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Iranian MPs request to visit imprisoned opposition leader

After news that Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi are reportedly suffering from serious illnesses, some are calling for their release.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Iran's presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (3rd R) joins a crowd of supporters in Tehran June 17, 2009. REUTERS/Demotix (IRAN POLITICS ELECTIONS CONFLICT) - RTR24RIO

After reports that opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi became ill and needed medical care, four Iranian parliamentarians requested to visit the former parliament speaker who has been under house arrest since 2011.

According to Tehran parliament member Ahmad Mazani, a member of the Reformist Central Council of Hope, the parliament members felt that visiting Karroubi would be “in the interests of the country.” Karroubi, along with Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, were put under house arrest for challenging the outcome of the 2009 presidential election. Mousavi was prime minister during the 1980s. Their call for street protests against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election brought about the country’s biggest internal crisis since the post-revolutionary era.

Mazani said, “A lot of time has passed since the environment of 2009, and we have to create an environment … that continues the path of win-win of 2013 [President Hassan Rouhani’s election].” He called on the judiciary and Rouhani, as head of the Supreme National Security Council, to help secure the meeting in order to resolve differences about their house arrest. He added that a few parliament members had held meetings with those who can help, though he did not say whom.

Mazani said that parliamentarians represent the people and that during the last two elections people had expressed hope to see the issues of the house arrests come to an end. During the 2013 election, Rouhani was very vocal about his calls to end the house arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi. Though it has never been stated explicitly, it is believed Rouhani had made attempts to mediate a release, though both Mousavi and Karroubi refused to repent or promise to cease their protests. In May 2017, a reporter asked Rouhani why he has never spoken transparently about the issue of the house arrests or the efforts for their release. He replied with a vague answer about references to the law and his ill-fated Citizens’ Rights Charter.

Iran’s Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi said that Karroubi checked into the hospital after having heart trouble. He noted that he visited Karroubi twice and that he is doing well and will be released from the hospital shortly.

According to Mousavi’s daughters, the former prime minister is also not feeling well. The daughters claim that he has fluctuating blood pressure and suffers from dizziness. Mousavi reportedly needs his wife to accompany him wherever he walks due to concerns he may fall from dizziness.

The news about the ill health of the two opposition leaders has renewed calls for their release. Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari tweeted that Karroubi’s health problems and stay in the hospital are a “good opportunity to end the sad tale of his house arrest.” Many other people tweeted about Karroubi with the hashtag #sonofAhmad in Persian. The hashtag was derived from Karroubi’s famous comments in which he said, “I am Mehid Karroubi, son of Ahmad, and I will not retreat.” Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the former vice president under Mohammad Khatami, tweeted, “If you want to put loyalty, kindness and bravery in a short term, it is Mehdi Karroubi.”

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