Iran Daily: Detained Opposition Leader Karroubi Ends Hunger Strike

Mehdi Karroubi (right) with fellow Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi before their house arrests in February 2011

Iran’s opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, held under strict house arrest for 78 months, has ended a brief hunger strike, after the Rouhani Government pledged to seek a public trial for him.

Karroubi began the hunger strike on Wednesday and was transferred to hospital later in the day, having only recently been discharged after treatment for a low heart rate. According to his family, he sought the removal of security forces from his apartment as well as the court hearing.

Charges have never been filed against Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi — also a candidate in the disputed 2009 Presidential election — and Mousavi’s wife, activist and academic Zahra Rahnavard. They were detained in February 2011, with the Iranian regime fearing a resurgence of mass protests after the elections.

President Hassan Rouhani sent Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi to speak to Karroubi in hospital. Karroubi’s son Mohammad Taghi said that the Government agreed to his father’s conditions.

Former President Mohammad Khatami — a reformist like Karroubi, Mousavi, and Rahnavard — said after speaking with Karroubi’s family, “The very least expectation of Mr. Rouhani now is that he gets involved in the matter quickly.” Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, called Karroubi “our brother and great master”: “God willing, attempts will see some results.”

Rouhani pledged during his first Presidential campaign in 2013 to obtain the freedom of the Green Movement leaders, but he has been prevented by the Supreme Leader from taking any action. Ayatollah Khamenei has said the trio should be grateful that they have not been executed.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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