By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online
They Arrested My Husband on a Warrant From Mohseni Ejhei
In an open letter to Mehdi Karoubi four years ago, Abdol-Hossein Harati called the 1980s in Iran “The Terror Hallway of Iran’s History” that is associated with the founder of the Islamic republic ayatollah Khomeini. Through the letter he objected to Karoubi’s and Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s constant praise of Khomeini. After 2013 when Hassan Rouhani and his administration invited Iranians living abroad to return to their homeland to serve, Harati returned. But his stay was not long before he was arrested. His family now says that he has been kept in Evin Prison because of that critical open letter.
Harati is the former advisor to the head of the influential State Expediency Council that was created to resolve paralyzing issues between the three branches of the government and is currently lead by veteran Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was also the head of the documents section of Azad University. He was arrested on June 19th 2014 in his own house. His wife now has told Rooz that the agents who came to arrest him said they had an arrest warrant from Mohseni Ejhei, the attorney general and the spokesman of the judiciary branch of government.
Until his return to Iran, Harati lived in Australia and returned after Rouhani became president. His wife recollects that Rouhani had asked Iranians to return and her husband acted on the message as he believes in the regime and likes it and wanted to live and serve in his homeland. “He is someone who criticizes while also accepting criticism. Unfortunately he returned on the basis of the promises that were made and is now in trouble,” she said.
But Harati is not the only person who acted on the new administration’s call of return during last year. Kazem Barjeste, seyed Serajedin Mirdamadi, Hossein Nooraninejad, Hamid Babai and Masoomeh Gholizadeh are among other Iranians who also returned to Iran but were soon taken to Evin Prison by official agents. Even though Nooraninejad was recently released on bail, Sajedeh Arabsorkhi, another activist who returned to Iran continues to be held in prison on a sentence in absentia that had been passed against her.
Harati’s wife explains about her husband, “He had returned for nine months when they came and took him away. “They did not issue a summons, but raided into the house. They could have first sent a summons or at least tried to knock on the door before storming in on the excuse that there was a stolen car in front of the house. I did not see the warrant which they showed to my husband but I did hear them say as they were leaving that the warrant had been issued on orders from Ejhei.”
When I asked her about the reasons authorities may have given for her husband’s arrest, she said, “They said it is because of the letter that he had written to Karoubi four years ago. He became the head of the documents section of Azad University. There were no problems when he was employed by the university and the ministry of intelligence did not raise any issues and did not object. I do not know what has happened since then that they now raise that letter. The letter had not been read by many people then, but now many will read it.”
Harati was removed from his post in late 2013 just months after his appointment. The letter to Karoubi was written in 2010.
Harati’s wife told Rooz that she wished that people’s criticism would be tolerated in the country. She also talked about her concerns about her husband’s health. “Since his arrest about 20 days ago, he has only contacted us three times, each time for about two minutes. Initially, they said he was in a solitary confined cell but later with three other people. He suffers from pulmonary embolism but has not been taken to the prison clinic. Prior to his arrest he also had a respiratory problem which was initially diagnosed as cancerous but later rediagnosed. He said he had intense leg pain when we spoke the second time. I am most concerned about his health who is 55 years.”
Rooz asked whether he had been contacted by anyone from the State Expediency Council where he had served as advisor to its chairman to which she replied, “Nobody from anywhere has contacted us. You are the first. My children and I are most concerned about my husband’s health and I hope he, and other prisoners, are released soon.”
In his 2010 letter to Karoubi, Harati had written, “Others and I are at pain when you and Mir-Hossein Mousavi constantly mention ayatollah Khomeini in your talk but then we console ourselves by saying that this is what political talk in Iran requires.” Elsewhere he continued, “I do not understand your - and those of other reformers’ - defense of ‘Imam Khomeini’ because in those days there was no reform movement. Unfortunately some of our (reformist) friends do not dare to debate him (that is ayatollah Khomeini) and this is still a taboo among reformers. I am happy that you, as a hero of the Green Movement, have broken this bam and have opened a debate about him (i.e., Khomeini).”
In his letter he also mentioned the massive killings that took place in prisons in the 1980s when Khomeini was still alive, a period that he labels “The Corridor of Terror” in Iran and laments that nobody has cleared the events of those days. “If someone claims that Khomeini did not know what was going on in prisons I would tell him that that is not true. This is because there is an honest witness who has said that Khomeini knew of all the details of what was going on. That witness however himself was confined to house arrest because of the anger of the very ‘Imam Khomeini.’ This witness was the one who wrote to Khomeini telling him that his ministry of intelligence was worse than the Shah’s SAVAK security agency. Yes, I am talking about ayatollah Montazeri. Did Montazeri not become the hero of the Iranian people and of the Green Movement because of his struggle against the violent views and thoughts of ‘Imam Khomeini’? Did Montazeri not say that absolute faghih (i.e., supreme clerical rule) was forbidden in Islam? And was Khomeini not the specific founder of the theory and concept of velayat faghih?”
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