TEHRAN, IRAN, 31-DEC-1998: Iranian demonstrators show
pictures of opposition leader Daryoush Forhar and his wife Parvaneh Eskandariar
who were killed last month in Iran during a demonstration in Tehran to
protest against recent series of murders of Iranian dissidents and intellectuals
December 31. The protests turned violent when the demonstrators clashed
with the police and several people were injured. [Photo by Behrouz Mehri,
Several injured in Tehran clash between protestors,
TEHRAN, Dec 31 (AFP) - Several people were injured here Thursday during
a clash between police and demonstrators protesting against a recent series
of murders of Iranian dissidents and intellectuals.
Witnesses said the clashes erupted after a memorial service held to
mark the 40th day since the fatal stabbing of nationalist leader Daryush
Foruhar and his wife.
Around 5,000 mourners attended the ceremony at a mosque in central
Several groups of demonstrators, defying police orders, then took to
the streets for a march, chanting "Death to despotism" and "Freedom,
security ... this is our slogan."
But they were confronted by baton-wielding riot police in front of
the Fakhr mosque and in the ensuing clash several people were injured and
several others arrested.
Several women were injured in a stampede as the police tried to forcibly
disperse the crowd.
Foruhar and his wife were stabbed to death in their Tehran home by
unidentified intruders on November 22.
The killings were followed by the kidnappings and murders of two secular
writers, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Pouyandeh, in early December.
Another intellectual, Majid Sharif, was also found dead under mysterious
circumstances around the same time, but the authorities said he had died
of a heart attack.
The memorial service, attended by many members and sympathizers of
liberal and nationalist opposition movements, turned into a meeting of
solidarity with the victims after several speakers made fiery speeches
against hardliners in the Islamic regime.
Bahram Namazi, a spokesman for Foruhar's Iranian Nation's Party, accused
"branches" in Iran's intelligence services of having a part in
The clashes occurred immediately after a brief speech delivered by
the Foruhar's daughter, Parastu, as young demonstrators holding candles
started to march in the direction of the nearby Foruhar house.
Several placards signed by Foruhar's party, which is banned here, were
posted in front of the mosque reading: "With Foruhar's blood the tree
of freedom was irrigated."
Some demonstrators carried pictures of Mohammad Mossadeq, father of
Iran's nationalist movement and Foruhar's mentor, as well as that of Mokhtari.
Among those attending the memorial ceremony were Ebrahim Yazdi, former
foreign minister and leader of the Islamic liberal Iran's Freedom Movement,
academics and intellectuals.
The killings have provoked a wave of protest in Iran and demands for
an official investigation.
Several liberal opposition leaders submitted an open letter to President
Mohammad Khatami on Thursday demanding information on the results of the
An official in Khatami's office recalled that the president has assigned
a special team to investigate the "suspicious murders," pledging
that information on the outcome will be made public "if it doesn't
hurt the proceedings."
The authorities have condemned the campaign of violence against dissidents
and pledged to investigate, although the police are yet to divulge any
The conservative-led judiciary has blamed the murders on "plots
by foreign enemy," but Khatami has said only that they are the work
of an "organized crime ring."
The presidential press office said a special committee set up earlier
this month by Khatami to probe the murders briefed him on Thursday on the
trend of the investigation.
"The committee said it had made good progress in connection with
the recent suspicious murders, so much that it has pave dthe way for practical
action in the investigation," it said, without elaborating.
The president demanded "greater speed in the process of the probe
so that the public could be informed of the results," it added.
The official IRNA news agency reported earlier that a court originally
assigned the cases had forwarded them to a military tribunal after deciding
a special investigation was needed.
But an unnamed military spokesman told IRNA that the cases "have
nothing to do with the armed forces or the police."