July and August of 2018 mark 30 years since one of the most outrageous political crimes in the contemporary history of Iran and indeed the world – the National Catastrophe; the massacre of thousands of political prisoners, on the direct orders of Khomeini. Thirty years after that atrocity, several aspects of the crime, its perpetrators, organisers and executors, have now been revealed. These leave no doubt that the murder of thousands of political prisoners – many of whom had already been sentenced to jail terms which they were serving, or had already served in full – in the summer of 1988, was undertaken with no other objective than a massive and bloody cleansing of the political opposition thus to secure the survival of the Islamic Republic.
Since May of 1988, our party had been publicising and warning about the alarming news emerging from the prisons and was calling upon all the progressive forces of Iran and the world to fortify their resolve to save the lives of the political prisoners in Iran.
The particular domestic and historical backdrop to the National Catastrophe was the critical and crushing defeat of the Iranian regime’s policy of “War, War, until Victory” in the eight-year war with Iraq; a policy that Khomeini and other heads of the regime had imposed on the nation despite all the opposition and discontent expressed by the overwhelming majority of the people, and the patriotic and democratic forces of the nation. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of the Iranian and Iraqi youth on the war fronts; the destruction of tens of cities and billions’ worth of war damages; militarization and the promoting of the Islamic Guards Corps and other oppressive forces, to key decision-making positions in the ruling political system, were among the destructive impacts of the strategies of the theocratic regime in Iran, and Khomeini himself, which were pursued without any regard for the national interests of the country. Khomeini agreed to UN Resolution No. 598 to end the war and described it as “drinking from the poisoned chalice” as he knew that agreeing to the resolution meant taking responsibility for the imprudent, anti-national and disastrous policy of having continued the war for a further 6 more after the liberation of Khorramshahr [and the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Iran in 1982]. Khomeini and the beneficiaries of the theocratic despotic regime, including Khamenei, set about murdering a large number of the prominent social, cultural, and political figures in Iran so as to secure and extend their political future as well as to ensure the survival of the rule of crime and obscurantism.
What is now dubbed the National Catastrophe, the killing of thousands of dissident and political prisoners, and the horrific forty-year track record of Iran’s theocratic regime, serve to depict the deeply inhumane and criminal nature of a regime that is based on “political Islam” and the “rule of the representative of God on Earth”. This is not a regime that be reformed, nor can any of its laws (including its Constitution), nor its judicial, executive, and legislative organs – if the will of the people is to be worth anything before that of the Supreme Leader. This is a system in which black can be depicted as white, the law can be an instrument of murder and suppression, and thousands of innocent people can be murdered in just a few weeks in an act proudly referred to as “Jihad” for God. Thirty years after that horrific crime, not only has there been a failure by the leaders of the Islamic Republic, but also by those who claim to be pro reform, to openly take any responsibility for what happened and respond to the demands of the families of the victims. Even during the eight years of “reform government”, when reformists had a controlling majority in parliament, these “Islamic democrats” were neither ready nor willing to go beyond the lines of “us and them” and take any meaningful step to disclose the truth for the people. Silence against this crime and oppression resulted in what we witnessed in episodes of fierce repression and violence throughout the early to mid 1990s; the “chain murders” of more prominent social and political activists by shadowy elements within the intelligence agencies; the bloody suppression of the university uprising in July 1999; and then, during the bloody crackdown on people’s protests in 2009 [Green Movement]; and later on in the brutal clampdown on the popular protests in more than eight cities in December 2017/ January 2018 and in recent months. And today, thirty years after the National Catastrophe, these reformists have not only failed to learn any lessons from this bloody history, but still maintain their silence in order to protect the interests of the “Sacred Islamic Regime”. Thirty years after that on from the National Catastrophe, despite the attempts of the Islamic regime to destroy the evidence of that horrific crime, the families of martyrs still gather at the mass graves of the victims in various cities throughout Iran – although they have not yet been able to bury, properly and respectfully, their loved ones in the way they deserve. Despite the continuing denials of the regime leaders and their referring to that massacre as the killing of a few terrorists, human rights organisations have estimated the number of victims to be more than five thousand and have even published some lists of the executed prisoners.
The perpetrators of the National Catastrophe murdered hundreds of the leaders, cadres, members, and sympathisers of our party, who were deemed a danger to the future of the regime. Prominent political prisoners under the Shah’s regime for 25 years, intellectuals, academics, authors, translators, artists, trade unionists, workers representatives, and military officers, were among the executed leaders and members of our party. The survival of the Tudeh Party of Iran over the past 30 years and its strong and enduring presence in the political and social struggles in the country – thanks to the selfless efforts of party supporters in exile and in Iran, despite all the obstacles and hardships – proves the failure of the criminal strategy of the Iranian regime to subdue our party and other democratic and progressive organisations.
Our party, and other democratic and patriotic forces of the country, considers it their revolutionary and humane responsibility and duty to continue the effort to shine a light on that grave criminal act until all of its perpetrators are revealed and brought to justice. Efforts have to be fortified to break the silence about the National Catastrophe. Keeping this file open and acting upon the demands of the families of the victims of this horrific disaster undoubtedly has an important role in the current struggle for peace, freedom, democracy and social justice.
The massacre of 1988 and the other killings during the 1980’s are vital historic experiences for all democratic and progressive forces. Firstly, in recognising that a regime willing and ready to commit such a horrendous crime is beyond reform. Claiming that such a regime’s nature could be changed through dialogue and guidance is akin to throwing dust in people’s eyes and helping the survival of the bloody rule of tyranny in our country. Secondly, the executive order of Khomeini to kill the political prisoners proves the fact that the current regime in Iran is “Republican” in name only, and in its structure and undertakings is a deeply despotic and dictatorial regime. Without getting rid of the structural foundation of this regime – that is the Supreme Leadership – one cannot be optimistic about the future of the country or of any development to establish freedom and the will of the people in determining their own destiny.
Everyone now knows, including even some factions of the ruling regime who admit so, that the current disastrous situation in Iran – from poverty, marginalization and unprecedented oppression in the contemporary history of the nation, through the institutionalised and blatant corruption in all branches of power of the Islamic Republic, to the ongoing brutal and bloody suppression of dissidents and popular protests – are all consequence and result of the rule of the Supreme Leadership regime in Iran.
Today, the best commemoration and tribute to the unparalleled and heroic sacrifices of the murdered political prisoners is to step up the joint struggle of all the freedom-loving and progressive forces of the nation to put an end to the rule of tyranny and to establish a democratic regime in its place.
· Salute to all those freedom-fighters and brave children of the nation who were martyred in the National Catastrophe of 1988!
· Long live the glorious memory of the courageous struggles of those silenced heroes of the nation!
· Salute to the parents, spouses, children and families of the martyrs of the National Catastrophe, who have persistently and relentlessly defended the legitimacy of the struggle of their loved ones against the theocratic regime of Iran!
· Shame on the leaders of the theocratic regime and all the perpetrators of the horrific crime that was the National Catastrophe!
The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran
27 August 2018