LONDON -- Former senior United Nations (UN) officials and Nobel prize winners on Thursday (January 27) urged the UN human rights office to launch a probe into the mass executions of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran over three decades ago.
The open letter urging the UN to investigate the executions names Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and judiciary chief Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei among the alleged perpetrators, who "continue to enjoy impunity".
"Thousands of political prisoners who refused to abandon their beliefs were executed. The victims were buried in mass graves scattered throughout the country," the letter said.
"We believe it's long overdue for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to investigate the 1988 massacre," it said.
A London-based association of families of victims called Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran organised the letter and its signatories.
Those who signed included former senior UN figures such as Joachim Rucker, a former president of the Human Rights Council, and Claude Heller, a former president of the Security Council.
Others included former Chilean president Ricardo Escobar, former European Commission president Jacques Santer, former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and 18 Nobel laureates.
Ultra-conservative cleric Raisi was elected president of Iran in June, replacing Hassan Rouhani.
For opposition and human rights groups, his name is linked to the 1988 executions when he was deputy prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
Sent thousands to their deaths
Exiled opposition groups say he was part of a commission that sent thousands of jailed opponents to their deaths within a few months.
Raisi has denied involvement in the executions.
In 2019, the United States placed Raisi on a sanctions list, citing the executions and other alleged rights abuses.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both called for his indictment for human rights violations and crimes against humanity.
The killings in 1988 took place after Rouhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, declared a fatwa on prisoners who supported Marxists and other leftist groups, as well as the opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which Tehran considered a terrorist organisation.
Hamid Noury, an Iranian national accused of "war crimes and murder" in connection with the execution of more than 100 political prisoners in 1988, has been on trial in Sweden since August.
Noury -- known as "Abbasi" in the late 80s -- was an assistant prosecutor at Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, at the time of the mass executions, according to evidence and testimony from former political prisoners.
His trial is expected to last through mid-April.