Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Mystery of the Serial Murders

Meysam Tavab, Rooz Online:
The 20 days from November 19, 1998 that witnessed the murders of Dariush Foruhar, Parvaneh Foruhar, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Puyandeh, among others, resulted in a huge wave of domestic and international disgust for the perpetrators of the murders of Iranian dissidents. So heartless and brutal were these crimes that even some authorities inside the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, not exactly known for its respect for human rights, denounced them as hideous methods for dealing with dissidents. Today, that aversion still exists, while no punishment has gone to those responsible for the murders.

After the revelation of the serial murders and on pressure from president Khatami, the Ministry of Intelligence put the responsibility of this scandal and tragedy on certain “rogue, deviant, and unauthorized colleagues of the [Intelligence] Ministry,” as announced in its statement of early January 1999. The announcement also made reference to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible in the Ministry, who “had undoubtedly been under the influence of covert individuals and who perpetrated these crimes to fulfill foreign interests.” The statement also undertook to root out these elements and assured the Iranian nation that it would destroy the remnants of the band responsible for the deeds.

Seven years have now passed but the public feels that not only have the perpetrators and those behind the murders not been identified to the public, the remaining undercover individuals have actually returned to official positions and have been responsible for other violent policies in the country, such as the attack on Tehran University dormitory, the arrest and detention of political activists, journalists, and web bloggers. Even the assassination of Saeed Hajjarian and murder of Zahra Kazemi have been carried out by them. READ MORE

Akbar Ganji who relentlessly investigated the serial murders and exposed the executioners and saved the lives of many dissidents thereof, has now been behind bars for six years. Nasser Zarafashan, the attorney for the families of the survivors of the serial killings, remains in prison since three years ago for following up the issue. And this is not to mention the many journalists and writers who have been silenced and threatened not to write again after they published some aspect of the serial murders.

And even though calls were made by political activists including Akbar Ganji for the creation of a national commission to investigate all aspects of the murders, such a group was never formed, and instead a commission was created to investigate the murders of Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar, Mohammad Mokhtari, and Mohammad Jaafar Puyandeh only.

Some observers have said that the plans to get rid of dissidents in the Islamic Republic began in 1988 with the murder of Dr Kazem Sami, the Minister of Health during the liberal administration of Mehdi Bazargan, the first Prime Minister after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the monarchy. Nobody assumed the responsibility for this murder, until finally a person who had been accused of the crime was said to have committed suicide in a public bathhouse.

The list of names of those who were the victims of the Ministry of Intelligence’s murders is long and perhaps even not fully known. But here are the names of some of the best known dissidents that were found dead or announced to have died.

Dr Kazem Sami, Seyed Khosrow Besharati (a religious critic), Dr Tafati and his wife, Saeed Sirjani (writer), Hossein Barazandeh, molla Mohammad Rabii (a.k.a. Mamusta Rabii, a Friday prayer leader in Kermanshah), Mamusta Faroogh Farsad (of Saghez), sheikh Mohammad Ziyai (Friday prayer leader of Bandar Abbas), Molavi Abdol-Malek Molazadeh and Molavi Jamshid-zehi (Sunni clerics in Baluchistan province), Molavi Abdol-Melk, Dr Ahmad Mirin Sayad (university professor), Kazemi (a Sunni university professor), Dr Abdolaziz Bajd (university professor in Zahedan), Ahmad Mir Alayi (writer and translator), Dibaj and Mikailian (Christian priests in Isfahan), Fakhr al-sadat Borghei, Javad Safar, Jalal Mobinzadeh, Zahra Eftekhari, Morteza Alian Najafabadi, Amir Gafoori, Saeed Mahmud Milani (Amir Gafoori’s sister’s husband), Majid Ranjbar of Mashhad is the only victim who escaped an attempt on his life, Faraj Sarekuhi (writer) is another person who escaped an attempt on his life, Dr Ahmad Tafazoli (of Tehran), Manoutchehr Sanei (an adjudant of the Shah who worked at a History institute in Tehran) and his wife (Firuzeh Salar Kalantari), Dr Gafar Hosseini (university professor and a member of the writers guild), Ibrahim Zalzadeh (publisher of Ebtekar publishing company), Abbas Navai (a former political prisoner),Hamid Hajizadeh (poet and writer from Kerman) along with his 9-year old son, Piruz Davani (political activist), Dariush (political activist) and Parvaneh Foruhar