Written by Shamsi Saadati
Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, Advisor to the Iranian regime’s Judiciary Chief and a former Interior and Justice Minister, has brazenly defended the 1988 massacre of tens of thousands of political prisoners in Iran and vowed to continue hunting down and exterminating members of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
Pour-Mohammadi, who in 1988 sat on the Tehran Death Commission that sent political prisoners to their death, defended that crime against humanity in an interview with the state-run Mosalas magazine on July 25, 2019. Mosalas also posted the video of the interview online.
Pour-Mohammadi’s shocking defense of the 1988 extrajudicial execution of some 30,000 PMOI (MEK) members and supporters in Iranian prisons is a sign of the impunity enjoyed by top perpetrators of that massacre and indicates that the regime plans to continue exterminating PMOI activists in Iran.
In March 2019, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader appointed Ebrahim Raisi, who in 1988 sat alongside Pour-Mohammadi on the Tehran Death Commission, as Chief of the Judiciary.
Survivors, family members of those executed and human rights defenders are at increased risk of harassment and persecution simply for seeking truth and justice about the 1988 massacre, according to international human rights groups.
• More than 30,000 political prisoners were massacred in Iran in the summer of 1988.
• The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by Khomeini.
• The vast majority of the victims were activists of the opposition PMOI (MEK).
• Death Commissions approved all the death sentences.
• Alireza Avaei, a member of the Death Commissions, is today Hassan Rouhani’s Justice Minister.
• The perpetrators of the 1988 massacre have never been brought to justice.
• On August 9, 2016, an audio tape was published for the first time of Khomeini’s former heir acknowledging that that massacre took place and had been ordered at the highest levels.
Excerpts from Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi’s interview with Mosalas magazine – July 25, 2019
The following is an English translation of Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi’s remarks to the weekly magazine Mosalas about the 1988 massacre:
Question: A major accusation against the Islamic Republic, which is usually picked up by foreign news organizations, relates to the issue of the ‘Hypocrites’ (the regime’s derogatory phrase used to describe the People’s Mojahedin, PMOI or MEK) and the manner in which the Islamic Republic dealt with the MEK, the height of which was in 1988. You were in the Foreign Intelligence Department and had a role in this affair. You can explain how you were involved. This stigma has seldom been addressed, to explain what the issue was about, what happened. If you think it is appropriate, please speak about this.
Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi: Look, your enemy is lying. It is making accusations. It is resorting to any evil act. It has no barrier. It is coordinating in detail with your enemies and does not hesitate to carry out any action against you. Imagine we are in the middle of this. Do you expect us to simply announce all our operational plans and those issues that they can use to their advantage and clobber us with every day? So that they sideline and cover up 100 of our logical and correct statements in the media, and expose two of our points which we accept are our weaknesses so that they can present an important point of history using just two or three issues and events, and cast this image in the public mindset? This is certainly not a right thing to do. They are blowing their propaganda horns and concentrating on this story.
When the criminal, traitor enemy (MEK) is carrying out operations as a brigade of the enemy (Iraq), are we really expected to talk about legal debates and civil and humanitarian protections when we are in the middle of a war, and say, ‘this happened here’, ‘that happened there’? When I am in a bunker shooting at the enemy and suddenly someone who is not a soldier comes into my line of fire and is visiting the war scene, it is my duty to shoot him down. When I am bombarding the enemy and a bomb falls in a nearby village while the enemy is next to it, would you ask me why I hit the village?
Question: So the context of this saga was the war that was taking place.
Pour-Mohammadi: What do you mean was there a war? Of course, there was a war.
Question: That’s what I’m saying. Actions were taken in that context.
Pour-Mohammadi: … Can you have an enemy that is worse than that? They destroy your image all around the world. There has not be a single case of such destruction in the past 40 years, other than those in which the MEK have had the leading role. We have not yet settled the score with the MEK. We will discuss these matters after we eliminate them. We are not joking. They need to come and answer for their crimes and treachery. … And now you want me to come forward and answer, in legal terms, why I threw a grenade into the wrong place or acting incorrectly? The MEK are all criminals. They must all be prosecuted in court. Under any law in this world, all of them have killed people and have waged war, and they must all face the capital punishment.
Question: Even those who were in prison [at the time]? Except for those who repented?
Pour-Mohammadi: Look! When you commute a sentence, on a temporary basis, for a criminal terrorist in prison, and then he behaves like he is taking part in the depth of the conspiracy and is cooperating [with the enemy], are you supposed to be dimwitted and simplistic and let him carry out any operation? Who would do that?
Question: Those who were executed were all collaborators?
Pour-Mohammadi: Look. These were the minimum legal protocols that were adhered to. No one doubts this. We were told to accept the word of even those who falsely repented. But when someone is involved in an operation plot, has plotted his escape, is planning to take over Jamaran (Khomeini’s home) the next day, kill the Imam [Khomeini] and his entourage, and take over the state broadcaster and all government centers, and has received an operational plan telling him where to go; are we supposed to be simplistic and say: ‘No, you weren’t on the frontline. You were backup forces. You were spying. You were a mechanic [for their] vehicles.’ Huh? Is that what we were supposed to say? Whoever is in the enemy lines is the enemy. What are we supposed to do to the enemy? We are supposed to fight the enemy. We have not yet eliminated them. Now’s not the time for such talk. Now’s the time to root them out. Today as well, the MEK are the most treacherous enemy of this nation. They need to come and answer and stand trial. We have to deal with each and every one of them. Now unfortunately due to the psychological atmosphere that exists or the ignorance and stupidity of some people, are we supposed to be the ones who have to answer? These criminals are the ones who must come and answer. What’s all this talk in the country?! Some people keep saying ‘sir what about history’s record?’ This is history’s record. This is what should be recorded in history. Look, the issue ought to be fully transparent and clear.
… I think the issue of the MEK is clear. We have no ambiguity about the MEK. We are at a time of war. Now is not the time for talk. Now is the time to fight them, now is the time to subdue them. Now is the time to conduct prosecutions. It is time to put the criminal world that defends terrorism in its place. Now is not the time to give legal answers and say for example, ‘this judge acted well’, ‘this judge acted poorly’ or to ask whether this file was closed properly. Yes, perhaps the Judiciary might have many weaknesses, and it might make a mistake now and then. Are we supposed to defend our mistakes? But, the issue is not about a mistake having been made. This whole issue is immaterial and does not merit attention. But, I think once, God willing, we get rid of the MEK, then these matters will become more clear with greater detail.