by Jazeh Miller
According to an Amnesty International report, Iranian authorities are building a road over a mass grave and dozens of individual graves in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province. This plot of land is believed to contain the remains of dozens of political dissidents, both men, and women, who were forcibly disappeared and extra-judicially killed in the 1980s including during the mass killings of 1988.
The families of the victims are suffering much distress because the individual and mass graves of their loved ones are being destroyed. They are also afraid of facing further persecution if they speak out.
Photo and video evidence has revealed that the concrete structure marking the mass grave as well as dozens of individual graves have been smashed. Now, the graves are hidden under piles of dirt and debris.
According to an official sign at the site, the purpose of the project is to build a “boulevard” and create a 21-acre park, and that the project is supervised by the Municipality of Ahvaz.
Amnesty International previously received information from human rights defenders outside Iran that municipal officials had promised the families that the road under construction would not go over the individual and mass graves. However, visiting families at the site on July 20th, 2018 said that that graves had been destroyed. Eyewitnesses report that barbed wire now surrounds the site, and it is under heavy surveillance.
AI’s report says further that the destruction of the graves follows a three-decade-long campaign of enforced disappearance by the authorities which has involved concealing the truth about the fate and whereabouts of those extrajudicially killed in 1988. The families have been denied the right to receive and bury their loved ones according to their traditions, and the grave-sites have been desecrated by turning it into a rubbish dump.
As well, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) president-elect Maryam Rajavi has called for urgent action to prevent the destruction of the graves of victims and removing the traces of the 1988 massacre in Iran.
Mrs. Rajavi urged the UN Secretary-General, the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and international human rights organizations to take immediate action to prevent the Iranian regime’s systematic destruction of the graves, and the removal of evidence of this massacre — throughout the country, but particularly in Ahvaz.
The clerical regime has tried to prevent the growth of the Call-for-Justice movement but has failed. Now, in an attempt to evade the consequences of this genocide, they are desperately trying to remove the traces of this massacre, according to Mrs. Rajavi.
She warned that the destruction of the graves of the martyrs is a major crime in itself, whose perpetrators must face justice and be held accountable.
The regime demolished the graves of PMOI martyrs in Vadi-e Rahmat Cemetery in Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan Province In late June. The mass graves of the martyrs of the 1988 massacre and other PMOI martyrs in Behesht-e Reza Cemetery in Mashhad, capital of Razavi Khorasan Province had been destroyed on the orders of the clerical regime’s officials over the past months.