Freedom-loving Iranians and supporters of Iranian Resistance in Canada staged a demonstration in front of Canadian Parliament in Ottawa on 31 August 2017 to commemorate the 30,000 political prisoners massacred in the summer of 1988 in Iran and the martyrs of epic of Ashraf on September 1. They also condemned the high number of executions in Iran and expressed solidarity with Iranian political prisoners and called for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.
The demonstrators called on the Canadian government to take all appropriate measures for an independent inquiry into the 1988 mass executions of political prisoners in Iran in order to bring the perpetrators of this crime before International Courts to face justice. They urged the government to act through the U.N. General Assembly, Human Rights Council, and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran to establish an independent committee to collect all the documents related to this crime against humanity, along with the names of the victims and the perpetrators of the crime for the purpose of justice.
During the gathering, Shahram Golestaneh of Iran Democratic Association read out a message by honourable Deepak Obhrai, Member of Canadian Parliament. The message reads in part:
“I am glad to issue a statement on the occasion of this day of solidarity with the victims of the 1988 massacre and with political prisoners in Iran. I regret that I am unable to be with you all at this important commemoration event due to commitments in my Riding in Alberta. Nevertheless, I am happy to add my voice to your call for freedom and human rights in Iran.”
“During my long tenure as Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Human Rights, I have closely monitored the evolution of the situation of human rights in Iran, both before and after the election of President Rouhani. On many occasions, I refused to meet with the Iranian delegation at meetings.”
“Canada’s Parliament was the first in the world to recognize the 1988 massacre as a crime against humanity, in a unanimous motion in 2013. Furthermore, we have also established September 1st of every year as the day of solidarity with Iranian political prisoners.”
“Today, I urge our government to continue on the path of strong global leadership on human rights. I ask the government to fulfill the unanimous wish of Parliament and urge the UN to launch an independent commission of inquiry into the massacre of political prisoners in 1988 and to other human rights violations in Iran.”
Irwin Cotler , Canada’s former Minister of Justice, was the next speaker. He said: “I called this year as one of the historic moments of remembrance and reminder of bearing witness and of taking action because we meet on the 29th anniversary of the mass murder of 30,000 Iranian dissidents.”
“In respect to which, the Canadian parliament passed a resolution, which I co-sponsored at the time, to set aside September 1st as a day remembrance and action with respect to political prisoners in Iran.”
“So, I close with some recommendations for action that should be taken immediately by the Canadian government in concert with the Canadian people. The first thing is, noting this resolution, there is no statute of limitation for crimes against humanity. Canada in concert with the international community should move to establish an international tribunal such as the ones set up in Rwanda or former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice and to end the culture of impunity that prevails to this day.
“We call on the Iranian regime to cease its wanton executions and free all political prisoners. When I speak about political prisoners I speak about the prisoners who can themselves end up of being the victims of executions. “
Then, the former Canadian MP Raymonde Folco, while thanking the Iranian communities for participating in the demonstration, said that now Iranians from all over Canada are involved in the justice campaign and added:
“In this regard, we ask our government to continue its mission of asking the United Nations for independent investigations. The Canadian government should have a leading role in the United Nations and press its representatives in the UN Assembly to end the impunity of those who killed 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 in Iran. Also, steps should be taken with the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran to support the immediate establishment of an independent committee to investigate the 1988 massacre. The Iranian government should be held accountable and those responsible should be tried in fair international tribunals.”
The next speaker, Hon. David Kilgour, Co-chair of Canadian Friends of Free Iran, said: “The appalling human rights situation in Iran appears to continue in part because the officials responsible for gross human rights breaches have not been held accountable. This is despite the reality that the regime’s human rights record has been condemned at the U.N. General Assembly every year since 1980.”
“In 1988, more than 30,000 political prisoners were massacred during a few months, following a written decree by Iran’s then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. A ‘Death Committee’ whose members were appointed by Khomeini approved all the death sentences after trials that in some cases lasted only a few moments. The perpetrators of these despicable crimes today hold key positions in the current government, including ministers, and enjoying full impunity.”
“The founding instruments of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and various U.N. resolutions require that crimes against humanity be investigated wherever they occur. Canada’s government should act through its representatives at the U.N. to advocate the formation without delay of an independent committee to investigate the 1988 massacre. The committee should, among other things, collect all documents related to this crime, along with the names of the victims and perpetrators for the purpose of achieving justice for all.”
Next, Fred Litwin, human rights activist and founder of Free-Thinking Film Society, said in his short speech: “I tell you that there is something much worse than the Iranian regime, and that is the silence of the West. The western world is silent. It was silent in 1988, it is silent now and it is a deafening silence. This is a bigger crime than the brutal torture that is taking place in prisons throughout Iran. Let’s be clear. We must stand for freedom and democracy, and this regime should be deposited as soon as possible in the history’s dustbin.”
The gathering concluded by laying flowers and paying tribute to the 52 martyrs of the epic of Ashraf who were massacred on September 1st 2013 in Ashraf by agents of Iranian regime in Iraq.