Open Letter To UN Seeking Commission Of Inquiry Into Iran’s 1988 Massacre

by OIAC

May 4, 2021
Click here to see the profiles of the open letter’s 152 signatories.

Letter To UN Seeking Commission Of Inquiry Into Iran’s 1988 Extrajudicial Executions Of Thousands Of Political Prisoners

May 3, 2021

    • On 3 September 2020, seven United Nations Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Iranian authorities stating that the 1988 extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances of thousands of political prisoners “may amount to crimes against humanity.”
    • The letter states that the families of the victims, survivors and human rights defenders are today the “subject of persistent threats, harassment, intimidation and attacks because of their attempts to seek information on the fate and whereabouts of the individuals and their demands for justice.”

    • The UN human rights experts also expressed alarm at the destruction of mass graves and lack of investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

    • “There is a systemic impunity enjoyed by those who ordered and carried out the extrajudicial executions”, they said, adding: “Many of the officials involved continue to hold positions of power including in key judicial, prosecutorial and government bodies.” They include the current Judiciary Chief and Justice Minister.

    • The UN experts stated that the failure of UN bodies to act over the 1988 massacre has “had a devastating impact on the survivors and families” and “emboldened” the Iranian authorities to “conceal the fate of the victims and to maintain a strategy of deflection and denial.”

    • We endorse the UN experts’ call on the international community to “investigate the cases including through the establishment of an international investigation.”

    • We appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to end the culture of impunity that exists in Iran by establishing a Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 mass extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances. We urge High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to support the establishment of such a Commission.

Signatories as of 3 May 2021:

Individuals (NOTE: All signatories have signed in their personal capacity):

  1. Mary Robinson – Adjunct Professor of Climate Justice at Trinity College Dublin, first woman President of Ireland, and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – (Ireland)
  2. Lord Mark Malloch-Brown – Former UN Deputy Secretary General and former Administrator of UNDP – (United Kingdom)
  3. Theo van Boven – Former Director of the United Nations Division of Human Rights (1977-1982), former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2001-2004) – (The Netherlands)
  4. Manfred Nowak – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (2004-2010), former member of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), and former judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina – (Austria)
  5. Jean Ziegler – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2000-2008), former Vice-President of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee – (Switzerland)
  6. Michael Kirby – Former Chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in North Korea (DPRK), former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-1996), former Justice of the High Court of Australia – (Australia)
  7. Michel Forst – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders (2014-2020) – (France)
  8. Gabriela Knaul – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (2009-2015) – (Brazil)
  9. Param Cumaraswamy – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (1994-2003) – (Malaysia)
  10. Heiner Bielefeldt – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (2010-2016), former Director of the German Institute for Human Rights / Deutsche Institut für Menschenrechte (DIMR) – (Germany)
  11. Maud De Boer-Buquicchio – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children (2014-2020), former Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe – (The Netherlands)
  12. Gulnara Shahinian – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (2008-2014) – (Armenia)
  13. Urmila Bhoola – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (2014-2020) – (South Africa)
  14. Dainius Pūras – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health (2014 – 2020), Director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute / VŠĮ Žmogaus Teisių Stebėjimo Institutas – (Lithuania)
  15. Baskut Tuncak – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights (2014-2020), senior attorney at Leigh Day – (Turkey)
  16. Okechukwu Ibeanu – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights (2004-2010) – (Nigeria)
  17. Yakin Ertürk – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2009) – (Turkey)
  18. Catarina de Albuquerque – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (2008-2014), Chair of the UN Working Group in charge of drafting an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2004-2008) – (Portugal)
  19. John H. Knox – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment (2012-2018) – (United States)
  20. François Crépeau – Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2011-2017), and Faculty of Law, McGill University – (Canada)
  21. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (2008-2014) – (Chile)
  22. Fantu Cheru – Former UN Special Rapporteur on Foreign Debt and Structural Adjustment, Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at American University, Washington, DC – (Ethiopia/United States)
  23. Santiago Corcuera-Cabezut – Former Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), former Chair of the UN Committee against Enforced Disappearances, former Chair of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council – (Mexico)
  24. Ariel E Dulitzky – Former Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), Director of the Human Rights Clinic of the School of Law at University of Texas at Austin – (Argentina)
  25. Houria Esslami – Former Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) – (Morocco)
  26. Jeremy Sarkin – Former Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances – (South Africa)
  27. José Luis Gómez del Prado – Former Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries – (Spain)
  28. Gabor Rona – Former Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, former International Legal Director of Human Rights First – (United States)
  29. Farida Shaheed – Former UN Independent Expert and Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights (2009-2015) – (Pakistan)
  30. Alfred De Zayas – Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order (2012-2018) – (United States)
  31. Soledad Villagra de Biedermann – Former Member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (2002-2008) – (Paraguay)
  32. Hans Corell – Former Judge of Appeal, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations (1994-2004), and former Co-Chair of the Council of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute – (Sweden)
  33. Mike Smith – Former Chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN in New York and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (2007-2013) – (Australia)
  34. Richard J. Goldstone – Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Honorary President of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) – (South Africa)
  35. Geoffrey Robertson AO QC – First President, UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, author ‘Crimes Against Humanity,’ ‘Mullahs without Mercy’ and ‘The Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran, 1988’ – (Australia)
  36. Marek Antoni Nowicki – Former President of the UN Human Rights Advisory Panel in Kosovo, former UN-appointed International Ombudsperson in Kosovo (2000-2005), former member of the European Commission of Human Rights (1993-1999) – (Poland)
  37. Ad Melkert – Former Special Representative for Iraq of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), former UN Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) – (The Netherlands)
  38. Tahar Boumedra – Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), former Chief of UNAMI Human Rights Office and Representative of the HCHR in Iraq – (United Kingdom)
  39. Sonja Biserko – Former Member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in North Korea (DPRK), founder and President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia – (Serbia)
  40. Dr Mark Ellis – Executive Director, International Bar Association, former Chair of the UN Advisory Panel on Matters Relating to Defence Counsel of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals – (United Kingdom)
  41. Giovanni Grasso – Former International Judge of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Judge of the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina – (Italy)
  42. Ken Scott – Former member of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, former Special Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, former senior prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) (1998-2011), former Assistant US Attorney and Chief of the Complex Prosecutions Section in the prosecution office (1985-1997) – (United States)
  43. Eric David – Former member of the UN-affiliated International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (2006-2016), International Public Law Professor. Em., Université Libre de Bruxelles – (Belgium)
  44. Françoise Tulkens – Former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights, Associate Member of the Belgian Royal Academy, former member of the UN Human Rights Advisory Panel for Kosovo – (Belgium)
  45. Andrzej Rzepliński – Member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (1994-2004), Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2004-2008), President of the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland (2010-2016), Member of the Advisory Board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (2013- ) – (Poland)
  46. Rt Hon. Sir David Edward – Former Judge, European Court of Justice (1992-2004), Professor Emeritus of the University of Edinburgh – (United Kingdom)
  47. Valeriu M. Ciucă – Former Judge, General Court of the European Union (2007-2010) – (Romania)
  48. Josef Azizi – Former Judge, General Court of the European Union (1995-2013) – (Austria)
  49. Ledi Bianku – Former Judge, European Court of Human Rights (2008-2019) – (Albania)
  50. Edmundo Vargas Carreño – Former Executive Secretary, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) – (Chile)
  51. Revd. and Rt. Hon. Professor Rowan Williams – Former Archbishop of Canterbury – (United Kingdom)
  52. Jose Ramos-Horta – Winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, former President of Timor-Leste (East Timor), and President of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy – (Timor-Leste)
  53. Elfriede Jelinek – 2004 Nobel Laureate in Literature – (Austria)
  54. Sir Richard J. Roberts Ph.D. F.R.S. – 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine – (United Kingdom)
  55. Randy W. Schekman – 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine – (United States)
  56. Dudley R. Herschbach – 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry – (United States)
  57. Sheldon Glashow – 1979 Nobel Laureate in Physics – (United States)
  58. Hon. Kim Campbell – Former Prime Minister of Canada, former Minister of Justice of Canada – (Canada)
  59. Irwin Cotler – Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights – (Canada)
  60. John Baird – Former Foreign Minister of Canada – (Canada)
  61. Rama Yade – Former Human Rights Minister of France – (France)
  62. Giulio Terzi – Former Foreign Minister of Italy, former Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, former Ambassador of Italy to the US – (Italy)
  63. Radosław Sikorski MEP – Member of the European Parliament from Poland, former Foreign Minister of Poland – (Poland)
  64. Maria Candida Almeida – Former Attorney General of Portugal, first female magistrate of Portugal – (Portugal)
  65. Baroness Boothroyd – Former Speaker of the House of Commons – (United Kingdom)
  66. Ken Blackwell – Former US Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights – (United States)
  67. Baroness Verma – Former UK Energy & Climate Change Minister and former International Development Minister – (United Kingdom)
  68. Rt Hon David Jones MP – Member of Parliament, former UK Secretary of State for Wales – (United Kingdom)
  69. The Hon. Tony Clement PC – Former Member of Parliament from Canada, former Canadian Minister of Industry, Minister of Health and President of the Treasury Board – (Canada)
  70. Senator Michał Kamiński – Vice President of the Senate of Poland – (Poland)
  71. Morten Wold – Member of the Norwegian Parliament (Second Vice President of the Storting) – (Norway)
  72. Christian Tybring-Gjedde – Member of the Norwegian Parliament (Second Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence) – (Norway)
  73. Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius – Member of the Lithuanian Parliament, Chair of the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee – (Lithuania)
  74. Ellen Samyn – Member of Parliament, Vice President of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee – (Belgium)
  75. Senator Leo Housakos – Senator from Canada, former Speaker of the Senate of Canada – (Canada)
  76. Senator Linda Frum – Senator from Canada – (Canada)
  77. Uffe Elbæk MP – Member of Parliament for Independent Greens, Denmark – (Denmark)
  78. Hanna Sarkkinen – Member of Finnish Parliament – (Finland)
  79. Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam – Senator from France, Member of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces, Vice President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly – (France)
  80. Martin Patzelt – Member of Parliament, Member of the Bundestag’s Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid – (Germany)
  81. Bob Blackman MP – UK Member of Parliament – (United Kingdom)
  82. Sir David Amess MP – UK Member of Parliament – (United Kingdom)
  83. Lord Alton of Liverpool – Member of the House of Lords – (United Kingdom)
  84. Milan Zver MEP – Member of the European Parliament from Slovenia – (Slovenia)
  85. Hermann Tertsch MEP – Member of the European Parliament from Spain – (Spain)
  86. Congressman Patrick Kennedy – Former Member of the US House of Representatives – (United States)
  87. David Kilgour – Former Canadian Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa, and for Asia-Pacific – (Canada)
  88. Thor Halvorssen – President, Human Rights Foundation – (United States)
  89. Dominique Attias – President, European Bars Federation / Fédération des Barreaux d’Europe (FBE) – (France)
  90. Andreas Bummel – Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders – (Germany)
  91. Jago Russell – Chief Executive, Fair Trials – (United Kingdom)
  92. Tibi Galis – Executive Director, Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) – (United States)
  93. Toby Cadman – Co-founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers – (United Kingdom)
  94. Uriel Epshtein – Executive Director of Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI) – (United States)
  95. Beatriz Borges – Executive Director, Center for Justice and Peace – Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ) – (Venezuela)
  96. Jan Diedrichsen – President, Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) / Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (GfbV) – (Germany)
  97. William Bourdon – International human rights lawyer – (France)
  98. Ranjana Kumari – Director, Centre for Social Research (CSR) – (India)
  99. Juan Garcés – Spanish lawyer and former advisor to Chilean President Salvador Allende – (Spain)
  100. Eric Sottas – Founder and former Secretary General of Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture – World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) – (Switzerland)
  101. Ingrid Betancourt – Former Senator and Presidential candidate – (Colombia)
  102. Pierre Bercis – President, Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme (NDH) – (France)
  103. Rabbi Abraham Cooper – Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center – (United States)
  104. Maxim Pensky – Co-director of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Birmingham University, NY – (United States)
  105. Nadia Rubaii – Co-director of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Birmingham University, NY – (United States)
  106. Sandra M. Coyle – Consulting Executive Director of World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy (WFM/IGP) – (United States)
  107. Rafael Uzcategui – General Coordinator, Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Venezuelan Program for Education and Action on Human Rights) (Provea) – (Venezuela)
  108. Bruce McColm – President, Institute for Democratic Strategies, former Executive Director of Freedom House – (United States)
  109. Jocelynne Scutt – Senior Fellow at the University of Buckingham, former Anti-Discrimination Commissioner of Tasmania, and former judge on the High Court of Fiji – (Australia)
  110. Rebecca Cook – Professor Emerita, Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto – (Canada)
  111. Steven M. Schneebaum – Interim Director, International Law and Organizations Program, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University – (United States)
  112. David Matas – Human rights lawyer and Co-Founder of International Coalition To End Transplant Abuse In China – (Canada)
  113. Antonio Stango – President, Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU) – (Italy)
  114. Göran Sluiter – Professor of international criminal law, University of Amsterdam – The Netherlands
  115. Max du Plessis – Senior Counsel, Adjunct Professor at Nelson Mandela University, Senior Research Associate at Institute for Security Studies, Associate Tenant at Doughty Street Chambers of London – (South Africa)
  116. Sergio D’Elia – Secretary General, Hands Off Cain – (Italy)
  117. Princess Nwabueze Nwokolo – Council member of The Law Society of England and Wales (TLS), member of TLS’s Regulatory Affairs Board, member of TLS’s Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division, and Chair of the UK’s Black Solicitors Network (BSN) – (Nigeria)
  118. Elisabetta Zamparutti – Co-founder and Treasurer of Hands Off Cain, former Member of Parliament – (Italy)
  119. Allison Pearson – Author and journalist (Columnist and the chief interviewer of the Daily Telegraph) – (United Kingdom)
  120. Professor Sara Chandler QC – Council Member of the Law Society of England & Wales, former Chair of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee, and former President of the European Bars Federation (Fédération des Barreaux d’Europe – FBE) – (United Kingdom)
  121. Alastair Logan OBE, LL.B – Council member of The Law Society of England and Wales, Chair of the Solicitors International Human Rights Group – (United Kingdom)
  122. Richard C. Dieter, J.D. – Former Executive Director of Death Penalty Information Center – (United States)
  123. Kirsty Brimelow QC – Former Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) – (United Kingdom)
  124. Malcolm Fowler – Solicitor and Higher Court Advocate, member of JVMI, and formerly of the Council and Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales – (United Kingdom)
  125. Roger Lyons – Former President of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – (United Kingdom)
  126. Sir Alan Meale – Former Member of Parliament, former Vice-Chairperson of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – (United Kingdom)
  127. Joe Benton – Former Member of Parliament – (United Kingdom)
  128. Gary Weiss – Journalist and author – (United States)

Co-signatory NGOs:

  1. Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI) – (United Kingdom)
  2. International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) – (United States)
  3. Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture – World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) – (Switzerland)
  4. Human Rights Foundation – (United States)
  5. Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention at Binghamton University, NY – (United States)
  6. World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy (WFM/IGP) – (United States)
  7. Center for Justice and Peace – Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ) – (Venezuela)
  8. Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights – (Canada)
  9. Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme (NDH) – (France)
  10. International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) – (Germany)
  11. Italian Federation for Human Rights – Federazione Italiana Diritti Umani (FIDU) – (Italy)
  12. Centre for Civil Liberties (CCL) – (Ukraine)
  13. International Educational Development, Inc (IED) – (United States)
  14. Association of World Citizens – (United States)
  15. Venezuelan Program for Education and Action on Human Rights (Provea) – (Venezuela)
  16. Witness to Innocence – (United States)
  17. Hands Off Cain – (Italy)
  18. Women’s Human Rights International Association (WHRIA) – (France)
  19. Edmund Rice Centre – (Australia)
  20. Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational Transparty – (Italy)
  21. Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD) – (United Kingdom)
  22. German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP) – (Germany)
  23. “Vereinigung 17. Juni 1953” – (Germany)
  24. Pax Christi Australia – (Australia)

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