Tuesday 22 November 2016

Activist Who Lost Parents in “Chain Murders” of Iranian Dissidents Summoned to Court

Prominent rights activist Parastou Forouhar, whose parents were slain by agents of the Iranian government during a series of murders of dissidents beginning in the late 1980s, has been summoned without a given reason to appear in court at Evin Prison on November 22, 2016.

“I have no idea why I’ve been summoned,” Forouhar told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “My lawyer has asked, but he didn’t get an answer. I’ve never had a judicial case and now this summons seems strange to me, but based on the past 18 years, my guess is that anyone who wants to be the voice of justice and seek a fair resolution will be put under so much pressure that she would eventually give up.”

Forouhar, who lives in Germany but is currently in Tehran, visits her birth country of Iran annually to hold a memorial ceremony for her parents, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, who were murdered on November 21,1998 by agents of the Intelligence Ministry. However, the Campaign has learned that, like previous years, security agents banned the memorial ceremony that Forouhar had scheduled at her home in Tehran for November 21.

“There were seven or eight security agents in front of our house and a few others on the street around the corner as of 10 o’clock this morning,” Forouhar told the Campaign on November 21. “They stopped anyone who wanted to come to our house. From what I could see, the agents were not forceful, but they did not show any flexibility either. They wanted everyone to turn back and leave. They were wearing civilian clothes and it wasn’t clear what organization they were from.”

Forouhar added that two days earlier she had received a phone call from someone claiming to be an Intelligence Ministry representative warning her that only her family members could attend the ceremony.

A professional artist, Forouhar also told the Campaign that the Islamic Republic has meanwhile been censoring her work. A calendar of her art was due to be published and distributed in time for the Iranian new year in March 2016, but “unfortunately the printer and the gallery owner who was going to exhibit it were questioned and were officially told that they are not allowed to print or show my work.”

“What [the government] is doing is limiting my social and artistic activities,” she added. “They are also being unjust to me by intimidating the printer and the gallery owner who wanted to help me. An artist should be able to present her work in exhibitions.”

Forouhar is also trying to identify the culprits who vandalized her parents’ home in April 2015. She said the incidents were still under investigation and there had been “some progress,” but nothing substantial.

Forouhar’s parents were murdered during the targeted killings of intellectuals, writers, artists and ordinary citizens between 1988 and 1998, which came to be known as the “chain murders of Iran.” Dariush Forouhar was a leading member of the opposition party, the National Front, and the secretary general of the Pan-Iranist Party.



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