The monumental 800-page document names powerful Afghan officials as responsible for the mass killings.
MAZAR-E-SHARIF, AFGHANISTAN - The atrocities of the Afghan civil war in the 1990s are still recounted in whispers here -- tales of horror born out of a scorched-earth ethnic and factional conflict in which civilians and captured combatants were frequently slaughtered en masse.
Stark evidence of such killings rests in the mass graves that still litter the Afghan countryside.
One such site is outside Mazar-e-Sharif, in the north. Experts say at least 16 victims are here, and each skull is uniformly punctured by a single bullet-entry hole at the back.
The powerful men accused of responsibility for these deaths and tens of thousands of others are named in the pages of a monumental 800-page report on human rights abuses in Afghanistan from the Soviet-era in the '80s to the fall of the Taliban in 2001, according to researchers who helped compile the study.
The list of names is a sort of who's who of power players in Afghanistan: Former and current warlords or officials, some now in very prominent positions in the national government, as well as in insurgent factions fighting it. Many of the named men are frequently mentioned when talk turns to fears of violence after the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014.
But the report seeking to hold them accountable is unlikely to be released anytime soon, the researchers say, accusing senior Afghan officials of effectively suppressing the work.
Titled simply, "Conflict Mapping in Afghanistan Since 1978," the study, prepared by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, details the locations of 180 mass graves of civilians or prisoners.
The study was commissioned as part of a reconciliation and justice effort ordered by President Hamid Karzai in 2005, and it was completed in December.
Three Afghan and foreign human rights activists who worked as researchers and analysts on large sections of the report spoke about its contents on condition of anonymity, both out of fear of reprisal and because the commission had not authorized them to discuss it publicly.
According to Afghan rights advocates and Western officials, word that the report was near to being officially submitted to the president apparently prompted powerful former warlords, including the first vice president, Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, to demand that Karzai dismiss the commissioner responsible, Ahmad Nader Nadery.
Karzai did remove Nadery. But a spokesman for the president, Aimal Faizi, said it was "irresponsible and untrue" to say that the president fired Nadery because of the mass graves report or was trying to block its release.
The figures accused in the report of playing some role in mass killings include some of the most powerful figures in Afghanistan's government and ethnic factions.
Among them are First Vice President Fahim, a Tajik from the Jamiat Islami Party, and Second Vice President Karim Khalili, a Hazara leader from the Wahdat Party; Gen. Atta Mohammed Noor, a Tajik from the Jamiat Islami Party and now the governor of the important northern province of Balkh, of which Mazar-e-Sharif is capital; and Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who holds the honorary title of chief of staff to the supreme commander of the Afghan Armed Forces.
In all, the researchers said, more than 500 Afghans are named in the report as responsible for mass killings.