The Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC) held a large photo exhibition on Friday, September 4 in Washington, DC on the Iranian regime’s four decades of systematic human rights violations, particularly the 1988 massacre of 30,000 Iranian political prisoners, the November 2019 killing of 1500 protesters, as well as assassination of political dissidents abroad.
Thousands of photos and graphics portrayed the Iranian regime’s atrocities and their victims. Some of the family members of the victims, as well as supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) were present at this exhibition.
Several prominent U.S. politicians attended this event. This event and its panelists, while condemning the regime’s ongoing human rights violations, which has increased and continued due to the international community’s silence over these crimes, called on the world community to immediately intervene and save the life of Navid Afkari, an Iranian wrestling champion who has been sentenced to death. Navid was arrested during the 2018 nationwide Iran protests.
Maryam Rajavi said: “Holding this exhibition is particularly inspiring and effective on the 32nd anniversary of the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988. Nonetheless, it depicts only a small part of the crimes and terrorism committed by the ruling religious fascist regime. One of the most horrific cases committed by the clerical regime was the massacre of political prisoners in 1988”
“In the past 32 years, the Iranian Resistance has persistently called for the masterminds and perpetrators of this great crime against humanity to be held accountable. And now, more than three decades later, the blood of the victims of the 1988 massacre is roaring across Iran and inspiring young people,” said Mrs. Rajavi.
“I have continually called on the international community to condemn the clerical regime and to take urgent action to stop the executions. I urge you to persistently follow up on this to prevent these inhuman verdicts from being carried out against Iran’s young generation,” Mrs. Rajavi reiterated.
While referring to the regime’s terrorism and its connection with the Iranian regime’s domestic oppression, Mrs. Rajavi said: Over the past 40 years, in addition to suppression, the mullahs have been targeting the PMOI/MEK and the Iranian Resistance every day with their slanders and lies in an extensive and expensive demonization campaign. The flip side of the demonization campaign is the mullahs’ unbridled terrorism, the sharp edge of which is directed against Iranian dissidents, specifically the PMOI/MEK and the Iranian Resistance.”
Among speakers of this event was Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. “Why are we talking about an event that took place 32 years ago? The massacre of the political prisoners of Iran in 1988 was one of the worst crimes in the post-World War II era. The regime lied to the world. But the truth has come out. We know that the people who sent these political prisoners to their death are still in power today. We have the proof and we have those who are culpable,” said Ambassador Bloomfield.
“We are here to make sure the prisoners are remembered. We cannot ignore 1988 anymore. This was one of the largest crimes against humanity. The United States and some of its allies don’t always agree on policies toward Iran. But they don’t disagree on Iran’s human rights violations. The people who sent these political prisoners to their deaths must be held to account. I call upon my government and other governments to act now. They must stop these extrajudicial killings. They have sentenced Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari to death and his brothers to decades in prison for standing in protests. These are brave people, ladies, and gentlemen. Let’s stand with them,” he concluded.
Several prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both political parties addressed the audience. Among them was Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) who said: “What went on in 1988 must be remembered. What’s going on in Iran is still horrific. The actions of the government have been repression against people’s rights. It’s more important than ever to remember the victims of the 1988 massacre. We must have a free Iran.”
“I join you to condemn the 1988 massacre. I join the thousands who raise their voices to call justice for the victims. We both have a history of disavowing the terrorism of the regime against the people of Iran. I will continue to support you,” said Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-Minnesota).
Rep. Debbie Lesko, Republican from Arizona joined her colleagues in condemning the Iranian regime’s ongoing human rights abuses. “My thoughts and prayers are with those who knew people or had relatives killed in the 1988 massacre. I am a co-sponsor of the House resolution that condemns the regime and calls for a non-nuclear Iran. I appreciate what you’re doing and stand with you to support your mission.”
While referring to the Iranian regime’s support and funding of terrorism abroad, Rep. John Katko, Republican from New York, expressed his solidarity with the Iranian people and said: “The Iranian regime has continued its campaign of terror at home and abroad. They regularly target Iranians who call out their rights abuses. The Iranian regime is the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism. It spends $1 billion to fund proxies to spread terrorism. Last year they killed more than a thousand protesters who raised their voices. We stand with you.”
“Together, we need to support the ongoing fight for human rights in Iran and speak the truth of the past, including the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. This slaughter was carried out under the order of Khomeini,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois).
Patrick Kennedy, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, also addressed this event. “It is important that we remember who we are dealing with, the mullahs in Iran, and we recognize that things really have not changed. The massacres have continued. We saw it last year in the uprisings, and all those young people killed in Iran’s streets,” he said.
“The mullahs promised a revolution and instead delivered a dictatorship that has terrorized people. MEK members have been on the front lines. They have been the chief target of the Iranian regime. There is no question as to why the regime continues to target MEK members. They know the MEK is organized, that they stand for a platform, that Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan challenges who the mullahs are,” Patrick Kennedy added.
The next speaker of this event was Kenneth Blackwell, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. “In 1988, 30,000 political prisoners were victims of summary executions by the regime of Iran. We must be that alarm clock for justice. We must be protectors of human dignity everywhere. We can’t be on the ground in Iran. But we can do what we can where we are. Our world depends on it. Those who were the victims of that gross injustice against humanity are witnesses of how we run the race in our time. Let’s continue to speak up and demand justice is done,” said Amb. Blackwell.
“I knew Kazem Rajavi. He belongs in the human rights Hall of Fame. He was assassinated thirty years ago by Ayatollah Khamenei. He was the first representative of Revolutionary Iran in the UN. He resigned because of arbitrary arrests and execution in his country. He was very active in defending human rights in Iran. They killed him in his driveway in his home in Geneva. We had a memorial for Kazem at the UN headquarters in New York,” said Bruce McColm, former Executive Director of Freedom House, referring to the great martyr of human rights and NCRI’s representative in Switzerland, Dr. Kazem Rajavi, who was assassinated by the regime’s terrorists in 1990.
During OIAC’s exhibition in D.C., some families of the victims of the Iranian regime told their heartbreaking stories.
Dr. Raheleh Sadeghpour, sister of a 1988 massacre victim said: “I am the sister of Hamid Sadeghpour, my brother. He was one of the smartest students in his high school. He was a supporter of the MEK. He was very active with the movement. In July 1981, he was arrested for supporting the MEK. He spent seven years in prison. After he endured seven years in prison and torture chambers, he was killed by the regime.”
Gholam Torshizi, brother to three 1988 massacre victims was another speaker of the event.
“I am the only survivor of four brothers. Three of my brothers have been executed by the regime. The regime must be held to account. My younger brother Behrooz was very gifted and talented. He was a supporter of the MEK when he was studying in college. In 1981, one day he left home and we never saw him again. We searched for him for 17 days. Finally, we found out about his fate in the newspaper Keyhan among the names of others executed. The news was a shock to our family. My father reached out to the inspector general’s office. The cleric told my father, ‘your son had a camera and was taking pictures of a MEK demonstration.’ These criminals are still in charge, the same people who killed my brother. They sentenced him to death without access to a lawyer. They tortured him for 17 days, killed him, and buried him in the Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery without telling my family,” Gholam Torshizi said in part of his speech.