Crime and punishment
An interview with an assassination survivor
By Fariba Amini
June 6, 2001
So he lay a very long while, now and then he seemed to wake up, and at
such moments he noticed that it was far into the night, but it did not occur
to him to get up. At last he noticed that it was beginning to get light.
He was lying on his back, still dazed from his recent oblivion. Fearful,
despairing cries rose shrilly from the street, sounds which he heard every
night. -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Crime and Punishment"
An assassination attempt changed Parviz Dastmalchi's
life. It happened on the night of September 17, 1992. At around 11, gunmen
stormed Café Mikonos in Berlin, killing four members of the Kurdish
Democratic Party of Iran: its leader, Dr. Mohammad Sadegh (Saeid) Sharafkandi,
along with Fattah Abdali , Homayoun Ardalan, and Mohammad Nouri Dehkordi.
Sharafkandi, who had replaced Abdolrahman Ghassemlou, (also murdered
in Vienna a few months earlier), had traveled from Iraqi Kurdistan as a
guest of the German Social Democrats. Dastmalchi was among several members
of the Iranian opposition who had gathered for this dinner meeting.
The assassins were of Iranian and Lebanese nationality and all had
been trained at the special commando camp of the Revolutionary Guards in
Rasht in northern Iran. The head of the "special unit" was Kazem
Darabi, member of the Revolutionary Guards and the Intelligence Ministry,
who received a double-life sentence (a total of 30 years according to German
An international warrant was issued against Ali Fallahian whose reign
of terror during his tenure as the head of the Intelligence Ministry included
assassinations of the regime's opponents in Iran and abroad.
Parviz Dastmalchi has written extensively about the Mikonos murders
and published books on democracy, human rights and the Islamic Republic's
constitution, saw the assassin's Colt in front of his face. The tragedy
brought him nightmares. During the day he frequently looked behind his back.
But after months of agony and despair, he decided to live rather than live
Excerpts from an interview in Washington DC, May 2001:
What I have learned in the aftermath of these murders, is that I must
continue what I started. I believe that human rights is the core of our
belief. If we believe in human rights and the right of each individual to
live free, and create a constitution which is based upon this principle
then many problems will be eradicated.
Today, in the Islamic republic's constitution only 3% of the population
are free to live. The rest are in a pseudo-prison. Religious and ethnic
minorities are not allowed to participate in the decision-making process.
Women who constitute half of the population are not considered equal citizens.
Recently, a new law was introduced to raise girls' minimum marriage age
from 9 to 13. It was defeated by the clerical hierachry.
Item 226 of the Islamic Republic penal code states that a person is punishable
by law for killing another only if the victim was not considered to be religiously
liable to be killed. In this instance, the law is behind the criminal and
if I kill you, the law will protect me as I have considered you deserving
This is how the Islamic Republic officials legitimizes the killing of
those they consider "enemies of God" -- thinkers who do not think
like them. According to this law, the decision to kill another human being
is a justifiable act and therefore one who commits the crime cannot be found
guilty. In the Islamic Republic, citizens are without any rights except
that which has been prescribed for them by the clerics.
The Islamic constitution protects only the rights of those whom the Guardian
Council considers as lawful citizens. Social justice is only for the minority
of Shi'ite clerics in Iran. They are above the law.
We must create a constitution where the majority of the people will have
the right to exist as free citizens. Equal rights for all individuals regardless
of gender, religion or ethnic background. We must go beyond the politics
of the third world. Our outlook toward politics is still backward. In Iran,
those who are in power are trying to create an "ideal society"
for Iranians. The role of government and politics is not to prescribe this
or that form of ideal.
Those who are elected must create the right economic and social conditions
for the majority. The Islamic Republic has not been able to do this for
the majority of the population. They have deteriorated the life of every
Iranian in social political and economic sphere. In the Islamic Republic
of Iran, human beings have been victimized for a religious ideal.
I firmly believe that a newly created constitution in Iran must be directly
linked and associated with the United Nations Human Rights Charter. Only
then can we guarantee the basic and individual rights of our people in a
society where no one is above the law.
I believe that in a country where human beings are not equal under the
law, talking about "civil society" is nothing but a political
joke. A civil society can only exist if all citizens are considered equal
and enjoy basic rights. The basis of a civil society must be in total acceptance
of the right of the individual as a human being.
Today, [former Intelligence Minister] Ali Fallahian is a candidate
for the presidency in the upcoming elections. His son was recently acquitted
from all charges stemming from the murder of a security guard. A woman was
recently stoned to death in Evin prison for "engaging in a sexual movie".
A former air force member was also executed without due process of law.
Ali Fallahian whose hands are stained with the blood of many including
Parvaneh and Darioush Forouhar and the vicitms of Café Mikonos, is
free and running in elections. And the serial murder killers have been given
the Medal of Honor. Such is crime and punishment in the Islamic Republic