The Washington Times
By Christina Lamb
Ally's book cites Khomeini orders
February 5, 2001
LONDON - Children as young as 13 were hanged from cranes, six at a time,in a barbaric two-month purge of Iran's prisons on the direct orders of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1988, according to a new book by his former deputy.
More than 30,000 political prisoners were executed in the 1988 massacre - a far larger number than previously suspected.
Secret documents smuggled out of Iran reveal that, because of the large numbers of necks to be broken, prisoners were loaded onto forklift trucks in groups of six and hanged from cranes at half-hour intervals.
Gruesome details are contained in "The Memoirs of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri," one of the founders of the Islamic regime.
He once was considered Ayatollah Khomeini's anointed successor, but was deposed for his outspokenness, and now is under house arrest in the holy city of Qom.
Published privately last month after attempts by the regime to suppress it, the book has prompted demands from Iranian exiles for those involved to be tried for crimes against humanity.
The most damning of the letters and documents published in the book is Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa, or decree, calling for the killing of all Mojahedin, as opponents of the Iranian regime are known.
Issued shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in July 1988 and an incursion into western Iran by the Iranian resistance, the fatwa reads:
"It is decreed that those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the [Mojahedin] are waging war on God and are condemned to execution." It goes on to entrust the decision to "death committees" - three-member panels consisting of an Islamic judge, a representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and a state prosecutor. Prisoners were to be asked if they had changed loyalties and, if not, were to be executed.
Ayatollah Montazeri, who states that 3,800 people had been killed by the end of the first two weeks of executions, includes his own correspondence with Ayatollah Khomeini, saying the killings would be seen as "a vendetta" and would spark opposition to the regime.
"The execution of several thousand prisoners in a few days will not have positive repercussions and will not be mistake-free," he wrote.
The massacre, which came just before the airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, was seen as a sop to the hard-liners at a time when Ayatollah Khomeini already was in failing health and the battle for succession had begun between fundamentalists and centrists.
According to testimony from prison officials recently given to U.N. human rights rapporteurs, "They would line up prisoners in a 14-by-5-meter hall in the central office building and then ask simply one question, `What is your political affiliation?' Those who said the Mojahedin would be hanged from cranes in position in the car park behind the building."