Hague’s condemnation of the Iranian government’s attempts to suppress freedom of expression came a day before scheduled opposition protests marking the first anniversary of their disappearance.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi spearheaded the Green Movement until mid-February 2011, when they were placed under house arrest along with their wives Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi after calling for protests in solidarity with the Arab Spring. Last year’s demonstrations were marred by the security forces’ violent crackdowns, which left at least two people dead.
In late January 2012, the Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope, the movement’s highest decision-making authority, called for nationwide protests on 25 Bahman (14 February) against the worsening economic conditions as well as the continued detention of dissident figures, particularly Mousavi and Karroubi.
Hague said the opposition leaders were being held based on accusations of “spurious political offences.” “Iran has repeatedly ignored calls from the international community for their immediate release,” he added.
“Today they all remain in detention without charge, with the exception of Fatemah Karroubi. They are only allowed fleeting and usually supervised contact with their children. Iran has claimed this is for their own safety, but it is clearly a cynical attempt to silence their voices and those of their supporters.”
The Foreign Secretary called for the “immediate release” of Karroubi and Mousavi, maintaining that “[f]reedom of expression and assembly are universal and inalienable rights that lie at the heart of progressive societies and I condemn Iran’s continued attempts to suppress these rights.”
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