Stop the destruction of graves in Khavaran

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) are profoundly disturbed by the Iranian government’s razing of the graves and grave markers at the site of Khavaran, in south Tehran and call on Iran to immediately cease all destruction.

According to the information released, the graves of thousands of victims of political repression of 1988, the so called "prison massacres", are being destroyed. Part of the site is partially covered as tress were planted ! FIDH and LDDHI consider that it is imperative that the graves and existing makeshift grave markers placed at certain sites by victims’ family members stay intact so that an in-depth and thorough investigation can be conducted on the alleged human rights violations surrounding the conditions of the executions of political dissidents.

FIDH and LDDHI call on Iranian authorities to preserve the site and to proceed to a complete, independent and fair investigation into the 1988 political prisoner massacres in order to define the criminal accountability of those involved. The two organizations strongly endorse the calls on the Iranian authorities to give a positive response to the existing request of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran and to have unrestricted access in the country.

The razing of the sites -they were and the rejection of calls for an in-depth investigation on the executions denies the victims’ families the right to information about the reality of the prison massacres as well as the right to mourn the loss of their family members at the Khavaran gravesite as they have on an annual basis for several years. The destruction of the sites and the scientific evidence they may contain will also prevent the families of the victims from seeking justice.

Background information :

The ‘prison murder’ of 1988 was carried mostly against political prisoners held captive after the most wide-ranging arrests conducted in Iran after the repression taking place during the first two years following the 1979 revolution.

The exact number of gravesites and bodies buried at Khavaran is unknown, though estimates start at least 5,000 victims. Recently, however, a former deputy at the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), Reza Malek, who worked at the MOIS when Ali Fallahian was Minister, reportedly admitted via videotape that there are between 170 to190 mass graves for political prisoners murdered in 1988, containing up to 33,700 prisoners, which "included 11-12 year old children and pregnant women".

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