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Crime and punishment
An interview with an assassination survivor

By Fariba Amini
June 6, 2001
The Iranian

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 law).

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 with fear.

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 of death.

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 of Iran.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Fariba Amini


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