Iranian authorities are resorting to scare tactics to intimidate the daughters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, a leader in Iran’s opposition Green Movement.
On Thursday, Kaleme, a website close to Mousavi, reported that security agents had recently threatened the daughters of the opposition leader with imprisonment. Meanwhile, one of the daughters, who had been studying arts at Azzahra University, has already been barred from attending school.
During the June 2009 presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi ran against incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was announced the as the victor. The reformist pair however refused to acknowledge the results of the disputed election describing it as “engineered” and “fraudulent.” Following the fraud allegations, massive demonstrations questioning the validity of the vote erupted across the country.
Despite the authorities’ brutal crackdown on protesters, the opposition Green Movement dominated the streets for seven months with a series of highly disciplined yet mainly self-organised mass rallies across the country.
After almost a year of absence from the streets and in the wake of revolts in the Arab world, Mousavi and Karroubi called for rallies to be held in February 2011 in support of the pro-democracy movements in the region. However, shortly after their call for protests, the men were placed under house arrest along with their wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi, respectively.
The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, the movement’s most important decision-making council, recently called for a fresh wave of opposition marches on 14 February to mark the anniversary of last year’s demonstrations.
On Tuesday, Kaleme published a statement by the children of Mousavi and fellow opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi describing their parents’ on-going house arrest as “inhumane” and “illegal.”
“Echo our demand for justice,” they called on Iranians.
“We, the families of our dear ones, say with certainty and explicitly that, contrary to their free will and the law, they’ve been in prison for a year now. With the exception of a few limited, short and controlled phone calls and visitations, they’ve been deprived of any contact with the outside world. They’re deprived of their legal rights. Up till now, not a single official has accepted responsibility for this illegal act. There is no impartial body monitoring their food, health or medication. There are many ambiguities surrounding their security and place of detention and our concerns grow daily.”
According to the website, the latest episode of intimidation against the Mousavi household is not an isolated incident. Iran’s intelligence agencies regularly harass the girls by calling them and delivering death threats or telling them they risk losing their jobs.
Kaleme also reported that one of Mousavi’s daughters had been suspended from Azzahra University without receiving any form of written explanation. Azzahra is the only university in Iran only women can attend. Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard used to be a professor and chancellor at the university for a number of years.
During a brief encounter with his daughter during the holy month of Ramadan, Mousavi reportedly told his daughters, “If you want to know about my situation in captivity, read Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping.” “Under the status quo, one can’t be hopeful about the upcoming [parliamentary] elections and taking part in them,” he told his daughters.
“The future is bright,” he told them.
When news of the meeting leaked onto green websites, authorities further isolated the opposition couple from the outside world, while queues formed in some bookshops after the book became a rare commodity in a matter of days.