The Iran Tribunal and the crimes of the Islamic Republic

12 November 2012. A World to Win News Service. “I was only 19 years old when I went to the coffin room, but I… can’t escape thinking about it… I was with those who lost their lives, or lost their minds. I live with them all the time. I still both work and cry, I both live and mourn, I think about what happened.”

Another person testified, “Once they came for me and asked if I had repented. I said yes. They asked me if I was prepared to take part in executions. I said yes. I wanted to pretend that I had repented, others had thought the same way, but one day…”

These are the examples of testimony given by witnesses at a symbolic tribunal held in The Hague (Netherlands) on 25-27October that found the Islamic Republic of Iran guilty of crimes against humanity for the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s.

The Iran Tribunal, as it was called, took place in two stages. The first was held 18-22 June this year in London, where 75 witnesses testified in front of a “Truth Commission”. At the second session, in The Hague, around 20 witnesses testified in front of a commission of international judges.

Johann Kriegler, who led the judges, introduced himself as a member of the Truth Commission held in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Other judges had experience with similar tribunals, including British barrister Michael Mansfield who is a member of the jury panel on the Russell Tribunal inquiry on Palestine.

According to the organizers, the Iran Tribunal was inspired by the original Russell Tribunal initiated by the philosophers and Nobel Prize winners Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre and other intellectuals in 1966 to put the United States on trial for its war crimes in Vietnam. This current campaign was launched after a gathering of survivors and families of the victims. Continue reading