The outspoken deputy speaker of Iranian parliament sees a glimmer of hope for the leaders of the Green Movement who have been under house arrest for more than six years.
Ali Motahari says he is hopeful that the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council, SNSC, will soon vote on lifting the house arrest. He says he is guessing that the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei has changed his opinion on the case.
Motahari, a Tehran MP, who is visiting France, has also told the daily Le Monde, “Many of the ‘principalists’ (conservative hard-liners) who were earlier supporting the house arrests, have reached a new conclusion and believe that the continuation of the house arrests does not serve the interests of the country any longer”.
Referring to a discussion he had with the Supreme Leader two years ago on the fate of house detainees, Mehdi Karroubi, 80, Mir Hossein Mousavi, 76, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, 72, Motahari says, “The Supreme Leader was against ending the house arrests, yet, after two years, the situation has changed, as Mousavi and Karroubi are suffering from health problems”.
Therefore, Motahari thinks that the Supreme Leader’s position on the case has probably changed.
Motahari said in the past that ayatollah Khamenei had rejected his proposal to try the Green Movement leaders in a court of law, warning, “Their trial would lead to issuing a ‘heavy’ verdict against them”.
Besides Motahari, many other political figures have insisted that no one, but the Supreme Leader, can end the house arrests.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have repeatedly demanded to be tried in an open and competent court of law. Nevertheless, the judiciary has rejected their demand, arguing that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered the house arrests and it is responsible for ending or upholding the verdict.
Earlier in September, a dispute erupted between the Judiciary and Rouhani’s government, as to whether the president has raised the issue of the house arrests at a National Security Council meeting or not. While the government claimed he did, the Judiciary denied it on two occasions.
Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, who were running against the incumbent in 2009 presidential election, protested the official result that declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner.
Their protest led to more than five months of demonstrations that left several killed and hundreds imprisoned.
Later, the couple along with Mehdi Karroubi and his wife, Fatemeh, were confined to their houses after they called for street demonstrations in solidarity with “Arab Spring” or pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia. Fatemeh Karroubi was later freed, but the trio remained under house arrest.
Now, considered opposition leaders, the detainees and specially Mr. Mousavi are regarded as leaders of the Green Movement, which demanded the reversal of the 2009 official election result.
One of the main promises President Hassan Rouhani tabled during his presidential campaigns in 2013 and 2017 was doing his utmost to lift the house arrests. However, the promise that was always followed by long cheers of the audience has not yet been fulfilled.
Meanwhile, several prominent political figures of the Islamic Republic, including reformist former president, Mohammad Khatami have joined the chorus, calling for the lifting of house arrests.
Mohammad Khatami appealed to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to end the house arrest of two reformist leaders who have been restrained without charge for more than six years.
Khamenei has frequently criticized the 2009 protests as "sedition" and has said that the leaders of the protests must repent before he would consider releasing them.
Karroubi, 80, is reportedly in poor health and has been hospitalized several times in recent weeks. Some analysts have expressed concern that if he dies in custody, new protests could ensue.
Furthermore, in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, several Religious-Nationalist activists inside Iran have called for the immediate release of the leaders of the Green Movement.
In another interview with French weekly, Le point, Ali Motahari has maintained that the members of the SNSC have all agreed that the question of house arrests should be addressed, one way or another.
Tehran’s MP also asserted that Mousavis and Karroubi should either be freed or tried in an open court of law, adding, “Of course, the other party [former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] has to be tried, as well [and answer the charges against him]”.