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    News & Views

    Warning bells in the aftermath of Forouhar's murder

    Dariush Forouhar

    By Hossein Baqerzadeh
    November 22, 1998
    Iranian Human Rights Working Group

    News of murder of Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh Forouhar which took place in Tehran Sunday has been very shocking. Forouhar was the leader of Hezb-e Mellat Iran, a long-established political party in Iran, and a follower of Mosaddegh. He ws also the labor minisrter under the provisional governent of Mehdi Bazargan after the revolution. These horrible deaths which have all the hallmarks of political killings, serve as warning bells: warnings that could threaten other opposition forces and campaigners for democracy and freedom.

    Openeing the way for political killings in Iran would, once again, lead to the systematic political violence and demolish any hope of a peaceful transformation to democracy. One can not make any judgement about these crimes until the facts are fully known. But while the highest authorities of the Iranian governmnet justify and promote violence and killings on ideological grounds (such as the order for murder of Salman Rushdie), how can one exonerrate them from full responsibility in such killings? Iranian authorities can avoid responsiblity for such ecrimes only if they irrevocably denounce violence and killings under any circumstances. Through their actions, they must also demonstarte that they would never use violence as a means of political power.

    Mr. Forouhar was the first political leader inside the country to respond positively to the call made ny Iranian Human Rights Working Group for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran. In a letter and statement he issued on the Human Rights Day (December 10) last year, he declared his and his party's commitment to end the death penalty in Iran. This makes the murder of Forouhar and his wife particularly sad.

    On the other hand, the best way of showing him respect will be to respond posoitively to the call for the abloition of the death penalty in Iran. It is only through campaigs against the culture of violence, such as the complete abolition of the death penalty in Iran, that one can hope for a peaceful future for Iran and fight against continuation of crimes like these. Now, the big question is whether other political groupings inside Iran are also willing to respond positively to this call so that this major barrier for a democratic transformation in Iran is lifted?

    The wish for the abloition of the death penalty in Iran on the part of Mr. Forouhar also means that he has asked in advance that his and his wife killres are not executed. This means that the Iranian government should find and punish the killer(s) but it has no right to execute them.

    The Iranian government should do away with this cruel and inhuman punishment as soon as possible and put an end to the culture of legal killings. On the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Iran must join the majority of United Nations member states and put an end to this barbaric chapter. Only such an outcome, together with the arrest and trial of the killres, can console the families and friends of these two victims of violence.


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