Three years ago today, thousands of Iranians took to the streets following a three-fold increase in fuel prices. The protests quickly took a turn and targeted the establishment, with slogans such as, ‘down with Khamenei’.

The regime suppressed the protests over less than five days by killing or severely injuring thousands of protestors. Many more were arrested and subjected to torture while Iran was cut off from the outside world due to a total shutdown of the internet.

The international community turned a blind eye to the atrocities, giving the perpetrators leeway to maintain their reign in whatever way possible.

In response to the failure of the international community, a group of civil society organisations, including Justice for Iran, asked six internationally renowned lawyers to establish the Iran Atrocities Tribunal (Aban Tribunal) to investigate the crackdown on the November 2019 protests. On 30th of September 2022, after two years of close examination of evidence submitted by over 250 witnesses, mainly from Iran, the Tribunal’s findings confirmed that the leaders of the Islamic Republic were guilty of crimes against humanity. They ruled that the Islamic Republic government and its affiliated security forces had designed and implemented a plan to commit crimes against humanity, beyond reasonable doubt.

The perpetrators of the violations in November 2019 have not been held accountable for their human rights abuses and are now committing the same atrocities against protestors. Until a strong and united stand is taken, the bloodshed in Iran will continue.

According to the judgement of Aban Tribunal, “the evidence established that the coordinated attacks across Iran were highly likely to have been conducted under a command hierarchy controlled by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, in Tehran and leading systematically down through various governmental and security forces to the local levels.”

It asserts that, “appropriate legal proceedings should be instituted against these individuals, drawing on the conclusions reached here, to determine their accountability and to seek justice for the victims of the crimes against humanity which took place. “

Had those responsible been held accountable by the international community, the current atrocities would not be taking place. Now, a deterrence policy must be adopted to stop the bloodshed in Iran. However, it will not be effective unless high-ranking officials, especially the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, are targeted in order to dismantle the Islamic Republic killing machine.

This policy should consider the following recommendations:

  • Designating Ali Khamenei, his office’s officials, including Seyed Ali Asghar Hejazi and Seyed Vahid Haghanian, and other high-ranking officials who were responsible for crimes against humanity in November 2019, the perpetrators of the current crackdown on protests , as well as other gross violations, as human rights violators. They include but are not limited to Ebrahim Raisi, Ali Shamkhani , as well as the highest commanders of the IRGC, Police Forces, and Basij.
  • Extending human rights sanctions to the immediate families of Ali Khamenei and other high-ranking officials.
  • Sanction Executive Headquarters of Imam Khomeini’s Order (also known as Setad), Mostazafan Foundation and other economic and financial institutions which enable Khamenei and his office to provide for repression, domestically and regionally.
  • Close the offices of representatives of Ali Khamenei, known as Islamic Centres or otherwise, across the globe.
  • Designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as one of the most powerful human right violators and a terrorist organisation.

International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities (ABAN TRIBUNAL), Judgment Summary, 30 September 2022:

International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities (ABAN TRIBUNAL) /Full Judgement: