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Speaker: Gov’t Should ‘Step In’ To Aid Detained Opposition

Iran's Deputy Speaker on the floor of parliament. File photo
Iran's Deputy Speaker on the floor of parliament. File photo

Iran’s deputy parliament speaker, Ali Motahari, says if no breakthrough is reached to end the house arrest of prominent opposition figures, the government should “step in.”

While delivering a speech to students at Khajeh Nassir Tousi University on December 11, Motahari said, “The top authorities have in recent months shown some flexibility toward lifting the house arrest of Green Movement leaders,” namely former PM Mir Hossein Mousavi; his wife, Zahra Rahnavard; and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi.

“There’s a will for addressing the problem,” he said.

Referring to Karroubi being recently allowed to receive a limited number of visitors, Motahari said, “They let four political activists visit Karroubi, and a similar procedure for Mousavi is under way, as well.”

Without elaborating, he noted, “They [top intelligence authorities] have asked us to avoid raising hell, and we have obeyed. Nevertheless, our silence over the house arrests is limited. God willing, the problem will be addressed; otherwise, we will be forced to step in.”

Karroubi’s sons revealed that the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) recently ratified a resolution permitting some figures to visit the 81-year-old opposition figure.

In his speech Motahari also said, “One of the heads of power said placing people under house arrest is not a punishment. I told him he should spend 10 days indoors and under siege and see what happens.”

Living in a house where every room is constantly monitored by cameras and recording devices takes a physical and emotional toll, Motahari said. “Nobody can deny that house arrest is a punishment. These people are only allowed to see their children every other week. Moreover, until recently, they were not even allowed to have access to newspapers, radio, or television. The problem of house arrests should be resolved, and I believe it has unnecessarily turned into a source of dispute and division,” he explained.

Motahari described the house arrests as illegal, noting, “In an emergency situation, it is justifiable for the SNSC to place people under house arrest for the sake of retaining peace and order. But when the situation returns to normal, the SNSC has no authority to maintain house arrests. The SNSC is not in a legal position to sentence people.”

Calling for a public trial in a competent court, Motahari suggested, “Those under house arrest should be allowed to express their concerns. And, of course, at the end of the day, we are obliged to accept the court’s verdict. Nevertheless, the continuation of house arrests is against articles 32 to 37 of constitution.”

Karroubi has repeatedly demanded to be tried in a court of law and has asked Motahari to follow up the demand as his representative.

However, in 2013, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called upon Mousavi and Karroubi to publicly apologize for challenging the official results of the 2009 presidential election that declared the incumbent, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, the winner.

The top authorities of the judiciary have also called upon Mousavi and Karroubi to openly “repent.”

Motahari has repeatedly dismissed the call as illogical.

Mousavi, 76, Rahnavard, 71, and Karroubi have been under house arrest since February 2011 following months of widespread street protests against Ahmadinejad’s re-election.