In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, 8,700 Iranian citizens have called for lifting the house arrest of Iran’s Green Movement leaders, confined to their homes since 2011 without trial.
Twice speaker of Majles (Islamic Republic's parliament), mid-ranking cleric Mehdi Karroubi, ex-Prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest since February 2011.
Mousavi and Karroubi were the primary challengers of the incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential elections. They protested the official result that declared Ahmadinejad the winner, leading to more than five months of demonstrations and a bloody clampdown that left dozens dead and hundreds imprisoned.
The protest movement demanding the official results to be annulled became known as the Green Movement, for the color chosen by its supporters.
Later, the pair -- along with Zahra Rahnavard and Karroubi's wife, Fatemeh -- were confined to their homes after they called for street demonstrations in solidarity with the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia. Fatemeh Karroubi was later freed, but the trio remained under house arrest.
The signatories to the letter have insisted that the 2009 presidential election was indeed rigged, and the leaders of the Green Movement should be released.
One opposition leader, Mohammad Reza Khatami, is being prosecuted for insisting that more than seven million ballots tallied for Ahmadinejad were fraudulent. The signatories of the letter to Rouhani have also defended him, saying the trial will lay bare the truth.
While the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his allies have repeatedly condemned the Movement as "Fetneh" (an Arabic word, meaning 'sedition'), Khatami told reporters outside the court, "This is the genuine sedition. Objecting to fraud is not sedition. Fraud is the greatest one. Objecting and voicing protest and criticism of even the Leader is not sedition."
Khatami, a brother of the reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, reiterated: "The 2009 election cannot be undone, and it's devastating economic and political damages are irreparable. ---The regime's legitimacy doesn't come from hiding mistakes and treasons, but to face them correctly."
The former member of parliament asserted, "What I presented was just a part of this betrayal of trust, now it is time for the judiciary and the regime to apologize to all the victims of the 2009 and end all the incarcerations."
A Revolutionary Court has charged Mohammad Reza Khatami with "spreading lies to create public panic" for an interview in which he talked about widespread rigging in the 2009 presidential election.
Many of the signatories to the open letter are political activists, journalists, Iran-Iraq eight-year war veterans, and relatives of its victims.
Reminding Rouhani of the promises he made during his two presidential campaigns (2013-2017), the letter has urged him to take a practical step towards lifting the house arrest, end the "historical injustice," as well as its delegitimizing impact on the Islamic Republic.
One of the main promises President Hassan Rouhani had tabled during his election campaigns in 2013 and 2017 was to lift the house arrests. However, the commitment, which was always followed by prolonged cheers from audiences, has not yet been fulfilled.
The Iranian Constitution grants broad powers to the Supreme Leader, but according to its Article 30, no one can be banished from his place of residence, prevented from residing in the place of his choice, or compelled to reside in a specific locality except in cases provided by the law.
As Rouhani presides over the Islamic Republic's Supreme National Security Council, he has enough legal power to pave the way for lifting the house arrest. Nevertheless, it appears that he has been so far reluctant to take the necessary action.
In the Islamic Republic, the Supreme Leader has the last word in all state affairs, and it seems the leaders of the Green Movement will remain under house arrest until Khamenei decides to end it.
Khamenei has repeatedly maintained that the three are under house arrest for their "own safety."