Thursday, June 06, 2013


Caucus: NDP
Constituency: Ottawa Centre
Province/Territory: Ontario

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among parties, and I believe if you seek it you will find unanimous consent for the following motion, jointly seconded by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake and the hon. member for Mount Royal.
    I move:

    That, this House condemn the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity, honours the memory of the victims buried in the mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran, and establishes September 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.

OTTAWA – Canada’s Parliament courageously adopted a unanimous consent motion on June 5, 2013, recognizing the massacre of political prisoners in Iran in 1988 as crimes against humanity under international law.  On its 25th anniversary, Canada becomes the first country in the world to officially recognize these crimes which claimed the lives of approximately 5,000 victims.
The motion was introduced by Paul Dewar, the New Democratic Foreign Affairs Critic and received the support of all Canadian federal parties.  Aside from recognizing the 1988 massacre, the motion highlighted the ongoing human rights struggles in the country by establishing September 1st as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.
The Massacre88 Campaign, a grassroots initiative comprised of Iranian-Canadian lawyers, academics, journalists, and human rights activists, spearheaded efforts to bring the motion and commemorate this anniversary.
 “On behalf of the Massacre88 Campaign and the thousands of families who lost their loved ones in the Iranian regime’s prisons in 1988, I want to thank all of Canada’s Parliamentarians for the bold step they took today,” said lawyer and Massacre88 spokesperson Kaveh Shahrooz.  “Those responsible for the 1988 killings continue to hold positions of great power in Iran, but today Canada stood up for accountability and the rule of law.”
At a press conference prior to the adoption of the motion, Paul Dewar (NDP, Ottawa Centre) stated: “This motion both acknowledges the past and looks to the future. The mass killings that took place in Iran during the summer of 1988 produced victims not only among those who were murdered, but among their families who were left without parents, siblings, and children. Sadly, 25 years later, the imprisonment of Iranians for exercising their fundamental rights continues.”  The Honourable Irwin Cotler (Liberal, Mount Royal) added: “I am pleased that we stand together in solidarity – with Iranian Canadians – to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Iranian government’s massacre of political prisoners in 1988. [We must] ensure that such mass brutality and murder never happens again.
James Bezan (Conservative, Selkirk-Interlake), a key supporter of the Massacre88 Campaign, noted the following after passage of the motion: “Oppressive regimes always attempt to cover up their atrocities.  We saw it in the former Soviet Union, and we are seeing it in Iran.  This motion brings to light the horrific crimes committed by the Iranian regime in the past, and raises awareness of the suffering Iranians are enduring today”
For many Iranian-Canadians the massacre, which resulted in the killing of approximately 5,000 political prisoners in a single summer in Iran, has personal as well as political implications.
Nina Toobaei, a member of the Massacre88 Campaign, stated: “My brother Siamak was executed in 1988 at the age of 27.  Two of my uncles were executed earlier in the 1980’s. My mother who has endured the pain of losing her two brothers and her son and the rest of our family have found no peace for all these years.  We feel we are closer to justice thanks to Canada’s initiative.”
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The motion coincides with global campaigns that have been launched to commemoration the 25th anniversary of these murders and honour the memory of the victims buried is mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran.  
In the summer of 1988, Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the execution of all political prisoner who opposition to the Iranian theocracy. By conservative estimates nearly 5,000 political prisoners were killed that summer. The Iranian regime has systemically denied the massacre, refusing to allow families of the victims to mount memorials to their loved ones or to commemorate the killings.
Text Adopted By Canada’s Parliament
Canada’s Parliament adopted the following motion today by unanimous consent of all the members:
That this House condemns the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as constituting crimes against humanity, honours the memory of the victims buried in mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran, and establishes September 1st  as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran." 
History of the Massacre
 This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the largest government-sponsored atrocity in contemporary Iranian history.  In the summer of 1988, shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranian government executed thousands of political prisoners merely for their political beliefs.  The order for this massacre came from Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s then-Supreme Leader.  Each branch of the Iranian government played a role in implementing this order.  To date, no one has been held to account for this gross violation of human rights and the bodies of the victims remain buried in mass graves around Iran.( To lean more about the 1988 massacre in Iran, click here ) The Massacre88 Campaign believes that international recognition of this massacre is the first step to obtaining justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre and their families.
 About the Massacre88 Campaign
The Massacre88 Campaign is comprised of Iranian-Canadian academics, lawyers, journalists, labour activists and human rights activists.  Although some members of the Campaign belong to political organizations, the Massacre88 Campaign is non-partisan and is unaffiliated with any political party.
 It is the goal of the Massacre88 Campaign to persuade Canadian lawmakers to make Canada – home to one of the largest Iranian Diasporas in the world – the first country in the world to recognize what many leading international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, already do:  that the 1988 massacre constitutes crimes against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

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