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After 1,000 Days In Captivity, Opposition Figure Dreams Of 'Newspaper Tree'

Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi (right) and Mehdi Karrubi have been under house arrest for nearly three years.
Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi have been under house arrest for more than 1,000 days.

To mark the unhappy occasion, Karrubi's wife, Fatemeh Karrubi, has turned to YouTube to express her concern over her 75-year-old husband's health.

In a video released on November 12 and addressed to the Iranian people, Karrubi tells viewers that Iranian authorities have held her husband without bringing any official indictment against him.

"My regret is that, in an Islamic state, a detention has been going on for three years without charges being brought or judicial verdict announced," she says.

She also points out that the reformist cleric has been held under difficult conditions, including several months in solitary confinement. She adds that ,despite his difficult situation, Karrubi has been comforting his family and telling them to have patience.

"He's been deprived of fresh air for three years," she says. "The facilities in the safe house where he is held are very limited. We're worried about his physical health. His health is in danger."

Relatives of Karrubi have reported that he has been taken to a hospital several times in recent months.

The health of 71-year-old Musavi and his 67-year-old wife Rahnavard has also deteriorated under house arrest, according to sources close to their family.

The three opposition figures were put under house arrest in February 2011 after calling for a demonstration in solidarity with uprisings in Arab countries. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters responded.

The three also accused Iranian officials of massive fraud in the 2009 reelection of then President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and criticized post-election human rights abuses.

Fatemeh Karrubi was held with her husband for several months before authorities released her.

The opposition leaders are allowed almost no contact with the outside world. They have limited family visits and are only allowed to watch state television. According to a source close to the family, Karrubi is given a few state newspapers to read, including the conservative "Jam-e Jam” and "Ettelaat."
Musavi's wife Zahra is also under house arrest
Musavi's wife Zahra is also under house arrest

Musavi and Rahnavard are not permitted any newspapers. One of Musavi's daughters, Zahra Musavi, said in a November 1 interview with the opposition website "Kalame" that being denied news is very difficult for her parents.

"My father has told the [security] agents, ‘You owe me 1,000 days of newspapers,'" she said. "He said this issue is so difficult for him that once he dreamt that a newspaper tree had grown in the yard."

(Click here to see a cartoon about Musavi's "newspaper tree" by prominent Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani.)

Since the June election of President Hassan Rohani, public calls for the release of the three opposition leaders have increased. During his campaign, Rohani promised to free Iranian political prisoners.

But hard-liners, who in the past have called for the three to be executed, haven't altered their position on releasing the detainees.

Earlier this week, Iran's judiciary spokesman Mohseni Ejei suggested that nothing will change concerning the three prisoners, whom he accused of engaging in "criminal acts" and hurting the people.

"Regarding these individuals, some decisions have been made. There have been no changes in their punishment," Ejei was quoted as saying by state media.