Action memorandum 027 - Nov. 13, 1996

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Subject: Iranian writer kidnapped and believed murdered

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is extremely concerned aboutthe safety of a well-known Iranian journalist, Faraj Sarhouhi, whodisappeared while boarding a flight from Tehran to Frankfurt, Germanyat 5 AM on Nov. 3, 1996.

Mr. Sarhouhi was last seen by his family in Tehran as he wentthrough the Customs control at Tehran's Mehrebad airport.

Relatives who had planned to meet him upon his arrival inFrankfurt, however, say Mr. Sarhouhi was not on the plane. Mr.Sarhouhi's family believe he was abducted by agents of the Ministryof Information and Security at the Tehran airport, since MOIScontrols airport security.

This morning, the official Jomhouri-e Eslami newspaper published abrief item alleging that Mr. Sarhouhi did board the plane andactually arrived in Hamburg, not Frankfurt, and that he "disappeared"after his arrival in Germany.

This semi-official admission by the authorities that Mr. Sarhouhiis indeed missing is alarming, since it suggests that he may havebeen kidnapped and murdered in Tehran.

FDI has raised the issue of Mr. Sarhouhi's with the IslamicRepublic authorities and with the United Nations Special Rapporteurfor Iran, the Hon. Maurice Copithorne.

Mr. Sarhouhi is the editor of a well-known literary monthlymagazine, Adineh, and was one of the 136 writers and intellectualswho signed an open letter to President Hashemi-Rafsanjani last year,calling for greater freedom in Iran.

On Sept. 9, 1996, 13 members of the Iranian Union of Writers werearrested and detained all night by MOIS agents in Tehran. They werewarned not to engage in "counter-revolutionary" activities, includingmeetings of their writers group. And there have been numerous otherreports in recent weeks of newspapers being closed, their publishersfined, and their editors threatened with jail, for publishingarticles considered uncomplimentary by the regime.

We are concerned that Mr. Sarhouhi's disappearance and possiblemurder, and the spate of recent attacks against journalists andwriters in Iran, constitute a serious deterioration in the humanrights situation in Iran.

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private, non-profitcorporation registered in the State of Maryland. Contact: Kenneth R.Timmerman, Executive Director. Tel: (301) 946-2918. Fax: (301)942-5341. FDI materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at