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Reactions To Karroubi's Hunger Strike And Hospitalization

Mehdi Karroubi and Ali Motahri
Mehdi Karroubi and Ali Motahri

Tehran MP and deputy parliamentary speaker Ali Motahari has urged Iranian decision makers to respond to the demands of Mehdi Karroubi, an imprisoned leader of the Green Movement who was rushed to the hospital on August 16 after the elderly cleric went on hunger strike the day before.

“Tomorrow’s too late,” Motahari warned on his Instagram account.

Karroubi has been under house arrest for more than six years. His son, Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, said his 79-year-old father wants to be put on trial rather than remain under house arrest.

His wife, Fatemeh told the opposition Saham News website that her husband also wants security officers to leave his house.

“[Karroubi’s] demand for an open trial is reasonable and logical,” Motahari wrote. “The officials related [to the case of house arrests] should rather take the Islamic Revolution and country’s expediency into account, since tomorrow might be too late.”

Karroubi has emphasized he would not stop his hunger strike until his demands are met.

“The only thing the physicians have done so far is treat him with serum to prevent a catastrophe,” reported Saham News.

“Karroubi’s hunger strike is a wake-up call for those who insist on the continuation of house arrests,” Iran’s Labor New Agency (ILNA) cited Motahari as saying. “[His] argument is based on logic. He says, ‘Let the law decide my fate. If I have committed a crime, let a competent court try me; whatever its verdict, I would accept it.’ ”

Motahari dismissed the arguments made by a number of security and intelligence officials that those under house arrest should repent before being freed.

“Such arguments have no logical basis since Karroubi has insisted he committed no crime and in fact had fallen victim to unjust decisions,” Motahari said. “Furthermore, if he had really committed a serious crime, disregarding the nation’s rights, how could he be forgiven by simply declaring remorse?”

Moreover, the argument “has no religious legitimacy, since Islam has never said that all crimes are forgiven by repenting,” Motahari added. “Therefore, those who are confronting Karroubi are only after humiliating him and forcing him to his knees.”

Motahari called for convening a court to try those who are accused of instigating the 2009 bloody uprising, including former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mirhusssein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karrubi
Mirhusssein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karrubi

Karroubi, 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, calling people to participate in public demonstrations in support of the Arab Spring movement in Egypt and Tunisia and to highlight human rights abuses.

The largest reformist faction in Iran’s parliament, Omid, or Hope, has also declared it is closely following the house arrest case and is in touch with the authorities, including President Hassan Rouhani, to find a way out of the dilemma.

However, Rouhani has not yet reacted to Karroubi’s hunger strike.

City Councilor Shahrbanoo Amani has called upon Rouhani to step in.

“Ending the house arrests was one of your main promises to the people. Do not forget what you promised,” she reiterated.

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

“Karroubi’s life is in danger, and the state, which has detained him without trial, is responsible for whatever happens to him while he is in its custody,” said Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.

“Karroubi is still demanding his first trial more than six years after he was imprisoned at his home,” Ghaemi said. “The judiciary must immediately tend to this emergency medical situation and free these political leaders who have been imprisoned for peacefully expressing their opinion.”

Amnesty International said last month that it was "high time" Iranian authorities ended their "unjust treatment" of Karroubi, 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," Magdalena Mughrabi, the watchdog's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a July 31 statement.