Iran’s health minister has performed eye surgery on an opposition leader who has been under house arrest since 2011, the government critic’s son told RFE/RL.
Mohammad Taghi Karrubi, the London-based son of reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi, said his father underwent a cataract operation this week in Tehran performed by Iranian Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi.
The younger Karrubi told RFE/RL that Hashemi, an ophthalmologist, had examined his father's eyes in recent months and promised to provide a follow-up consultation to the opposition leader after the surgery.
The son said he did not want to read too much into the fact that a government minister personally treated his father, who remains under arrest for challenging the Islamic establishment in Iran.
“I see it more as [Hashemi’s] personal approach and personality,” he said in a telephone interview. “But the atmosphere inside Iran has also changed.”
Hashemi also reportedly performed eye surgery on another outspoken critic of the Iranian regime, university professor Zahra Rahnavard, who remains under house arrest together with her husband and fellow opposition leader, Mir Hossein Musavi.
“Mother’s eye was operated by Dr. Hashemi; no one from the family was there with her,” the couple’s daughter, Narges Musavi, wrote in a May 29 post on her Instagram account.
On May 28, the opposition website Kalameh, which is close to Musavi, reported that Rahnavard’s eye surgery was performed by “a physician trusted by the government.”
Musavi, Rahnavard, and Karrubi were placed under house arrest in February 2011 after their calls for a demonstration in solidarity with large antigovernment street protests in Egypt and Tunisia. They have not yet been formally charged.
The three repeatedly challenged the Iranian establishment over the disputed 2009 reelection of former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and also criticized postelection human rights abuses.
During his election campaign, current Iranian President Hassan Rohani promised to work for the release of the three activists.
Iranian hard-liners have spoken out publicly against their possible release.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari