Where Are Iranian Opposition Leaders Musavi, Karrubi?
By Golnaz Esfandiari,
Mir Hossein Musavi (left) and Mehdi Karubi are both said to be under house
arrest, cut off from all outside contact.
The Iranian authorities have arrested the son of opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi
in an attempt at increasing pressure on him.
Sahamnews, reported that security forces arrested one his
sons, Ali Karrubi, and Ali's wife, Nafiseh Panahi, on February 21 during the
night. Panahi has since been released, but Ali Karrubi remains in detention.
Ali Karrubi was also arrested in the crackdown following the June 2009
presidential election and reportedly tortured and threatened with rape.
The authorities reportedly also raided the house of another of Karrubi's sons,
Hossein Karrubi, but he was not home.
Isolating The Leaders
Sahamnews reported that on February 21 Mehdi Karrubi's house was raided by
security forces who locked him and his wife, Fatemeh Karrubi, in separate rooms
and took away documents and books. The reports say the security forces also
changed the locks on the house.
Karrubi was put under house arrest after he and fellow opposition leader Mir
Hossein Musavi called for a rally in solidarity with the uprisings in the Arab
world on February 14.
Musavi and his wife were said to have been put under house arrest on February
14, as the protest they called reportedly attracted tens of thousands of
protesters to challenge the Iranian regime.
Kaleme website, which is close to Musavi, has posted a
picture and video of a metal gate that security forces have reportedly set up to
block access to the dead-end street where Musavi's residence is located.
Karrubi lives in an apartment building, which is likely to make it more
difficult for the authorities to isolate him should they decide to prolong his
Both Karrubi and Musavi have remained defiant despite
numerous calls for them to be put on trial and, most
recently, their execution. Their wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karrubi, who
are reportedly also under house arrest, have also been outspoken and both have
criticized Iran's leadership and human rights abuses.
As professor Nader Hashemi, who teaches Middle Eastern politics at the
University of Denver, told RFE/RL last week, the renewed pressure on the two
opposition leaders is a sign of panic.
"[The two] clearly can't be ignored anymore. But I think the dilemma really
is...on the one hand wanting to crack down on them, wanting to bring them to
trial, wanting to publicly humiliate them, but at the same time realizing that
it has a cost for the regime," Hashemi said.
"In other words, it elevates [their] prestige and importance and gives them a
national and international profile."
For now it appears that the authorities have decided to completely isolate the
two and block all contact with their supporters and the outside world. And they
appear to have been successful, as there has been almost no news about Musavi
and Karrubi since last week.
Last week the head of Iran's Guardians Council, hard-line cleric Ahmad Jannati,
said the prosecution of the two was not expedient.
Instead, he said the two should be cut off from the world. He said their
telephones lines and Internet connections should be cut. "They must be
imprisoned in their own houses," Jannati said during a Friday Prayers sermon.
On February 17, an aide to Karrubi who is based in the United States, Mojtaba
Vahedi, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that he managed to speak briefly with Karrubi.
He didn't give any details about the way he communicated with the reformist
cleric, but he said it was "very difficult" to contact him and it might have
been his last contact with Karrubi. Vahedi said Karrubi has said that he's ready
to go on trial and called for the trial to be made public.
Meanwhile, on February 22 chief Iranian prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei
warned that anybody who followed and supported the opposition leaders would be
treated as an "antirevolutionary."
"If someone listens to the call of the seditionists today, that person is
antirevolutionary and should be treated as an antirevolutionary," Ejei was
quoted as saying by state media.
Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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