The Rouhani Government has absolved itself of any responsibility to act over the 79-month house arrests of Iran’s opposition leaders, burying a promise made by President Hassan Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign.
At a press conference, senior Rouhani advisor Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said of the detentions of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — both candidates in the disputed 2009 Presidential election “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and Mousavi’s wife, academic, artist, and activist Zahra Rahnavard: “This issue arose during the previous government, not the current one.”
Nobakht was responding to a statement by judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei that the Supreme National Security Council had decided “the house arrests should continue as is”.
Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rahnavard were seized in February 2011 amid the regime’s fears of renewed mass protests by the opposition Green Movement over the 2009 election, rights, and repression.
Rouhani promised in 2013 that political prisoners would be freed, but after his inauguration, he was soon rebuffed by the Supreme Leader as well as hardliners within the judiciary, Revolutionary Guards, and Parliament. Ayatollah Khamenei said that the detained opposition leaders were fortunate that they had not been executed.
Nobakht insisted to reporters, “Everyone knows about the president’s firm position on the house arrests.”
However, he then effectively acknowledged that Rouhani had given way to Khamenei: “Let this issue be resolved on its current course. We respect the Supreme Leader’s sublime position. The country’s security is important to us.”
Rouhani has denied any Supreme National Security Council resolution mandating the house arrests, but judiciary spokesman Mohseni Ejei said, “SNSC resolution 544 explicitly requires the Intelligence Ministry to sustain the house arrests under the judiciary’s supervision.”
All three detainees are reportedly in poor health. Karroubi underwent heart surgery last month. He then went on a brief hunger strike until security officers were moved from inside his home.
Zahra Mousavi tweeted in early August after seeing her parents, “We have no good news to report from our meeting. Only unkept promises, signs of my father’s critical health, without knowing what is happening.”