The Iran Tribunal: The bereaved and victims speak

This Monday (18th June 2012) at the Amnesty Human Rights Centre in London, Archbishop Tutu will open the first phase of the Iran Tribunal Hearings

For over two years we have been working with a group of International lawyers and jurists, hand in hand with the bereaved and surviving victims of murder and torture in Iran to bring about a series of public hearings where their voices can be heard and evidence can be presented as to the atrocities which happened in the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980’s.

The hearings will be in the style of the Bertrand Russell tribunals!aims.htm   of decades earlier which heard harrowing evidence concerning the Vietnam conflict.

On Monday, Commissioners from around the World will begin to hear the oral testimony of over 80 witnesses, some of whom have travelled hundreds of miles to be able to be heard for the first time. After that, the hearings will move to the Hague, where further evidence will be presented by advocates on behalf of the bereaved and victims of this cruel period.

The evidence which both tribunals will hear will involve eye witness accounts of torture and summary execution of thousands of political prisoners throughout Iran. The victims included prisoners who had served their sentences but refused to recant their political beliefs and the developing massacre all but completely eliminated any remaining political opposition to the regime of the then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.

I have read the sworn evidence of many of the witnesses who will be heard over the next five days in London. Indeed, I have spoken to young people who tell of their mother or father being executed or of prisoners compelled to put the final bullet into the head of an executed person.

One member of our Steering Committee was a victim of torture in prison and tells of being led from his cell on a number of occasions, having been told he was to be executed, only to discover that it was a mock execution.

The Iranian government has never identified those who were secretly executed and tortured and has never issued an official explanation for why political prisoners of different beliefs, many of whom who had been in prison for years were suddenly and summarily killed.

To a significant degree, these important hearings are also as a result of the utter ineffectiveness of the United Nations to accept and deal with what happened in Iran back in the 1980’s. Despite the bereaved and victims of torture petitioning and virtually begging the UN to show a lead on this, political alignments in that organisation have crippled it from taking any lead on this matter.

So it is that on Monday, we begin to hear the voices of 80 very brave people.

They deserve the respect and the ear of the World.