Letter to United Nations High Commissioner on Human
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
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.
Iranian Human Rights Working Group
cc: Honourable Kofi Annan,
United Nations New York,
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.