To spotlight the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur’s conference room paper for the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which addresses the atrocity crimes of the 1980s in Iran, and to discuss how the international community can break the vicious cycle of the decades-long impunity crisis as a root cause of the current situation, Justice for Iran invites you to our side event, “Iran’s decades of impunity: from the 80’s to Jina Mahsa Amini”, in Geneva on June 19th. At this event, the Rapporteur will present his findings, followed by contributions from the victims’ community and an expert in international criminal law.

In June 1981, under the pretext of terrorist threats amid the Iran-Iraq war, the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran launched a brutal crackdown on political opposition groups, dissidents, and minority communities. Hundreds of thousands were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, subjected to summary trials, and sentenced to death or imprisonment by Sharia courts within a year. During this period, and also in the summer of 1988, thousands were extrajudicially executed or forcibly disappeared, often buried in unmarked, clandestine, or mass graves.

Among detainees were thousands of children and young women who endured gender-based crimes such as rape,  sexual assault, and forced marriage while compelled to adhere to mandatory hijab and strict gender segregation. In some prisons, following a Sharia fatwa, virgin girls were raped before execution under the guise of marriage, and after the execution, the guards brought flowers and sweets to their families.

Babies, toddlers, and young children detained with their mothers suffered deprivation of food, basic sanitation, and witnessed their mothers being tortured. Children left at home faced stigma at school, social isolation, and trauma due to the execution or enforced disappearances of their parents.

The lack of accountability measures by the international community emboldened Iranian authorities to persist in violating human rights, fostering a deeply entrenched culture of impunity and leaving lasting scars on survivors and victims’ families. The striking similarity in the patterns of human rights violations up to now demonstrate that the current human rights crisis in Iran is rooted in the 1980s atrocities. Experts further argue that without addressing these root causes and wounds through accountability and justice, democracy and human rights in Iran will remain unattainable.

In an unprecedented investigative research, presented as an addendum report to the 56th  session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran provides key insights on the 80’s atrocity crimes of the ‘Bloody Decade,’ perpetrated between 1981–1982 and in 1988.

Against this backdrop, Justice for Iran organises the side event ‘Iran’s decades of impunity: from the 80’s to Jina Mahsa Amini’ to explore how the UN and other international actors can address long-standing impunity in Iran, and further support victims, including women and children, and the broader Iranian society.

The event will commence with a keynote speech by the Special Rapporteur, who will highlight the significant findings of his report. Following this, survivors and victims’ relatives will share their experiences, particularly concerning gender and age-related issues, through an interactive conversation. International criminal lawyer, Regina Paulose, will then discuss available avenues for justice for victims internationally. The event will conclude with a Q&A segment.

Join us for the event on June 19, 2024, from 16:00 to 17:00 Geneva time. For those who wish to attend in person, the event will be held in Room XXV at the UN Headquarter. Additionally, the event will be broadcast live on Justice for Iran’s YouTube channel at this link.

 

Panel:

Key Speaker: Professor Javaid Rehman, The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

Panellists:

  1. Tuba Kamangar, formal political prisoner and survivor

In June 1981, at the age of 17 and while pregnant, she was arrested for being a supporter of a Kurdish political organization. She gave birth to her baby alone, without any treatment facilities, in a solitary cell. She fainted and, after three days of profuse bleeding, her sister was arrested and brought to her cell to care for her and her baby. During her detention, she was repeatedly threatened with rape. After her release, she spoke with the families of several executed female political prisoners in Sanandaj and Saqqez, who were informed by prison authorities that their daughters had been raped prior to execution.

  1. Nasrin Nekoubakht, former political prisoner and survivor

She was arrested in October 1980 on charges of supporting an opposition political group and was imprisoned in Evin prison until 1983, despite the lack of proof of her support. During an event held in Evin prison for political prisoners, she heard the Revolutionary Prosecutor address the young women prisoners in his speech, saying, “You are our prisoners of war, and do not think that we will allow you to be executed as virgins, going to heaven.

  1. Fatemeh Pishdadian, victims’ child

She is a child survivor of the 1981-1982 massacre of Iranian political prisoners. Born on May 21, 1981, she was arrested as an infant alongside her parents in late 1981 and subjected to torture through starvation. Both of her parents were severely tortured; her father was most likely killed under torture shortly after his arrest, and her mother was executed in early 1982. Her parents’ bodies were not returned; authorities indicated only two spots in the cemetery as their burial sites. For decades, she has been tirelessly seeking truth and justice for her parents.

  1. Regina Paulose, International Criminal Lawyer, Justice for Iran

She obtained her J.D. from Seattle University School of Law and her LLM in International Crime and Justice from the University of Torino/UNICRI.  She presents and publishes on topics related to international criminal law, transnational crimes, and responses to mass atrocities. She is the editor of the 2019 volume People’s Tribunals, Human Rights, and the Law: Searching for Justice (Routledge) and 2020 volume Green Crimes and International Criminal Law (Vernon Press). Her full publication list can be found here. She was co-counsel to the Aban Tribunal and served as a panel member of the China Tribunal.