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Prominent opposition leader in Iran starts hunger strike

Mehdi Karroubi

An ailing 79-year-old Iranian opposition leader who has been under house arrest since February 2011 has embarked on a hunger strike, demanding authorities try him in public, The Guardian reported on Thursday. 

Mehdi Karroubi, a former presidential candidate, fell foul of the establishment following the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, which led to months of unrest.

A leader of the Green movement, he was put under round-the-clock surveillance by guards living in his home six years ago, without being put on trial or publicly charged. 

He has been taken to hospital twice in the last three weeks and has undergone heart surgery. 

Saham News, a website close to Karroubi, quoted his wife as saying that he started the dry hunger strike soon after performing his morning prayers on Wednesday and that he will refuse to eat or drink until his demands are met. 

“He wants the security guards to leave the premises of his house,” she said. Never before – pre-revolution nor after it – we have seen such presence of guards, living inside the house alongside those under house arrest, keeping all aspects of his life under watch, through bugs and cameras.

“If the house arrest is to continue, he wants to be put on trial in public, after six and a half years under house arrest, he wants the authorities to announce when they will hold a trial in public.”

Two other opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi, also a former presidential candidate, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, were put under house arrest in Tehran in similar circumstances in 2011. 

Both Karroubi and Mousavi are suffering from medical complications partly as a result of their age. 

Mousavi, 75, has also been taken to hospital a number of times in recent years. Some members of the three leaders’ immediate families are allowed to visit them in pre-arranged and approved meetings. 

The continued restrictions on opposition leaders is a major challenge for the moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and popular demand for an end to the house arrests is high. 

Almost every rally Rouhani held during the campaign that led to his re-election in May featured chants by supporters in support of Karroubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard. 
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Last Modified: Thursday، 17 August 2017 11:13 AM