Tuesday , 7 December 2021

After 7 years, Iran’s Green Movement leaders may be released

Al-Monitor – The seven-year house arrest of Iran’s Green Movement leaders appears to be coming to an end, according to Iranian media reports.

Hossein Karroubi, the son of Mehdi Karroubi, told Ensaf News that an “informed source” within the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has approved to lift the house arrests of Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard. Karroubi and Mousavi were the Reformist candidates in the 2009 election. They accused then incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of committing election fraud in his re-election and called for street protests, causing the most serious challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They were put under house arrest in February 2011, though without ever being charged in a court of law.

According to the SNSC vote to release them, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has 10 days to express an opinion on the matter, otherwise the decision will hold. It is not clear what date the official lifting of the house arrest will take place, but some have reported that it could be on the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha, Aug. 20.

Hossein Karroubi told Jamaran News, which is close to Reformists, that First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri had initiated the issue at the SNSC. He said that Jahangiri’s previous comments about a “gathering of the symbolic figures and forming unity in the country” was a reference to the house arrests being addressed at the SNSC.

Hossein Karroubi also added that the “limitations” on former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami will also be lifted. For supporting the Green Movement protests, Khatami was put under a media ban and had on a few occasions been prevented from attending public events.

Iranian parliamentarian Gholamreza Heidari, however, contradicted the reports of the imminent lifting of the house arrests. Heidari told ILNA that he checked with parliament Speaker Ali Larijani who “did not confirm the veracity of the news.” Lamenting the possibility of the news not being true, Heidari added, “For the sake of national interests, especially under these conditions where the environment of hopelessness, tension and conflict exists, one of the most necessary steps is the lifting of the house arrests.”

President Hassan Rouhani campaigned on the release of the Green Movement leaders in 2013. His efforts led to fewer restrictions, permitting more visitations, and even reports of limited travel under the watch of security agents. However, neither Mousavi nor Karroubi were willing to repent for challenging the system and neither gave guarantees that they would set aside their protests once released. Karroubi on a number of times had even asked for a public trial, which he has so far been denied.

While the news was welcomed by most Iran observers, the general sentiment has been that it is taking place too late. Mohammad Hossein Karimipour tweeted, “The lifting of the house arrest is good but it will not bring the people and the government to the threshold of repair. The system needs to believe in and announce the necessity of deep reforms.” Mahmoud Farjami compared it to the end of the Iran-Iraq War, tweeting, “It was positive but it happened so late that heavy costs were inflicted.” Seyed Mojtaba Vahedi, Karroubi’s former adviser, tweeted that only after his release will people know if the lifting of the house arrest is “real.” He argued that if Karroubi is released and remains silent about issues he was vocal about before the house arrest, then, “the Karroubi who leaves house arrest is the not the same Karroubi who entered house arrest.”