Open Letter to the German Federal President, 01.08.2000

Dear Mr. President Rau

Some time has now passed since the state visit of President Khatami. This is an event that should have turned the hope of mutual respect and the wish for dialogue into reality. The aim of this political encounter was surely to bestow an air of believability upon the “process of reform” in Iran.
The apparent harmony of the three-day state visit infuriates me. I think that the courage necessary to deal with Iran’s internal political situation has been lost! 

More than three years ago, the Iranian people voted in Mohammed Khatami in the presidential elections with every confidence. This was done in the hope of living in a constitutional state that respected human dignity, one in which the freedom of thought, speech and of the press were a part of coexistence. A state that would be recognized both by its ancient culture and also by its wishes for the future. A state that would give its people the opportunity to openly and explicitly express their current problems.
This burgeoning social potential is seeking dialogue with democratically governed countries.

I believe however, despite my hopes to the contrary, that the boundaries between vision and reality are being deceptively blurred. Without wanting to put down the reformist efforts in Iran, I need to voice my fears about the fact that theoretical discourse is trying to throw a smokescreen over the terrible conditions of my homeland. 

My parents were the victims of a series of political assassinations in Iran in the autumn of 1998. I was in Iran the day after their murders. The ways in which the murders were carried out were akin to that of an Islamic ritual execution and this has been exposed within and admitted to in certain government circles. Potential promises generated by the international outcry have been smothered by a political strategy of delay on the part of those in power in Iran. Those responsible have promised an investigation. Their information policy suggests, however, reasonable grounds to suspect that cover-ups are taking place and are being concealed.
I have been to Iran many times in order to try and push on the investigation. In my personal meetings over the course of ordinary legal action, I was treated as little more than an annoyance who should receive the full force and arrogance of a judicial bureaucracy that wasn’t anxious to investigate the murder of my parents and other victims. The special committees set up by the government and parliament were only there to serve as a façade that sought to simulate an investigation.

Two years have now passed since the murder of my parents. This is a period in which I have had to learn to live with my fate.
This is a period in which a process of democratisation has apparently been looming in Iran. On the one hand, an opening up on cultural, political and economic levels to external influences has occurred. Increasing despotism within the country has however claimed increasing numbers of victims – this shows the reality of Iran and will continue to be a part of it, as long as these conditions continue to be observed without consequences!

As part of the renewed ties between both countries, the political situation is not allowed to be disregarded for economic and cultural interests.
The encounter between these two countries bears no clear face without calling it an abuse of state power in Iran by name, of which my parents are amongst the victims.
An abstract dialogue about cultures can only flatter to deceive.

The best participation in the process of democratisation in Iran, alongside the recognition of the independence of this culture and the respect for tradition, is the meticulous supervision of Iran’s transformation into a constitutional state.

Assassination is not a part of this tradition; torture is not a part of this culture and should not be respected. Despotism and a lack of rights do not have anything to do with the respect for otherness.

Yours sincerely,
Parastou Forouhar

Born 1962 in Tehran. I have been living and working since 1991 as an independent artist in Germany. To further clarify my situation, I have attached a brief review of the political life of my parents and my last official letter to the head of the judicial authority in Iran.