Opposition Leader Under Extrajudicial House Arrest for Six Years Denied Emergency Care
An elderly opposition leader who has been kept under extrajudicial house arrest in Tehran since 2011 is being denied access to timely emergency medical services, his son told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
The Intelligence Ministry agents who are guarding former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi are only allowed to take the 79-year-old to a distant hospital run by the ministry should he require emergency medical care.
“Regarding the impact of six years of house arrest on someone of my father’s age, all I can say is that the regime will be held responsible if anything happens to him because of these restrictions,” said Taghi Karroubi. “The distance to the Intelligence Ministry’s hospital is too far.”
He spoke to CHRI after the publication of a letter on March 8, 2017 by his mother, Fatemeh Karroubi, condemning the policy.
“The ministry’s security agents are still present inside our home and every basic domestic task is in their hands,” said Fatemeh Karroubi, who lives with her husband but is allowed to leave the house. “That’s not the definition of ‘house arrest.’”
“Ever since the house arrest began, we have been very worried about not being able to contact Tehran Emergency Center when necessary,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, this is the order given to the agents stationed at our home in violation of the most basic human rights.”
Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard were put under house arrest without trial on February 13, 2011 for publicly disputing the results of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election and leading peaceful mass demonstrations against the results.
The media have been instructed not to raise the issue of the house arrests, and the 2009 protests continue to be referred to as the “sedition” by authorities in Iran.
Taghi Karroubi described his father’s living situation to CHRI, adding that Intelligence Ministry agents are based on the first floor of the house and that Mehdi Karroubi and his wife live on the second floor.
“The agents have to be aware of everything, even the purchase of the simplest of things for the house,” he said. “They have to see everything and approve it before it’s taken upstairs.”
“The upstairs’ phone is disconnected,” he continued. “My mother and father don’t have a mobile phone and so if anything happens, the agents have to be informed first.”
“Last week, my father’s blood pressure dropped sharply and he was sent to the Intelligence Ministry’s hospital upon the advice of doctors, and came back after a few hours,” he added. “As my mother said in her letter, the hospital is too far from our home.”
“By putting him under house arrest, the ruling establishment wants to cut my father off from the political and social currents of the country,” Taghi Karroubi told CHRI. “And it did so. The authorities have disconnected the phone and internet. They even cut off the satellite dish that my mother always used for listening to BBC news (banned in Iran).”
“They control all comings and goings,” he said. “My father is only allowed to go to the courtyard for a walk, but he doesn’t do that anymore since his knee operation.”
“When security agents are constantly present inside your home for six consecutive years, that’s not called a ‘house arrest’ anymore,” he said. “I don’t know what to call it. The agents can be stationed outside by the entrance gate, for instance, but they have been inside for six years controlling every personal affair.”
“We want the regime to be accountable,” he added. “If the authorities want to put someone in house arrest, they need a court order. They have to hold a trial.”
“My father, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard have been held all these years without a trial,” Mehdi Karroubi told CHRI.
“They have asked to be tried in court many times.”
“It’s like the three are in a legal limbo,” he added. “It’s a situation without legal precedence and therefore you can’t seek justice for them through normal judicial channels.”
“The problem is that they are being punished without being sentenced in court (according to the wishes of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei),” he said. “But the law says no one is above the law, not even the supreme leader.”