Shocking audio was released recently on the Internet in the Persian language. Immediately, Iranian officials ordered its removal. The audio clearly shows that the so-called “moderate” Iranian leaders are in fact world-class criminals based on every legal or humanitarian standard. The audio sheds light on horrific crimes against humanity that are not that distinct from those egregious crimes committed by the Nazis.
In the audio, Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, the ex-heir of Iran’s Supreme Leader, reveals the true character of the Islamic Republic and crimes committed by it in the name of Islam. Montazeri was born in Esfahan, Iran, and was one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic. He was an Islamic theologian and the designated successor to the Islamic revolution’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Rooh Allah Khomeini, until the very last moments of Khomeini’s life. His pictures were posted next to Khomeini’s in the streets. Nevertheless, Montazeri’s fate changed dramatically, as he could not stay silent and felt compelled to speak out.
Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, posted the audio on his website, but was ordered by Iranian intelligence (Etela’at) to remove it.
“You [Iranian officials] will in the future be etched in the annals of history as criminals," Montazeri warns the Islamic Republic in the audio. "The greatest crime committed under the Islamic Republic, from the beginning of the Revolution until now, which will be condemned by history, is this crime [mass executions] committed by you.”
In reference to one of the worst mass executions in the modern history of the Middle East being carried by the Iranian government officials, Montazeri stated that "I am a straight-talking person. I don’t hold back what is in my heart. In contrast to some gentlemen who do what is politically expedient…. Believe me, I haven’t been able to sleep and this issue (executions) occupies my mind 2-3 hours every night … How will you respond to the families? How much did the Shah execute? Compare our executions to his!”
When an official asked him for his permission to execute 200 people, Montazeri retorted fiercely, “I don’t give permission at all. I am even against a single person being executed.”
Many members of those who were executed were from the opposition group, MEK, which is led currently by Maryam Rajavi. Amnesty International estimates that in the summer of 1988, the total number of people executed was 4,500. Some estimates reach as high as over 30,000 people.
Executions included all range of innocent people, including children and pregnant women. The audio continues:
So, now, without [the prisoners] having carried out any new activities, we go and execute them. This means that all of us screwed up, our entire judicial system is wrong. Isn’t that what it means? We are among ourselves here. I mean, we want to take stock … This one guy, his brother was in prison. Eventually when, you know, he got caught up in this, they said his sister was also a suspect. So they went and brought the sister. They executed the guy. The sister -- it was only two days since they had brought her -- when they told her [of the brother’s death], she said, I liked these people. They said the sister was 15 or 16 years old. They said, now that her brother has been executed and after what she said, execute her too, and they did. In Esfahan, a pregnant woman was among [those massacred]. In Esfahan they executed a pregnant woman…. [In clerical jurisprudence] one must not execute a woman even if she is a mohareb [enemy of God]. I reminded [Khomeini] of this, but he said they must be executed. In the month of Moharram ... the month of God and the Prophet, it shouldn’t be like this. At least feel some shame before Imam Hussein. Cutting off all meetings and suddenly engaging in such butchery, dragging them out and bang! Bang! Does this happen anywhere in the world?
The government could not eliminate Montazeri the way it did with other opposition leaders due to his religious authority and the large number of followers he had. A few months before he was supposed to replace the Supreme Leader, Khomeini removed him from being the successor. He was put under house arrest, and his speeches and activities were heavily controlled. The regime chose the current Supreme Leader, Khamenei, who was a junior cleric, to be the Supreme Leader. He was a low-risk figure and total puppet of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Ironically, all those people Montazeri is speaking to and warning in the audio -- and all of those who were involved in these crimes -- appear to have higher positions in the government currently.
For example, Mostafa Pourmohammadi was a representative of the Intelligence Ministry to the notorious Evin prison, and he was recently appointed by the so-called moderate president Hassan Rouhani to be justice minister. Ebrahim Raeisi was a public prosecutor and currently he is the head of Astan Quds Razavi, which has billions of dollars in revenues. Hussein Ali Nayeri was a judge and currently is the deputy of the Supreme Court of Iran. In his memoir, Montazeri writes that he told Nayeri to stop the executions at least in the month of Moharram, but Nayeri said, “We have executed so far 750 people in Tehran… we will get the job done with another 200 people and then we will listen to whatever you say.” Montazeri wrote several letters to Khomeini warning him as well.
What is crucial to point out is that realistically speaking, the above-mentioned people are only tje tip of the iceberg of those who are involved in such large scale crimes against humanity in Iran. But they have been awarded higher positions, power, and more money.
Montazeri advised the ruling politicians, “Beware of 50 years from now, when people will pass judgment on the leader [Khomeini] and will say he was a bloodthirsty, brutal and murderous leader…. I do not want history to remember him like that[.]”
The International Criminal Court, the UN, human rights originations and liberal institutions and activists should push to bring these officials to justice the way the international community did for some members of the Nazi Party. Finally, we should remember that these are world-class criminals and we are easing sanctions against a brutal regime, giving them more money from taxpayers, shaking hands with them, and calling them the moderates. How are we going to respond to millions of families whose members have been executed and tortured? What are we going to say in the future when asked why we allied with such criminals, appeased them, and gave them billions of dollars?