Just Like Any Other Kid

August 15, 2018

During his six years in Mashhad’s Vakil Abad prison, Amir Mirzaian befriended the other young men in his ward. “They were just like any other teenager,” he says. After his release, many of the friends he had made during his imprisonment were swiftly executed and buried in secret, unmarked mass graves.

In Iran, the prison massacre of 1988 is remembered by survivors and victims’ families, through the telling of stories like Mr. Mirzaian’s. He recalls, with great fondness, a memory of the young men with whom he shared a cell. He also morosely describes their tragic deaths, and the torture and harassment their families were forced to endure by authorities. After his friends’ executions, the location of their bodies—in unmarked mass graves—was ordered by Iranian officials to be kept secret. This secrecy deprived families of important burial rites.

Mr. Mirzaian still has nightmares about those times. His recollections of the incarceration, torture and mass-executions of prisoners, and about the aftermath of mass-graves and government’s harassment of victims’ families, fit into a pattern of crimes against humanity committed against some 4,000-5,000 individuals and their families 30 years ago. There has been no redress or accountability for these crimes. Amir Mirzaian hopes that history will not repeat itself.