Iranian opposition leaders pass 2,000 days under house arrest

Mousavi and Karroubi embrace Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mousavi and Karroubi have not been seen in public since 2011

Three leading figures in Iran's reformist movement reached an unenviable milestone this week.

Former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, a senior cleric, have now spent more than 2,000 days under house arrest without charge.

The 2,000-day anniversary was reached on 30 June and was marked on social media by thousands using the Farsi hashtag #دوهزارروزحصر which means "2,000 days since house arrest".

Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi have been detained since February 2011 because of their part in mass protests over the disputed result of the 2009 election which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected as president.

The two men were candidates in that election and also leaders of the nationwide opposition Green Movement. At the time they were detained there were calls by some MPs for them to be executed.

Although they have been out of the public eye for several years they remain important symbols to those opposed to Iran's conservative establishment.

Some of those who posted the 2,000 days hashtag used the colour green to show solidarity with the three people under house arrest.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Earlier this year 70 scholars had urged the current President Hassan Rouhani to release the three. In an open letter published in the Guardian they acknowledged President Rouhani's limited ability to intervene in judiciary, which acts independently of his government, the academics said the president should speak out to protest what they called a "grave miscarriage of justice".

And some using the 2,000 day hashtag noted that this appeal had been met by silence.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption 'Rouhani [it also means cleric] who cannot remove the house arrest is not good enough as a president'

However many were critical of the effectiveness of the 2,000 days trend and activism-by-hashtag.

"There was supposed to be pandemonium when Mousavi was arrested, but nothing happened, so use the hashtag 2,000 days." 2,000 days," mocked one tweeter.

Not all users of the hashtag were supportive of the three. Some reminded their followers that Mousavi, as as former Prime Minister, was in office during the secret 1988 mass execution in prisons and of his alliance to Ayatollah Khomeini, who ordered mass executions.

One tweeter mocked up an execution warrant addressed from Khomeini to Mousavi.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Enjoy it!" a tweeter mockingly tells Mousavi to relish his detention, with a mocked up death warrant

President Rouhani, who was runner-up TIME magazine's 2015 Person of the Year, echoed his 2013 campaign pledge of reform, and said earlier this year, that the country needed more freedom of expression and government critics should not be imprisoned.

Research by BBC Persian and BBC Monitoring

Blog by Megha Mohan

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