IRAN TRIBUNAL ( karzar )

About the campaign

This Campaign is a social movement that has been initiated by a group of individuals composed of the families of the victims, former political prisoners, the suvivers of mass killings of 1980s, political and labour activists, women´s rights activists, lawyers, students, Children´s rights activists, writers, artists and human right activists, who have been holding regular meetings since October 2007 to assess the possibility of setting up a Commission of Inquiry and an internationally symbolic tribunal.

The aim of this campaign is to investigate the mass executions and massacre of political prisoners in 1980s and to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable for its crime against humanity.

The Campgain has a clear historical precedent and will be modelled on the tribunals set up by Bertrand Russell and Jean Paul Sartre in their 1965-1967 world campaign against the American atrocities in the Vietnam War. In late 1967, the campaign planned two sessions in Paris and Copenhagen, but, due to the French government refusal, the Paris hearing was moved to Stockholm. The Copenhagen session resembled a Truth Commission. A panel of twenty five prominent legal experts, writers, poets, journalists, academics, philosophers, political activists and representatives of labour movements from eighteen countries was chaired by Russell and Sartre. The tribunals were held in Stockholm and Copenhagen and attended by such world famous writers as Simone De Beauvoir and several noble laureates.

Our own task is different in many ways and more difficult, but the same responsibility remains. How can such atrocities be prevented? The procedures of a trial or a truth commission are impossible to implement. We do not represent any state power, nor can we compel the perpetrators responsible for crimes against the people of Iran to stand accused before us. We believe that these apparent limitations are, in fact, virtues. We are free to conduct a solemn and historic investigation, unrestricted by the confines of state or other such obligations.

The proposal will allow tens of thousands of families of victims to have a voice. We have learned from history if the account of an atrocity does not transcend the boundaries of a country, and if the world doesn’t hear about it, history will repeat itself and human society will witness such crimes again and again.

This Tribunal will examine all the evidence that may be placed before it by any source or party.The evidence may be oral, or in the form of documents. No evidence relevant to our purposes will be refused attention and no competent witness who wishes to testify at the inquiry will be denied a hearing.

Stages of the investigation

According to the proposed plan, the Tribunal will compromise of two stages: A “Commission of Inquiry” and the “tribunal”.

The Commission of Inquiry will aim to collect statements, witness documents, dossiers and to publish and report on extensive executions in the early 1980s as well as mass execution of political prisoners in 1987. The commission will also prepare recommendations regarding instances of human rights violation, arrest, torture and execution of political opponents and ways of avoiding such violations in future.

Commission of Inquiry allow 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.

The raison d'etre of the Truth commission is to allow victims to have a voice, to publicize the abuses of human rights, and to account for past atrocities.

The Commission of Inquiry, set up to investigate the murder of political prisoners, will be an unusual phenomenon, because In addition, the prosecution taken up by the commission is unusual as it will deal with human rights violation by a government that is still in power. The Commission would require a panel of international experts (preferably composed of illegal, political experts, academics and reporters). Although the presence of lawyers/judges is important, it is preferable that the panel of experts is not comprised exclusively lawyers/judges, since such a panel would convey the impression that the commission is intended as a legal proceeding rather than as a fact-finding proceeding. A professionally diverse panel would be best.

The jury will be supplied with witness statements from the victims, their families and experts over a period of one to two weeks. During this period, individuals who produce statements can appear in person or deposit witness statements in writing. Witnesses must limit their statements to personal experiences or areas of expertise. For example, families of political prisoners must limit their statements to what happened regarding the death of their relatives. Once the jury heard all the statements , it must produce a written report, encompassing all of its finrdings , publish the report and submit it to the court. The report must provide detailed research of the events of 1980s and in particular the events surrounding mass execution of prisoners in the summer of 1988, referring to those responsible for these crimes , clarifying how the court should investigate this matter.