Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Crimes Against Humanity

The Secret Fatwa: The Untold Story of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (Video)

Delnaz Abadi
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
August 1, 2020

The Secret Fatwa uncovers a crime unique in the history of state crimes--a political massacre that continues to haunt the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a recently revealed audio tape, a high ranking Ayatollah calls it the worst atrocity committed by his country. The story starts in July 1988 when the Islamic Republic suddenly puts its prisons under lockdown. The only permitted visits are by a 3-member committee: an Islamic judge, a public prosecutor and an intelligence officer. The committee briefly and individually questions thousands of political prisoners about their beliefs. Nothing short of a medieval Inquisition, except that the prisoners are not told that their lives depend on their answers.

Filmmaker Delnaz Abadi, who fled Iran in 1984, connects with old friends and former political prisoners to reconstruct what happened behind the closed doors of Iran's prisons in 1988. Combining survivor testimonies with reenactments and archival footage, the film peels away the layers of a secret that the Islamic Republic has tried to bury for decades, a crime against humanity that the survivors have vowed never to forget. Amir Soltani, an Iranian-American is a writer, journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist, is the co-producer and story consultant for the film.

This documentary is the product of the years-long efforts of a citizen who has accepted personal responsibility in the face of evil and has sprung to action to struggle with the weapon of truth, rather than remain passive. This is the very work that Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran (ABC) encourages with the Omid Memorial: to ensure that survivors and those close to victims, by speaking of the fates of their loved ones, do not allow the narratives of murderers to be the only ones preserved for history, and in the process to transform truth-tellers from passive victims into citizens actively constructing their country’s history.

It is for just this reason that ABC, in appreciation of Delnaz Abadi, who previously volunteered to partner with us in the publication of our report on the 1988 massacre of Iran’s political prisoners, is proud to make publicly available on its website, with her authorization, “The Secret Fatwa: The Untold Story of the 1988 Massacre in Iran” -- a commendable example of citizen ingenuity in the face of evil.