Karroubi Challenges Hardliners to Put Green Movement Leaders on Trial
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI
04 Jan 2011 11:21
Last week former President Mohammad Khatami announced that in order for the Reformists to participate in the elections for the ninth Majles, to be held in early 2012, their minimum requirements are the release of all political prisoners, freedom for all political groups, and a commitment to truly free elections, guaranteeing that the people's votes will be respected. Khatami's announcement of these conditions provoked a fierce counterattack by the hardliners, who called for him, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mir Hossein Mousavi to be put on trial. Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi declared that not only is Khatami in no position to set conditions for the regime, but that he and the other two Green Movement leaders should prepare for their trials.
In response, Karroubi released an open letter to the nation. The letter begins,
The honorable and freedom-loving Iranian nation: For some time, the national TV and radio, the fundamentalist press, some of the Friday Prayer Imams, and the speeches of some of the Majles deputies have become vehicles for making accusations against national figures who have dedicated their lives to the development and advancement of the country. After all the lies and accusations that have become the common "currency," the national TV invited two well-known accusers to the program Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow to make even more accusations. Alas, the national TV is no longer the voice of the people, but has become an exclusive tool of the ruling elite, and a group [of security officials] that are outside the organization actually direct the national TV. But it appears that months of accusations, calling some political figures "unwise elites," and much pressure and threats have not yielded the desirable result, and thus the national TV, a segment of the press, the Friday Prayer Imams, and others decided to lie even more over the past week...
Karroubi proceeds to criticize those who have attacked the leaders of the Green Movement on the grounds that some foreign governments, the opposition in the diaspora, and supposedly the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization have praised them. Addressing the hardliners, he asks,
Why is it that the reactions of some in the foreign press and the positions that some foreigners take with respect to what you do is considered an honor and a tool for your propaganda, but when the same happens [to the leaders of the Green Movement] it becomes proof of them being dependent upon foreign powers? Did the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] not grant interviews when he was in Najaf [Iraq] and Paris [in the fall of 1978], and was his first interview not with Le Monde in Najaf? Why was it that we were delighted when the radio in East Germany that was controlled by the Iranian communists praised the leaders of the Revolution? Was the delight a sign that we were communists?... Every government acts according to its own interests. You do the same. Do you pay the same attention to Muslims in China and Chechnya that you pay to those in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Palestine?
He goes on to say that if Khomeini were still alive, the situation in Iran would be completely different, and he enumerates the differences between how Khomeini acted and what is being done today. Then, describing the hardliners and their attempt to frame the popular democratic movement as "sedition," he observes,
In their interviews, speeches, and articles they threaten to put on trial the so-called leaders of sedition, and demand that they repent, claim that the people despise them, that they are trapped in a jail of 70 million and do not dare to leave home, [because if they do] they will encounter people's [angry] reactions, and at the same time the judiciary officials and others promise that their trial is near and that they will be punished.
I declare that I am not afraid of such threats and greet such a trial, because I have a strong basis and reasoning for every position that I have taken, as I have been involved with such problems over the past 21 years [since Khomeini's death] and have not found peace. I am ready for the court but with one condition: If they [the hardliners] are honest about their claims, hold an open trial so that the nation that is the true owner of everything can hear both sides and judge and decide whether we have been acting as we have to gain power, or whether the ruling elite has set aside the people's votes and values, in order to stay in power.
Karroubi has thus directly challenged the hardliners to put him and the other Green Movement leaders on trial in an open court. Will the hardliners actually do that? It is highly unlikely.
Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau