September 1st may become an International Day in Remembrance of  the Massacre of Political Prisoners

A resolution regarding the observance of September 1 as the Memorial Day for the massacre of political prisoners that was proposed by one of the active members of MEHR was approved at the Amnesty International Southern Regional Conference in October 2002 .

Based on the initiative of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR), many Iranian organizations in Europe and in the United States decided to observe September 1st as the Memorial Day for the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran during the summer of 1988 by the Islamic Regime of Iran. Several conferences and gatherings were formed around the world to observe this tragic event on September , 2002, including the MEHR's conference in Los Angeles.

This resolution will be discussed in the Annual General Meeting of the Amnesty International in April 2003. It asks to expand this existing commemoration of The Massacre of 1988 into an international day of remembrance for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience killed by their governments.    

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Resolution Title: Request for Commemoration Day for the Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience Who Were Executed or Massacred By Their Governments

Sponsor name: Pari Emamjomeh (MEHR Iran)

Region: Southern Region, Group 663,10/2/02


 WHEREAS "… AI never loses sight of the fact that these principles are important because of their impact on the real lives and personal tragedies of the victims of the human rights violations… The first battle is the battle to preserve the individual identity of the victim. A victim is not a statistic or a sociological category. A victim is a human being. And every human being has the right to the elemental human dignity of being named.  The second battle is the battle against forgetting. The suffering of victims must be acknowledged and given its due importance. There can be no justice while the perpetrators are allowed to ignore or deny what they have done. The third battle is the battle for compassion for all victims of human rights violations…"   

WHEREAS the vision (and mission) of Amnesty is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.  

WHEREAS in pursuit of this vision, Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.

WHEREAS the core values of Amnesty International are to form a global community of human rights defenders with the principles of international solidarity, effective action for the individual victim, global coverage, the universality and indivisibility of human rights, impartiality and independence, and democracy and mutual respect.

WHEREAS the slogan of Amnesty International is, ''The candle burns not for us, but for all those whom we failed to rescue from prison, who were shot on the way to prison, who were tortured, who were kidnapped, who 'disappeared'. That's what the candle is for....''

WHEREAS, Amnesty International has documented massacres and political killing that have occurred since1806 until present time.

WHEREAS there is no remembrance day by Amnesty International, United Nations or other human rights watch groups to commemorate those political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who have lost their lives because of kidnapping, torture, execution and massacre (Attachment #1).  

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Amnesty International dedicates a day to remembrance of the political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and all other victims of human rights abuses whom we, and humanity as a whole, have failed to rescue because they were executed, massacred, murdered, or kidnapped and killed, and request the United Nations to add this day to its official calendar.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Amnesty International, in consultation with other international organizations, decides the most suitable day for such a remembrance. If no particular day is preferred by these organizations, this resolution recommends
Sept. 1st as such a day.


This resolution requests that the Amnesty International set aside a specific day to remember those who have lost their lives due to politically motivated torture and execution.  Other days to remember victims of human rights already exist, including International Day of Support for Victims of Torture (June 26th), International Day of the “Disappeared” (August 30th), and International Human Rights Day (December 10th).  These days are often helpful in organizing campaigns since they are observed annually. This is especially true if the commemoration day has international support, as do the UN days mentioned above.   They are also useful for attracting media attention to a particular human rights issue.  

The day requested by this resolution differs from the dates that already exist since it would specifically recognize those POCs and political prisoners who have been killed by their governments.  Such a day is not currently observed by Amnesty International or the United Nations.   

In particular, the resolution suggests September 1st as the day of remembrance, although the wording would allow another date to be chosen by the international movement. This date was chosen by the author because in the summer of 1988, the Islamic Regime of Iran killed more than 3,000 political prisoners. Amnesty international was the first organization to report on what has been called “The Massacre of 1988”.  Recently, Iranian organizations in Europe and in the United States (based on the initiative of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR) ) have discussed dedicating a day of remembrance of the catastrophe. The groups have proposed September 1st as the commemoration date since most of the executions were carried out between July and October of 1988.  After a few informal observations of the day in Iran, and considering the fact that September 1st was already chosen by some groups, September 1st  came to be accepted by all and was formally declared to be the day of remembrance.  

This resolution asks to expand this existing commemoration of The Massacre of 1988 into an international day of remembrance for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience killed by their governments.   


  1. Amnesty International 2001 report, In the Name of the Victim, Part 1, Forward, page 10.



  4. AI-index: ACT 30/005/2001 10/04/2001 & ACT 30/005/2001, EXTERNAL DOCUMENT News service: 66/01, Peter Benson's Biography

  5. Amnesty International publications:

    a) Think as a mother, an attempt to give content to those bland words "human rights"

    b) Voices for Freedom, an Amnesty International anthology

    c) Report of Amnesty International on the Massacre of 1988, Amnesty International, Iran, Violations of Human Rights (1987-1990); the Baban revolt against the Ottoman empire(1806-08); the killing of Armenian by Turkish Government (1915); the Mount Ararat revolt of the Hobound league (1930); the crushing of the Kurdish Mahabad republic and hanging of its leaders(1946-47); the massacre of 500,000 or more "communist"  in Indonesia (1965-66); the Iraqi attempts to crush the Kurds by war(1969-70) and assassination (1976-78); Chile after the overthrow of Allende;  mass grave of more than fifty people in Peru;  Uganda, political killing (1971-1979); mass political killing of more than 300,000 in Kampuchea (1975 to 1979); political killing in Guatemala (nearly 5000 arrested and killed in Guatemala (1978-1981); the missing children of Argentina (67 missing children in Argentina- some disappeared with their parents); the  war of Iran on its Kurds (1979); political killings cover-up of more than 40,000 people in El Salvador (1978-1983); massacre of thousands political prisoners and prisoner of conscience in the summer of 1988.  

 Attachment #1:

List of UN Decades and UN days/weeks

International Decades and Years

1990s International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
1990s Third Disarmament Decade
1990-1999 United Nations Decade of International Law
1990-2000 International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism
1991-2000 Fourth United Nations Development Decade
1991-2000 Second Transport and Communications Decade in Africa
1991-2000 United Nations Decade against Drug Abuse
1993-2002 Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa
1993-2002 Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons
1993-2003 Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination
1994-2004 International Decade of the World's Indigenous People
1995-2004 United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education
1997-2006 United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty
1999 International Year of Older Persons
1999 Centennial of the First International Peace Conference
2000 International Year for the Culture of Peace
2000 International Year of Thanksgiving
2001 International Year of Volunteers
2001 United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations
2001 International Year of Mobilization against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World
2002 International Year of Mountains , 2002 International Year of Ecotourism ,2005 International, Year of Microcredit

Annual Days and Weeks

8 March - United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace (Human Rights of Women Web Page)
21 March - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Beginning 21 March - Week of Solidarity with the Peoples struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination
22 March - World Day for Water
23 March - World Meteorological Day
7 April - World Health Day
23 April - World Book and Copyright Day
3 May - World Press Freedom Day
15 May - International Day of Families
17 May - World Telecommunication Day
Beginning 25 May - Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of All Colonial Territories Fighting for Freedom, Independence and Human Rights
31 May - World No-Tobacco Day
4 June - International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
5 June - World Environment Day
17 June - World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
26 June - International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
26 June - International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
First Saturday of July - International Day of Cooperatives
11 July - World Population Day
9 August - International Day of the World's Indigenous People ( New York, 9-10 August 2001)
September (opening day of General Assembly) - International Day of Peace
8 September - International Literacy Day
16 September - International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
last week in September - World Maritime Day
1 October - International Day of Older Persons
First Monday of October - World Habitat Day
9 October -World Post Day
Second Wednesday of October -International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
16 October - World Food Day
17 October - International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
24 October - United Nations Day
24 October - World Development Information Day
24-30 October - Disarmament Week
16 November - International Day for Tolerance
20 November - Africa Industrialization Day
20 November - Universal Children's Day
21 November - World Television Day
29 November - International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
1 December - World AIDS Day
2 December - International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
3 December - International Day of Disabled Persons

5 December - International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development
7 December - International Civil Aviation Day
10 December - Human Rights Day
29 December - International Day for Biological Diversity

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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
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