Iranian Cleric Under Seven-Year House Arrest Says Only Death Will Bring Him Freedom
Former Presidential Candidate Mehdi Karroubi Detained in His Home Without Trial Since 2011
An Iranian cleric and former presidential candidate who has been restricted to his home under state surveillance since February 2011 without trial has written an open letter describing a sense of hopelessness.
“This illegal and unauthorized house arrest has been going on for eight years and apparently there’s no end to this arrogant action,” wrote the 80-year-old Karroubi in a letter published by Saham News on May 30, 2018.
“No one considers himself accountable,” he added. “The way things are going, it seems our fate will be determined by the angel of death, Azrael. Either we will go first [from this world] or the other,” he wrote addressing members of the National Trust Party’s (NTP) central committee members.
In the letter, Karroubi asked the party to accept his resignation as secretary general for the second time.
Karroubi launched the NTP in 2005. In 2009 he was the party’s presidential candidate, who along with another opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, lost the controversial election to incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mousavi and Karroubi challenged the validity of the vote count and led mass protests that later came to be known as the Green Movement.
Without being charged or tried, they have been under house arrest along with Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, for seven years. Officials have suggested that the prolonged home incarceration is the direct wish of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has demanded an apology from the opposition leaders.
In his open letter, Karroubi described the 2009 election as a “rubber-stamped joke,” adding, “When [Ahmadinejad] was installed as president for a second time by adding seven million to his votes… the people’s protests… were violently suppressed and we entered a new phase.”
“We paid a heavy price for writing letters to the officials and the people warning them about the consequences of the violent crackdown on the protests,” he said.
“Our office, the party headquarters and our substantive newspaper, Etemad Melli, which had attracted different segments of society with reports from esteemed journalists, were suddenly shut down by the security forces overnight,” he wrote. “But many years later, Etemad Melli has remained a beacon of light with the efforts of many worthy individuals.”
In the summer of 2017, Karroubi was hospitalized several times for heart-related problems and in July of that year underwent an emergency procedure to normalize his blood pressure.
He had gone on hunger strike demanding that the security forces that had been watching him and his wife from his inside his home leave the premises.
About a month later, the security forces stationed themselves outside his home and Karroubi has been allowed to receive visits from relatives and associates more often. He continues to be barred from leaving his home or receiving non-familial visitors.
In May 2018, some officials stated that Rahnavard had refused an offer for some of the restrictions on her to be lifted but she denied the report and pledged to stay under house arrest in solidarity with Mousavi and Karroubi until they are all freed.
“I have not been informed, verbally or in writing, that the house arrest has ended. I have not been freed,” said the 72-year-old grandmother. “I will not accept an end to the house arrest for myself without the same for Mousavi and Karroubi.”