The Iranian government has subjected the families of protesters killed during the country’s nationwide uprisings to arbitrary arrests, restrictions on peaceful gatherings at burial sites, and even the destruction of the victims’ tombstones, Amnesty International reported on Monday.
Following the release of their comprehensive report, Amnesty has called on the Iranian authorities to end the escalating harassment and intimidation of the victims’ families and allow them to commemorate the one-year anniversary of their loved ones’ deaths.
The organisation described the mental anguish inflicted on the bereaved families by these coercive measures as a violation of international law on torture and other inhuman treatment.
The report noted that no official has been held accountable for the unlawful deaths of hundreds of people, including men, women and children, at the hands of security forces during the crackdown on nationwide protests that followed the death of Kurdish-Iranian protest icon Jina (Mahsa) Amini in September 2022.
Over the past months, the Aichi cemetery in Iran’s Kurdish town of Saqqez has transformed into a frequent demonstration site for condemning the Iranian government’s authorised killing of protesters. Many individuals who lost their lives have been laid to rest there alongside Amini. The victims’ families face ongoing harassment and intimidation from security forces.
As a result, the cemetery has been turned into a construction site by the government, grave sites have been altered, and some protesters’ graves have even been moved. While Amini’s tomb remains located in the cemetery, the modifications have made her memorial stone inaccessible to the public.
“The cruelty of the Iranian authorities knows no bounds,” said Diana Eltahawy, the NGO’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “In their sinister attempt to cover up their crimes, the authorities are adding to the anguish and suffering of the victims’ families by preventing them from seeking justice, truth and reparation, or even from placing flowers on the graves of their loved ones,” she added.
Amnesty’s latest research publication highlights 36 cases from 10 provinces in Iran where the families of victims have suffered rights violations. These include the families of those killed by security forces during protests, those arbitrarily executed and a torture survivor who tragically took his own life after being released from detention.
Violations against the families include arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair prosecution on vague national security charges, coercive interrogations, unlawful surveillance and the desecration of graves.