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Rights

The longing
Open letter

By Parastou Forouhar
December 17, 2003
The Iranian

I am writing this letter after my visit to Iran in last month to update you with further information regarding political murders of Autumn 1998 in Iran. My parents Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar both prominent opposition politicians, were the first victims of this series of political murders.

The reason for my recent visit was the fifth anniversary of the murder of my parents. These anniversaries have now become symbolic and they represent the dissent and opposition to the Islamic Republic.

In order to obtain the approval of the authorities for the commemoration ceremony, I had to go through a daily chore of turning up to different officials for three weeks. The security authorities were against us holding the ceremony inside Tehran. They criticised an earlier verbal approval I had received to hold the meeting inside the city of Tehran.

They then changed the date of the event from what we had first publicised on 21St November to 23rd November. The official explanation for this date change was, in their own words: "The security of the participants can not be guaranteed."

Our perseverance however resulted in the venue to be held in a traditional gathering place inside Tehran. Despite the massive presence of the security forces and the threats of the hired thugs, thousands of people turned up for the event.

During the meeting three opposition politicians made speeches. One was a member of the post-revolution provisional government and another a representative of the Iran Nation Party.

They both called for what my parents had called for during their lifetime, i.e. the separation of state and religion. They argued that only a change to the constitution can give the stagnant democratic process a chance for revival.

Another speaker and I pointed out the significance of clearing up the case of the political murders as an important process of democracy for the country.

Thousands, both inside and outside the hall demonstrated their solidarity and their desire for democratic change in Iran.

The crowd however were not able to go on a protest march afterwards, as they did in previous years. They were quickly dispersed by the security authorities.

The coverage in the Iranian press was great. Several articles also pointed out the significance of clearing the outcome of the political murders. However no coverage was given to the demands for separation of state and religion, made during the speeches; nor for the need to change the constitution.

During my stay in Iran, I had several audiences with the parliament's Article 90 Commission members. Three years ago, we the families of the victims of the political murders presented our case to this commission as part of our desire to proceed through legal channels. The chairman of said the enquiry however could not conclude the case because they came across persons who could not be called up to give statements.

The chairman repeated his statement to me shortly afterwards during an interview with the press.

This is further support for our conviction that those who ordered the murders are not punished and occupy positions of high power and influence. They seem to enjoy a higher immunity from prosecution than others.

Before leaving Iran, I asked the commission in a letter to conclude their enquiries before the end of the current legislative assembly next winter. For I do not see a chance for any further credible enquiries in the next parliament.

The situation of our lawyer Dr. Nasser Zarafshan has not changed. He is in the middle of his sentence of five years imprisonment and fifty lashes.

The longing of the Iranians for democracy and the rule of law remains strong. The instruments that hinder this desire, work with great cruelty. The reformers have lost all credibility. They have been unable to enforce even a single one of their reform pledges. Instead they are constantly looking for compromises with their hardline rivals. As a consequence of such compromises the democratic forces are sacrificed.

Given these circumstances, what is urgently needed is the international support for the process of democracy and the enforcement of human rights in Iran.

The final conclusion to the case of political murders can only come about with the help of international community.

In the hope of your support with best regards,

Parastou Forouhar
Frankfurt, 6th December 2003

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