Rouhani Called Out for Not Fulfilling Election Promise of Releasing Political Prisoners

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Feb 14, 2017
Rouhani Called Out for Not Fulfilling Election Promise of Releasing Political Prisoners

The U.S. Department of State released a statement this afternoon calling for the immediate release of former Iranian opposition leaders and presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, as well as Mousavi’s wife and women’s rights activist Zahra Rahnavard. “Their continued house arrest contradicts Iran’s international obligations including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party, to provide minimum fair trial guarantees and not to subject citizens to arbitrary arrest or detention,” the statement said. “We join the international community in condemning the continued arbitrary detention of these three individuals without charges or fair trials and in calling for their immediate release.”

Comment: This week marks the six-year anniversary of the prominent Iranian opposition figures’ house arrest. The trio were arrested after nationwide protests that engulfed the Islamic Republic following the country’s controversial 2009 presidential elections. They remain under house arrest without being formally charged since February 2011.

Yesterday, tens of thousands of Iranians took to the Twitter to condemn their arrest and called on the Iranian regime to release them. Under the hashtag #BreakHasr and other similar ones in Farsi, many Iranians also criticized President Hassan Rouhani for failing to fulfil his 2013 campaign promise of releasing the political prisoners. “I voted for Rouhani because he’d promised to end the house arrest. A promise unfulfilled; nor did they give a transparent explanation as to what they have done so far,” wrote on Iranian Twitter user in Farsi. As Iran is preparing to hold the next presidential elections in May, the Iranian president’s unwillingness and “passivity” to stand up to the country’s repressive judicial and intelligence authorities are expected to undermine his reelection chances.

But if the past six years is any indication, the calls by Washington and Iranian citizens will again fall on deaf ears. Indeed, Tehran’s Prosecutor-General Abbas Ja'afari Dolatabadi said today that the house arrest of the three political prisoners was a “national decision’ and served the country’s national interest. 

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