Nobel Women’s Initiative calls for release of Green Movement leaders

Ahead of house arrest anniversary

The Nobel Women’s Initiative on Wednesday called for the “unconditional release” of the leaders of Iran’s opposition Green Movement Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mahdi Karoubi and Zahra Rahnavard.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi spearheaded the Green Movement until mid-February 2011 when they were placed under house arrest after calling for protests in solidarity with the Arab Spring. The 14 February demonstrations were marred by the security forces’ violent crackdowns which left at least two dead. The Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope, the movement’s highest decision-making body, has in recent days called for nationwide opposition demonstrations in protest at the worsening economic conditions as well as the continued detention of dissident figures, in particular Mousavi and Karroubi.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative who are also Nobel laureates, said the trio had been “under house arrest for over a year without trial or possibility of defence and in contravention of Iranian national law and human rights norms.”

The Nobel Women’s Initiative was founded in 2006 by Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire. The organisation seeks to promote women’s rights and gender equality.

The group expressed opposition to the detention of the movement figures and called for their “unconditional release.”  It also urged “all freedom-loving people and human rights organisations throughout the world not to remain indifferent to the fate of the prisoners of conscience in Iran, in particular the aforementioned individuals, and to employ every means at their disposal to secure their release.”

The Kaleme opposition website recently reported that 39 prominent political prisoners held at Evin prison had released a statement calling “upon all freedom fighting citizens across the globe to create public awareness regarding the upcoming sham and rigged parliamentary elections in March, and to continue to do everything in their power to ensure that the detained leaders of the Green Movement are released in the month of February.”

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner and women’s rights activist Shirin Ebadi echoed the political prisoners plea, saying, “I support the call [of political prisoners] and invite all freedom-loving people across the globe to do all they can for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran, particularly Ms. Zahra Rahnavard, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mr. Mahdi Karroubi.”

Since the start of their arbitrary detention, the 2009 presidential candidates have not yet been granted a fair trial. Rights groups say their continued captivity and maltreatment is inconsistent not only with human rights provisions but also with Iran’s own constitution.

In a recent interview with the semi-official Fars news, conservative lawmaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar acknowledged the role of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in taking the decision to impose house arrest on Mousavi, Karroubi and Rahnavard.

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