Amnesty International has called on members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand that Iran stop concealing the mass graves of victims of the 1988 prison massacres and open an international investigation into the “extrajudicial execution and enforced disappearance of thousands of dissidents amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity.”

The rights group said in a statement on September 13 that Iranian authorities have erected 2-meter-high concrete walls around the Khavaran mass graves outside Tehran where the remains of several hundred political dissidents executed in secret in 1988 are believed to be buried.

The construction has sparked concerns that the authorities can more easily destroy or tamper with the mass-grave site away from public view as the site is no longer visible from the outside and its entrance is guarded by security agents who only permit relatives to enter on certain days, Amnesty said.

“The Iranian authorities cannot simply build a wall around a crime scene and think that all their crimes will be erased and forgotten,” said Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“For 34 years, the authorities have systematically and deliberately concealed and destroyed key evidence that could be used to establish the truth about the scale of the extrajudicial executions carried out in 1988 and obtain justice and reparations for the victims and their families,” he added.

Through his fatwa in 1988, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini paved the way for the immediate execution of Iranian prisoners deemed loyal to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), a political-militant organization that advocated the overthrow of Iran’s clerical regime.

Many of the prisoners had been rounded up for even the slightest perceived affiliation to the MKO. The fatwa eventually encompassed all left-wing opponents of the regime, including communists, Trotskyists, Marxist-Leninists, and others.

The cemetery in the east of the capital was traditionally a final resting place for members of religious minorities, who were interred there to keep them separate from the graves of Muslims. But following the mass executions, Khavaran became best known as a secret burial ground for some of the thousands killed.

Last month, the families of victims of the mass executions expressed outrage over construction and other changes made at the Khavaran cemetery, which they believe holds the remains of their loved ones.

Amnesty accused Iranian authorities of putting up five security cameras both inside the site and in the street outside “to intimidate mourning families and deter members of the public from visiting the site to pay their respects.”

“States engaging at the UN Human Rights Council have a moral obligation to stand with families, victims, and survivors of atrocities in Iran including the 1988 prison massacres and heed the calls of UN experts for the establishment of an international investigative mechanism,” Eltahawy added.

The UN Human Rights Council is currently holding a regular session in Geneva.

Source » rferl