Panel discussing Iran's role in Syrian crisis takes place in Paris
The Committee for a Democratic Iran ad the Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran held an event in Paris on Saturday, November 26, entitled "Call for Justice: Ending Impunity for Perpetrators of Crimes Against Humanity in Iran and Syria", to discuss the situation of human rights in Iran.
The international event featured speeches and discussions about the future of Iran, the conflict in Syria, and the recent wave of executions that have gripped Iran.
It also featured speeches from figures in the Iranian resistance, dignitaries from the Syrian opposition, and major international human rights lawyers, as well as eyewitnesses and former political prisoners who detailed their personal experiences in Iranian prison for the first time in public.
The event coincides with a major renewal of interest in human rights abuses and the use of execution in Iran.
The massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, most of them members of the People's Mojahiden Organization of Iran (PMOI, or MEK) in 1988 has come under increase scrutiny due to revelations about the extent of the Iranian government's involvement in the executions.
Recently, the PMOI revealed the names of dozens of Iranian officials involved in the killings, many of whom still hold power today, notably including Iranian Minister of Justice Mustafa Pourmohammadi.
Additionally, Iran has annually maintained the world's highest execution rate per capita, with over 1,000 executions recorded in Iran in 2015 according to the United Nations. Over 2,600 executions have taken place since the nominally moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office.
Iran's role in Syria has also come under fire due to Tehran's unwavering support for Bashar Al-Assad. Despite denying involvement in the war, a great deal of evidence has accumulated that Iran has sent countless foot soldiers and IRGC fighters to give Assad support on the ground while Russia continues its air bombing campaign on Aleppo.
Withdrawal of Iranian support has been considered by some as one of the prerequisites of finding a political solution to the conflict, which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions of people.
Speakers at the event included Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician who was a presidential candidate in Colombia before being taken hostage for several years by militants.
Head of the Syrian Coalition’s legal committee Haitham al-Maleh asked the participants to stand for a minute of silence in remembrance of the countless number of victims killed by the Assad regime in Syria. Renowned Syrian writer and human rights activist Michel Kilo, who has been called "one of Syria's leading opposition thinkers", spoke about the situation in Syria.
The event also featured speeches by Florence Berthout, Mayor of Paris' 5th arrondissement, and Marcin Swiecicki, former Mayor of Warsaw and head of the Friends of a Free Iran in the Sejm, Poland's congressional body.
Numerous international lawyers attended the event and expressed their condemnation of the ongoing human rights abuses in Iran, which many believe have not been sufficiently addressed by Western liberal democracies.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a major Iranian opposition group, also spoke at the event.
"In the present crisis in the region, any solution seeking to ultimately end war and insecurity, and specifically address the problem of Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), must consider terminating the regime's meddling in the region, particularly in Syria", she said.
"Nothing is more catastrophic than collaborating with the Iranian regime to fight Daesh because it would strengthen the Iranian regime and its terrorism, and would nourish Daesh, politically and socially. Although Khamenei attempts to justify the regime's continued invasion of and carnage in Syria by absurd rhetoric of defending its Holy Shrine, the people of Iran detest this filthy war and stand by the courageous and proud people of Syria."
An exhibition featuring photos of some of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran was visited by participants in the conference.