Green Movement Leader's Questionable Silence About 1980s Mass Execution of Prisoners
August 23, 2020
Iran -- Combo picture of several victims of Iran's mass executions on 1988.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011 as one of the leaders of Iran's proreform Green Movement was Iran's Prime Minister between 1981 and 1989.
One can still remember young men and women protesters who were executed in Iran during the 1980s without even establishing their identity. Their pictures appeared in newspapers on the day after the execution so that their families could identify them and take delivery of the corpses for burial.
It might sound unbelievable that thousands were blindly executed, or if they were lucky enough their belongings were confiscated before they were fired from their workplace or school. Others received lashes for listening to music or playing chess.
The years 1981-1989 when Mousavi was the Prime Minister mark one of the darkest periods in man's history as far as violation of human rights is concerned. Documents released by the UNand human rights watchdog show that Mousavi and the offices he controlled ignored the international community and human rights organizations in the same waythat the Islamic Republic does today. Not only individuals and offices working under Mousavi as Prime Minister did not protest what was going on, but they did their best to conceal the violation of human rights in Iran.
In a 2010 interview, Mousavi described the execution of political prisoners in Iran in 1988 as "criminal" and "ugly." This showed a change in his behavior. But what causes sensitivity among his critics is that he does not acknowledge his administration's responsibility for covering up the violation of human rights and for whitewashing the behavior of Islamic Republic officials, particularly Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeyni who ordered the massacre in Iranian prisons.
Mousavi said: "Neither I, nor anyone else among the heads of the branches of government at that time knew about the executions. At a meeting I had with them at the time, none of them approved of such an act. I remember that Mr. Khamenei said at the same meeting that this event will tarnish the face of the regime as if you have poured tar on it."
This comes while Khamenei had said in an interview with Resalat daily in 1988 that political prisoners "deserved" execution. He defended the murders. Meanwhile, then Majles Speaker Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Judiciary Chief Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardabili also defended the executions in January 1989. At the same time, Prosecutor General Mohammad Mousavi Khoiniha said "We are not afraid of the rising number of executions."
In the 2010 interview, in an attempt to clear Khomeyni of the charges, Mousavi said in an unbelievable statement that Khomeyni had notordered the mass execution. He said: "They used Imam Khomeyni's name as an excuse. One of the gentlemen in the board that issued the death sentences believedthat oppositionists should be eliminated. Such individuals joined hands with the man in charge ofthe Evin Prison and started a series of executions that did not serve the regime's interests and were stopped as soon as the officials found out about them."
This contradicts the decree issued by Khomeyni which stated "As the hypocrites do not believe in Islam, those prisoners who insist on their hypocrisy are fighting Allah and should be sentenced to death."
Asked if the decree was about those already sentenced to death or about other prisoners who insist on their position, Khomeyni said: "In all cases anyone insisting on his or her hypocrisy should be executed quickly."
Documents and survivors' reports indicate that the executions started in the summer of 1988 and continued until the next winter and at least 5,000 members or sympathizers of Mojahedin-e Khalq organization, leftist prisoners and members of other parties were killed.
According to former President Rafsanjani, at a September 1998 meeting attended by Mousavi among other officials, which took place after executing some 4,000 prisoners, it was said that Khomeyni had delegated decision making about further executions to those present at that meeting. This shows that not only Mousavi, but all other top officials of the regime knew about the executions.
Speaking about that meeting, Mousavi has said: "At that time, I was committed to defend the totality of the regime as its Prime Minister."He also said in many other occasions that he has kept silent about the massacre.
Keeping silent and not showing interest in speaking about the victims of what Mousavi himself described as crime, as well as fabricating history and undermining Khomeyni's role and the responsibility of other state officials does not relieve Mousavi of his responsibility as the country's Prime Minister. Meanwhile, his mild criticism of his former colleagues is nothing more than nagging. The first conditions indicative of a protest is acknowledging responsibility and trying to make up for the past.
The opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the views of Radio Farda.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty © 2021 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.