500 Day House Arrest for Iran’s Green Movement Leaders
The next Iranian presidential election is just months away, and the results of the last election are still bitterly disputed. Mass protests took place across Iran, following the 2009 election, where millions gathered in a contentious uproar over a perceived fraudulent electoral process. The demonstrations were sparked by the Green Movement candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s call for a fair and transparent voting process. The protests were met with strong resistance by government officials, and there were many reported deaths.
It is unclear at this point, which candidates will run, however, all candidates are subject to the approval of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatalloh Khameni. Mousavi’s call for peaceful protests, following the 2009 election was deemed illegal by Khameni, and perhaps the cause for government officials continuing to detain three Green Movement leaders, including Mousavi. The leaders have been under house arrest for 500 days. Six leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran have called on Iranian officials to release former Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist politician Mehdi Karroubi.
The Human Rights organizations’ vocal protest to release the leaders who have been unjustly detained for almost two years, without a trial, has sparked the Iranian cyber activists community. A group called Shafaq Children produced a video that contains a summary of leaders’ reactions to events occurring between June 2009 and February 2011 - when the Green Leaders were arrested - and distributed it on YouTube. Iranian cyber activist and journalist, Bahman Daroalshafaei, wrote on Facebook: “One of the best works I’ve seen. Although nothing has happened during the past 500 days, but still this video is very interesting but difficult to watch.”
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran created a video clip entitled “A Kidnapping Report,” which featured the details of the leaders’ house arrest. The name alludes to a conversation that Mousavi had with one of his daughters, and also refers to the celebrated Spanish author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book “News of a Kidnapping.” The video is now being circulated on Iranian Social Media. Not only is there no sign that the Green Movement leaders are to be released anytime soon, but also, Mousavi’s daughters, Zahra and Narges, have been arrested as well.
Officials barged into Zahra’s home and stopped Narges on the street and arrested them both for a night. Their release from jail might be a cause of international attention. Both daughters conducted an interview with the Green Movement’s website Jaras, soon after being released. In the interview, they described how terribly they were treated and subjected to a series of interrogations. “They threatened me in front of my four year old son,’ said Narges. “When I answered the door, I told them to wait a few seconds for me to have my Hijab on but they barged in.” said Zahra. In the interview, Narges also confessed that her husband was being forced to divorce her due to her father’s politics, and she’s had to be a single mom to her four year-old son, for a year now.