Newsletter, Parastou Forouhar, 10.04.2002

I am writing to you in order to draw your attention to the situation of Dr. Naser Zarafshan. He is a lawyer and is the representative of the family members of the victims who were killed in the political assassination series of autumn 1998 in Iran.
My parents, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, both opposition politicians, were among the victims. Consternation and sustained protests have emerged as a result of these crimes both domestically and abroad. The investigation into these crimes can become a symbol of the persistent struggle for constitutionality in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Dr. Zarafshan has contributed significantly to this through his legal work and also with his public appearances. As you may perhaps already be aware, the secret service admitted to being part of the series of assassinations in an official letter dated the 5th of January 1999.

Subsequent investigations into this matter conducted by the relevant authority for justice into the backgrounds and perpetrators of the crimes left out several important points and this is why we, the relatives of the victims, chose not to recognise the trial and not to take part in it.

The court delivered sentences on the 27th of January 2001 that ignored the political status of the murders as many had expected. On the 18th of August 2001 it was officially announced that the High Court had overturned the verdicts and had declared the proceedings as “inadequate”. We were excluded from any further proceedings.

Dr. Zarafshan had tried to draw attention to this situation in interviews. Now he himself has become a victim of the Iranian Judicial system: on the 18th of March 2002 he was sentenced to five years imprisonment and seventy lashes.
He has been charged with possession of alcohol and a firearm. His statements in connection with the investigation into the political assassinations of autumn 1998 have led to him being accused of being involved in “activities damaging to the country’s domestic security”.
There is no doubt that the charges solely serve as punishment for Dr. Zarafshan’s uncomfortable political position. I learned in a conversation with him that he had lodged an official objection to this sentence on Saturday, the 6th of April 2002. His case will be handed over to the next highest authority.

Any response from your side that draws attention to the plight of Dr. Zarafshan represents important support for him, as well as for the ongoing progression of investigative work.

In the hope of your support I remain yours sincerely,
Parastou Forouhar