11 years have now passed since the political murders in autumn 1998.
My parents, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, two leading opposition politicians, who had fought for democracy and the separation of religion and the state for decades, were the first victims of this series of assassinations.
Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Djafar Pouyandeh, two members of the Writers’ Guild, Madjid Sharif and Piruz Dawani, political activists, and the poet, Hamid Hadjizadeh, together with his ten-year-old son, Karoun, were further victims of these political crimes.
The victims of autumn 1998 were not the first in the series of political assassinations.
Dissidents who had been actively engaged in freedom of speech movements, both within Iran and abroad, had already become victims of such state violence years before.
11 years have now gone by! 11 years of memories pertaining to a series of unsolved political crimes! 11 years of insisting on the right to truth and justice!
As in previous years I am going back in November to my parents’ house in Tehran on the day the crime occurred, the anniversary of their death, to where they once lived, worked and made a stand against the dictator, to where they were viciously stabbed to death by Iranian secret agents.
I have been forbidden from holding a memorial service on the anniversary of my parents’ death for the last five years.
The anniversary of the political murders this year however will take place in an altered political context, one that fills me with hope and worry in equal amounts. Iran has become a country dominated by ongoing protests for constitutionality, democracy and human rights, but also one suffering under increased repression where activists are beaten, kidnapped, tortured and forced to make confessions and testimonial retractions.
It is a time in which international support for the implantation of the demands of a civil society in Iran is urgently needed. Support of the current worldwide requirements for human rights doesn’t only represent help for a beleaguered population, but also a fight for the defence of shared universal values and rights.
With this in mind, I would like to remind you of the memorial service for my parents on the 22nd of November, who fought their entire lives for these values and rights.