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Iran Opposition Figure Karrubi Starts Hunger Strike


Iranian oppositionist Mehdi Karrubi has hospitalized twice in recent weeks due to heart problems. 

Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karrubi, who has been under house arrest for more than six years, has begun a hunger strike, his family says.

Karrubi's son, Mohammad Taghi Karrubi, said that the 79-year-old cleric has stopped eating since the morning of August 16 because he wants to be put on trial rather than remain under house arrest.

Karrubi's wife told the opposition Sahamnews website that her husband, who she said is only taking heart medicine, "does not expect a fair trial" but wants it to be public.

Fatemeh Karrubi said that he also wants security officers to leave his house.

A moderate MP, Mostafa Kavakebian, raised Karrubi's hunger strike in Iran’s parliament, calling for action from the Health and Intelligence Ministries.

Mehdi Karrubi, along with opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, were placed under house arrest in February 2011 for challenging the establishment over the disputed 2009 presidential vote and also for highlighting human rights abuses.

Karrubi, a former speaker of parliament, has been hospitalized twice in recent weeks due to heart problems.

Musavi and Rahnavard are also suffering from health problems, their daughters have said.

Rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of the three opposition figures.

Amnesty International said last month that it was "high time" Iranian authorities ended their "unjust treatment" of Karrubi, Musavi, and Rahnavard.

"All three have been unjustly deprived of their liberty in a chilling illustration of Iran's zero tolerance approach to political dissent," the London-based watchdog's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi said in a July 31 statement.

In March, Iranian authorities sentenced Karrubi's eldest son, Hossein Karrubi, to six months in prison on charges of distributing propaganda against the government.

The jail sentence was for e-mailing to his brother in London a letter that their father had written to President Hassan Rohani. The letter, which called for a public trial, was then released publicly.

With reporting by AFP

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