Tehran, Iran, Sep. 03 – Some
2,000 people – families and friends of victims of one of the worst prison
massacres in Iran’s contemporary history - gathered on Friday at a cemetery
south-east of the capital to commemorate the anniversary of the brutal
death of their loved ones in the summer of 1988, an Iran Focus reporter
Security was tight at Khavaran Cemetery in Tehran where the crowd had gathered. Several
undercover officers of Iran’s secret police, the Ministry
of Intelligence and Security, were seen filming the gathering with video
Participants carried flowers and many had with them photographs of their
loved ones, who had all been executed for their political opposition to the
Police detained a number of participants, including three young women, Shahla Gol-Abadi, Arezou Shahryar, and Roxana Amirkhani, as they headed out of the cemetery. They
were taken to unknown locations.
Thousands of political prisoners were sent to the gallows in the summer of
1988 on the orders of Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini. Most were members or supporters of the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK). The one-time successor to Khomeini, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, later
revealed in his memoirs the full text of Khomeini’s fatwa, or religious
In a shocking account of the killings, the London-based Daily Telegraph’s
diplomatic editor Christina Lamb wrote in February 2001, “Children as young
as 13 were hanged from cranes, six at a time, in a barbaric two-month purge
of Iran's prisons on the direct orders of
Ayatollah Khomeini, according to a new book by his former deputy.
“More than 30,000 political prisoners were executed in the 1988 massacre -
a far larger number than previously suspected. Secret documents smuggled
out of Iran reveal that, because of the
large numbers of necks to be broken, prisoners were loaded onto forklift
trucks in groups of six and hanged from cranes in half-hourly intervals”.
The Islamic Republic’s authorities impose a strict news blackout on all
items related to the 1988 massacre. Journalists who have mentioned the
massacre in their articles have been arrested and their newspapers banned.