27 July, 2018: The Ahwaz Municipality has been destroying the mass graves of political prisoners killed during the 1988 massacre, in the past week. This is done with the pretence of a plan to build more roads and green spaces. The news, photos and videos that Justice for Iran has received show entire sites of mass graves being transformed into plain ground resembling the surrounding area. Witnesses have reported that the removal of markings and stones placed around the graves by the families of victims took less than 24 hours.
In summer 1988, during the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners, at least 44 male and female political prisoners were buried in mass graves in Padad Shahr, Ahwaz.
The victims’ families have said that in November 1988, they were taken to a plot of land by the Revolutionary Guard. They were shown a concrete block and told that the bodies of political prisoners were buried under it. The families believe that the authorities that buried the bodies also poured concrete over them, lest the families try to dig the ground to recover the bodies of their loved ones.
The mass graves have always been despised by government officials who used them to hide the true magnitude of lives lost during the 1988 massacre. For over a decade, these sites have been surrounded by waste and debris in order to hide their truth from public eyes and to make them inaccessible for victims’ families.
The plan to build a road in this area was put in action early last year but was interrupted due to several appeals made by victims’ families, human rights groups, and the United Nations. A family member of one of the victims told Justice for Iran, “The area around the graves had previously been cleared by loaders. The families protested and the authorities promised that even though a motorway is being built, the graves will not be touched and some green space will remain.”
Justice for Iran and Amnesty International raised concerns about the deliberate destruction of mass grave sites in May 2018, in their joint report: Criminal cover-up: Iran destroying mass graves of victims of 1988.