Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi, who has been under house arrest for some 10 months, met with his family over the weekend.
Karrubi’s son, Mohammad Hossein Karrubi, wrote about the December 3 meeting on Facebook. He said it was the third time the reformist cleric had been allowed to meet with his family since he was put under house arrest early this year. He wrote that his father appeared in better health and spirits since the last time he had seen him.
“It appears that his detention conditions have improved since the time when he was held in a small apartment under difficult conditions with security officers," Karrubi wrote. "As he explained himself, he now has a section of an apartment at his disposal. Security forces are based on another floor. Two weeks ago, he said he was given 'Ettelaat' and 'Jame Jam' newspapers to read. And, unlike in the past, he’s allowed to get fresh air every day and walk.”
Karrubi, according to accounts by his family, was at first held with his wife in his own apartment for a few months. His wife, Fatemeh Karrubi, is reportedly not under arrest anymore and Karrubi himself has been moved to what seems to be a government safe house.
The December 3 meeting, which lasted 30 minutes, took place in a house the family recently purchased, according to Karrubi’s son.
Another Iranian opposition leader, Mir Hossein Musavi, is also reportedly still under house arrest with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. The two are said to have been banned from all contact with the outside world. According to opposition websites, Musavi and Rahnavard have been able to meet with their daughters and other family members only on a few rare occasions and even then under the strict watch of security forces.
Washington-based political analyst Ali Afshari told RFE/RL in April
that the Iranian establishment put the two opposition leaders under house arrest in an effort to gradually "desensitize" public opinion over their fate.
As I've reported on “Persian Letters,” however, many Iranians still seem to care about the plight of the two men.
In September, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "The News of a Kidnapping," which had been recommended by Musavi in a brief encounter with his daughters, quickly turned into a best seller
in Iran. Musavi was quoted as saying that those who want to understand his situation should read the book.
Iran placed Musavi and Karrubi under house arrest following their February call for an opposition rally in solidarity with the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The rally attracted tens of thousands of Iranian citizens.
Iranian officials have either been silent about the fate of the two men or, in some cases, have even denied they are under house arrest. In November, Mohammad Javad Larijani, who heads the Iranian judiciary's human rights department, said during a visit to New York that no one is under house arrest in Iran without a court order or trial.
“Incitement to violence is a major cause against them, and this is quite apparent for everybody,” Larijani said
, while adding that the details of the charges against Musavi and Karrubi will come out once court proceedings begin.
The fact that the Iranian regime is not willing to set the two men free or hold a public trial suggests that Tehran believes the two men remain influential and are still capable of creating trouble.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari