At the time, many of the families were told that their loved one had died and were given their belongings, but they were not told where the bodies were to be buried or why they had been executed. Others were not even told that their loved ones had been executed.
The suffering and anguish that these families have been put through over the years is criminal. Authorities have targeted the families in a bid to silence them and to make them end their searches for the body of their loved ones. And to stop them seeking justice.
Families who just want the truth have been harassed and intimidated and have even been attacked by regime agents.
Amnesty International, on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, has drawn attention to the injustice and the situation that continues to haunt many people to this day. The organisation highlighted that families have been unable to provide their loved ones with a proper burial and have no idea in which mass burial ground they were put.
Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Philip Luther said that the “Iranian authorities’ ongoing refusal to acknowledge the deaths or to reveal the fate and whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared and killed has placed a cruel burden on family members who continue to be haunted by a sense of anguish, uncertainty and injustice”.
Furthermore, he highlighted that there is “no doubt” that the continued suffering “violates the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment under international law.”
Amnesty International highlighted the case of a number of victims that continue to be haunted by the events of 1988. One mother still awaits the return of her son, unable to accept that he is dead. Other people have suffered mental health issues and suffered with physical symptoms such as heart attacks induced by stress.
Shayesteh Vatandoost is still unable to get over the death of her husband Farzan Babry. He was forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed more than three decades ago, but, without a body to mourn, Shayesteh finds it hard to accept that her husband is dead. She said: “After all these years, many families still remain in agony and disbelief… Sometimes, I am even gripped by doubt, and wonder if my husband could be alive… I mean, as long as you have not seen the bodies, you can never fully believe they are gone.”
Amnesty International reiterated its call for the UN to establish an independent investigation into the deaths of these dissidents. It calls on the UN to find out the truth about the events that can only be described as a crime against humanity and it wants to see those responsible held to justice.