The second round of a “people’s court” to investigate Iran’s killings of protesters and rights abuses has begun behind closed doors for security reasons.
This round of the People’s Court, organized by human rights groups, began its work in London on Friday and will continue until Sunday.
The hearings in this round will be held behind closed doors for witness security reasons, and only a limited number of journalists are invited to attend the sessions.
Human rights defenders who are engaged in the court say that after the first round held in November 2021, at least 116 new people volunteered to give evidence on the bloody protests in November 2019 which are the subject of the panels.
The protests were the bloodiest in Iranian history, with security forces opening fire on protesters in many cities, killing hundreds. Thousands of people have been arrested and imprisoned without due process and numerous cases of torture in prison have been reported.
During the November session, the court charged Iran’s top leadership with crimes against humanity and experts argued there could be no question of impunity for political leaders.
The Tribunal’s panel identified 27 other state actors as perpetrators of the violence, bringing to 160 the number of people charged with committing crimes under international law.
The tribunal – also known as the Aban Tribunal after Iran’s calendar month of Aban – was established on the first anniversary of the 2019 protests by London-based Justice for Iran, Iran Human Rights (IHR ), based in Oslo, and the international anti-capital punishment organization Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort). The Tribunal’s verdicts will be symbolic.
The tribunal will hear and consider evidence and testimony on crimes against humanity, executions and extrajudicial executions, torture, rape of prisoners and harassment of families of victims which organizers say all point to a broad systematic policy of the state behind the crackdown on protesters. The Iranian Constitution recognizes the right to demonstrate peacefully.
During the first round, the atrocities tribunal said Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani had demanded Britain halt the sessions.
Citing unnamed “European sources”, the Tribunal’s official Twitter channel said the Iranian diplomat, who visited the UK Foreign Office on November 11, had threatened to halt part of its nuclear talks with world powers if the Tribunal continues its work.
After the first round was held, some extremist media in Iran called the court a British stunt to distract from the £400m owed to Iran while others said the US or Zionists put on a theatrical spectacle but it seems the event had enough impact on public opinion for Iranian extremists to choose to react.