The final judgement from the Iran Tribunal has been published following the second phase of the people’s court process held at the Peace Palace in The Hague between 25-27 October 2012. This judgement has created a legal precedent of state responsibility for crimes against humanity in a breach of international law as defined by the 2002 Rome Statute - the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Tribunal holds that the evidence tendered in these hearings supports a finding that crimes were committed by agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, beginning with the Supreme Leader, and ending with the executions in the prisons and these constitute a breach of international law.
The Prosecution in the Iran Tribunal charged the Islamic republic of Iran with five forms of “gross human rights abuses”, these being:
(i) murder, including of over 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 and over 12,000 political prisoners between 1981 to 1984;
(ii) torture, both physical and psychological;
(iii) persecution, against political dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities; (iv) sexual abuse, of both men and women; and,
(v) unlawful imprisonment, including detention without trial, use of kangaroo courts, and subjection to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The prosecution commented on the cruel treatment to which prisoners’ families were subjected, which has left a “legacy of abuse [that] is extensive and inevitably persists to the present day”.
From the Independent:
It was in 1981 that Iran’s new Islamic government, with Ayatollah Khomeini as its figurehead, rounded on the leftists and others who had come together with the Islamists to bring down the autocratic rule of the Shah two years earlier and gave them two choices: convert or be liquidated.
Mrs Shekoufeh Sakhi, today writing a PhD thesis in Political Philosophy at the University of Toronto, told the Tribunal how she had been forced to sit blindfolded and motionless in a sort of coffin from dawn to late at night while her jailers bombarded her with Islamist propaganda and recordings of the “confessions” of fellow-prisoners who had been broken by the torture. Sir Geoffrey Nice described her as “a quite inspirational figure”.
“In the 1980s the Islamic Republic of Iran went about arresting, imprisoning and executing thousands upon thousands of Iranian citizens because their beliefs and political engagements conflicted with the regime,” the judges wrote. “The religious fervour of these crimes makes them even more shocking: for instance, a woman’s rape was frequently the last act that preceded her execution in Iran, as under the ‘Sharia’ law guidelines, the execution of a virgin female is non-permissible.”
As Mrs Sakhi explained, there was nothing haphazard or unconsidered about the regime’s long reign of terror. As a left-wing 14-year-old in Tehran she had taken part in the uprising against the Shah alongside the Islamists, but by 1982 things had changed. “Iran was now at war with Iraq, and now the mood of the regime was, ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us.’ Revolutionaries like me came to be seen as counter-revolutionaries and fifth columnists. They rallied their base support against us and divided the country in two.”
In June 1981 there was a wave of arrests and summary executions. Ms Shekoufeh went underground but the following February the Revolutionary Guards arrested her. “It was amazing and bewildering,” she recalled. “Those who had been in jail during the Shah’s time said this was much worse. The big difference was that they weren’t going after big organisations – my organisation had already fallen apart – but were collecting everybody who had the motivation to be ‘different’. The jail was so full of high school students you could hardly move. The project was mass conversion.” The executions had been a way of softening up the youth for conversion.
Those like Shekoufeh who proved stubborn were given the “coffin” treatment – nine months of sensory deprivation and complete immobility. “It was a horrible psychological torture,” she said. “You couldn’t move, talk, cough, sneeze, if you did they’d beat you up. There were constant sermons and Islamic teaching classes through the loudspeakers. The whole point was to empty the person of their own identity, making you an empty shell then filling you up with their garbage. After two or three months I felt I was losing my mind, losing control of my sense of reality. A lot of people had nervous breakdowns.”
Sir Geoffrey Nice commented, “The Tribunal is a very major thing. The most important thing is that people can say what happened, they can put it on the record. Now the UN could be pressed to have their own commission of enquiry.” Iran’s government was invited to the Tribunal but neither replied nor took part.
[Thanks to "sackcloth and ashes" commenting here. It is indeed a pity that this judgement was released just too late for Noam Chomsky in his interview with Iran's Press TV. Otherwise, of course, he would have brought it up. Wouldn't he?]