Iranian of the Year
Memorial service for Dariyush and Parvaneh Foruhar in
Washington DC. Photo by J. Javid
"The dissidents died so that we could be free"
March 23, 1999
The following are comments in favor of the dissidents - in particular
the slain political activists and writers -- as the Iranians of the year.
Collectively they received the second largest share of the people's vote
(25 percent) in The Iranian survey. Each comment is from a different
person. Names have been withheld for reasons of privacy.
to the Iranian of the Year main index
to the Iranian of the Year main index
If Iran becomes a true democracy one day, it will be due to resilience
of political dissidents!
They served as tragic wake-up calls of how far astray our nation truly
is from the ideals of most Iranians (i.e. of intellectual freedom and the
basic right of expressing one's opinion). The murders were rather "in-your-face"
alarms to a nation often given to complacency and/or apathetic cynicism.
Images of the public mournings, or that of the mother of one of the writers
symbolically burying a pen along with her son, or the Foruhar brother and
sisters holding each other in despair and a grief unimaginable to me, shall
remain, in the minds of many of us, as some of the most haunting and sad
ones in recent memory. I firmly believe that their deaths were not in vain.
May their souls rest in peace and may their families find some kind of
man nemigooyam samandar baash yaa parvaaneh baash
gar beh fekr-e sookhtan oftaadeh-ee mardaaneh baash
I feel as if [the dissidents] are DOING what I only talk about from
a safe distance.
They had balls. We don't.
Dared to stay
They were among people who have dared to stay in Iran (unlike many of
us who didn't and left) to challenge the dark ageists and their simple-minded
and very dangerous followers. They gave their life to our homeland in hope
of a better tomorrow for the children of Iran. So I do suggest that we
nominate them as Iranians of the not only the year but also the 90s.
Victim of power struggle
They were killed as a show of power by certain groups, not because they
had written or said anything really awful against the government, and that's
As outspoken critics of the government during their life, they led a
small group that had little influence on the course of Iranian politics.
However, in their death, they have become a rallying force for rule of
law and democratic reform in Iran. This would not have happened if they
themselves were not true believers in these concepts, as well as a man
and woman of highest integrity and dedication to political and social advancement
of Iran and Iranians. They are among the many martyrs Iran has given in
defense of freedom and democracy, and they made their mark this year by
giving Khatami the power to push his reforms through at the highest levels
of government. Iran and Iranians everywhere owe them a debt of immense
gratitude for this alone.
Because of this group's courage, standing for what they believe in,
and paying the ultimate price for it. They also represent countless nameless
forgotten souls from tens of thousands massacred in Evin to hundreds assassinated
inside and outside of Iran to hundreds of thousands tortured and violated,
whose only crime was to seek human decency, justice, democracy, and freedom.
Many have had and will have the same fate in Iran, but were not and
will not be famous enough to get any attention. It is rather unfortunate
that one has to be brutally murdered before any recognition. As Foruhar's
son, and daughter said, we should perhaps "daad khaaheem ein beedaad
raa". Making them the Iranian of the Year would be a tiny tribute
to that cause.
These people did not do anything to deserve such a departure from life.
However, their activities, views, and spirits scared a regime enough that
it had to take their life in order to secure its control. Majority of Iranians,
either openly or privately, have expressed their disgust for the elimination
of these individuals by the agents of the regime. Their brutal murder brought
together Iranians of all walks of life, both inside and outside of the
country. Their death has rekindled the national spirit of Iranians and
forced them to look for the enemy within themselves. They deserve to be
recognized for what their lives have meant for us.
It was a hard decision. Certainly President Khatami and the soccer team,
and the Iranian press, and Majid Majidi all deserve recognition for what
they are doing for Iran. However, out of respect for those who were murdered
-- those who spoke for what they believed in -- I feel they deserve the
recognition. It is their year to be remembered and honored for their efforts
to make Iran a better place for us all.
Now we know
Freedom of thought is what these individuals fought for. If there will
ever be a real democracy in Iran it is because of these individuals' efforts
and their fearless attempts to say the truth about the social conditions
of Iran. Unfortunately, in some societies like our rather unfortunate one,
saying the truth or even trying to defend our own basic rights which freedom
of speech is one of them, can cost us our lives.
In my opinion these writers and freedom lovers of Iran whose only weapon
was their pen, did not deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric manner.
I am not even old enough to know what these people have done for our society
in the past, yet killing any individual for saying the truth and defending
the freedom of society is just an unforgivable crime that we shall never
I choose these people as people of the year in Iran because they showed
us how far away our society is from real democracy. They showed us that
we need to work very hard for the freedom of our country. This was a big
step that they took, and it cost them their lives. But now, we know well
what we need. We want a society in which saying the truth will not cost
Will never die
Foruhar had been a veteran of Iranian politics. Since decades ago, Foruhar
had been the symbol of Iranian resistance to oppression. He never gave
up in the struggle for democracy and finally gave his blood. Foruhar will
never die in the Iranian dream.
Their brutal murders and the subsequent events marked a turning point
in Iran's history, something which always will be remembered.
The dissidents are trying to change things peacefully, under enormous
repression in a country where there is no regard for human life I salute
their courage, and may god protect those who are alive.
Nothing more valuable
I believe there is nothing more valuable to any nation in the world
than their freedom and the price they will eventually pay for it. We have
had many heroes like the Foruhars and other murdered dissidents in the
past. This is a the best opportunity to appreciate such bravery, patience
and persistence and wisdom, in establishing a free and democratic society.
They lived and died for freedom; through their courage and indefatigable
fight for our god given rights and the Iranian dream of liberty, we are
today able to believe in a better tomorrow for Iran.
My vote is certainly for the dissidents who gave their lives in the
ongoing struggle for the future of Iran. Reactions within Iran indicates
that their deaths certainly galvanized the people. It remains to be seen
if their sacrifice was in vain or not...
I certainly believe that Mohammad Mokhtari, the prominent Iranian dissident,
poet and social critic, should be chosen as the Iranian of the year. He
was one of the most active members of the Writers Association of Iran,
an outstanding member of the consulting assembly of the same association,
a signatory of the "Declaration of 134" Iranian writers, and
a member of the same assembly which drafted the new charter of the Writers
Association. He was a prisoner in both regimes, the Shah's and Khomeini's;
and one of the most democratically-minded intellectuals of the country.
He published more than twenty books of poetry and prose, and was on the
editorial board of both Donyay-e Sokhan and Takapou.
Amir Entezam: representative
[Jailed ex-Prime Minister] Abbas Amir Entezam represents all of the
brutally suppressed dissidents in Iran including: Dariyush and Parvaneh
Foruhar, Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh and all other dissidents
murdered in the past year for insisting on the right of freedom of expression
and political activity, and the right to form a writers' union.
My choice is Abbas Amir Entezam for his courageous stand against injustice,
and for being a tremendous example of personal integrity. He is truly a
light to his contemporaries.
Mountain of a man
Because this mountain of a man has fought injustice fearlessly for 17
years without ever resorting to violence.
Stood their ground
They did not leave the land, like I did. They stood their ground. They
will live in the hearts and minds of ordinary people.
Caused huge shift
I vote for Dariyush and Parvaneh Foruhar. By their death they caused
a huge shift in favor of voice of reason in Iran. They will be remembered
as true heroes.
I nominate these brave men and women who gave what is most precious,
most valuable - THEIR LIVES - in pursuit of liberty and freedom.
If there were more
If there were more courageous people like them inside Iran, they would
change lots of things.
There is nothing above fighting and giving your life for what you believe
in. They will all be remembered forever.
Although the football team made a very good job they already got a lot
of attention. Meanwhile the dissidents die in silence or are only the politically-active
are aware of them. We should appreciate in a formal way the ones who risked
and even sacrificed their lives in order to bring about political change
These individuals lost their lives because of their fight for freedom
of expression. Their courage and determination will always be remembered.
Stayed and took risks
1) The Foruhars continued their struggle for democracy inside the country,
despite the obvious risks.
2) The evolution of Dariyush Foruhar from an ultra-right, undemocratic
politician, to a democrat is specially interesting. When people let reality
win over the dogma it should be appreciated. this shows a capacity for
They stayed in Iran an gave everything they had for their country. They
were not some cowards like Masoud and Maryam Rajavi, who only order innocent
people to give their lives to a wrong cause and for wrong people. I mean
who wants to trade Islam with Islam? Not me.
The dissident murders made the Western world acknowledge the fight for
freedom in Iran.
Freedom of speech is the foundation for democracy. Anyone fighting for
this right is a national hero in my heart.
Deserve to be remembered
These are the people who have fought to provide freedom of speech to
Iran and Iranians by sacrificing their lives. They deserve to be remembered
for their heroic lives.
Iran & liberty
They were killed because of Iran and liberty.
Active for freedom
Because of their activity for freedom in Iran.
I vote for the dissidents who sacrificed their lives for the freedom
of expression and political activities.
My choice is all dissidents murdered in the past 20 years for insisting
on the right of freedom of expression and political activity. It is the
only sensible choice to make.
Some of them have paid the ultimate price anyone can ever give. However
their blood has not been spilled in vain. We should and must be grateful.
Their loss of lives will prove to be the new beginning for Iran.
These two heroes, Dariyush and Parvaneh Foruhar, endorsed the "Arash
Kamangir" quality of Iran with their life as well as their heroic
They made the ultimate sacrifice for Iran by putting their lives on
the line in order to exercise their basic rights as human beings and as
These courageous people gave their lives for the right of freedom of
speech, thought and religion, which is very important to any human being.
Therefore I think their names should be remembered by by Iranians.
They lost their lives in defense of freedom and their country.
They paid the price of freedom by their blood.
Because of their extraordinary courage to stay in Iran despite the problems
and openly defend freedom of Iran.
Foruhar sacrificed himself for the sake of the nation.
I CHOOSE THE DISSIDENTS BECAUSE: Khatami is an asshole and the rest
of the nominees have done nothing for us! Any thorn in the Islamic regime
is one step towards freedom! JAVID SHAH!!!!!!!!!!!
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