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Letter to United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights

The Honourable Mary Robinson,
United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights,

25th January 1999

Dear Mrs. Robinson,

We, the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG), would like to strongly urge you to take action regarding the atmosphere of terror that has engulfed Iran as a result of the disappearances and extra-judicial killings of dissident intellectuals in the recent past.

As you are surely aware, the brutal campaign against freedom of expression and association in Iran has intensified with the killings of prominent dissidents. Among the victims are Daryoush Forouhar, Parvaneh Eskandari Forouhar; Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad ja'afar Pouyandeh.

In addition, Pirouz Davani, a writer/activist who led the group United Left and Rostam Hamendani, a political activist and an ally of Davani are reported missing and feared to have been killed.

The recent murders have a chilling resemblance, in terms of their targets and methods, to an earlier string of disappearances and mysterious deaths that occurred in 1996 and 1997. The victims of those killings included Ebrahim Zalzadeh, Ahmad Tafazzoli, Ghaffar Hosseini and Ahmad Mir Alaiee.

The IHRWG is outraged by these vicious crimes. The recent admission by the Intelligence Ministry, that some of its agents have been among those involved, has confirmed our long held suspicion that these killings are the work of a death squad with the tacit, if not direct, support of some centres of power in Iran.

Not withstanding this recent admission, we have serious reservations about the thoroughness of this investigation by said ministry and other government institutions. Our distrust is primarily based on the Islamic Republic of Iran's record of the past two decades, in general, and the recent intimidation of political opponents in particular.

Therefore, we respectfully offer our six-point request for your consideration in response to the present situation in Iran:

1. To condemn the situation in the strongest way.

2. To ask president Khatami:

a) to set up a fully independent team of investigators, consisting of qualified lawyers/jurists nominated by families of the victims, and to empower them so that their investigations can proceed as far as it is necessary to help bring to justice all the perpetrators of the assassinations;

b) to make the process open to the victims' families, the Iranian public, and to the international human rights organisation;

c) to identify and reveal the name of those who instigated and ordered the disappearances and murders as well as those who carried the orders through.

3. To urge public trials of the alleged criminals as well as those who have incited and authorised these terror campaigns.

4. To launch an inclusive investigation of the earlier political murders inside and outside Iran which have been ignored or dismissed previously.

5. To remind the IRI leaders that until the processes which have led to these egregious crimes are revealed and all of those involved are brought to justice they carry the burden of responsibility for them. 6. To remind the government of Iran that it is obligated, according to resolutions A/Res/53/144 of the General Assembly and 1998/3 of Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities to protect human rights workers, to provide adequate security for all human rights advocates, including those who are threatened and harassed by authorities and pressure groups.

We believe that Iran is at a crossroad were the authoritarian forces are making every effort to silence the dissenting voices and crush any attempt to empower the civil society. Hence, it is crucial that every attempt to empower the civil society through protection and promotion of human rights be supported by the international body, at the same time, that the state is pressed to honour its obligations.

We thank you in advance for considering our concerns and suggestions, and be assured that we make every effort to make "every day matter in the fight to broaden the horizon of human rights". We are looking forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Iranian Human Rights Working Group

cc: Honourable Kofi Annan,
Secretary General,
United Nations New York,
NY 10017


Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG), formed in 1994, is a community of individuals committed to campaigning for the improvement of human rights in Iran. The group's aims and objectives are contained in its Charter which also sets out the structure of the group and the domain of its activities.

The group has no political agenda, and makes no judgement on the legitimacy of the authorities in dealing with them, nor does it take the religious or political beliefs or personal attributes of individuals into consideration when it defends their human rights.

The group's membership is open to all individuals who believe in human right values as stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accept the group's Charter, and commit themselves to take part in the campaign for human rights in an atmosphere of mutual trust.

The group is run by an eight-member Steering Committee elected from amongst the membership for a term of two years.

Copyright © 1997 Abadan Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. May not be duplicated or distributed in any form