Jafar Behkish is a 53-year-old Iranian-Canadian activist who works as an engineer with SNC Lavalin in Toronto. Behkish emigrated from Iran 10 years ago. Beekhish figures into my Ottawa Citizen column today about the Massacre88 Campaign and the House f Commons' unanimous adoption of a resolution declaring the Khomeinist massacres of political prisoners to be a crime against humanity.
One day, Behkish said, there must be a reckoning. “It will be possible to have the same kind of atrocity as 1988, if we don’t look at a way to prepare and deal with these things,” he told me. The story of his own family, a prominent Tehran family of intellectuals, activists, socialists and academics, is sufficient to make the point.
Jafar’s brother, Mohammad-Reza, was killed by Khomeinist forces in Tehran on March 14, 1982. He was 26. Several of Jafar’s siblings were arrested on August 25, 1983, and among them was Jafar’s sister Zahra, 37, who was executed the same day. It took the authorities two years to turn their attention to Jafar’s brother, 21-year-old Mohsen, who was sentenced to death and executed on May 14, 1985. Jafar’s brothers Mahmoud, 32, and Mohammad-Ali, 19, weren’t brought before a sentencing panel until later in 1985, when they were sentenced to prison terms of 10 and eight years respectively. They were reportedly brought before a Khomeinist “death committee” and sentenced to be hanged during the 1988 massacre.
While Mohsen was buried in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahara cemetery, it is not known where Zahra was buried, exactly, nor Jafar’s other brothers. Two of Jafar’s brothers-in-law were also murdered by the regime.
The whereabouts of their remains is unknown but they are believed to have been buried in the mass grave at Kharavan. Jafar himself was imprisoned and tortured three times during the 1980s, serving a total of 18 months without having been formally charged with any crime. Back in Tehran, Jafar’s sister Mansoureh is expecting the knock on the door any day now.