Opposition Leader Under House Arrest Demands Public Trial
Former Presidential Candidates Held for Four Years without Charges
(December 2, 2014) The head of the Iranian Judiciary should immediately end the nearly four-year house arrest of former presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, and leading dissident Zahra Rahnavard, and grant them a fair trial, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
The Campaign renews its call for these leading political figures to be released from extrajudicial house arrest in light of Mehdi Karroubi’s newly released demand calling on parliamentary member Ali Motahari to seek justice for Karroubi in this matter. Motahari, a conservative MP, is one of the few Iranian officials who have openly criticized the ongoing house arrest of these three individuals, most recently in a speech in the city of Mashad on November 24.
An open letter signed by the Karroubi family and published on November 29, 2014, on the Karroubi-affiliated Saham News website states that during their last meeting with Mehdi Karroubi, he “explicitly and clearly criticized the lack of responsibility by top officials in their clear violation of the Iranian constitution and other laws” and said that he wishes to respond to the “unilateral accusations that ‘sell-outs’ of religion” have levied against him. To this end, the letter says that Karroubi entrusts Motahari to pursue Karroubi’s right to a public trial, on his behalf, in accordance with Article 168 of the Iranian constitution.
“Four years of house arrest without charges is a blatant violation of international law,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “While world powers are engaged in negotiations with Iran they should simultaneously state clearly and forcefully that any full normalization of relations with Iran is contingent upon addressing such egregious rights violations as the house arrest of these figures.”
“The reality is that this ongoing extrajudicial house arrest is motivated by fear: the fear that prosecuting these political figures, who have first-hand knowledge of the widespread violations of the rights of the Iranian citizenry following the disputed 2009 presidential election, could further expose and remind the Iranian people of those abuses and seriously challenge the Iranian authorities’ narrative of events,” Ghaemi added.
The letter published by the Karroubi family further notes that Motahari has challenged “the deadly silence inside the regime regarding this illegal and anti-Sharia act with courage and by assuming strong and solid positions…and in addition to pursuing and looking for the root causes of the events of 2009, he has spoken of the illegal imposition of this punishment against the country’s existing laws.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has previously stated that, “the crime [of these three individuals] is heavy and if they are prosecuted, their sentence would be heavy, and we are being gentle to them right now.”
In his speech in Mashad, Motahari said, “Even the Prophet of Islam cannot say that someone’s sentence is heavy—to issue a ruling without a trial and without defense and without hearing their defense…. House arrest without judicial orders is cruel and unfair. If due process is enforced, we will oblige, but it is not possible to say ‘put this individual under house arrest, and imprison that individual, or behead another individual.’”
Iranian authorities initially placed Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi under house arrest on February 14, 2011, after they publicly called for demonstrations in support of the popular uprisings in the Arab world at the time. While Fatemeh Karroubi was eventually released, the other three have remained under house arrest without charges or prosecution.
The Iranian Judiciary should immediately end its routine practice of detaining individuals without charge. “Many individuals are held in this legal purgatory for continuously extended periods in Iran, but four years of effective imprisonment without charge is long even by Tehran’s standards,” said Ghaemi.