Renewed calls by top Iranian conservative to ‘resolve’ detention of opposition leaders

Habibollah Asgaroladi

‘2013 elections problematic if house arrest not addressed’

A senior conservative figure as once again called for an end to the stalemate surrounding the house arrest of 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

According to the news website Khabaronline.ir, Habibollah Asgaroladi, the secretary general of the Islamic Coalition Party, one of the largest conservative parties in the country, said that the ongoing house arrest of the pro-democracy Green Movement’s leaders was a “lock” that would pose a major challenge to the Islamic Republic in the leadup to the next presidential election on 14 June.

Asgaroladi suggested that the deadlock over the issue had been the result of the hardliners’ attempts to link the “sedition” with the opposition duo.

“Sedition,” is the Iranian regime’s epithet for the opposition Green Movement.

“The Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] has said that the United States and the Zionist Regime [Israel] were the seditionists. My interpretation of these statements is that sedition was rooted elsewhere,” he went on to add.

Asgaroladi has voiced sympathy with Mousavi and Karroubi on a number of occasions, a move that provoked great outrage amongst hardliners. He previously stated that he does not believe the men were part of the so-called “sedition.”

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi spearheaded the Green Movement until mid-February 2011 when they were placed under house arrest after they had called for protests in solidarity with the Arab Spring on 14 February. The demonstrations were marred by the security forces’ violent crackdowns which left at least two dead.

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 the months ahead of the 2013 presidential race, authorities have repeatedly warned about a repeat of the unrest that rocked Iran following the widely contested presidential elections in June 2009.

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