A prominent Iranian reformist who has been under house arrest for the past seven years has criticized Iran’s supreme leader, urging him to introduce and implement major reforms "before it is too late.”
Mehdi Karrubi said on January 30 that Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needs to stop blaming foreign “enemies” for Iran’s problems and, instead, “accept responsibility for your policies of the last three decades.”
Karrubi, a Shi’ite cleric like Khamenei, also said recent protests that began over economic conditions in Iran were inevitable because of the depth of "injustice, corruption, and discrimination" in the country.
At least 25 people were killed and more than 3,000 detained during the protests that began in Mashhad and other cities on December 28.
The protests spread to more than 70 cities and towns across the country and continued into January -- with some demonstrators calling for Khamenei to step down.
"I urge you, before it is too late, to open the way to structural reforms of the system," Karrubi wrote in an open letter than was published on January 30 on Saham News, the official website of his reformist political party that is blocked in Iran.
"The system is going downhill to such an extent that it feels endangered by a few thousand people demonstrating," he wrote.
"Instead of repeating accusations of links with the enemy and instead of harsh confrontation, listen to them,” Karrubi said.
“You have been Iran’s top leader for three decades but still speak like an opposition,”
Karrubi also criticized the involvement of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a security force directly loyal to the Khamenei, in political and economic affairs.
The "catastrophic outcome is clear to everyone today," Karrubi wrote.
"More than 50 percent of the country's wealth is in the hands of state bodies over which there is no supervision,” he said. “Poverty and unemployment are plaguing the country."
Karrubi also said Khamenei had reduced parliament to "an obedient assembly" under his thumb and the influence of IRGC lobbies by vetting candidates in elections.
He said the Assembly of Experts -- a council of clerics charged with electing, supervising, and even disqualifying Iran’s Supreme Leader -- has turned into a "ceremonial council that only praises the Leader."
Karrubi on January 30 also called for Iranian authorities to release Iranians who were detained during the recent wave of protests.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on January 30 that "fewer than 300" people were still in detention in relation those protests.
Karrubi, a former speaker of parliament, helped lead mass protests against alleged election rigging in 2009 after official election results in the country said he lost his bid for the presidency.
He has been confined to house arrest, without having been charged or facing trial, since February 2011 – reportedly on the orders of Khamenei.
Hard-line authorities in Iran have publicly accused him of being a “seditionist” and a “traitor.”
With reporting by Reuters, AP, BBC, and AFP