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Government: Negotiations For Lifting House Arrests Better Remain Confidential

Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, spokesperson of Rouhani's government
Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, spokesperson of Rouhani's government

“President Rouhani’s government wants to end the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi. Negotiation on the matter is going on. Yet, [we believe] informing the public of the negotiations is not necessarily helpful in solving the problem,” the government’s spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said on Friday, 27 May.

Reacting to critics who say pursuing this highly political case on the basis of ordinary citizens’ rights, is downgrading it to a non-political one, Nobakht told Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA:

“These two are not mutually exclusive. The rights could be political, cultural or social but, at the end, they are all citizens’ rights,” Nobakht maintained.

In 2009, Mir Hossein Mousavi emerged out of semi-retirement to run for the presidency against the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to highly controversial official results Ahmadinejad won the election, but millions of voters dismissed the results. They packed the streets to protest the outcome, chanting “Where’s my vote?”

Soon, the protests, branded as the ‘Green Movement’, transformed into the biggest unrest since the 1979 revolution and one of the darkest chapters in Islamic Republic’s history. Hundreds were arrested and several people were killed during repeated large protests.

Mousavi and his wife as well as Karroubi, who had also challenged Ahmadinejad in 2009 presidential election, were detained in February 2011 and have been kept under house arrest since.

They have not been formally charged and it has never been officially said who ordered their house arrest. However, analysts almost unanimously believe that the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei is personally responsible for their detention.

“I would kiss the Supreme Leader’s hands ten times if necessary in order to free political prisoners,” said Rouhani in his second term presidential campaign, implicitly referring to the Green Movement trio.

This echoed the main promise Rouhani offered his supporters in the 2013 presidential election; a promise that is yet to be fulfilled.

“There are negotiations going on to lift the siege around the houses of Mousavis and Karroubi but we rather not to publicly speak about them,” Nobakht reiterates in his interview with ILNA, and maintains, “President Rouhani yearns to tackle the problem and we’re helping him to resolve it.”

In Rouhani’s re-election campaign rallies, chanting for Mir Hossein Mousavi and calling for the freedom of the trio, was a loud slogan repeated time and again.