Today we commemorate a sad day in Iranian history, with the firstanniversary of the brutal murders of the most prominent leaders ofthe secular opposition in Iran, Parvaneh and Darioush Forouhar.
We now know, by the regime's own admission, that the Forouharswere murdered one year ago in their Tehran home by agents of theIslamic Republic intelligence services.
By killing the Forouhars, the regime was hoping to demoralize thesecular opposition and crush the Iran Nation's Party - a freeenterprise, nationalist, and conservative opposition movement. Theultimate goal of the regime and their assassins was to extinguish thenewly-rekindled flame of democracy in the heart of the Iranianpeople, ensuring the autocratic rule of the radical Shiite Muslimclergy.
The Foundation for Democracy in Iran had been in touch with theForouhars and their followers for many years, and knew they wereunder constant surveillance by regime agents. We denounced theirassassins within hours - as soon as word leaked out of Iran.
In our initial statement on Nov. 22, 1998 - less than 24 hoursafter the murders were announced in Iran - we denounced Iran'sso-called "moderate" president, the cleric Mohammad Khatami, forcondoning the elimination of political opponents of the regime.
Just hours before the murders, Hojjat-ol eslam Khatami announcedpublicly that secular political activists were not legitimate membersof "civil society," and so were not protected under Iranian law fromviolent attacks by "vigilante" groups. His statement had the effectof an official blessing to the assassins, intended or not.
The revolt of Iranian students this past summer in 18 citiesaround Iran proved beyond a doubt that the cynical calculations ofthe clerical regime were wrong. Iranian democrats were willing torisk their lives to fight for their freedom. At least five students,and probably many more, were killed by regime vigilantes and thesecurity services.
FDI continues to believe that the United States should supportdemocrats inside Iran who are seeking through nonviolent means tobring about a change of regime in Iran.
The Foundation has consistently urged Western governments,including the U.S., to demand that the Islamic Republic respectinternational norms of human rights and political expression for allIranians, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or sexual identity,or their political persuasion. We have recommended that Westernnations suspend trade and aid to the Islamic Republic untiloutrageous human rights violations, such as the arrest of 13 IranianJews on earlier this year, come to an end.
FDI urges all lovers of freedom, regardless of their creed, to saya prayer this day for the Forouhars and their quest for freedom inIran. We pray that their deaths may have not been in vain, but willserve the great cause of freedom and democracy for all Iranians.
The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private,non-profit corporation registered in the State of Maryland.Contact: Kenneth R. Timmerman, Executive Director (email@example.com).FDI materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at http://www.iran.org/.