26 May, 2011

Massacre of prisoners in Iran - "Do you think we should have given them sweets?" - The Iran Tribunal

Vietnam - The Russell Tribunal

In 1966, the British philosopher and mathematician Lord Russell (1872-1970) set up, along with Jean Paul Sartre, a tribunal to consider United States Foreign Policy and Military Intervention in Vietnam. Representatives of 18 countries participated and hearings were held in 1967 in Stockholm and Copenhagen. Twenty-five notable persons formed the tribunal including a number of Nobel Prize winners.   Neither Vietnam nor the United States of America participated and the tribunal was largely ignored by the media. The Tribunal reached, unanimously, a number of verdicts finding against the United States on matters such as the use of weaponry forbidden by the laws of war, inhumane treatment of prisoners etc - see Russell-Sarte Tribunal on Vietnam.  It was inevitable that the tribunal was criticised as a "Kangaroo Court" by those who had the opportunity to participate but declined to do so.  Of course, the tribunal had no legal force and could not try particular individuals.

This form of tribunal - essentially a private enterprise - contrasts with the approach to some events such as the International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Iran in the 1980s - Report by Geoffrey Robertson QC - the Iran Tribunal

Iran Tribunal
This idea of a Tribunal has been adopted recently in relation to events which it is said took place in IRAN in the 1980s, a decade in which there was major war between Iraq and Iran resulting in the loss of in excess of half a million lives.  The war lasted until August 1988 when it came to an end as a result of United Nations effort and Security Council Resolution 598.  However, in the second half of 1988 there were many executions in Iran - some estimates say in excess of 4500.  Those executed appear to be political dissidents who were opposed to the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini.  Writing in The Guardian on 7th June 2010, Geoffrey Robertson QC called upon the United Nations to enforce international law by setting up a court to try the perpetrators of the massacres.  Mr Robertson has produced a detailed report on the massacres.

In his Guardian article, Robertson stated that - "Most of the judges and officials who implemented the fatwa are still in high office in Tehran – under a supreme leader who, when asked about killing prisoners replied: "Do you think we should have given them sweets?"

A Tribunal - (intended to operate on similar lines to the Russell-Sartre Tribunal) - has been set up and John Cooper QC has become Chairman of a Steering Committee.  The February 2011 Press release explains the way it is hoped to develop the Tribunal's work.  John Cooper stated - “The work of the Steering Committee in creating, advising and facilitating the establishment of the Iran Tribunal will be vital if due process is to be observed at the future hearings. We are determined that the Tribunal discovers the truth about what happened to thousands of Iranian people and that justice is finally done.”

The HOME Page of the Tribunal sets out the background and the aims of the Tribunal and ways of supporting the tribunal may also be seen. 

Further material is available at Amnesty International - "Iran: The 20th Anniversary of 1988 prison massacres"

Camp Ashraf and Iran Freedom

Camp Ashraf, Iraq
Many exiled Iranians are at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.  The European Union has recently called on Iraq to respect their rights - see Declaration of 9th April 2011.  This article in The Spectator is interesting.

See also British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom


gyg3s said...

The exiled Iranians are part of an organisation called the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran which was once a proscribed organisation. They challenged their status as a terrorist organisation and got 'de-proscribed', with the help of Lord Alton of Liverpool.

ObiterJ said...

gyg3s - Indeed, that is the case. I believe that they were DEproscribed in the UK from 24th June 2008 and in the wider EU from 26th January 2009. I am not sure whether other countries outside the EU have them on a proscribed list. Their case was fought through the British Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission.

I therefore assume that PMOI is now committed to peaceful regime change in Iran.

This blog neither supports nor condemns PMOI.

I do very much support the idea of the Iran Tribunal.