The pursuit of justice and accountability for the massacre of Iran’s political prisoners during the 1980s.
The Iran Tribunal Campaign is a social movement initiated by the families of the victims, former political prisoners and the survivors of the mass killings in Iran’s prisons in the 1980s, as well as many other activists, lawyers, students, writers and artists. They held regular meetings since October 2007 to plan the setting up of a Truth Commission and a People’s Tribunal. The aim was to investigate the mass executions and massacre of political prisoners during the 1980s and to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable for its crimes against humanity. The Iran Tribunal does not hold a legal statute, but acts as a court of the people, a tribunal of conscience, faced with injustices and violations of international law. It was an important and necessary opportunity for the victims and families to speak of their experiences and for this to be recognised in a court.
The Tribunal comprised of two stages: A Truth Commission and the Tribunal.
The Truth Commission – held from 18th to 22nd June 2012 in London
This session collected statements, witness documents and dossiers to produce a report on extensive executions in the early years of 1980s as well as mass execution of political prisoners in 1988. It allowed victims, relatives of victims, journalists, experts and perpetrators to come forth and provide testimony. The strict rules governing the introduction of evidence in trials are typically more relaxed in truth commissions. As a result, during truth commissions, there is a greater opportunity for individuals to come forward with stories of harms they have suffered. You can read the final report of the Truth Commission here.
The Tribunal – held from 25th to 27th October 2012 in The Hague
Over the last 100 years, this was only the second people’s court taking up the case against a government, the first one being the Russell tribunal, held against the crimes of the United States in Vietnam. The Tribunal investigated the findings of the Truth Commission and allowed more victims, relatives of victims, journalists, experts and perpetrators to come forth and provide testimony. PoC patron Sir Geoffrey Nice was one of the prosecutors at the Tribunal, you can read his closing statement here.
PoC trustee John Cooper QC is the chair of the International Steering Committee for the Iran Tribunal and here he explains why the initiative was so necessary.
For more information on the Iran Tribunal please visit their website at www.irantribunal.com and watch this compelling film which contains the testimonies of some of the witnesses at the Truth Comission.