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If They Are To Be Freed They Must First Be Tried



Revolutionary Guards Speak Out On Green Movement Leaders

Even though calls for the release of Green Movement leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi and Zahra Rahnavard have grown since the election of Hassan Rowhani as president, the official website of the political bureau of the Revolutionary Guards force (IRGC) for the first time acknowledged the illegal detention of the GM leaders and wrote, “If the law is to be followed, a competent court must first meet to look into the crimes of these individuals.”

An article in Basirat website continued, “The end of the presidential race is the beginning of a new chapter in the political life of the country and new demands are made on a government which through popular promises succeeded in attractive the majority of the votes during elections. It is therefore natural that some groups would get close to the election person to raise ‘peripheral and off-track demands’, instead of the real demands of the people and thus impose pressure on the new government.”

The website of the political bureau which is run by a direct representative of the supreme leader of the Islamic regime asserted that “reformers were deceptively tried to present the release of their kind as the most important demand of the 18 million voters who voted for the new president.” It added that Rowhani had not yet drew his line with the reformists and the “sedition” group, a term ruling circles use for the Green Movement and those who questioned the integrity of the 2009 presidential race that re-instated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidency.

The article also accuses reformers of creating divisions and differences among the officials of the regime and wrote that “they have no other goal than to deviate events towards moderation.” And in another veiled threat it wrote that the investigation of crimes was the purview of the judiciary and not the executive.

And for the first time, the article mentions that Mousavi, Karoubi and Rahnavard are under house arrest and asserts that they “have committed heavy crimes whose trials are the demand of Iranian nation.” But the article also said that non-pursuit of the crimes was merely because of expediency and concluded that “if the law was to be followed, then a competent court had to first convene to settle the crimes of these individuals.”

A few days prior to this post, Guards general Yadollah Javani, himself a former director of the force’s political bureau had spoken with Tasneem news agency affiliated with IRGC and had reacted to the growing public demand for the release of the GM leaders. He called Mousavi, Karoubi and Rahnavard “criminals” and said that they deserved to be punished by law.

This advisor to ayatollah Khamenei also told the news agency that the pressure that was applied on Rowhani could create numerous problems for him and said, “Raising such issues as lifting the house arrest of Mousavi and Karoubi or the release of those who had had been imprisoned in connection with the events of 2009 is contrary to moderation and respect for law.” In fact he labeled those who made such demands “opportunists.”

Reformers in general have become more hopeful about the release of their comrades since the election of Rowhani. Presidential candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref who during his presidential campaign had said “prisoners from the last elections had to be released,” recently had said that he was optimistic about their release. Aref is tipped in some circles to be a possible first vice-president in Rowhani’s cabinet. He made these remarks during a talk last week with members of Iran’s bar association. “I hope that the house arrest of these dear ones will be resolved in the new atmosphere since the elections,” he had said.

Abdullah Nouri, a former minister of the interior in Mohammad Khatami’s administration too expressed his optimism about the release of Mousavi during a meeting with Mousavi’s children. He specially said that with the meetings of the “new members of the supreme national security council and in meetings with the three branches of government with Hashemi Rafasanjani’s participation breakthroughs will take place on many issues.” He added that the recent elections had built a new image of Rafsanjani with greater influence which Rowhani could use to resolve the country’s issues.

Another person who expressed optimism was Rasool Montakhabnia, the number two person in Mehdi Karoubi’s National Trust (Etemad Melli) party who said that talks were underway with officials for the release of Karoubi.

Following the unrest that came about after the 2009 presidential elections, many political, civil and media activists were arrested in Iran, tried in kangaroo courts and sentenced to prison terms. They were sentenced with such crimes as “efforts to overthrow the regime” and “actions against the security of the state.” A significant number of these individuals remain behind bars despite the passage of almost four years since those events.

by Bahram Rafiei