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Concern Over Detained Opposition Leaders' Health Continues

Mirhossein Mousavi (L), Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest since 2011.

Iran's Health Ministry announced on July 31 that it had not been tasked with medical treatment of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest since 2011 and suffer from multiple health issues.

Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi visited the pair recently based on his “personal” initiative in order to prepare reports for “higher-ranking officials,” continued the ministry's short, contradictory statement.

It has been more than six years since both politicians, once part of the small circle of the ruling elite, along with Mousavi’s wife, were detained at their homes in Tehran for challenging the results of the 2009 presidential election.

In the meantime, their health has deteriorated significantly to the point where they have required hospitalization several times in recent weeks.

Former Prime Minister Mousavi, 75 years old, reportedly suffers not only from heart complications but also low blood pressure and dizziness. Karroubi, the former speaker of the parliament, 79 years old, has been taken to hospital twice in recent days for a low heart rate.

Now family and friends of the two say security forces have sabotaged their treatment intentionally. Agents of the Intelligence Ministry intended to gradually take the opposition leaders' lives, wrote Karroubi’s family in an open letter.

A group of rights activists in Tehran tried to visit Mr. Karroubi at the hospital on Monday. The Twitter account of Ms. Maryan Abdi reported that security officials did not allow them to see Mr. Karroubi but accepted the flowers they had brought, promising to deliver them. Mostafa Tajzadeh and Bhareh Hedayat, two prominent former political prisoners were two of the visitors.

Rights activists at the hospital to visit opposition figure Karroubi. Security did not allow them in.
Rights activists at the hospital to visit opposition figure Karroubi. Security did not allow them in.

Unfortunately, neither the government nor the Intelligence Ministry has taken any steps in this regard, despite warnings by both families, the letter says. Therefore, along with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the “broken” judicial system, President Hassan Rouhani and his intelligence minister are personally responsible for the lives of the opposition leaders, added the letter.

For their part, Mousavi’s two daughters, Zahra and Narges, have also complained of insufficient medical care and report about the terror they often experience due to rumors about the death of their father.

In such situations, not being able to communicate with their parents has created huge stress for them, said Mousavi’s children in a rare interview with conservative Iranian newspaper Jomhoori Eslami.

“They were completely healthy when they were placed under house arrest, and we want them back healthy,” the daughters were quoted as saying.

Ending the house arrest was one of the main promises made by Rouhani during his election campaign. But so far, he has come up short on delivering it.

On Tuesday, the spokesman of Rouhani's government tried to address the public concerns about the detainees.

Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said that "the door is open" to ending the house arrests and that the supreme leader does not think the issue is "insoluble". The spokesman also wished good health to "these dear ones" and expressed hope that soon the "indignation will be over" and the "detainees' relatives, as well as the public will have no reason to be worries".

However, Khamenei has repeatedly called the detainees as the “Leaders of Sedition” and has never shown any sympathy towards them.

“The leader of Iran bears the main responsibility since without his approval the house arrest would not have happened, would not have continued, and its end will be also with his approval,” said Ardeshir Amirarjomand, a formeradviser to Mousavi, in an interview with Radio Farda.

He also explained the president's power was limited, and the only thing people expected from him was transparency and maximum use of his authority, particularly regarding the actions of its Intelligence Ministry.