Twenty-five years ago this month, 5,000 Iranian political prisoners were executed on the direct orders of the then-Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini.
Their crime? They were feminists, communists, socialists, students, Kurds, Baha’is, Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris and Baloch; all arrested for distributing leaflets and organizing protests against the Mullahs who had stolen the 1979 revolution against the autocratic monarchy of The Shah.
It was the summer of 1988. The exhausting eight-year long Iran-Iraq War was staggering to a close. With the UN distracted in drawing up a post-war ceasefire, Khomeini decided to wipe out the existence of any opposition. He issued a fatwa to execute all political prisoners who refused to accept his rule. After 10-minute mock trials, the condemned were the hung on cranes or shot by firing squads, with their bodies dumped in unmarked mass graves.