Sun, March 06, 2011 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Iran: Growing Criticism as Opposition Leaders Remain Under Arrest
In recent days, there has been growing criticism from the reformist camp over the continuing arrest of reformist opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.
Kalemeh, a website affiliated with Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s supporters, reported Monday that Mousavi and Karoubi had been arrested and transferred to Heshmatiyeh Prison in Tehran (Kalemeh, February 28). The report was denied by the judiciary. Before that, pro-opposition media published reports claiming that in recent days, Mousavi and Karoubi had been transferred with their families to a security installation where they are held in isolation. One of Karoubi’s sons confirmed that last Thursday (February 24) his parents had been taken by the security forces to an unknown location (Jaras, February 27).
This week, the children of Mousavi and Karoubi published letters expressing concern over the continued arrest of their parents. In the letters, they said that they have been prevented contact with their parents by the security forces since February 14. In addition, the children sent a joint letter to the top clerics, calling them to make their voice heard to bring about their parents’ release (Saham News, February 28).
Iran’s prosecutor general Hojjat-ol-Eslam Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Eje’i admitted this week that Mousavi and Karoubi are held in isolation and that they are not allowed to contact the outside world. He even threatened additional measures against the opposition leaders if they persist with their activities (Mehr, February 28).
Reformist opposition activists operating outside Iran called on supporters of the Green Movement in Iran to hold rallies on Tuesday (March 1) to protest the continuing arrest of Mousavi and Karoubi. On that day, websites affiliated with the reformist opposition reported local clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Tehran and other major cities.
Three senior clerics affiliated with the reformist bloc issued this week strong condemnations of Mousavi and Karoubi’s continuing arrest. Ayatollah Yousef Sane’i, Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, and Ayatollah Seyyed Ali-Mohammad Dastgheib protested the fact that Mousavi and Karoubi are held under arrest since the opposition demonstrations on February 14, demanding that they be released.
In a special memorandum of opinion released by Ayatollah Sane’i this week, he said that the authorities’ conduct with regard to the two opposition leaders was an indication of political weakness. He even compared their conduct to that of the Shah’s regime with regard to its political opponents on the eve of the Islamic revolution. It is puzzling, Sane’i said, that while the authorities claim that Mousavi and Karoubi enjoy no status in Iran’s society, they refuse to give them a fair public trial so that they can defend themselves and let the society decide whether they are right or not (Jaras, February 27). Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Dastgheib sent a letter to the assembly members this week calling them to act swiftly to secure the release of the opposition leaders, arguing that it contradicts the constitution and Islamic religious law (Kalemeh, February 27).
Former president Mohammad Khatami also broke his silence and expressed protest over the continuing arrest of Mousavi and Karoubi. At a meeting with clerics and academia lecturers, Khatami claimed that it is inappropriate to hold under arrest and impose restrictions on such personalities as Mousavi and Karoubi, who have loyally served the revolution and the Islamic republic for many years. Khatami expressed his hope that, as the Iranian new year approaches, the house arrests will cease, the restrictions will be lifted, and the political prisoners will be released from prison (Jaras, February 27).