THE UN General Assembly will debate a report on human rights in Iran later this month. The UN special rapporteur on Iran, the author of the report, has been denied access to the country but, based on hundreds of interviews and careful analysis, he has described the situation in Iran as dire. He noted the dramatic increase in executions, many of them in public, under the so-called “moderate” leadership of President Hassan Rouhani. Some 3,000 executions have taken place during his three years in office.

Although the human rights report on Iran will lay bare the horrific record of arbitrary arrest, torture and execution routinely meted out by the theocratic regime, many UN member states are demanding a full, independent inquiry into the summary execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran during the summer of 1988 in an atrocity that must rank as one of the most horrific crimes against humanity of the late 20th century. The vast majority victims were activists of the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran PMOI (MEK). The mass executions, in jails across Iran, were carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then supreme leader, the psychotic and murderous Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

A “death committee” approved all of the sentences. Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, leader of that “committee”, is President Rouhani’s justice minister. Other members of the “committee” hold prominent positions in the Iranian regime. When Khomenei was questioned about those who had already served their sentences and been released from prison, or those who had been sentenced to terms of imprisonment, he ordered that they should all be put to death. He decreed that there should be no mercy for anyone, including teenagers. He said even pregnant women should not be spared or have the chance to give birth to their babies.

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Kangaroo courts were set up in Tehran and in cities across Iran and PMOI/MEK political prisoners were hauled in front of a Sharia judge who demanded to know if they supported the Mojahedin. Those who defiantly said yes were sentenced to immediate execution. These sham trials took on average two minutes. It was estimated that 30,000 political prisoners were hanged from cranes in batches of 10 every 15 minutes from dawn to dusk between August and December that year.

The truth about this horrific genocide was revealed on August 9 this year when the son of grand ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, former deputy supreme leader of the Islamic Republic and nominated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, published a previously unknown audio-tape in which Montazeri acknowledged that the massacre had taken place and had been ordered at the highest levels. Montazeri can be heard telling a meeting of the “committee” that it is responsible for a crime against humanity. He says: “The greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you. Your names will in the future be etched in the annals of history as criminals.” Because of his forthright protests, the Grand Ayatollah was dismissed as the heir to the Supreme Leader by Khomeini and placed under house arrest until his death in 2009. Meanwhile Montazeri’s son has been charged with bringing the Islamic Republic into disrepute and could face the death penalty.

The world cannot allow this grisly crime to go unpunished when we know that the murderers are not only still alive but also in positions of power. The justice minister has admitted his guilt, boasting publicly that he was “proud to carry out God’s will in ordering the executions” and even calling for remaining supporters of the PMOI to be executed. President Rouhani, was deputy commander-in-chief of the regime’s armed forces at the time. He was aware of the extermination of political prisoners and should also be held to account.

If the UN is to retain any shred of legitimacy it must launch a full and independent investigation into this appalling crime and insist on the arrest and trial for crimes against humanity of Khamenei, Rouhani and the other murderers whose bloodstained hands the West continues to shake.

Struan Stevenson, a former Conservative MEP representing Scotland, is president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.