Iran’s New Security Council Secretary Should End Illegal House Arrests
(September 13, 2013) The newly appointed Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, should immediately review the situation of the opposition leaders under house arrest and prepare for their release, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
Secretary Ali Shamkhani should address the issue of releasing Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi as a top priority on the Council’s agenda, the Campaign added.
On September 10, 2013, Ali Shamkhani assumed the position of Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council under Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Previously, Shamkhani served as Minister of Defense during the presidency of the reformist Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005.
“The ongoing house arrest of these opposition leaders is illegal and inhumane, and the Council is well-positioned to put an end to this extrajudicial detention,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Campaign. “The government of Hassan Rouhani, who claims to respect the rights of the people, should not tolerate the gross human rights violations exercised during Ahmadinejad’s administration,” Ghaemi added.
Over the past two years, several high-level Iranian officials have placed the responsibility for the detained opposition leaders with the Supreme National Security Council, which determines defense and national security policies for the country, though the ultimate responsibility lies with the Supreme Leader.
Mehdi Karroubi’s son Mohammad Taghi Karroubi announced on his Facebook page on September 10 that Iran’s Supreme Leader has recently agreed to refer the opposition leaders’ case to the management of the Supreme National Security Council, with its new secretary. This referral could signal an important development in the house arrest case, with the Supreme Leader distancing himself from the consequences of illegally detaining political figures for years without charges.
“I think, considering the management and the new members of the Supreme Security Council . . . the best place to taking action to lift the house arrests and the imprisonments is the Supreme Security Council,” Former Minister of the Interior Abdollah Nouri said during a visit with Mir Hossein Mousavi’s daughters on July 11, 2013.
At a May 6, 2013, speech for Tehran’s Sharif University students, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said, “What happened with Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi was based on a resolution by the Supreme Security Council, which is a legal resolution.” Earlier, in October 2012, Member of Parliament Ali Motahari told Negah-e Panjshanbeh Weekly that then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was responsible for the house arrests by virtue of his position as Head of the Supreme National Security Council.
While under house arrest, both Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have suffered failing health, necessitating several transfers to the hospital and the Tehran Heart Center in July 2013. Security forces have prevented them from remaining hospitalized, instead returning them to house arrest after medical testing. Mousavi, Karroubi, and Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard have been illegally detained under house arrest since February 2011, in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election in which Karroubi and Mousavi were candidates. No charges have been brought against them.
Regarding his father’s health, Mohammad Taghi Karroubi told the Campaign, “After the angiogram at the Tehran Heart Hospital last month, his cardiac conditions have improved. He is currently under treatment for a slipped disc problem at his house arrest location. Security conditions led the security officials to continue his treatment at the Intelligence Ministry safe house where he is detained.” Mohammad Taghi Karroubi saw his father during family visitation on September 11. “The treatment by [security] forces is a lot better than before, and they are better at facilitating the visits,” he said.
“The Council should not only end the house arrest of the opposition leaders, but also facilitate the release of all political prisoners who have similarly been arrested unlawfully, charged baselessly, and imprisoned for years,” Ghaemi said. “Contrary to the Iranian Judiciary’s claims of independence, the politically motivated charges against these prisoners prove otherwise, and necessitate the intervention of the Supreme National Security Council.”