Action memorandum 040

Nov. 22, 1998

Leading Iranian Opposition leader brutally murdered

The Islamic Republic News Agency announced today that the mostprominent secular opposition leader still living in Iran, Mr.Darioush Forouhar, was brutally murdered on Sunday afternoon alongwith his wife in their Tehran apartment. Mr. Forouhar was the leaderof the Iran Nation's Party, a conservative, nationalistic group thatis banned but until now was tolerated by the regime authorities. Mrs.Parvaneh Forouhar was a prominent women's leader in her own right,and had visited the United States last year. The official version oftheir murder has it that angry bodyguards brutally hacked them todeath with knives, cutting off Mr. Forouhar's head. If true, that isexactly how former Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar was assassinatedby regime agents in his home in the outskirts of Paris in August1991. It is also how Bakhtiar's top aide, Abdelrahman Borouman, waskilled in Paris four months earlier, and how several other Iraniandissidents have been killed. And just one month earlier, the80-year old father of a Voice of America Farsi Service producerwas killed in his Shiraz home in an identical manner. There is apattern here.

The Foundation deplores the brutal execution of the Forouhars.Clearly, as President Khatami himself pointed out just hours beforethe murders were announced, the ruling clergy does not view secularpolitical activists as legitimate members of their "civil society,"which is reserved for well-heeled believers in clerical rule.Khatami's condemnation of opposition activities on Sunday - forthat's what it was - was also a call to murder.

How many more opposition leaders will have to pay with their livesuntil the West understands that the Islamic Republic will neverrespect the rights of its opponents or tolerate civil dissent? As asignatory of the International Covenant of Civil and PoliticalRights, the Islamic Republic is legally bound to protect free speechand the right to political expression. Western governments in contactwith the Tehran authorities should demand that the Islamic Republicrespect international norms of human rights and politicalexpression.

The Foundation believes that the world community should nottolerate this type of blatant human rights abuse, and shouldimmediately convoke the appropriate bodies to consider internationalsanctions on the Tehran regime.

More FDI Human Rights Information

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