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Excellency Ms Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Javaid Rehman Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran to UN Human Rights Council.

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to UN Human Rights Council.

With respect, we some of the family members of prisoners executed in the 1980’s (1360’s in the Iranian Calendar) whose bodies were buried, singly or after the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, in mass graves in Khavaran Cemetery request your immediate action in preventing the destruction of these graves by the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On the 23rd April 2021, families visiting the Khavaran Cemetery were confronted with a shocking and horrific sight. On that section of the Khavaran Cemetery, which evidence suggests was the site of the mass grave of a number of victims of the massacre in the summer of 1988 (1367) from Tehran’s Evin and Gohardasht prison in Karaj, two new graves and ten others being prepared for burial had appeared. Since the massacre of political prisoners in 1988 no one had been buried in this section of the cemetery.

It has now become clear that the Iranian government, by putting pressure on the Bahai’ community, is pursuing its long-standing plan of demolishing the Khavaran Cemetery and erasing the evidence of the massacre of political prisoners. It is necessary to recall that with the widespread destruction of the Bahai’ cemeteries across the country after the 1979 revolution, a piece of land in the Khavaran district of East Tehran was given over to the community to bury their dead. From 1981, following the nation-wide suppression of political groups protesting to the Islamic Republic and the mass executions that followed, a section of this graveyard, which has become known over the preceding years as the Garden of Khavaran, was given over to the burial of dissidents, who according to fatwas by the ruling clergy are “un-Islamic and their burial in Islamic cemeteries not permissible”. Hundreds of executed political prisoners were buried here, either with specific information given to their family or anonymously. Following the mass killing of political prisoners in 1988, their families discovered that many victims had been buried in the same area in mass graves in two rows.

In addition, as confirmed by the Bahai’ community: ‘at least 50 Bahai’s, all of whom were victims of the systematic oppression against the Bahai’s in the early 1980s (60’s Iranian calendar), have also been buried in this same section of the Khavaran Cemetery. Specifically we know that the bodies of eight of the National Co-ordinating Body of the Bahai’ Community of Iran who were killed on the 27th December 1981 (6th Dey 1360) and also six members of the Tehran Religious Assembly who were executed on January 4, 1981 (14th Dey 1959) had been buried on this site. It is likely that other Bahai’ dead were also buried in the same section.

The Islamic Republic has been consistently determined to destroy the Khavaran Cemetery and in particular this section of Khavaran which contains the mass graves of political prisoners. In the early 2000s (the end of the 70’s) their pressure on the Bahai’ community to bury their dead in this zone and was met by their resistance because according to their religious beliefs “you cannot bury the dead in areas which contain human remains”. At that time following the resistance by the Bahai’ community and protest by the family of those executed in the decade of 1980’s and the summer of 1988, this conspiracy was thwarted.

Moreover “the project for organising and redevelopment” of this graveyard, which began in 2005 (1384), was also met by serious opposition and resistance of the families of the victims. They particularly insisted that before any changes in the cemetery it is necessary to identify each, and every person buried in this graveyard as well as the place of their burial.

In 2009 (1387), under the guise of redevelopment of Khavaran, serious damage was inflicted on the individual and the mass graves of Khavaran. Moreover, it is unclear if in the process the remains of those executed and buried here have been destroyed or not. This destruction was notified to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay by the families on January 18, 2009.

In recent years the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran have applied increasing pressure on the Bahai’ citizens of Iran, among which one can name the destruction, once more, of their burial grounds in a number of cities across the country. Moreover, in recent months once again, by bringing pressure, and according to the spokesperson of the Bahai’ community accompanied by threats and mistreatments, they are forcing them to bury their dead in the area of the mass graves, the burial-ground of some of the victims of the huge massacre of summer 1988.

As we had requested in our previous letter to Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, once again we ask you “to use all your power and resources to immediately prevent the demolition of this graveyard which is a living testament to a huge crime and an embodiment of the historic memory of the people of Iran”.

We ask of you that in addition to condemning these acts, you put pressure on the authorities in the Islamic Republic to immediately cease the destruction of Bahai’ cemeteries, and to stop forthwith the violation of the dignity of the dead and the destruction of the Khavaran Cemetery.

The demolition of this graveyard and the ignoring of the repeated requests for a thorough investigation of these executions is an open denial of the rights of the victims’ families. It is their right to receive accurate information regarding the killing of prisoners, to have certain knowledge of the presence of the bodies of their loved ones in this location so that they can mourn them. The destruction of this site and the removal of human remains that lie in these graves, and can help in identifying the victims, will endanger the unearthing of truth and the execution of justice for the families of the countless victims.

Signatories:

- Maryam Adjam, daughter of Yousefi, Farideh, and Adjam, Ali both executed 1983 and niece of Adjam, Hassan executed 1982 in Tehran

- Faraj Alyari, brother of Alyari, Yousef executed 1984 in Tehran

- Mohamad Azami, brother of Azami, Fereidoun executed 1982 in Tehran

- Nahid Akbarpour Sarvestani, sister of Akbarpour Sarvestani, Rostam executed 1981 in Shiraz

- Monireh Baradaran Khosroshahi, sister of Baradaran Khosroshahi, Mehdi executed 1981 in Tehran

- Mansoureh Behkish sister of
Behkish, Zahra, tortured to death possibly 1983 in Tehran
Behkish, Mahmoud, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran
Behkish, Mohamad-Reza killed 1982 in Tehran
Behkish, Mohamad- Ali, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran
Behkish, Mohsen, executed 1985 in Tehran

- Forough Bikmohammadi- Hazaveh, aughter of Bikmohammadi- Hazaveh, Mohamadreza and niece of Bikmohammadi- Hazaveh, Ahmadreza, both executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Bagher Ebrahimzadeh, brother of Ebrahimzadeh, Golam, tortured to death 1984 in Tehran

- Effat Mahbaz, wife of Eskandari, Alireza (Shapour), executed by Massacre 1988 and sister of Mahbaz, Ali executed 1981 in Tehran

- Mihan Rusta, wife of Esmati, Reza, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Anahita Rahmani, wife of Fathi, Behrouz, tortured to death 1984 in Tehran and cousin of Bahram Fadak executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Masoud, Fathi, brother of Fathi, Maghsoud executed 1984 in Tehran

- Mayam Nouri, wife of Fathi, Rahmat, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Golrokh Jahangiri wife of Jahangiri Lakani, Hasan, executed 1983 in Tehran

- Parviz Hodaie, brother of Hodaie, Bijan, executed 1981 and Hodaie, Manizheh executed 1982 and brother-in-law Masoud Jigarehi, executed 1982 in Tehran

- Rakhshandeh Hossenpour Roudsari, wife of Mehdizadeh, Ali, executed 1983 and sister of Hosseinpour Roudsari, Rahim, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Sedigheh Haji Mohsen, sister of Haji Mohsen, Hossein, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Sasan Kiani, brother of Kiani, Satar, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Rezvan Moghaddan wife of Manouchehrabadi, Ali Asghar, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Parviz Mokhtari, brother of Mokhtari, Siamak, executed 1981 in Tehran

- Reza Moeeni Chaghravand, brother of Moeeni, Heibatollah Chaghravand, and Brother-in-law, Akbari Kordestani, Kasra both executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran and Ansari, Masoud executed 1987 in Tehran 

- Banou Saberi, wife of Monshi Roudsari, Abasali, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Lily Panahi Shabestari, sister of Panahi Shabestari Mehrdad, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Iran-dokht Rezazadeh, sister of Rezazadeh, Dariush, executed 1981 in Tehran

- Shahab Shokouhi brother of Shokouhi, Alireza executed 1983 in Tehran

- Soraya Zanegbari wife of Shokri, Ghorban-Ali, executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Esmat Talebi Kalkhorani wife of Simiari, Abdol-Majid, and sister of Talebi Kalkhorani, Adel both executed by Massacre 1988 in Tehran

- Majid Nafisi, husband of Tabaian, Ezzat executed, 1982 in Tehran

- Wahid Wahdat-Hagh son of Vahdat-Hagh, Hosein, executed 1981 in Tehran

- Chowra Makaremi daughter of Zarei, Fatemeh, executed by Massacre 1988 in Shiraz

- Farideh Dizji wife of Bahmani, Rostam, executed, 1983 in Tehran


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