Amidst recent reports of escalating repression by Iran’s intelligence services against the country’s progressive forces, including the use of physical assault, kidnapping, and torture against those defending democratic rights and freedom of expression, the Tudeh (People’s) Party of Iran has called for the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to come clean about the mass execution of political prisoners during what it calls “the National Catastrophe of 1988.”

In August and September of that fateful year, following the end of the theocratic government’s adventurous and reactionary war against Iraq, the regime unleashed death squads against imprisoned “staunch defenders of the people’s rights,” the Party said in an Aug. 16 statement. Thousands of prisoners were killed, including hundreds of leaders and members of the Tudeh Party and other progressive groups, after they were tried a second time by kangaroo courts widely condemned as bogus by international human rights groups.

The goal of this brutal massacre, the Party said, was to purge the country of some of its most talented and distinguished fighters for justice — party leaders, public figures, intellectuals, workers and students — and to create an atmosphere of terror “to prevent a social explosion against the regime’s devastating policies by the masses who had come to the end of their tether.”

The Tudeh Party denounced the official “16-year silence” about this savage crime, and said, “only by bringing the planners and perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice … can we prevent such crimes from being committed again in the future.” It added, “The experience of the last 16 years has shown us that the judiciary of the Islamic Republic, along with the intelligence services under the direct supervision of the supreme leader, are the greatest threat to the human rights of the citizens of our country.”

In connection with the 1988 massacre, the statement demanded that the ruling regime officially disclose the names of the murdered victims, that it release the execution dates and burial sites to grieving family members, that it state the reasons for the re-trials and the names of the officials who presided over them, and that it state the charges for which the prisoners were executed.

Looking at today’s situation, the Party called for “a broad front made up of all anti-dictatorship combatants and the intensification of the struggle throughout the country … [to] achieve the dissolution and radical transformation of these bodies along with other fundamental changes necessary for the establishment of freedom and justice in our country.”