Iran agents abduct liberal at funeral

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The Independent Online
THE veteran nationalist politician, Dariush Forouhar, who was an associate of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq, spent years in prison under the Shah, and served in the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan after the Shah was deposed in 1979, was abducted yesterday by agents of the state security apparatus, according to a spokesman of his organisation, the Iranian Nation Party. He was detained briefly.

Mr Forouhar, 65, the leading exponent of secular nationalism, was seized at gunpoint in public in the sprawling Behesht e Zahra cemetery south of Iran. He was attending the burial of Shamseddin Amir-Alaei, another leading opponent of the clerical regime, who died of severe injuries suffered in a car crash outside his home five weeks ago. Mr Forouhar was one of those who accused the Ministry of Ettalaat (Information and Intelligence) of arranging the incident. He gave the funeral oration to his former colleague, who served as a minister in the early Fifties and again in the liberal-dominated provisional government after the 1979 revolution.

Scuffles broke out between mourners and members of government supporters, escorted by armed security agents. 'During an attack on the mourners, two security agent members of the Information Ministry went up to Mr Forouhar, put their guns against his temple and dragged him into a waiting car,' said Homayun Moghaddam, the INP spokesman.

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said the mourners were divided over which flag to wrap the coffin in - the current flag of Iran with the Islamic emblem or the pre-revolutionary one with the lion-and-sun insignia. In the end it was left unwrapped.

The abduction follows the kidnapping and subsequent murder of others who have challenged the state orthodoxy, including several evangelical Christian priests. Their deaths are widely believed to have been caused by members of the Intelligence Ministry, although the authorities in Tehran have said that agents of the Mujahedin Khalq Organisation had been caught and confessed to the killings.