Iran opposition leader under house arrest after calling for Egypt-style protests

[JURIST] Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi [NYT profile; JURIST news archive] has been placed under house arrest [Saham News report, in Persian], according to his website Saham News [website, in Persian]. On Thursday morning, security forces reportedly took control of the area outside of Karroubi's residence and have barred all family members, except his wife, from entering. The report indicates that the arrest is related to calls by Karroubi and fellow opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi [BBC profile; JURIST news archives] for rallies in support of the recent political reform movements in Tunisia and Egypt [CFR backgrounder]. Karroubi and Mousavi sought permission [RFE/RL report] from the government to hold such a rally on Monday, but State Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi rejected the request [AP report] and warned that there would be serious consequences if the rally went ahead unsanctioned. In lieu of attending the opposition rally, Iran's government is encouraging citizens to attend a government-sanctioned rally [ISNA report, in Persian] on February 11 to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Last month, Iranian chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi delivered a speech at Tehran University indicating that he would prosecute opposition leaders for political unrest that took place after the country's 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive]. Dolatabadi threatened to prosecute [NYT report] Mousavi and Karroubi and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami [BBC profile]. Mousavi and the other leaders called for continuing protests [JURIST report] to oppose the results of the 2009 presidential election, arguing that it was fraudulent. The three leaders would join a long line of individuals detained or already prosecuted for their roles during the election protests. In September, Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist arrested after the 2009 elections, was sentenced to six years in prison [JURIST report] for charges including "warring against God" and distributing anti-government propaganda. Also in September, Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer known for representing political activists following the 2009 election, was detained for allegedly spreading propaganda and colluding against national security [JURIST report]. In August, an Iranian court sentenced Qorban Behzadianejad, Mousavi's campaign manager, to five years in prison [JURIST report]. The Iranian government detained hundreds of protesters and sentenced several to death [JURIST report]. Khamenei pardoned or commuted the sentences of 81 protesters [JURIST report] in June.

 

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