Detained Opposition Leader Mehdi Karroubi Recovering From Emergency Medical Procedure
Six Years Later, Karroubi Still Awaiting First Trial
Former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011, is recovering in the hospital after undergoing an emergency medical procedure on July 26, 2017.
“My father was taken into the operating room at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning and underwent a TIPS procedure that corrected the problem in his vein, and as result, he will not be needing an operation to put a battery in his heart,” said Karroubi’s son Hossein on July 26, 2017, according to the Kalame website.
A TIPS procedure uses image guidance to create a tunnel through the liver to connect the portal vein (the vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver) to one of the hepatic veins (three veins that carry blood away from the liver back to the heart).
“The doctors are hopeful they can now normalize his heart beat with drugs,” said Hossein Karroubi, adding that his father is recovering and could be returned to house arrest in two days.
Mehdi Karroubi, 79, was admitted to a hospital in Tehran on July 24 after an Intelligence Ministry physician recommended treatment for his low blood pressure. Prior to the procedure, security agents at the hospital turned away visitors, only allowing his wife and children to see him.
“Reformists are indebted to the people and have never stopped searching for an end to the house arrests,” tweeted reformist MP Elias Harazti on July 26. “I am now at the entrance to the hospital hoping to visit detainees under house arrest.”
As of July 27, no MPs have been allowed to visit Karroubi in the hospital.
“Efforts by MPs to meet Mr. Karroubi have failed so far. According to a contact I had with [his daughter] Mrs. Kokab Mousavi, the medical attention given to Mir Hossein is also unsatisfactory,” tweeted reformist MP Mahmoud Sadeghi on July 26.
Karroubi was forced into extrajudicial house arrest in February 2011 along with fellow opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard after leading months of protests against the widely disputed result of the 2009 presidential election. More than six years after his arrest, he is still requesting his first trial.
In an interview with CHRI prior to Karroubi’s procedure, his son Mehdi Taghi Karroubi demanded freedom for his father.
“If officials insist that the illegal house arrests should go on, they should heed my father’s suggestion and hold a trial,” he said. “Mr. Mousavi and his honorable wife have been held in limbo for six and a half years. They are being punished without being convicted.”
“The state must end this unlawful situation or hold an open and transparent trial,” he added. “My father has said he will wholeheartedly accept any verdict issued in such a trial.”
Mohammad Taghi Karroubi also said President Hassan Rouhani has “done nothing” despite past pledges to help resolve the issue.
“Ending the house arrests was one of the main demands brought up during Rouhani’s election campaigns,” he said. “Obviously, if someone is elected by the people’s vote, he has a duty to look into the their demands.”
Ending the house arrests was one of Rouhani’s top pledges during his 2013 election campaign.
At a campaign rally at Sharif University on May 13, 2013, Rouhani said he hoped he could free the three detainees within the first year of his presidency: “We can provide conditions such that over the next year, individuals who were imprisoned or put under house arrest for the 2009 events are released.”
However, after his re-election on May 19, 2017, Rouhani adopted a more cautious line and suggested that a solution depends on cooperation from other branches of state.
“The country is ruled by laws and we should all submit to them,” he said on May 22. “The executive, legislative and judicial branches have their own responsibilities. We are moving forward on the basis of the Constitution.”
Following Mehdi Karroubi’s hospitalization, First Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari, who among conservatives has been the most vocal supporter of freeing the opposition leaders, said he hoped the unfortunate event could result in a resolution to the “tragic” situation.
“Mr. Karroubi’s heart disease and his transfer to the hospital is a good opportunity to use some wisdom to end this tragic house arrest saga,” he tweeted on July 24.
Karroubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard remain confined to their homes in Tehran on the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has demanded that they apologize for their role in the peaceful, pro-democracy protests in 2009 that came to be known as the Green Movement.