the executions but were not told where their loved ones were buried nor were they allowed to hold funeral ceremonies for their loved ones. The number of executed Sunnis ranges from approximately 7,000 (Iranian official numbers) to 30,000 (MEK estimates).
Not everyone agreed with Khomeini but those dissenting voices were quickly silenced: Khomeini’s deputy and the man who was meant to succeed him, Montazeri, fiercely objected to the massacre out of religious and humanitarian reasons, soon found himself forced to resign and to disappear from the political scene. Two weeks ago, his son uploaded an audio-tape of Montazeri objecting to the massacre and naming names of the people involved. Within one day, the Iranian intelligence gave Montazeri a call and “requested” that he take down the file – he did. Since then, he has been interrogated twice and is being charged with “divulging state secrets”. Meanwhile, the regime is justifying its actions in 1988 claiming it to be “a historic and revolutionary decision by his highness Imam Khomeini (and) a prompt decision (which dealt) seriously and decisively with the Hypocrites (MEK)”.
Many NGO’s are now calling for an international trial of the people responsible for carrying out the massacre – people who are now in high levels of the regime.