♦ Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar ♦
An Inseparable Pair, Tragically Martyred

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | November 21, 2013                     

Dariush Forouhar and Parvaneh Forouhar

There are many tried and true methods for silencing dissent in a dictatorship.

Harrassment, intimidation, and slander are some. To escalate further, you have false arrest, sham trials (or no trial at all), forced confessions, and indefinite incarceration. If none of those options are deemed efficient enough, there’s always that old standby—cold blooded murder.

This bloody phenomenon, as in other parts of the world, has a rich history in Iran. And inspiration is easy to find — they need only to emulate the example left by their modern predecessors.

The man who ruled from 1925-1941, the fearsome Reza Shah, had many of his detractors killed to maintain his dominance. A surge of politically-motivated assassinations swept the country from 1946-1955, largely at the hands of the fanatical terrorist group Fedai’an Islam. After Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi unconstitutionally took power in 1953, political foes like Dr. Hossein Fatemi were swiftly executed, and his notorious secret police force, SAVAK, became responsible for the disappearance of an untold number of individuals.

Following the Shah’s expulsion in 1979, the new Islamic regime wasted no time in slaughtering its foes both domestically and abroad. The most well known of these crimes was the gruesome slaying of former Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar near Paris in 1991. But the serial killing trend continued, earning the moniker ‘The Chain Murders’.

Among the next wave of victims, beginning in the fall of 1998, were a husband and wife pair who dared to openly criticize the government and champion democracy and human rights in a land long deprived of such luxuries.

Kindred Spirits

Dariush Forouhar and Parvaneh Forouhar The union of politician/activist Dariush Forouhar (داریوش فروهر​) and Parvaneh Majd Eskandari (پروانه فروهر), a school teacher and poet, was forged from a shared passion for freedom and justice.

Dariush had founded the Nation of Iran Party (Hezbe Mellat-e Iran), which advocated secular democracy, and met Parvaneh while she was a student activist. They married in April 1961. Though associates and dedicated supporters of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the deposed former Prime Minister, still under house arrest, was not free to attend their wedding, but gave his sincere blessings to the couple in a personal letter they would always treasure.

Dariush’s continued opposition to the Shah resulted in his repeated imprisonment — totalling some fifteen years. He briefly became the Minister of Labor under the revolutionary government which replaced the Shah in 1979, but resigned in disgust soon after realizing the country was being led in the wrong direction.

The Forouhar’s home came under constant surveillance by the Khomeinist regime, and eventually they urged their adult children, Arash and Parastou, to seek asylum in Germany. They had good reason to fear for their lives, especially after giving a number of interviews with the Western media denouncing the state.

Dariush Forouhar speaking at a meeting of the Pan-Iranist Party, which he had co-founded in the 1940’s. Seated at left are Mossadegh’s Foreign Minister Hossein Fatemi and Deputy Hossein Makki.
Dariush Forouhar speaking at a meeting of the Pan-Iranist Party

Paying their respects to Dr. Mossadegh at his Ahmadabad home/grave site include then Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan (third from left), Minister of Interior Hashem Sabaghian (center), and Minister of Labor Dariush Forouhar.
Paying respects to Mossadegh in Ahmadabad

An Unspeakable Crime

On November 22, 1998, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar were brutally stabbed to death in their home on Hedayat Street in Tehran, in the most grotesque manner imaginable. The shocking act of savagery was later revealed to be committed by members of the Ministry of Information, though the murders basically remain unsolved. Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar Thousands filled the streets for the Forouhar’s funeral procession, chanting their name and carrying their pictures.

Henceforth, portraits of the Forouhars took on an iconic resonance, not unlike the ubiquitous image of Neda Agha Soltan a decade later, as a symbol of the struggle against the brutal Islamic regime. Naturally, the annual observances of their death are most unwelcome by the government, as there is just no way to separate the mourning of two innocent homicide victims from what is, inescapably, also a demonstration against the regime who murdered them and many others like them.

The Forouhars are survived by their children, son Arash and daughter Parastou, an artist and human rights activist. Each year since their deaths, Parastou travels home to Iran from Germany to honor them and draw attention to the deplorable conditions in her home country.

In life and in death, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar proved inseparable. On their first wedding anniversary in 1962, Dariush was in jail. Parvaneh wrote to him a letter with a poem vowing her wish to be with him for eternity. “Even if they should tear my body apart”, she wrote, “I will never allow them to tear me away from you”.

Parvaneh Forouhar (1939-1998)
Dariush Forouhar (1928-1998)

Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar

Parvaneh Forouhar

Dariush Forouhar

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Related links:

Remembering Dr. Saeid Fatemi (1927-2017)

Hassan Shamshiri (1897-1961), Restaurateur and Patriot

The Life of Iran National Front Spokesman Asghar Parsa

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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