Security Forces Block Annual Ceremony to Commemorate “Chain Murders” Victims
Security forces prevented a gathering near Tehran marking the 19th anniversary of a series of murders and disappearances by the Intelligence Ministry of dissidents in the 1990s known as the “chain murders.”
The Iranian Writers Association (IWA) issued a statement on December 7, 2017, hours after many of its members and supporters were prevented from entering Imamzadeh Taher Cemetery in Karaj by a prosecutor’s order.
“The security agents took a number of WAI board members hostage to stop the gathering from happening,” said the statement. “Then the crowd insisted they would not leave until the detainees were freed. Finally, they were let go an hour later.”
“Regarding the behavior of the security agents, it is worth noting that unlike in previous years, they did not show up in large numbers with many vehicles but instead resorted to hostage-taking to show they are still afraid of any event marking this anniversary, even in a graveyard,” added the statement.
The group was planning to gather around the graves of Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, two intellectuals who were murdered in the fall of 1998.
An investigation by President Mohammad Khatami’s reformist government at the time concluded that the murders, part of a chain of killings targeting artists, writers and critics, had been carried out by “rogue elements in the Intelligence Ministry.”
Security forces also prevented a ceremony intended to honor author and IWA board member Ali Ashraf Darvishian, who died on October 26, 2017.
Artist and human rights activist Parastou Forouhar was allowed to hold a gathering at her family home on November 22 in memory of her parents, politicians Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, who were murdered by Intelligence Ministry agents in 1998.
The Intelligence Ministry pressed charges against the Forouhar based on a photo of one of her artworks that created a stir on social media, she told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in November 2017.