Open Letter of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN)

Dear Mr. Guterre

According to the spokesperson of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as reports published by the news agencies around the world; Ebrahim Raisi, the current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is scheduled to address the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. The attendance at the UN General Assembly of a person who – based on the selected points outlined below – is directly involved in the killing of thousands of political prisoners in Iran, would constitute, for the overwhelming majority of Iran’s progressive and freedom-seeking forces, a clear example of disregard for the UN’s foundational Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as [the continuing] silence regarding [the theocratic regime’s] “crimes against humanity”. To bring further clarification to the matter, we draw your attention to the following points:

  1. According to reports published by world-renowned human rights organisations, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur [on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran]; thousands of political prisoners were massacred in Iran at Khomeini’s behest in the summer of 1988. According to the released documents, as well as interviews of several current leaders of the Islamist government in Iran; under Khomeini’s order, a commission [which came to be known as the “death commission”] composed of Hossein Ali Nayyeri (then Sharia judge; current head of the Disciplinary Court for Judges), Morteza Eshraghi (then Tehran Prosecutor; current Senior Attorney at Law), Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi (then Tehran Deputy Prosecutor; current President of Iran), and Mostafa Pourmohammadi (then representative of the Ministry of Intelligence; current senior advisor to the head of the judiciary) got to work to enforce Khomeini’s decree to massacre political prisoners in Iranian prisons.
  2. High-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran not only omit to deny carrying out this massacre of those originally sentenced to imprisonment in the Islamic Republic’s courts for political activism against the government, but the overwhelming majority of them have defended the massacre – deeming it as having been necessary to safeguard the system.
  3. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was Khomeini’s designated official successor at the time, after learning of the situation in Iran’s prisons wrote to Khomeini: “Do you know that crimes are being committed in the prisons of the Islamic Republic in the name of Islam, the likes of which were never seen under the despised Shah’s regime?! Do you know that a large number of prisoners have been killed by their interrogators under torture?! Do you know that in the prison of [the city of] Mashhad, about 25 girls were forced to have their ovaries or uteruses removed because of what they had been through?!Do you know that in several of the prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran, young girls are forcefully raped?”
  4. On Tuesday August 9, 2016, seven years after the death of Ayatollah Montazeri, his website published an audio file of his statements in August 1988 in which he had unequivocally criticised the mass execution of political prisoners. This audio file included Mr. Montazeri’s conversations on August 15, 1988, with the members of the aforementioned “death commission” that included Hossein Ali Nayyeri, Morteza Eshraghi, Ebrahim Raisi, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi. In this conversation, Mr. Montazeri warned them of the judgment of history on these executions and that their actions were in fact contrary to Sharia law, stating that: “The biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which the history will condemn us, has been committed at your hands, and they’ll write your names as criminals in the history!”
  5. 34 years on from the killing of thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, it is still not clear to the survivors of the “National Catastrophe” [as it is widely referred to in Iran] what happened to the bodies of their loved ones. Human rights activists say that many of those who were executed in various cities of Iran – including Tehran, Ahvaz, and Rasht – were buried in mass graves. At the time when these crimes were being committed, our Party published shocking photographs of the mass graves of these massacred prisoners, some of which are attached to this letter as appendices.
  6. As you are aware, one of the agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the mass executions of political prisoners in Iran (by the name of Hamid Nouri) was recently tried in a Swedish court and sentenced to life imprisonment. The prosecutor [in this case] labelled the killing of political prisoners – many of whom had already been tried, sentenced, and imprisoned in Iran – as murder and Hamid Nouri was convicted accordingly, as well as being found guilty of war crimes. At the end of his remarks, the prosecutor declared the Islamic Republic of Iran as having violated the human rights of Iranian citizens and prisoners during the period 1980-1989, and placed the full criminal responsibility for these executions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  7. The Secretary-General of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, has called for Ebrahim Raisi (current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran) to be investigated and prosecuted for his actions, which she described as “crimes against humanity”. Ms. Callamard stated: “The fact that Ebrahim Raisi has become the President, rather than being subjected to criminal investigations for crimes against humanity, including murder, enforced disappearances of individuals, and torture, is a dreadful manifestation of the absolute domination of immunity in Iran.” Aside from Ebrahim Raisi, the other individuals in the aforementioned “death commission” currently have high-ranking and official positions in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  8. On November 21, 2020, Amnesty International issued a statement on behalf of a group of UN human rights experts warning the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran that, “the country’s previous and continued human rights violations regarding the case of the killing of prisoners in the summer of 1988 could constitute a crime against humanity,” and that if these violations continued, they would call for an international investigation.
  9. On April 21, 2021, more than 150 former UN officials and renowned human rights and international law experts, as well as 24 international NGOs, sent an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, requesting the formation of an international commission of inquiry into the killing of thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988. The signatories to that open letter included Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and former High Commissioner to the UN; a former Deputy Secretary-General of the UN; 28 former UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights; as well as the heads of previous UN investigative commissions on human rights violations.
  10. During the tragedy of the massacre of Iranian political prisoners, hundreds of members of the leadership, cadres, members, and sympathisers of the Tudeh Party of Iran – all of whom had previously been tried in the Islamic Republic’s courts and sentenced to long prison terms for their political activities and membership of the Party – were put before Khomeini’s “death commission” and asked questions such as: “Do you repent?” or “Will you convert to Islam?” If they answered no, they were dispatched for immediate execution. A number of them were aged 70 and over. A group of the most prominent thinkers, writers, translators, trade unionists, labour activists, as well as brave military officers who had defended the country [during the initial years of the Iran-Iraq War], were among those executed.

The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran, Iran’s oldest political organisation – which has been campaigning for democratic rights and freedoms, peace, sovereignty, and social justice in Iran for more than 80 years now – considers the attendance of a criminal such as Ebrahim Raisi to address the 77th session of the UN General Assembly to be a flagrant insult to the Universal Charter of Human Rights as well as an unfortunate display of disregard by the UN towards the protecting and upholding of its own principal charters. The Tudeh Party of Iran therefore urgently calls upon the UN to cancel its invitation to Ebrahim Raisi.

Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran 

 5 September 2022


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