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Nouri Is On Trial in Sweden – Why Is He the Only One?

Written By | Dec 6, 2021
Nouri, Trial, Sweden, Iran

Protest screen shot

FRANCE: In the summer of 1988, a horrific event occurred in Iran that cost thousands their lives. The 1988 massacre of Iranians was meant to drive out any opposition to the regime, who orchestrated the killings.  Khomeini issued a fatwa against the PMOI/MEK, to stamp out this group that stood for freedom and the division of religion and state. Nouri was a part of this massacre, serving at Gohardasht Prison, where he took individuals to the Death Commission and then to the Death Hall, where they were executed by hanging. Exactly how many were executed, tortured, or disappeared has not been established, and no one has been held accountable. (Sweden charges Hamid Nouri with historic Iran war crimes)

In November 2019, after arriving at Sweden’s Arlanda Airport, Nouri was arrested. Although he did not act alone, as the many witnesses at his trial have attested, Nouri alone is on trial. I

_Iranian President Raisi was a member of the Death Commission as well. Yet Raisi remains in power – a reminder to the Iranian people what will happen if they support the opposition.

“Very grave crimes have been committed, but the perpetrators still enjoy impunity. It is very important that those who are responsible for the crimes are held to account so that survivors and their families can achieve some sort of redress,” said John Stauffer, Legal Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

Due to the exodus that occurred during the 40 years that the regime has been in power, 80,000 Iranians live in Sweden that were born in Iran. Many of them can remember being detained or have friends and family that were tortured or executed by the regime. In 1988, prisoners were no longer able to receive visits from family members and the incidents of torture only increased. Then the executions started, which focused on various groups but primarily targeted those who supported the PMOI/MEK.

It must also be noted that witnesses have spoken of prisoners being transferred to Gohardasht, only to be among the first executed.

“I could hear Hamid Nouri’s voice, who was saying, ‘Beat these Monafeghs [the term the regime uses to refer to MEK members and supporters] so that they don’t do such things,” said Hassan Ashrafian, a former political prisoner and witness in Nouri’s trial.

Others saw prisoners mentally broken before they were executed. Families would not know if their loved ones lived for months, and some families never received the bodies of their loved ones that were executed. It was a horrific experience and a true crime against humanity.

“Sweden has an opportunity and a responsibility to pursue justice for this type of grave crimes. It is therefore very important that Sweden contributes to the efforts against the impunity prevailing for such crimes in Iran and other countries,” said Stauffer.

Criminal investigations have been conducted by other European countries for international crimes, and this latest trial shows that although justice takes time, it is possible for those responsible to be held to account.

“I think this case and the court proceeding marks an important event in the history of Iran. Today, hundreds of MEK supporters in Sweden have come here to support the trial and emphasize the need to convict Hamid Nouri,” said Sanabergh Zahedi, the head of the Judicial Commission of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Why is this conviction so necessary? Simply put, because it will bring the Iranian people one step closer to the justice that they deserve. Ayatollah Khomeini felt that the MEK movement was growing too strong and saw it as a threat to his leadership. So, he issued a fatwa, meant to eradicate this group, which led to the 1988 massacre. Many of the individuals who participated in the massacre have only risen in the regime and none have been held to account.

Yet, Nouri’s trial breaks that trend and shows it is possible to demand justice. Despite the regime’s efforts, both in 1988 and beyond, the MEK movement is alive and well. It has grown more robust, particularly as young people realize that there is no future in Iran under the regime and want to fight for something better.

“In today’s Iran, the Mojahedin are at the forefront of the Iranian people’s quest for peace and democracy. Mojahedin’s resistance units operating in different provinces, cities, and towns across Iran are the result,” said Zahedi.

With the growing poverty and economic havoc that the regime has brought to Iran, the people are demanding their freedom and the regime’s answer is to increase the oppression. By holding the regime to account for this massacre and its other human rights violations, the international community can show that it stands with the Iranian people.

Hamid Enayat

Hamid Enayat is an independent Iranian political analyst and writer based in Europe.