Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has once more called for the release of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi.
According to opposition website Kaleme, during a meeting with Mousavi’s daughters, Khatami praised their perseverance in spite of the continued state pressures on the family.
Mousavi’s daughters briefed the former two-time president regarding their parents’ condition and the problems they were facing while in captivity. They pointed out that following a meeting with their parents in the holy month of Ramadan, authorities had intensified their campaign of intimidation and harassment against the family.
During the brief encounter in 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.”
These words spread rapidly among Green Movement supporters and were enough to start a wave of “News of Kidnapping” readers in the country. Not long after Mousavi’s meeting with his daughters, copies of Nobel-prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez’s 1996 work News of a Kidnapping became a scarce item in bookshops due to unprecedented demand for the book in Tehran. At least ten large bookshops in the capital told the Guardian “their stocks of the book had sold out. None of them would say why.”
“Under status quo, one can’t be hopeful about the upcoming [parliamentary] elections and taking part in them,” Mousavi told his daughters, promising that “the future is bright.”
Khatami argued that ending the house arrest of Karroubi and Mousavi would “open up and soften the political atmosphere.”
Mousavi and fellow Green Movement leader Mahdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest shortly after calling for opposition protests on 14 February in solidarity with the region’s pro-democracy uprisings.
Since the start of their arbitrary detention, the 2009 presidential candidates have not yet been granted a fair trial. Their continued captivity and maltreatment is inconsistent not only with human rights provisions but also with Iran’s own constitution.
In his most recent 21-page report, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran described the ongoing house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi as “deeply disturbing.” The document also noted that members of the Mousavi and Karroubi family had reportedly been harassed and intimidated by the regime.