• This article has been updated on September 12, 2016 to reflect the correct number of original signatories.

In a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, more than one hundred Iranians living outside Iran, including several prominent civil, academic, and human rights figures, have asked for the recognition of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s prison massacre of 1988 as a crime against humanity.

According to the authors of this letter, “the legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction regarding Iran would be a referral by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter but political interests of the members with veto power prevent the realization of this option.”

“We, the undersigned, consider the 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners to be a clear case of Crime against Humanity. We urge international human rights organizations and the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic hostility to the civil and political rights of its citizens,” states the letter.

The letter emerged a few weeks after an audio recording of a 1988 meeting between Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri, then heir apparent to Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Khomeini, and a group of high-level state officials and clerics who orchestrated the mass executions and later became known as the “Death Committee,” was published.

In this meeting, the late Ayatollah Montazeri called the group’s decision to issue death sentences for prisoners who were already serving prison terms issued by the Iranian Judiciary “the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic – a crime that will condemn us all in history.”

Following publication of this audio file, some officials and even Mostafa Pourmohammadi, one of the individuals present at the meeting who is now Iran’s Justice Minister in President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, defended the executions.

Some of the signatories of the letter to the Human Rights Council include Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Laureate), Hadi Ghaemi (Human Rights Advocate), Mehrangiz Kar (Human Rights Lawyer and Author), Esfandiar Monfaredzadeh (Composer), Nasser Pakdaman (Writer), Nayereh Tohidi (Professor) and Mohsen Yalfani (Writer). Below is the complete text of the letter and the full list of signatories.

Below is the complete text of the letter and a list of signatories.


The Islamic Republic of Iran, in its 37-year history, has executed more than 15,000 political prisoners. In 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini, the country’s Supreme Leader at the time, ordered mass execution of political prisoners. According to Amnesty International, at least 4,482 young men and women disappeared during a two-month period in 1988. Many of the executed prisoners had already served their sentences. The bodies of the victims were buried in unmarked graves and their families were never informed of their whereabouts. In 2012, a people’s tribunal, presided over by respected international judges, investigated these crimes and found Iran’s leaders guilty of crime against humanity.

Iran’s clerical leaders remained silent about the massacre for nearly thirty years. Now, an audiotape of a meeting on August 15, 1988, reveals that Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, then designated successor to Khomeini, addresses the clerics who carried out the executions and says: “let me be frank with you. You have committed the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic – a crime that will condemn us all in history.” Montazeri’s words led Ayatollah Khomeini to dismiss him as his heir apparent and pave the way for emergence of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as his successor. Montazeri died in 2009 and his son, Ahmad, posted the thirty-year old audiotape on his website on August 9, 2016.

Montazeri’s description of the massacre compelled Iran’s clerical authorities, including the chief of Judiciary Sadegh Larijani, to admit and defend the executions. The audiotape also reveals the names of the clerics who carried out the criminal acts. They include Mostafa Pourmohammadi, then deputy intelligence minister and now minister of justice in President Rouhani’s cabinet;

Hussein Ali Nayeri, then the religious judge at Evin Prison and now a high court judge; and Ebrahim Raeesi, then deputy prosecutor of Tehran and now head of Astan Quds Razavi – one of the largest Shiite shrine-based religious institutions in Iran.

As we approach the 30th anniversary of the massacre, the families of the victims are still waiting for justice. Every year while they gather to demand the truth from the government, they are harassed and violently dispersed by security forces. This is an example of the behavior that impels Iran’s theocratic dictatorship to reject the legitimacy of both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Other reasons for Iran’s refusal to join the ICC have to do with penalties provided in Iran’s criminal law, including whipping, stoning, cutting off of body parts and mistreatment of minorities. While they see no problem in Muslims committing mass murder against other Muslims, Iran’s theocrats maintain
that Non-Muslim judges cannot judge Muslims.

In 2009, following the suppression of a popular movement against the rigged presidential election, more than 200 Iranian lawyers and human rights activists appealed to the ICC prosecutor to investigate the violence committed by Iran’s security forces. Those who took this initiative knew that the ICC is procedurally barred from responding to their request. They simply wanted to inform the international community about the Iranian government’s relentless violence against the civil society. Canada is the only country that condemns Iran’s 1988 massacre of political prisoners as crime against humanity. The legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction regarding Iran would be a referral by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter but political interests of the members with veto power prevent the realization of this option.

We, the undersigned, consider the 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners to be a clear case of Crime against Humanity. We urge international human rights organizations and the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic hostility to the civil and political rights of its citizens.


1 Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh – Founder & Director, Zanan TV & NGO Training, USA
2 Shahla Abghari, Director of Microbiology Laboratories at Life University, USA
3 Siavash Abghari, Professor of Finance Morehouse College, USA
4 Reza Afshari – Professor of History at Pace University, USA
5 Maryam Ahari – Human Rights Activist, USA
6 Khosrow Akbari, Astrophysicist, Canada
7 Kazem Alamdari – Department of Sociology, California State University, Northridge, USA
8 Reza Alavi – Author and political analyst, USA
9 Bahman Amini – Human Rights Activist, France
10 Homeira Amini – Human Rights Activist, USA
11 Mehdi Amini – Human Rights Activist, USA
12 Mohammad Anousheh – Political Activist, USA
13 Shahin Anzali – Political Activist, Austria
14 Ali Arab – Associate Professor of Statistics at Georgetown University and a member of the 2016 Board of Directors of Amnesty International, USA
15 Houshang Ardavan, PhD, Emeritus staff, Institute of Astronomy and Emeritus Fellow, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
16 Farid Ashkan – Human Rights Activist, USA
17 Djamshid Assadi – Ph.D. Iran: Market & Democracy, France
18 Rose Samii Atwood – CEO Unique It Jobs, Inc., USA
19 Faramarz Bahar – Human Rights Activist, France
20 Reza Badii, Political Active, USA
21 Panetea Bahrami – Filmmaker and Journalist, USA
22 Soheila Vahdati Bana – Human Rights Activist, USA
23 Khosro Bandari – Human Rights Activist, USA
24 Mehran Barati, Ph. D. – Analyst of future political trends, Germany
25 Behrouz Bayat, Former consultant at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Austria
26 Mohammad Behboudi – Human Rights Activist, USA
27 Sohrab Behdad – Professor of Economics, Denison University, USA
28 Farhad Bokaee – Survivor of 1988 massacre/High School Teacher, Canada
29 Hormoz Chamanara – Political Activist, USA
30 Elahe Chokraie – Nurse, Canada
31 Bahram Choubineh – Sociologist and Historian specializing in the social, political and Religion history of Iran, Germany
32 Mehrdad Darvishpour – Senior Lecturer at Mälardalen University, Sweden
33 Parviz Dastmalchi – Human Rights Activist, Germany
34 Siavash Dehghan, Political Activist, USA
35 Mehdi Djamshidi –
36 Shirin Ebadi – Nobel Laureate for Peace and Human Rights Defense Lawyer
37 Bijan Eftekhari – Political Activist, Austria
38 Mansour Farhang – Retired Professor of International Relations and advisory board member of Human Right Watch/Middle East and North Africa, USA
39 Soheyla Farhang, Lawyer, Forner UN professional, USA
40 Nehzat Farhoody – Ph. D., USA
41 Abass Ali Fattah, Political Activist, Austria
42 Firuzeh Fouladi, Human Rights Activist, USA
43 Hadi Ghaemi, human rights advocate, USA
44 Kambiz Ghaemmagham, political activist, USA
45 Mohsen Ghaemmagham , Physician and Human rights Activist, USA
46 Shahram Ghanbari, Socilologist, U. S. A.
47 Reza Ghorashi, Professore at stockton University, USA
48 Roberto Godoy – Architect, Canada
49 Dr. Jaleh Lackner- Gohari, Former Medical Officer& Coordinator (IAEA & other UN-Agencies) Austria
50 Reza Goharzad – Journalist, USA
51 Azam Gorgin, Human Rights Supporter, USA
52 Ahmad Karimi Hakkak, Professor of Liteture, University of Maryland, USA
53 Hamid Hamidi – Human Rights Activist, USA
54 Nader Hashemi – University of Denver, USA
55 Abbas Hazheer, Poet and Composer, Sweden
56 Ata Hoodashtian – Associate Professor of Political Science, Swiss UMEF University, Switzerland
57 Mahmood Jaafari – Political activist, Netherlands
58 Mehri Jafari – Attorney at Law, LPC at University of Westminister, United Kingdom
59 Farhang Jahanpour – former professor, University of Isfahan, and tutor in the Middle East Studies, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
60 Eliosat Jamshidi, Nurse & Human Rights Activist, Sweden
61 Jahanshah Javid – Publisher iroon.com, USA
62 Arsalan Kahnemuyipour – Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Toronto, Canada
63 Abdee Kalantari – Political Activist and Author, USA
64 Sadegh Kamali – Political Activist, USA
65 Mehrangiz Kar – Human Rights lawyer and Author, USA
66 Kazem Kardavani, Sociologist, retired professor and former executive director of Iran’s Executive director of Iran’s Writer Association, Germany
67 Nasim Khaksar, writer, Holland
68 Farideh Kioumehr, DVM,MPH,Dr.PH, 1st Recipient, Peace Award from APHA Founder
69 Hamid Kowsari – Political Activist, USA
70 Alan Kushan –
71 Mazdak Limakeshi, Political Activist, Sweden
72 Ali Limonadi – Television host and author, USA
73 Ahmad Machouf – Pediatrician, Canada
74 Elahe Machouf – Human Rights Activist, Canada
75 Anousheh Machouf – Psychologist, Canada
76 Nima Machouf – Epidemiologist, Canada
77 Ali Akbar Mahdi – PH. D. Department of Sociology, Calif. State University, Northridge, USA
78 Abbas Milani – Stanford University, USA
79 Ali Mirsepassi – Professor of Sociology, New York University, USA
80 Shokooh Mirzadegi – Writer, Journalist and Human rights activist, USA
81 Mehran Mirfakhrai – Political Activist, Italy
82 Maryam Moghadam, Human Rights Activist, Canada
83 Aziz Monajami
84 Mansoor Moaddel – University of Michigan, USA
85 Behrooz Moazami, Loyola University New Orleans, U. S. A.
86 Haideh Moghissi, PhD – Professor emerita and senior scholar Equity Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada
87 Fariba Davoodi Mohajer – Human Rights Activist/Journalist, USA
88 Majid Mohammadi – Iran Analyst and TV Host, Former Associate Professor of Sociology, USA
89 Shahram Mojab
90 Shahrzad Mojab, PH. D., Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada
91 Parviz Mokhtari – Human Rights Activist, Germany
92 Esfandiar Monfaredzadeh – Composer, USA
93 Ali Nadimi, Political Activist, Austria
94 Davoud Navaian, Human Rights Activist & Teacher, Sweden
95 Nicky Nodjoumi , Artist, USA
96 Farhad Nomani, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Economics, The American University of Paris, France
97 Shawn Nowakhtar, CPA, USA
98 Nasser Pakdaman, Writer, France
99 Koroush Parsa – Political Activist, USA
100 Misagh Parsa – Dartmouth College, USA
101 Mahshid Pegahi – Women’s Rights Activist, Germany
102 Bijan Pirzadeh, Human Rights Activist, USA
103 Ahmad Purmandi – Political Activist, Germany
104 Ali Rabodi, Writer, USA
105 Fariba Rad – Human Rights Activist, USA
106 Azam Niroomand-Rad, Prof. Emeritus, Radiation Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, USA
107 Saeed Rahnema, PhD, Retired Professor,York University, Canada
108 Fatemeh Rezaie – Human Rights Activist, Germany
109 Taraneh Roosta – Women’s Righs Activist, USA
110 Banoo Saberi – Wife of a political prisoners executed in 1988, USA
111 Reza Saffari – Human Rights Activist, Canada
112 Fatemeh Sanifar, Human Rights Activist
113 Kourosh Sehati – Human Rights Activist, USA
114 Soli Shahvar, PH. D. Director, The Ezri Center for Iran @Persian Gulf Studies, The University of Haifa, Israel
115 Hassan Shariatmadari – Political Activist and Author, Germany
116 Abbas Shirazi , Political Actvist, Germany
117 Behrouz Sotoodeh – Political Activist, USA
118 Raheleh Tarani – Political Activist, Canada
119 Ali Tayefi, Research Institute of Social Issues, Research and Education, Faculty Member, Sweden
120 Mehdi Khanbaba Tehrani- Political Activist, Germany
121 Nayereh Tohidi – Professor at California State University, Northridge, USA
122 Mehrdad Vahabi, University of Paris, France
123 Mohsen Yalfani, Writer, France
124 Reza Fani Yazdi – Former Political Prisoner, Political Analyst, CIO of CPUC, USA
125 Hamid Zangeneh, Professor of Economics, Widener University, USA