Former Presidential Candidate Under House Arrest Punished for Blaming Plane Downing on Supreme Leader
Relatives Banned, Children Searched, While Mehdi Karroubi Begins 10th Year of Extrajudicial Detention
After putting blame on Iran’s Supreme Leader for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, new restrictions have been imposed on former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under extra-judicial house arrest in Tehran for nearly nine years, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
In an open letter on January 11, Karroubi, a leader of the 2009 opposition Green Movement, said that as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was responsible for the tragedy.
“If you were aware of what had happened and consciously permitted military, security and public relations officials to deceive the people, that would be very bad because it would mean you have none of the qualifications and character traits to lead the country according to the Constitution,” Karroubi wrote.
“Pray tell, what kind of commander-in-chief are you to allow those under your command to play with the country’s [security] in such a way? It is obvious you lack the necessary wisdom, courage, management skills and power to be a leader.”
One of Karroubi’s sons, Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, told CHRI on January 14 that the security establishment had pressured the family not to publish the letter.
“On the day that my father’s letter was published, security officials contacted my brother [Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, but called Hossein Karroubi by the family] before publication and demanded he put a stop to it or else he would suffer consequences,” Mohammad Taghi Karroubi said.
“Then they broke into [Hossein Karroubi’s] house, even though he had already reported himself to Evin Prison. There was no one in his house. They broke the front door and searched the house for several hours and took away his and his children’s personal belongings.”
There has been speculation that Hossein Karroubi reported to prison to serve a six-month prison sentence issued in March 2017 for publishing another letter written by his father.
“Following Hossein’s incarceration, the authorities also banned all visits with my father by second-tier family members such as his only sister. Visiting privileges have regressed to last year’s restrictions. His children can only see him once a week and as of today (January 14) body searches of visitors inside the house have resumed,” Mohammad Taghi Karroubi told CHRI.
He added: “[Last March] the authorities had allowed the installation of a satellite dish so that my father could watch a couple of foreign news networks. Now they have cut it off. Family members could also carry phones and we could talk to each other but now the phones have been taken away and phone contacts have been completely cut off and newspaper deliveries have become more restricted. My other brother went to see my father tonight but he was not allowed inside.”
Mohammad Taghi Karroubi continued: “The authorities have to explain what was in my father’s letter that made them impose these restrictions after nearly a decade of house arrest. All of these things are happening because of my father’s recent letter to the Leader in connection with the plane crash…
“My father is an active politician. Some may agree with his views and some may not. On many occasions, he has made explicit statements from inside house arrest and directly addressed his views to the Leader and the Assembly of Experts. This time they didn’t tolerate it, which is an indication of the current state of the country. The rulers feel more vulnerable and aren’t as tolerant as in the past.”
Mehdi Karroubi ran for president in 2009, along with fellow candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. The results of those elections, which brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term, were widely disputed and followed by massive peaceful protests in Iran that came to be known as the Green Movement. The protests were violently crushed by the state in 2009. Karroubi, Mousavi and Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard were placed under house arrest in February 2011, where they have remained for the last nine years, without charge or trial.
Read this article in Persian.