Iran: Iranians demanding to know what happened their relatives during 1988 massacre

Maryam Akbari Monfared lost four members of her family at the hands of the Iranian regime. Her story, told by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is heart-breaking. Her sister and a brother were killed for supporting the PMOI (mek) during the 1988 massacre.

She has now filed an official complaint with the prison and is asking the prosecutor’s office to investigate their deaths. She has also called on relatives of other victims to demand “the indictment of the victims and those who were executed in the 1980s be made available and published”. Maryam wants the families to insist upon a trial of those behind the tens of thousands of murders during the 1980s. 

In December 2009 Maryam was arrested after the Ashura protests and in June 2010 she was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “waging war against God” through the PMOI. She has denied the charges on numerous occasions, but judge Salavati told her: “You suffer (are sentenced) because of your siblings.”

In her seventh year in prison she has decided to file a complaint against those responsible for the 1988 massacre. She said: “Many of those who were executed in 1988, including my sister and brother, had already been sentenced to prison terms. They had been tried in courts that lasted a few minutes without due process and their crimes were at most reading or distributing newspaper (published by the PMOI) or participating in peaceful demonstrations.”

Her younger brother, Abdolreza Akbari Monfared, was arrested in 1980 aged 17 for distributing the ‘Mojahed’ newspaper. He was supposed to spend three years in prison, but he was held there until the summer of 1988 when he was executed. 

Maryam’s other brother, Gholamreza Akbari Monfared, was arrested in 1983 and executed in 1985.

Alireza Akbari Monfared, another brother, was arrested on 8th September 1981. He was executed 11 days later. Maryam explained: “The whole process of his arrest, trail and implementation of death sentence lasted only 10 days. In his commemoration ceremony on the seventh night of his death, the regime agents raided our house and arrested a number of people and transferred them to Evin prison and the Joint Committee detention. Among those arrested were my mother and my sister, Roghiyeh Akbari Monfared.” 

Her mother spent 5 months in prison but her sister was sentenced to 8 and kept in prison until her death during the 1988 executions. She wrote: “My father, Ali Osat Akbari Monfared, passed away in 2005 after years of suffering due to imprisonment and execution of his children and disappointment to meet again with his other children who were at the time in Camp Ashraf because meeting with them was prohibited [by the regime] and considered a crime. Right now, some of my family members – including my brother, sister, nephew and niece – are in Albania and we are not allowed to meet (visit) them.”

Speaking about how this affects life, she said: “All the pressure that put on us is now imposed on our families and is affecting their lives. Some families are torn apart after all the sufferings and many others are suffering from various physical and mental illnesses. Some of them are forced to fled the country and migrate to other countries and many others live [in isolation] in the corner of their privacy. The arrest and detention of our loved ones were like kidnapping. We were not informed about the time of their trail or their whereabouts.”

She points out that the mullahs’ agents did not release the will and testament of those who were executed. They also refused to hand over the bodies and kept the burial places secret. 

The NCRI state: “According to a new law on due process and approximation of penalties, Maryam Akbari Monfared should now be released from the prison, but her request for retrial and implementation of the new law has been under consideration and review by the Supreme Court for months. During this time, she was not even granted furlough for her daughter’s surgery.”

She ends her letter saying that she demands clarification on what happened to the victims of the 1988 massacre, especially her brother and sister.