Iran: Preserve the Khavaran grave site for investigation into mass killings
Public Statement by
International calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately stop the
destruction of hundreds of individual and mass, unmarked graves in Khavaran,
south Tehran, to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic
investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue thorough, independent and
impartial investigation into mass executions which began in 1988, often referred
to in Iran as the "prison massacres". The organization fears that these actions
of the Iranian authorities are aimed at destroying evidence of human rights
violations and depriving the families of the victims of the 1988 killings of
their right to truth, justice and reparation.
indicate that between 9-16 January 2009, the numerous ad hoc grave markings made
by the families of some of those executed in previous years were destroyed by
bulldozer. The site was at least partially covered by soil and trees were
Mourners at the Khavaran cemetery (file photo)
International additionally calls on the Iranian government to act on its
standing invitation to UN mechanisms and to facilitate the visit to the country
of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
In his visit he should be allowed to have an unhindered access to the Khavaran
site with a view to indicating how best to conduct an investigation into the
events of 1988, including in relation to the unmarked graves at Khavaran.
Iranian authorities have the obligation to conduct an impartial investigation
into the events and bring to justice those responsible for the "prison
massacres" in fair proceedings and without recourse to the death penalty.
Destruction of the site would impede any such future investigation and would
violate the right of victims, including the families, to an effective remedy.
Iranian authorities also have a responsibility to ensure that the body of anyone
secretly buried who was not the victim of a crime is returned to his or her
relatives. Destruction of the grave site would prevent this from happening and
inflict further suffering on the families of the victims of the "prison
massacres" who have been yearly commemorating the killing of their loved ones by
gathering in Khavaran.
August 1988 and February 1989, the Iranian authorities carried out a massive
wave of executions of political prisoners - the largest since those carried out
in the first and second year after the Iranian revolution in 1979. In all,
between 4,500 and 10,000 prisoners are believed to have been killed.
International has repeatedly called for those responsible for the "prison
massacre" to be brought to justice in a fair trial without the death penalty.
further information, see
20th anniversary of 1988 "Prison Massacre", AI Index: MDE 13/118/2008, 19
August 2008, and Amnesty International's report, Iran: Violations of human
rights 1987-1990 (AI Index MDE 13/21/90).
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