‘People’s Tribunal’ Charges Iran’s Leadership With Crimes Against Humanity
The International People’s Tribunal on Iran Atrocities, an NGO, has written to Iran’s ambassador in The Hague, Alireza Kazemi Abadi, to inform him that it has “charged” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi with gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity related to protests in 2019.
According to the group’s statement issued on March 3, the letter calls on the named individuals to attend hearings organized by the Tribunal due in July to answer allegations made against them. The letter informs the ambassador that he should tell other “defendants,” including Revolutionary Guards and police commanders, provincial governors and other officials that they have the “right to defend themselves against these charges.”
The tribunal has received hundreds of pieces of evidence and testimonies on crimes against humanity, extrajudicial killings and executions, torture, rape of prisoners, and harassment of the families of the victims – all indicating extensive systematic state policy behind suppressing protesters, according to Hamid Sabi, a lawyer heading “the prosecution team,” as quoted on March 3 by the website of Justice for Iran, the tribunal organizers tribunal.
“Based on the information that has been obtained to date the allegations that Iran continues and has perpetrated crimes against humanity against its own citizens appears to be strong,” Sabi and a second lawyer involved Regina Paulose stated on February 17. “We repeat [our] invitation for the Iranian government to send a delegate to represent its position during the hearing process.”
The tribunal − also known as Aban Tribunal after the Iranian calendar month of Aban − was established on the first anniversary of the November 2019 protests by the London-based Justice for Iran, the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR), and the international anti-capital punishment organization Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty) to investigate “atrocities” and “human rights violations by Iran” during the protests that left hundreds dead. The verdicts of the People’s Tribunal will be symbolic.
In February the tribunal announced that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the “overwhelming response of victims, survivors, and witnesses to participate in the hearings," proceedings would be postponed to July 2021.
Iran has not officially announced figures for deaths or arrests, nor put anyone on trial for killing protesters, but has prosecuted and passed heavy sentences including the death penalty on protesters on charges including “assembly and collusion against the regime.” The Iranian Constitution recognizes the right to peaceful protests.
Amnesty International has reported the killing of at least 304 protesters including at least 23 minors. Reuters on December 23, 2019 claimed three sources close to Khamenei’s inner circle had confirmed he had grown impatient and ordered officials to stop the protests. According to Reuters about 1,500 people were killed in the two weeks after November 15.