6:15AM GMT – March 1

A Look Back…

In order to give those who might be new to what is happening in Iran some context that helps to put things in perspective, we thought it timely to post this historic video that shows Mir Hossein Mousavi, standing on top of a car and addressing a huge crowd of supporters, following the disputed June 12, 2009 presidential election. You have to understand that in Iran, what he said when he addressed the crowd was–while perfectly within his rights, both as a human being and an Iranian–very risky under the rule of Khamenei and company.

The video, shot by someone in the crowd, starts with Mousavi saying, “More important than individuals, more important than Mousavi, or any other is respect for the people!

People chant in response, “Mousavi! Mousavi! We support you!”

The support for Mousavi in this video is certainly quite evident. He, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, Mehdi Karroubi and his wife Fatemeh Karroubi have all been staunch advocates of peaceful, nonviolent resistence to the abuses of the regime. It remains to be seen what the response will be to their recent arrest and imprisonment today, on a day that has been set aside for the opposition for nationwide protests.

5:00AM GMT – March 1

State-run Iranian media outlet, Fars News, denied the arrests of Mousavi, Rahnavard and the Karroubis earlier today.

Banooyeh Sabz translates a Kalemeh report in which the daughters of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard strongly reject the denial by state-owned media on their parents’ arrest:

February 28th 2011 – In a short conversation with Kaleme, the children of Mousavi and Rahnavard strongly rejected the report by the state owned news agency Fars News, denying the arrest of their parents.

Mousavi’s daughters told Kaleme: “Given what we have witnessed in the past few days and weeks, we are certain that our parents are no longer at their residence. The only way we can deny the arrest of our parents is if are given the opportunity to meet with them.” Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard’s daughters reiterated: “We the children of Dr. Zahra Rahnavard and Mir Hossein Mousavi strongly reject hasty reports by a number of state owned news agencies denying the arrest and transfer of our parents to Heshmatiyeh prison.”

Mousavi and Rahnavard’s daughters added: “We will only be in a position to deny the arrest and incarceration of our parents if we are able to visit with them and they are immediately returned to their home without threats and without the presence of security forces and in the same physical and mental condition as prior to their disappearance.”

Mousavi’s daughters added: “Despite voicing our concerns on numerous occasions, in the past two weeks we have been kept in the dark regarding the well being of our parents and their associate Mehdi Karroubi and his honorable wife. We have faced nothing but a mysterious silence and contradictory statements from government authorities.

Mousavi’s daughters believe that the contradictory statements by security forces is an attempt by the ruling government to gradually reduce the people’s sensitivity to the news of their parents’ arrest. They emphasized that spreading rumors in state owned media outlets is counter productive and insisted that the authorities of the Islamic Republic provide an official response to the whereabouts and well being of their parents and their request to meet with them immediately.

Source: Kaleme http://www.kaleme.com/1389/12/09/klm-49768/

8:30AM GMT – March 1

A group called the Association of Combatant Clerics has called for the release of Mousavi and Karroubi. The Combatant Clerics are a reformist political-clerical group associated with former reformist president Mohammad Khatami.

8:20PM GMT – February 28

Kalameh, the website associated with Mir Hossein Mousavi, claims that Mousavi, Rahnavard, and the Karroubis have been moved to Heshmatiyeh Prison in Tehran.

If this is true, then they are no longer under house arrest. They are in prison — held without charge.

8:10PM GMT – February 28

Josh Shahryar, writing for EA Worldview, provides a sharp analysis: The Regime Arrests Mousavi and Karroubi in the Race Between Fear and Hope.

12:50AM GMT – February 28

One of the sons of Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi has said his parents were most likely moved on Thursday, when a neighbor witnessed a van arrive at the home and leave shortly thereafter. The lights were turned off and have not been turned back on since.

12:15AM GMT – February 28

Michael Ledeen writes in Pajamas Media:

The Green Movement was never a top-down organization, and there are several groups of leaders prepared to step forward, as we will see in the next few days. The new leaders have already been acting for some time, especially after Mousavi and Karroubi were put under house arrest, and they are now preparing for the next demonstrations this coming Tuesday, and successive Tuesdays.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei long resisted calls to move forcefully against Mousavi and Karroubi, because he feared it would inflame the Iranian masses. Those who urged him to do it are the same people who told him that the Greens had been crushed, and they lied to him in the past ten days, insisting that there really hadn’t been any significant protest (when in reality the country saw the biggest anti-regime demonstrations in a year). He was furious when he discovered they were either totally misinformed, or were deliberately misleading him, and he approved the kidnappings out of a mixture of rage and fear. His passions were undoubtedly further jangled by the hugely embarrassing failure of the country’s vaunted nuclear project at Bushehr, where the whole thing has to be shut down, and the nuclear rods removed.

As everyone else in the Middle East, Khamenei is watching the global insurrection with the full knowledge that the revolt against his regime is a model for the others, and we can expect to see another huge mobilization of his thugs on Tuesday.

11:35PM GMT

The L.A. Times reports that the White House has issued a statement today in the wake of the arrests of Mousavi, Rahnavard, and the Karroubis:

The statement, issued by National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, said the U.S. “strongly condemns the Iranian government’s organized intimidation campaign and arrests of political figures, human rights defenders, political activists, student leaders, journalists and bloggers” and accused the Iranian government of blocking Internet sites and jamming satellite transmissions.

“The United States and the world will continue to bear witness to the Iranian government’s blatant violation of the universal rights of its citizens and its ongoing hypocrisy,” Vietor said in the statement. “The Iranian government should allow active dialogue among its citizens, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly without fear.”

7:30PM GMT

Grand Ayatollah Sanei has issued a strong statement condemning the harsh measures taken by the current regime, including the arrests of Mousavi, Karroubi, and their spouses.

6:52AM GMT

We started our live-blog for February 27, with some thoughts on the arrests of the opposition:

Now that we know that Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and the Karroubis have been removed–kidnapped is a more appropriate word–from their homes by the tyrannical regime, and moved to a so-called “safe house” of the Revolutionary Guards (the term “safe house” is often used by the Guards to refer to the places the undisclosed locations they take people to interrogate and even torture them), things have entered a whole new phase.

By this act of desparation, the regime has declared that it either does not care, or does not understand, that the opposition will not take this act lightly.

The bizarre explanation offered by the regime for this act–that they were removed for their own “protection” because people in the opposition are looking for martyrs as an excuse to stir trouble–is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. I would wager that the regime would not dare to harm Masouvi, Rahnvard, or the Karroubis physically–at least not at this time. They have just created a huge mess for themselves that in a weird way is reminiscent of the American Embassy hostage-taking in 1979. Whenever they feel threatened, they take hostages, and let’s not mince any words:

Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, Mehdi Karroubi and Fatemeh Karroubi are prisoners of conscience and hostages of the regime of Ayatollah Khamenei and his Islamic Republic of Iran.

And as far as creating martyrs goes–the opposition doesn’t want them or need them in order to stir trouble for this regime and government. The act of kidnapping/arresting/taking-hostage of their lead figures is certainly excuse enough!

The barbaric acts of beating, shooting, arresting, raping, torturing, and killing innocent civilians who asked “Where is my vote?” after the rigged 2009 election is certainly excuse enough!

Neda Agha Soltan, Taraneh Mousavi, Sohrab Arabi, Mohammad Mokhtian, Saneh Jaleh, and the countless thousand of innocents murdered in cold-blood by this regime that presents itself as a representative of God on Earth is excuse enough!

Yes, as I write this I get even more riled, despite the fact that I prefer to keep my emotions out of these reports. The reality is that this regime is so nasty that I feel perfectly justified in my rage. If it is any measure of what the people of Iran will feel as the news continues to spread, the regime is in trouble.

They have raised the stakes.

And now, the pressure builds.

9:50AM GMT

A few days before the 25 Bahman protests, we received reports of the house arrest of Mehdi Karroubi. We felt that this story was important enough that we started a Facebook page to try to get as much attention on it as possible.

We are now using the page to continue to raise awareness of the arrests of Mousavi, Rahnavard and the Karoubis.

The page currently has 271 supporters, but needs as many people as it can get to LIKE and share it. Please take a moment to do so as this will help raise awareness of the illegal arrest and tenuous situation they are in:

Join the Free Mehdi Karoubi, Fatemeh Karoubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard Facebook page here.

9:15AM GMT

We ended our live-blog for February 26 in Iran with the breaking news of an escalation by the regime on the opposition in Iran — the arrest of opposition figures / leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, Mehdi Karroubi and his wife Fatemeh Karroubi.

We have started this post as a running live-blog to track events related to the arrests. James Miller is doing the same here and Scott Lucas is tracking the story here.

The very reliable Reza Sayah, along with Michael Martinez, report on CNN:

Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi and their wives were placed in a safe house for their own welfare, but they have not been arrested, Iranian government sources told CNN Saturday.

“The opposition movement is very much looking for martyrs so if this is true it’s for their own safety,” one source told CNN.

The pro-reform opposition movement “is always looking for an excuse to create something, so this may be done to keep someone from doing something to them,” the source added.
But the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed concern for the safety of the leaders and their wives.

“Moussavi and Karrubi and their wives have been disappeared; they are being held incommunicado in an unknown location, a severe breach of Iranian and international law,” Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the campaign, said in a statement.

“Given the lynch mob-like calls for their execution by numerous Iranian politicians and clerics, there is reason to be deeply concerned for their safety and well-being,” Rhodes said.
State-run Press TV aired video of Iranian lawmakers earlier this month chanting, “Moussavi, Karrubi … execute them.”

The human rights organization also pointed out that “a ‘safe house’ is considered a place for the secret detention of high security-value detainees, which is not under the control of the judiciary or any other monitoring mechanisms. The Revolutionary Guards and Iranian intelligence agencies are well-known for using safe houses for all methods and techniques to get confessions from detainees without scrutiny or pressure from other legal bodies.”

“Given the use of so-called safe houses to mistreat opponents of the government in the past, the campaign finds it deeply disturbing that Moussavi and Karrubi have reportedly been removed to such a facility,” the statement said.

This is very troubling, and has the potential to mark serious and fresh trouble for Iran.

Opposition activist, Hassan Shariatmadari has stated (see the following video [Farsi]) that people must protest against the arrests of the Green leaders or risk the possibility of the regime becoming emboldened and possibly killing them:

Already, the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, a group with advisors to both Mousavi and Karroubi have called for protests against the arrests, to start on 10 Esfand (March 1), and to occur every Tuesday until Chahar Shanbeh Suri–The Persian New Year Fire Festival.

According to Al Jazeera English, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Iran’s Parliament’s National Security Commission, has stated that the opposition figures have been < a href=”http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201122751153687696.html”>”escorted” by security forces. More from the Al Jazeera report:

Alaeddin Boroujerdi also denied they were under house arrest, and told Italian newspaper Il Manifesto that “they also committed certain illegal acts such as organising protests without a permit, and for this they may become subject to prosecution”.

The two men had been reportedly arrested secretly without being summoned or charged, and their contact with the outside world was effectively cut.