Mayor Dirk Claes: Trade and economic contracts cannot proceed over human rights in Iran

On Friday 21st October, the mayor of Rotselaar city in Belgium Mr Dirk Claes, spoke at a meeting of the Belgian Committee of Parliamentarians and Mayors for a Democratic Iran.

He said that his main reason for speaking at the meeting was to remember the 1988 massacre, a crime against humanity, in which 30,000 political prisoners were killed on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. Most of those who died were PMOI (MEK) members, many of whom were serving prison sentences – some who were due to be released imminently. These people were buried in mass graves and their families did not know where to go to grieve for them.

Khomeini’s deputy, Ayatollah Montazeri, his intended successor, protested the mass execution of political prisoners. Recently, an audio file was released by Montazeri’s son. In the recording we can hear Ayatollah Montazeri speaking to the members of the “Death Committee” in Tehran. He told them that they would be remembered as the biggest criminals in history and calls on them to halt the executions. In the recording he mentioned that pregnant women and young girls were killed. 

Mr Claes points out that the current Minister of Justice in the government of President Rouhani was one of the members of the “Death Committee”. He even claims to be a moderate, yet he has said that he was proud to have played a part in the executions. 

Because of his opposition Ayatollah Montazeri was dismissed by Khomeini. Furthermore, he was humiliated and repressed by Khomeini and put on house arrest until he died in 1989. Mr Claes says that this massacre was a crime against humanity, and those involved should be convicted as such. 

He also points out that the genocide continues even to this day. Iran is the number one state-executioner in the world per capita. Last year alone, there were around 1,000 executions carried out in the country. 

“We call for the 1988 massacre to be on the agenda of the Human Rights Council. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights must issue a call for an investigation in this regard. We urge the European governments, including the Belgian government to condition their relationship with Iran to a suspension and halt of executions. We cannot have business as usual with this regime. The issue of human rights cannot be compromised for trade and big economic contracts. We have to defend the European values of democracy, women’s rights, rights for ethnic and religious minorities and freedom.”

He ended his speech by saying that he is honoured to be a part of the Iranian democratic opposition. 

The full text of his speech can be read on the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) website