ARTICLE 19 demands that the Iranian authorities end the arbitrary detention of leading opposition figures. Zahra Rahnavard, and former presidential candidates, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and Mehdi Karoubi have been under house arrest since 14 February 2011. All three were involved in peaceful protests that emerged after the disputed presidential election results of June 2009 and also had called for rallies in Iran in solidarity with pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.
“Arbitrary detention is never justified. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karoubi have now spent five years under house arrest. Over three years ago, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention formally recognised their detention as arbitrary. There is no doubt that their continued detention flagrantly contravenes Iranian and international law”, said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
Mousavi, Rahnavard, and Karoubi have never received any formal explanation by the authorities regarding the basis of their detention, and have been consistently denied any prospect of a fair trial. Over the past five years, they have been allowed only limited contact with their close family members.
In 2013, Hassan Rouhani won the presidential election following a campaign which promised to end the practice of the house arrest of opposition leaders. Rouhani also made commitments to work toward the removal of economic sanctions. While the Iranian people are celebrating the relieving of sanctions as a result of successful nuclear negotiations, Rouhani’s promises regarding ceasing the practice of detaining opposition activists under house remain unfulfilled.
“Many around the world have celebrated the historic nuclear deal with Iran and the prisoner exchange just last month. Now it is time for Iran to start the process of domestic reconciliation by fixing the broken contract between State and society, after the brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests of 2009”, Thomas Hughes added.
ARTICLE 19 urges President Hasan Rouhani to ensure the immediate release Karoubi, Mousavi, and Rahnavard. ARTICLE 19 also calls for the release of those journalists, artists, and activists who remain detained for legitimately exercising their right to free expression, including Hadi Heydari, Saeed Razavi Faghih, Mahvash Sabet, Ehsan Mazandarani, Hossein Ronaghi, Saeed Malekpour, Atena Faraghdani, Nargess Mohammadi, Bahareh Hedayat, Atena Daemi, Mohammad-Reza Alipayam, Mostafa Azizi, and Bahman Daroshafaei.