Destruction and concealment of mass graves in Tabriz

There is a plot of land near the entrance to Vadieh Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan province, that is suspected of being the site of a mass grave containing the remains of dozens of political prisoners who were forcibly disappeared from Tabriz prison, and executed in secret in August and September 1988. The area, which is known as the Children’s Block, holds the individual graves of political prisoners who were summarily executed in the early 1980s.

As in many other cases, the families’ belief that this is a mass grave site is largely based on the information that they managed to obtain unofficially from government contacts in the months after the executions. According to local media reports, in June 2017, the Cemeteries Organisation of Tabriz, which oversees the management of the city’s cemeteries, initiated a project to convert the area suspected of being a mass grave site into an open space for holding official ceremonies.

Since then, the authorities have poured concrete over more than half of the area. Pictures and satellite images obtained by Amnesty International and Justice for Iran confirm drastic changes to the area between June 2017 and September 2017 when the completion of the open space was announced.

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