by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
Thirty-nine prominent political prisoners have issued a statement calling on Iranians to boycott the Majles elections on March 3 and to make the maximum effort to secure the release of the leaders of the Green Movement — Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi. The trio has been under house arrest since last February 15, after they called on the people to peacefully march in support of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. The day before, 25 Bahman/February 14, at least one million people marched in Tehran alone, which quickly led to the detention of the three leaders.
The prisoners who signed the statement were themselves convicted in show trials and many are serving long sentences. Representing various strands of thought within the Green Movement, they have called on “all the freedom-loving people of the world” and independent human rights organizations around the globe to help free the leaders of the Green Movement of Iran from their illegitimate and unjust detention.
Their statement declares,
The military and security forces are trying to hold show elections for the Majles, while increasing the repression of political activists and journalists. More then ever before, the society is facing a closed political environmental that has no precedent in previous elections…. The military and security coup leaders of the nation are taking more victims every day. And this is taking place while the leaders of the protest movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karrabi, and Zahra Rahnavard are under house arrest and facing more pressure and more severe restrictions. […]Mousavi and Karroubi, presidential candidates in the tenth presidential election [of June 2009], have been under illegal and inhumane house arrest for nearly one year, only for pursuing the [true] votes of the people and persisting on their rightful position. One year ago they asked [the Interior Ministry] for permission for marches in support of the liberation movements and human aspirations of the people of Tunisia and Egypt. The response of those who hold power illegally was — similar to the aftermath of the June 12, 2009, election — negative. When the authority of the government is not based on true votes and the democratic process, not only can the opposition not express its opposition, it is put down in the most severe way. […]
After the call by the leaders of the Green Movement, the people in many cities came out on the streets. Their protest gatherings, particularly 20 months after the election coup [of June 2009], was so glorious that the ruling group of force, deception ,and wealth could not tolerate the freedom of the leaders of the protest movement. Similar to many political figures, journalists, legal scholars, academics, and students, the leaders of the Green Movement were also incarcerated.
Eleven months has passed since the illegal arrest and incarceration of Mousavi, Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard. If the government is trying to fill up the Majles [with new deputies] under the shadow of repression and dictatorship, the freedom-loving [people] of the Iranian land must expand and deepen their protest movement and, as a first step, try to free their leaders.
The reformists and true democrats responded positively to the call by their imprisoned leaders, our voice from inside prison, and the wishes of the vast majority of Iranians and political groups, and did not agree to help the engineered elections [of the Majles] and strengthen the dictatorship. National democratic sovereignty through democratic and fair elections is still the most important demand of the Green Movement. As pointed out in our two previous statements issued in November and December , the first step in this direction is the release from house arrest of the honest and firm leaders of the Green Movement.
We call on our compatriots around the world to educate about the fake and engineered elections of March, and to do their utmost to help free the leaders of the Green Movement.
We also ask all the freedom-loving people of the world and the independent human rights organizations to help us free the leaders of the protest movement of the Iranian people from their illegitimate and unjust arrest. Defenders of human rights should not close their eyes to this continuing oppression.
Among the statement’s signatories are major political figures, human rights and university activists, journalists, academics, and attorneys. They are Bahman Ahmadi Amooee, Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi, Javad Emam, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Masoud Bastani, Emad Bahavar, Seyyed Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, Seyyed Mostafa Tajzadeh, Saeed Jalalifar, Ali Jamali, Amir Khorram, Babak Dashab, Mohammad Davari, Majid Dorri, Amir Khosrow Amir Sani, Ali Reza Rajaei, Hossein Zarboni, Isa Saharkhiz, Davood Soleimani, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Ghasem Sholeh Sadi, Keyvan Samimi, Fereydoon Seidirad, Jalil Taheri, Mohammad Farid Taheri Ghazvini, Feyzollah Arab Sorkhi, Siamak Ghaderi, Abolfazl Ghadiani, Farshad Ghorbanpour, Saeed Matinpour, Mohsen Mohagheghi, Mehdi Mahmoudian, Mohammad Reza Moatamednia, Ali Malihi, Abdollah Momeni, Mohsen Mirdamadi, Behzad Nabavi, Zia Nabavi, and Abolfazl Abedini.
Human rights advocate and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi issued a statement in which she praised the 39 political prisoners. She called on the people to respond positively to the statement, do what they can to free the leaders of the Green Movement, and boycott the Majles elections.
In related developments, Fatemeh Karroubi, wife of Mehdi Karroubi, said that her husband is in solitary confinement. Visiting dissident Islamic scholar Ahmad Ghabel in Mashhad, Mrs. Karroubi said, “After Mr. Karroubi’s support for boycotting the elections was publicized, my visits with him have been terminated, and the security officials do not even allow me to return to my own home. The behavior of the security forces has unfortunately been very impolite and profanity-laden.”
Mousavi and Rahnavard’s daughters met with the family of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in Qom, and expressed concern over how they have been prevented from communicating with their parents or even obtaining any news about them. They said that the last time they had the opportunity to visit their parents, they found their mother in poor health. She had lost considerable weight, and her hands were trembling. After the meeting, Fatemeh Rabbani Amlashi, Montazeri’s daughter-in-law, wrote a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reminding him that Mousavi is his second cousin, that the treatment that he and his wife are receiving is un-Islamic, and that history will not look kindly on Khamenei if he does not order their release.
Reports indicate that the health of Abdollah Momeni, a prominent university activist and one of the 39 signatories of the statement calling for the Green leaders’ release, has deteriorated badly. He was transferred to Evin Prison’s medical center after feeling severe pain in his abdomen and has not been heard from since. Momeni, spokesman for the Organization of University Graduates, was a leading figure in Karroubi’s 2009 presidential campaign. He has been tortured repeatedly in jail. He wrote a letter to Khamenei that detailed what had happened to him, after which his treatment became even worse.