Six Years into Extrajudicial House Arrest, Green Movement Leaders Still Asking for Trial
Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard Detained Since February 2011
December 13, 2016—The Judiciary should carry out its latest “promise—or threat” to put former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011, on trial, said his son Mohammad Taghi Karroubi.
“I think my father has always wisely welcomed a trial because he wants history to record the fact that the leaders of the Green Movement were not afraid of being tried,” said Mohammad Taghi Karroubi in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on December 8, 2016. “He has no fear of going to trial… as the Persian saying goes, ‘let their shame be exposed.’”
The Campaign fully supports this call for a public trial, and urges all members of the international community to register their strong and vocal support for the right to an immediate, fair and public trial of Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, Green Movement leaders who have been under house arrest without charge for nearly six years.
“For far too long this utter travesty of justice has been allowed to continue,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Campaign. “We should not remain silent in the face of it.”
“What are the authorities in Iran so afraid of?” asked Ghaemi. “An airing of the violent suppression of peaceful protests in 2009, from which these house arrests arose? Or the fact that a public trial would show that citizens in Iran can be effectively imprisoned for six years, without charge or trial, on baseless grounds with impunity?”
On December 7, Mohammad Taghi Karroubi passionately responded in a public Facebook post to Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei’s suggestion that Medhi Karroubi could finally be tried.
“Since the 2009 crisis [a reference to the widespread protests that followed the disputed election results which handed then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term], my father has directly and indirectly asked 11 times to be put on trial based on Article 168 of the Constitution,” he wrote. “For the umpteenth time my father asks [Ejei] to definitely act on this promise—or threat.”
“[My father] has always been ready to face trial, but unfortunately the Islamic Republic has preferred to continue its unlawful behavior and [President] Hassan Rouhani’s government has not taken any steps in this regard to carry out its duty in defending the Constitution,” he added.
Mohammad Taghi Karroubi also quoted a message from his father addressing the Judiciary: “Ask the people to pray for [judicial officials] so they could gain the courage to try me in an open court and reveal who committed crimes,” said Mehdi Karroubi. “Was it us with our civil protests? Or was it those who dragged down the country and the revolution for short-sighted gains?”
“These six years under house arrest have brought very serious harm to my father,” Mohammad Taghi Karroubi told the Campaign. “He has undergone six operations. Just a few weeks ago he had spinal disc problems, which fortunately improved after total rest and doctor’s care.”
Conservative MP Urges End to Deadlock
Mehdi Karroubi, former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Green Movement leader Zahra Rahnavard who is also Mousavi’s wife, have been forcibly detained under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011 for publicly disputing the results of Iran’s 2009 presidential election.
Ejei said on December 6, 2016 that the Judiciary was prepared to put the three on trial for “crimes” in connection with the Green Movement, which grew out of the protests against the results of that election—if the Supreme National Security Council agrees.
“The Council’s order [to put them under house arrest] still stands, but if it decides to change its decision and put the leaders of the sedition on trial, the Judiciary is prepared to do so because we believe they have committed crimes that they should be prosecuted for,” he said. (Hardliners in Iran continue to refer to the 2009 election protests as the “sedition.”)
During a speech at Amir Kabir University on Students Day, Ali Motahhari, the conservative deputy speaker of Parliament, spoke of behind-the-scenes efforts to mediate between the Green Movement leaders and Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who has demanded that they repent before they can be freed.
Motahhari, who has been the most vocal conservative supporter of ending the extrajudicial house arrests, added that despite Khamenei’s wish, members of Parliament have a duty to end the deadlock “in the interest of national solidarity.” “I believe the house arrests should be resolved as soon as possible,” he said. “We cannot keep on talking about one of society’s main demands.”
“One of the obstacles against their freedom has been the insistence by some officials that if they do not apologize and repent, it will damage the state and the supreme leader,” he added. “It isn’t wrong to have an opinion about the 2009 incidents different than those of people in power…keeping [Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi] under house arrest for six years is neither compatible with the law nor with religious teachings.”
Ending the house arrests was one of Rouhani’s top presidential campaign pledges in 2013, but he has dodged the issue since his election. Article 113 of Iran’s Constitution states: “After the office of leadership (supreme leader), the president is the highest official in the country. His is the responsibility for implementing the Constitution and acting as the head of the executive, except in matters directly concerned with (the office of) the leadership.”
“It is well past time for Rouhani to take a stand and speak out forcefully against the house arrests,” said Ghaemi, “in defense of citizens’ rights and in defense of the law.”