Iran’s top officials distorts truth about 1988 prison massacres: AI

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Following the publication of its damning report on a three-decade long campaign of misinformation by the Iranian authorities about the mass prisoner killings of 1988, Amnesty International today published a video interview from December 1988 showing Iran’s then prime minister, Mir Hossein Mousavi, denying and distorting the truth about these crimes against humanity.

The video clip has been released in response to a public debate ignited since the report’s publication about the extent to which Mir Hossein Mousavi and his government were aware of the mass killings while they were taking place between late July and early September 1988, and his role in the official campaign to conceal the truth about what happened.

In the interview, first broadcast by the Austrian national public service broadcaster, ORF, on 13 December 1988, Mir Hossein Mousavi is asked about the executions. He responds saying, “We repressed them”, without explaining what he is acknowledging, and avoids any explicit reference to the mass killings. Instead, he focuses on criticizing the July 1988 armed incursion by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group based in Iraq at the time, in an apparent effort to misrepresent the executions as a legitimate response to an armed attack.

To view the interview please click here. This video clip is not for distribution, archive or resale. Please contact ORF to license this footage. 

“Mir Hossein Mousavi’s interview with the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, ORF, shows that, in late 1988, he unashamedly propagated the same false narrative, used by other Iranian authorities for decades, to hide the truth that they had forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed at least 5,000 political dissidents as part of a systematic effort to eliminate political opposition,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

For years Iranian officials at all levels have sought to deflect attention away from the mass prisoner killings by focusing on the armed incursion of the PMOI in July 1988 and defending their actions as a necessary crackdown against those involved.

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