Iran: Stop destruction of Khavaran mass grave site and investigate 1988 'prison massacres'

Amnesty is urging the authorities to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue investigation into mass executions which began in 1988, often referred to in Iran as the “prison massacres”. The organisation fears that these actions by 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.

Amnesty International additionally calls on the Iranian government to facilitate the visit 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.

The Iranian authorities have the obligation to conduct a thorough, independent and 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.

The 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.

Background

Between 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.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for those responsible for the “prison massacre” to be brought to justice in a fair trial without the death penalty.

More media information:
Steve Ballinger, Amnesty International UK press office, +44 (0)20 7033 1658
Out of office hours: +44 (0)7721 398984

View latest press releases