“You’re not permitted to hold funerals”—Families of executed prisoners testify in court

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Sweden, October 16, 2021—Friday marked the twenty-ninth session of the trial of Hamid Noury, an Iranian prison official charged with torturing inmates in the Gohardasht prison (Karaj) and taking part in the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners. Noury was apprehended by Swedish authorities during a trip to the country. Noury is now standing trial in a court in Stockholm, where many of his victims are giving harrowing testimonies of how he and other regime officials brutally tortured prisoners.

During Tuesday’s session Mr. Jafar Mirmohammadi, a member of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), testified through video conference from Albania. One of Mr. Mirmohammadi’s brothers, Aghil, was executed in Gohardasht prison during the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. Three other of his relatives were killed by the regime’s security forces in 1981 and 1982.

In his testimony, Mr. Mirmohammadi said, “Aghil was a law student in Tehran University and one of the leading members of the student movement supporting the MEK. He was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on March 1, 1982. He was brutally tortured and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

During his years of incarceration, Aghil Mirmohammadi continued to resist and organize protests in prison. In 1987, he led a hunger strike in Evin prison in protest to pressures imposed on the political prisoners. Subsequently, he and 200 political prisoners who supported MEK were transferred to Gohardasht prison.

“From June 1988, visits were banned in Gohardasht and we had no more news of Aghil. Other prisoners who were with Aghil said that on August 6 or 9, he and a group of prisoners who were firm in their support for the MEK were taken to the ‘death hall’ and were presented to the ‘death commission.’ They stood firm in their position and ideals. They were executed the same night or on the next day. None of the other prisoners saw any of them again.”

During the summer of 1988, the regime carried out the swift and brutal execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners across Iran, mostly MEK members and supporters. The purge was directly ordered by regime supreme leaders Ruhollah Khomeini in an edict that explicitly stated that anyone supporting the MEK is an enemy of God and deserves to be executed.

The “Death Commission” was the group of regime officials who carried out Khomeini’s fatwa. They summoned political prisoners and held minutes-long trials. Any prisoner who did not disavow their support for the MEK was immediately sent to the gallows. One of the key members of the death commission was Ebrahim Raisi, who is now the regime’s president, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the former justice minister. The “Death Hall” was the name of the corridor where the prisoners waited for their turn to meet the death commission.

“In October 1988, my parents were searching for Aghil for months. They were summoned to Evin prison, where the guards handed them a bag of clothes and a broken wristwatch,” Mr. Mirmohammadi said. “They told my father, ‘Your son was a Monafegh [derogatory term used by regime officials to refer to the MEK]. We executed him on a decree from Khomeini. These are his belongings. Now go!’

“My father asked to see the body. The guard swore at him and said, ‘There is no body. You’re not permitted to hold a funeral. There’s no burial site.’ The guards treated other families similarly.”

While the court proceeded, a large group of Iranians resumed their protest rally in front of the court, calling for the prosecution of senior regime officials, including Raisi and supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Many of the protesters were family members of the thousands of dissidents murdered or executed by the regime.

The 1988 massacre has been described as a war crime and crime against humanity. Legal experts also recognize it as a “genocide” and should be addressed by international tribunals.

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