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    News & Views

    Alarming pattern of killings and "disappearances"

    News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

    11 DECEMBER 1998

    Alarming pattern of killings and "disappearances" An alarming pattern of murders and "disappearances" of several prominent Iranian writers and government critics is emerging in Iran, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Mohammad Ja'far Puyandeh, Hushang Golshiri, Kazem Kordavini, `Ali Ashraf Darvishiyan and Mansur Kushan, all of whom are prominent Iranian writers. They were questioned by the authorities in October 1998 in connection with their desire to establish an independent writers association, Kanun. Mohammad Ja'far Puyandeh went missing on 9 December while travelling to a meeting. This follows the recent possible "disappearance" and unexplained deaths of two other writers and critics of the Iranian government, Majid Sharif and Mohammad Mokhtari.

    The body of Majid Sharif, a translator and journalist who contributed to the banned publication Iran-e Farda, was identified in a Tehran mortuary on 24 November by his brother, who had been summoned by officials. The coroner's report cited "heart failure" as the cause of death. Majid Sharif went missing on 20 November after leaving for the town of Mashhad to attend a funeral.

    Mohammad Mokhtari, another writer questioned over the establishment of Kanun, was found dead in suspicious circumstances on 9 December after having been missing for six days. Marks on his head and neck suggest he may have been beaten and strangled. "The Iranian authorities should undertake a full, impartial and independent investigation into the deaths of Majid Sharif and Mohammad Mokhtari and make the results of any such investigation public", the organization said.

    Dariyush Foruhar, a prominent critic of the Iranian government, and his wife, Parvaneh Foruhar, were killed at their home in Tehran on 22 November. Dariyush Foruhar, Minister of Labour in the Provisional Government of Mehdi Bazargan in 1979, was the leader of the Iran Nation Party (Hezb-e Mellat-e Iran), a banned opposition group. Parvaneh Foruhar was also a prominent opposition activist.

    It is currently unclear who was responsible for the killings, described by President Mohammad Khatami as a "repulsive crime". The Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari has stated that "the government is determined to get to the root of the matter and deal with the culprits whoever they may be or whatever their position". Associates of Dariyush Foruhar have expressed their belief that the killings may have been politically motivated.

    Amnesty International is concerned that recent events may represent a trend towards targeting of opposition figures and, while not seeking to apportion blame, would remind the Iranian authorities of their duty to ensure that the lives of all citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran are protected, in accordance with Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party. Article 6 of the ICCPR states: "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."

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