The terrible actions taking place in Iran are ingrained in the regime's DNA. Condemnation for the repression and human rights abuses the Iranian people face today is only valuable if the international community is willing to act on it and a significant part of that is to take action against Iranian officials who have been violating human rights throughout their careers, argues Mostafa Naderi

As I read Amnesty International's report, published recently, which detailed the horrifying abuse of Iranian citizens detained during the November 2019 nationwide uprising against the theocratic dictatorship, I came across the term "chicken kebab" used to describe a torture method. It sent a shiver down my spine.

A "chicken kebab", as the Iranian interrogators called it, is where a prisoner is suspended from their hands and feet from a pole in the most excruciatingly painful way imaginable.

I know first-hand how painful this is as I was detained in Iranian prisons for almost 11 years from 1981, including five years in notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. I was arrested at 17 on the charge of supporting the main opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and selling its publication.

The things that I experienced at the hands of interrogators and prison guards – beatings, stress positions, electric shocks, mock execution- are the very same things that Amnesty described in its report on what happened in November 2019. The report's contents are undeniably a shocking catalogue of acts against humanity however for those who are familiar with the Iranian regime, this is completely in line with how it has operated for decades.

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This is not to say that the November uprising and torture of Iranian citizens is not of great significance. It represents a sharp escalation in the opposition to the Iranian regime as well as a further curtailment of freedom of speech. During the November 2019 uprising, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responded more fiercely than to protests in January 2018, with agents shooting to kill and estimates by those on the ground put the death toll in November at approximately 1,500. The real figure is likely even higher as reports of prisoner abuse emerge and many of those wounded have been deprived of adequate medical care ever since, not to mention deaths in custody and executions, at least a dozen of which are pending for participants in the November uprising.

This should spur the international community to take a stand against Tehran's barbaric behaviour. Unfortunately, too many Western governments have remained silent on this which has in turn, led the Iranian regime to continue with its repressive rule.

The most striking case the international community has failed to address is one of the worst crimes against humanity in the latter half of the 20th century. In July 1988, "death commissions" set up by the Iranian regime interrogated Iranian citizens all across the country to ferret out those who remained loyal to the Iranian opposition or harbored resentment against the theocratic dictatorship. Those who refused to bend their knees to the mullahs were executed. After just a few months, the death toll reached 30,000. Dozens of those murdered were my close, personal friends. The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) naturally comprised the vast majority of the victims, though many of those victims' identities remain unconfirmed since they were buried in secret mass graves. Some of those graves have since been destroyed and hidden beneath construction projects as part of the regime's effort to conceal evidence of the massacre. It is a shocking failure for international diplomacy that there has, to date, never been an investigation into this atrocity.

Although the massacre took place 32 years ago, it is a living history and until that history is investigated and in a way that will bring justice to the perpetrators, it will continue to have very real consequences for the Iranian people.

In absence of those consequences, the regime will continue to be led by officials who have fully embraced the history of repression.  In fact, many of the most prominent figures in the regime today are the very same people who designed and carried out the massacre in 1988. The current Minister of Justice and the current Head of the Judiciary, ironically, both served on the death commissions. The current Supreme Leader was the regime's President in 1988, and its current President was the Head of the Committee on National Security. Both would have given their approval for the plan to massacre thousands of Iranian people.

The terrible actions that Amnesty International outlined taking place in Tehran in 2019 is ingrained in the regime's DNA and has never been challenged. Condemnation for the repression and human rights abuses the Iranian people face today is only valuable if the international community is willing to act on it and a significant part of that is to take action against Iranian officials who have been violating human rights throughout their careers, starting with the 1988 massacre.

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