Remembering A Forgotten Crime

2013 is the 65th anniversary of the vote of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations. It coincides with the 25th anniversary of a gruesome state crime, committed secretly in 1988 within the prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Late in July 1988,  prisons in Iran crammed with government opponents suddenly went into lockdown. All family visits were cancelled, televisions and radios switched off and newspapers discontinued. The only permitted visitation was from a turbaned and bearded delegation. The delegation had but one question for these young men and women (most of them detained since 1981 merely for taking part in street protests or possession of „political‟ reading material), and although they did not know it, on the answer their life would depend. Those who by that answer evinced any continuing affiliation with their political parties were blindfolded and ordered to join a conga-line that led straight to the gallows. Months later their families, desperate for information about their children or their partners, would be handed a plastic bag with their few possessions. They would be refused any information about the location of the graves and ordered never to mourn them in public. By mid-August 1988, thousands of prisoners had been killed in this manner by the state – without trial, without appeal and utterly without mercy.”
This is how the crime is reported by Geoffrey Robertson, the renowned international human rights law expert, commissioned in 2010 by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, to investigate the 1988 mass killing of political prisoners in Iran. In his report, published by ABF in 2010, Geoffrey Robertson defines the executions as a crime against humanity and calls on the international community to face its responsibility and hold accountable the Iranian authorities involved in this crime.
To mark the 65th anniversary of the vote on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ABF publishes The Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran 1988 — An Addendum, which substantiates Geoffrey Robertson’s investigation. The witness testimonies, published in the Addendum, are endowed with an intrinsic value that goes beyond their relevance in an inquiry regarding a crime against humanity. Each witness’s background provides a window into the political history of Iran in the late 1970s and 1980s and sheds light on the characteristics of the emerging Islamic state. The carceral universe depicted in the testimonies offers invaluable keys to the mindset of a regime that considers itself Godly and which strives to recreate man according to its own values. Similar, in that they report on the same crime, the testimonies are different in that they recount the life, experience, and suffering of individuals, each unlike any other. A common thread runs throughout all the testimonies: the prisoners’ intense desire to protect their human dignity.
A quarter of a century ago, in Iran, several thousand political prisoners were executed in a deafening silence for the sole crime of their opinion. To mark this anniversary, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation echoes the voices of the victims, hoping that they will be heard by the international community, that it might take up the challenge, fulfill its human rights obligations, and ensure that the victims of this tragedy can exercise their long overdue right to Truth, Justice, and Reparation.

The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-governmental organization, founded in April 2001, and dedicated to the promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran. The Foundation is an independent organization with no political affiliation and is committed to promoting human rights awareness through education and the dissemination of information as necessary prerequisites for the establishment of a stable democracy in Iran. Please visit us at and All donations are tax deductible.

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