Six leading rights groups call for end to house arrest of Iran’s opposition leaders

In joint appeal

Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and six human rights groups have called on the Iranian authorities to “immediately” release the leaders of the country’s opposition Green Movement Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard from arbitrary house arrest.

The latest appeal was co-signed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, The International Federation for Human Rights, The League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran, and Reporters Without Borders.

Mousavi, Karroubi and Rahnavard were placed under house arrest in February 2011 after the opposition duo called for demonstrations in support of the revolutions in the Arab World.

The joint statement demanded that the Iranian regime cease harassing or detaining without cause the couple’s two daughters and Mehdi Karroubi’s son.

On Monday, two days before the second anniversary of the arbitrary house arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi, Iranian security forces detained and questioned Mousavi’s two daughters and Karroubi’s son for several hours.

“For two years now Iranian officials have stripped these opposition figures of their most basic rights without any legal justification or any effective means of remedy,” Ebadi stated. “They and their families should not have to endure even one more day under these wholly unjustifiable and abusive conditions.” 

 

Karroubi and Mousavi were presidential candidates in the widely disputed 2009 election in which the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was declared the winner. The results sparked massive protests across the country for the next seven months. Authorities resorted to disproportionate force to quell the demonstrations.

Since the start of their house arrest, the three opposition figures have been isolated from the outside world and are deprived of regular visitations.

In a December 2012 interview with the conservative Keyhan newspaper, Iran’s Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam acknowledged that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had been personally responsible for ordering the house arrest of opposition leaders.

In early 2012, First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar told the semi-officialFars news agency that Khamenei had indeed had the final say in ordering the house arrests.

On 11 February three United Nations bodies also denounced the continued detention of the three.

“I urge the Iranian government to immediately and unconditionally release the two opposition leaders and their family members, and to end all restrictions on their movement and legally protected activities,” said Ahmed Shaheed, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

“If authorities had evidence showing that these opposition figures had committed a serious crime they should have charged and prosecuted them in a fair and transparent manner quite some time ago,” Ebadi said. “The fact that they have failed to do so for two years is a clear indication that they have no such evidence and that the continuing house arrest of these three critics is politically motivated.”

With just four months to go before the upcoming presidential election in June, the country’s security apparatus have launched a fresh wave of arrests against journalists working for pro-reform publications, accusing them of having ties to foreign media.

“Thirty-four years after the establishment of an Islamic Republic founded upon the principles of freedom and justice, jails in Iran today are overflowing with hundreds of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, many of them ordinary Iranians whose only ‘crime’ was to speak out,” Ebadi said.

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