Survivor recalls horrific scenes of Iran’s 1988 massacre victims in body bags

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

November 5, 2021—Thirty three years ago, the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners across Iran went unnoticed and only now is the world beginning to somewhat understand the brutal nature of this genocide. The mullahs’ regime ruling Iran has the distance to literally eradicate the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), considering this entity as the main threat to its rule following the 1979 revolution.

This includes sending over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly affiliated to the PMOI/MEK, to the gallows in mere months, burying their bodies in mass graves across the country, and maintaining a lid on these events to prevent any leakage of the massacre to the outside world. This demanded cutting off the prisoners from the outside world through all possible channels.

Survivors of the 1988 massacre, such as MEK member Hassan Ashrafian who currently lives in Ashraf 3, near Tirana, the capital of Albania, recalls the horrific scenes following the massacre of countless inmates.

“I who became familiar with the MEK following the 1979 revolution, and I had started my activities with the MEK in the city of Abadan during that same year. In 1981, I went to Tehran and took part in the demonstration of June 20, 1981, where I witnessed how the regime suppressed the peaceful march of the MEK and the people. After that, we saw that the regime started mass arrests and executions in prisons. I was arrested in January 1983 in Tehran, and on that very same night the prison authorities put through a mock execution,” Mr. Ashrafian explained.

“The next morning, I was transferred to Evin Prison, where I was tortured and severely flogged with an electric cable. This lasted for several days and every time for several hours. During the time I was being interrogated and tortured, I also saw and learned about other MEK members, and other prisoners who were fighting against Khomeini, were being tortured,” he continued.

Iran’s prison authorities focused their attention on accelerating the pace of the massacre while maintaining the entire operation in secrecy. The scope of the massacre, however, was so catastrophic that the few survivors made it a mission to inform the outside world in any way possible.

“I was transferred to Gohardasht Prison in 1986. There were several windows in our ward on which iron shutters were installed. We turned some of the shutters up so we could see a little bit outside. Along with a number of my cellmates we saw Davoud Lashgari, in prison uniform and armed, along with a number of plainclothesmen and two Afghans, themselves prisoners in Gohardasht. The two Afghans were carrying a wheelbarrow with very thick ropes on it,” Mr. Ashrafian added.
“We did not know what was really going on. In general, we realized there were some changes taking place and news reports circulating, but we knew no details. It was first of August that Lashgari came to the ward with his side-arm, while he never used to have his gun with him. He suddenly entered the ward with 20 prison guards, and each guard stood in front of a cell so that no one could move,” he continued.

“About half an hour later, after they left, the guards came and shouted that all prisoners with a sentence of over ten years were to be blindfolded and leave the ward. They divided the prisoners into three parts. One group was transferred to solitary confinement, some were returned to sub-cells and others, 52 or 53 in total, were returned to the ward,” Mr. Ashrafian explained.

“From the next day, through morse code and other signals between each other, we realized that the regime had formed a committee that they called ‘Pardon Commission,’ which was actually the ‘Death Commission.’ The first group to be executed on July 30 were prisoners exiled from the city of Mashhad (in northeast Iran) to Tehran and Gohardasht Prison. They executed the first group there on that very day. Prisoners in another ward witnessed their bodies being carried out. A few days later, we learned that several members of our ward that had been taken to solitary confinement or side-ward were executed,” he added.

“Prisoners were taken to a room before being executed and given a few minutes to write their wills. They wrote their names on their feet or other parts of their bodies so they could be identified after their execution. Some of them wrote their wills and some did not write anything because they did not trust the prison authorities… On the night of the third of August, we were walking in the corridor of the ward when we heard the sound of a vehicle outside. We went to the same window that I mentioned before and looked outside. The scene we saw was very horrible,” Mr. Ashrafian recalled.

I saw transparent plastic bags in which there were corpses. I saw that scene, but I did not want to talk about it. I told one of my cellmates to look and see what the plastics were. He said they are the prisoners’ corpses. Hearing that, I had a very severe headache and sat down on the floor. I knew what it was, but I did not dare to say it. These scenes continued from July 30 to August 16 in Gohardasht prison, and we learned about the executions of a number of our friends every day and did not know what to do,” he continued.

As we speak, an Iranian regime operative by the name of Hamid Noury stands trial in Stockholm, Sweden, for his role in the 1988 massacre. Dozens of survivors and witnesses are providing testimony describing Noury’s crimes and demanding how all senior regime officials should face justice in international tribunals for their crimes against humanity, especially the summer 1988 massacre.

Regime President Ebrahim Raisi is best known for his direct role in Iran’s summer 1988 massacre, being one of the main members of the mullahs’ notorious “Death Commissions” responsible for determining the fates of each political prisoner during the massacre in kangaroo trials that lasted mere minutes. All political prisoner showing signs of loyalty to the PMOI/MEK in any way were immediately sentenced to certain death.

Raisi and other regime officials have committed genocide and crimes against humanity and should be held accountable in international tribunals. The world community should not provide these criminals any kind of legitimacy and instead, choose to stand alongside the Iranian people in their ongoing struggle to reach justice.

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