On the 32nd anniversary of mass political executions of 1988 in the Islamic Republic of Iran, supporters of an exiled dissident group held a ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, September 4.
"Today's exhibit of pictures of 120,000 fallen for freedom in Iran manifests the Iranian people's resolve for freedom while urging the international community to apply maximum pressure on the regime, including referral of its human rights record to the U.N. Security Council," Ramesh Sepehrrad, an advisory board member for the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), told the Washington Examiner.
The OIAC, which organized the event, is based in the United States and is linked to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political arm of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization, MEK.
Several members of the U.S. Congress attended the event via virtual and video conferencing, including Republican Reps. John Katko of New York and Debbie Lesko of Arizona and Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Angie Craig of Minnesota, and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.
According to the report, as part of the ceremony, Rep.Krishnamoorthi condemned the killings and repression in Iran, and said that those working to support the improvement of the human rights situation in Iran should not "turn a blind eye to the 1988 killings."
Rep. Cohen joined voices with his colleague, asserting, "What went on in 1988 must be remembered. What's going on in Iran is still horrific. The actions of the government have been repression against people's rights. It's more important than ever to remember the victims of the 1988 massacre. We must have a free Iran."
In a video message, Rep. Katko described the Islamic Republic government's aim in launching a terror campaign inside and outside Iran as "silencing" those who "work for democratic reform."
Rep. Lesko said that she, along with her congressional colleagues, has supported efforts to establish a "nuclear-free Iran,” and that Iran should focus on establishing a government that "does not persecute its citizens with terrorist attacks."
In his statement the former State Department Special Envoy Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield said that the 1988 executions were," one of the greatest crimes against humanity, in the world since World War Two."
In another video message, the head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi, accused the Iranian government of "crime, terrorism and religious fascism,” calling on the international community to apply maximum pressure and prosecute Iran's human rights violations at the U.N. Security Council.
On August 29, some of the families of those killed in the mass executions of 1988 gathered at Khavaran Cemetery in Tehran to commemorate their loved ones, whose exact burial place is still not clear.
The Islamic Republic has been highly secretive about the massacre to this day, and as a result, no exact data exists on the number of inmates executed behind bars while serving their prison terms.
Most of the victims, said to be more than 5,000, belonged to the MKO and Marxist groups, including Fadaeyan-i Khalq.
These executions were directly ordered by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, and carried out by a notorious delegation known as the "Death Committee," consisting of the then-Tehran Prosecutor Morteza Eshraqi and three mid-ranking clergies: the representative of the Ministry of Intelligence in Evin prison, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi; Shari'a Prosecutor, Hossein Ali Nayyeri; and the Deputy Prosecutor-General, Ebrahim Raeisi.
Pour-Mohammadi later served as the Minister of Justice in President Hassan Rouhani's first cabinet, while Raeisi was appointed as the Islamic Republic judiciary head.
Several officials in the Islamic Republic have blamed the execution of several thousand political prisoners in 1988 on the Mojahedin Khalq Organization's "Forough Javidan" military operation carried out against the clergy-dominated country at the end of the devastating Iran-Iraq war between 1980-88.
Nevertheless, reports and documents indicate the fact that the firing squads indiscriminately shot political prisoners from all political spectrums.
Thirty-two years after the massacre in 1988, Islamic Republic officials still refuse to inform the families of those killed about the fate and burial place of their loved ones' bodies.
Furthermore, many victims' relatives have been systematically threatened and harassed by the Islamic Republic intelligence and security forces during the past decades.
"This is one of the worst crimes against humanity since World War II," Lincoln Bloomfield, a national security official in the administrations of former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said in his speech on Friday.