Iran’s post-2009 election house-arrestees resurface ahead of presidentials

Iran’s post-2009 election house-arrestees resurface ahead of presidentials

 

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 17

By Mehdi Sepahvand – Trend:

Less than one year remains to presidential elections in Iran and the issue of the house arrest of two opposition leaders of the 2009 post-election riots has surfaced once more.

The case of Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi was hotly debated in the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign in 2013, when he promised to bring the case to some tangible result.

The two were put under house arrest by the Iranian state in 2011 after refusing to comply with the election results and stop their pleas to the public for protest. There have been no charges officially posed against them, nor any trials.

Reformers who backed Rouhani to presidency have preserved the release of the two as one of their major demands. More moderate ones, however, believe the arrestees should be given a trial.

Rouhani has fulfilled his other major electoral vow, that of bringing the nuclear debate between Iran and the West to a conclusion, which he did last year by striking an accord with six world powers.

However, he is going to need the full support of reformists if he wants to be elected for a second term in 2017, where he might be cogitating about gratifying his second-biggest promise.

The house arrest was this week put in the spotlight once more, when Mohammad Reza Bahonar, senior right-wing politician who has served 28 years in the Parliament, said Mousavi had turned down a proposal by him to stay politically inactive if released from house arrest.

Bahonar then concluded, “The best situation to be continued now is the house arrest. If a court wants to try these men officially and according to the country’s law, their verdicts will be heavy… maybe harmful to reformists and these men themselves.”

However, on August 17 another major politician and senior MP, Ali Motahari, refuted the prospect that once freed, the two opposition leaders would reignite a campaign such as they had in 2009.

“The 2009 post-election events were indebted to the emotional vibe of that time and even in rare case that the two would have such intentions, [starting a campaign] will not be possible. Adding to that the fact that they do not have such intentions at all and have said they would support the government and help national unity and public reconciliation once freed,” Motahari said.

He went on to say he had corresponded with the arrestees two years ago with the result that “they answered in a very good manner to the effect that they love the revolution… and there was no sign of protest or division.”

As the head of the Supreme National Security Council, Rouhani has great influence over the case of the house arrest, which Judiciary spokesman Qolamhossein Mohseni Ejei on July 1 said is in the hands of the Council.

There is, however, Judiciary chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani’s statement of December 31, 2014 that the Judiciary would put the two arrestees to trial “once the Security Council’s legislation on them changes.”

As of yet, it seems possible that Rouhani takes the chance to “change” the legislation and free the two. This should of course be done at the right time when the action brings the reformist admiration for Rouhani to its highest by Election Day, because afterwards the ex-arrestees should most probably face some harsh reckoning.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @mehdisepahvand

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