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Response to News of Arrest and Detention of Iranian Opposition Leaders Mousavi and Karoubi

By Arash Bahmani, Rooz Online

The range of protests against the detention of the leaders of Iran's Green Movement extends from the country's senior ayatollahs to Western governments while news media report on street gatherings that took place in various cities on Monday.

Karroubi, Mousavi
Mehdi Karoubi (L) and Mir-Hossein Mousavi

Following the news that Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the leaders of the Green Movement were moved to prison, Mojtaba Vahedi, Mehdi Karoubi's advisor and the former editor of Aftab newspaper told BBC Persian service that the arrests took place, "After the head of the judiciary Sadegh Larijani received the approval for this from Iran's supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei."

Kalemeh website affiliated to Mousavi revealed two days ago that Mousavi and Karoubi, the two leaders of the Green Movement and their wives had been taken from their house and moved to Heshmatieh prison in Tehran which is managed by Iran's military under the defense department.

In this regard, Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeini, a parliament representative who is familiar with this prison since his membership in the sixth (reformist) Majlis (2000-2004) said, "This prison belongs to the military and is managed by the military through an agreement with the Prison Organization. There was a building in the facility that was said to house the more prominent prisoners. Among them was Farhad Nazari, Tehran's then police chief arrested because of his role in Tehran University dormitory police brutalities of 1999 and others serving their prison terms. One can speculate that this prison was chosen because of its history in holding special prisoners and its high security level."

Tehran's Heshmatiyeh jail (google map)

Al-Arabia website quotes an informed source who says that, "there is a difference between the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the ministry of intelligence in how to deal with Mousavi and Karoubi. The ministry believes that the two should be kept under house arrest in their own homes while cutting all their communications thus preventing the possible protests as a reaction to their detention. The IRGC disagrees and has been urging harsher treatment of the protest leaders. It believes Mousavi and Karoubi should be put in prison, tried and then punished. It contends that no matter how serious the protests against this may be, they will not last longer than two or three weeks and that after their suppression, they will end for good. This way, the IRGC leadership believes the connections and communication between Mousavi/Karoubi and the protestors will end for good and one can home that protests too will end forever.

Karoubi's advisor Vahedi however speaks of a larger role by the IRGC and the ministry of intelligence. "Sadegh Larijani was not as convinced about arresting Mousavi and Karoubi but ayatollah Khamenei told him that the conclusions reached at the leader's office was that this issue would not create a problem."

Vahedi also said that according to the leader of the Islamic regime, the person who was responsible for this conclusion and the costs that may come following the arrest of the leaders of the protestors was his son, i.e., Mojtaba Khamenei.

Prior to this when the homes of Mousavi and Karoubi were under siege and blocked off, Kalemeh website belonging to Karoubi had written that the principal authority sanctioning the blockade of the homes of the two opposition leaders was none other than ayatollah Khamenei himself. It added that the approval of this decision by the leader would make others such as Rafsanjani, Nategh Nouri, Qalibaf and others who are at disagreement with the official harsh treatment of the opposition leaders support this measure. "The leaders and principal actors of this blockade [of the homes of opposition leaders] have told ayatollah Jannati to issue a fatwa at the Friday prayer congregation to confront the Green Movement leaders, the attorney general to call the two leaders counter-revolutionaries, Ahmadinejad to sit silent, the national radio and television network to call for the execution of the two, and the minister of intelligence to give media interviews on this. But Moslehi failed in his media interviews and made things worse. Amoli Larijani had publicly said earlier that he followed the orders of the leader regarding the leaders of the protestors."

Following the news of the arrest of Green Movement leaders, websites belonging to the principlists (i.e., Ahmadinejad's ruling faction) had denied the news report. Pro government Keyhan newspaper quoted a security official saying two days ago, "Mousavi and Karoubi are in their own homes although their communications, particularly with outside the country, have been cut. Both have permission to be visited by their immediate family members so long as they do not engage in publishing lies or inciteful comments." The paper also denied reports that the two had been transferred to a military prison calling it "rumors spread by Western intelligence agencies."

IRNA state run news agency quoted Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, the attorney general of Iran as saying, "News reports about Karoubi and Mousavi being transferred to a prison are not accurate and are denied."

Tabnak website close to former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai quoted a security official as saying, "Mousavi and Karoubi are in their own homes and the communication restrictions that have been placed on them are aimed at denying access and misuse by counter revolutionaries."

Fars news agency too quoted "a judiciary official, "The two are currently in their own homes and the only restrictions are in their contacts with suspicious elements."

In response to these denials, the children of Mir-Hossein Mousavi told Kalemeh, "The only time we can believe these denials is when we can visit our father and mother in their parental home, without any threats or the presence of security or military forces and in complete physical and mental health, as in the past."

It has been reported that the transfer of Mousavi and Karoubi took place while Tehran had been placed under an intense police patrol by security and military forces.

It should be noted that Mousavi and Karoubi had been under full state supervision prior to the February 14 demonstrations, but that restrictions on them were increased as the demonstrations began and that their house arrest took a dramatic turn when they issued statements in support of the February 14th demonstrations and protests.

In the initial stages of his house arrest, Mousavi had two separate telephone conversations with some of his close relatives in which he said that the state-provided guards had been removed and food was being delivered to him by security authorities. Mousavi had also said that they were denied any newspapers.

On Saturday, Mousavi and Rahnavard's children issued an open letter describing the situation in these words. "We went to visit them. But a van blocked the entry to the street. People who came out of the van wore black masks, chewed gum, and in response to our request to see the warrant that denied us access to our parents blasted us with words to the effect that it was none of our business. We then asked them who and how many people were in the van that was blocking the entry, and again they yelled at us."

Two days ago, one of Mehdi Karoubi's sons Mohammad-Taghi Karoubi provided further details on what was going on.

In his note on Saham News website closely affiliated with Mehdi Karoubi, he wrote, "Regarding the arrest of my father and mother which unfortunately and erroneously has been termed as house blockade for the past twenty days, I must say that they have been under arrest and not a blockade or siege. We have no news of them and only God knows about their condition."

He echoed his father when he suggested that an open public trial be held for his father at Azadi stadium in the presence of an independent jury and people be the judges between the claims of the rulers and the protestors.

Another son spoke to Saham News about the assertions made by the attorney general to the effect that Mousavi and Karoubi were not under arrest and said, "On the first day of the blockade, intelligence authorities asked Ali Karoubi in a telephone conversation to visit his parents home. Ali went there immediately, not suspecting any foul play, which is when he was arrested. One of Karoubi's daughters in laws was witness to how intelligence agents confiscated everything from their house, including some 700 religious books and even his medicine. The only thing they did not take was the fridge and the furniture, they said."

One of Karoubi's children also revealed that he had managed to speak with a neighbor who had witnessed the transfer of his father and mother out of their home. According to him, "Around midnight, some eight vans belonging to the security agencies that were parked in front of Mr. Karoubi's house left the premises, along with another car that had joined them. Since then, the house has remained completely empty and dark."

In the last few days since then, security agents and plain-clothes agents have returned to the premises on a number of times and entered the house. "There is absolutely no news about Mr. Karoubi and his wife. Agents have entered their house and taken away any thing that they believe may help contacting them and remain on the premises," Mojtaba Vahedi said.

Majmae Rohaniyun Mobarez (Association of Combatant Clerics), Komisione Zanane Jebhe Mosharekat (Participation Front's Women's Group), and prominent personalities such as ayatollah Yusef Sanei, ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, ayatollah Dastgheib, Ahmad Montazeri [the late ayatollah Montazeri's son], seyed Mohammad Khatami, among others have responded negatively to the house arrest of the two leaders. Two days ago, ayatollah Zanjani and ayatollah Sanei, two senior clerics also issued warnings about the blockade of Mousavi/Karoubi's homes.

The news of the transfer of the leaders of the Green Movement has also brought forth protestations around the world. US National Security Council issued a statement condemning the organized intimidation of political and human rights activists. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also told reporters that the Iranian regime needed to respect the citizen's rights of assembly and freedom of speech and end intimidating its opponents. The White House spokesperson also said that the detention of Mousavi and Karoubi were unacceptable acts by the Iranian regime and urged the leaders of Iran to free them. Some US Republican senators said too commented on the situation saying that the arrests of Mousavi and Karoubi and their wives indicated the fears of the dictatorship from the people.

The EU also strongly condemned the arrest of the Green Movement leaders and called on for their immediate and unconditional release. The head of EU also said that intimidation efforts by the Iranian government are an aggression against the principles of democracy.

The spokesperson for the German government also was quick to issue a condemnation of the arrests, as was the Chancellor and foreign minister of Germany. The German foreign ministry also summoned the Iranian ambassador in Germany to submit his country's condemnation of the arrests.

In the meantime, Ramin Mehmanparast, the spokesperson for Iran's foreign ministry called the arrests an internal matter and said that foreign governments had no right to interfere in Iran's internal affairs.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement condemning the arrests of Mousavi and Karoubi and urged Iranian officials to immediately release the two. It also asked for the disclosure of the place where the two were being held. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and other international human rights organizations also condemned the arrests and called on the Iranian authorities to release the prisoners. ICHRI said the four dissidents had disappeared. They had been denied the right to have any communications with the outside world, were being held in an undisclosed location, which were a flagrant violation of Iranian and international law and constituted kidnapping by the Iranian regime.

... Payvand News - 03/04/11 ... --

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