Iran’s chief prosecutor, along with Iran’s ruling establishment, is saying, in effect: “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” You might think that the regime, besieged since June, 2009, when a disputed election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office sent millions of Iranians into the streets, has already been pretty tough. But Iranian Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei this week issued new warnings to the Green Movement and its allies: “Today, this movement has gone beyond sedition and turned into [a] counter-revolutionary [one]. Our policy in dealing with the [seditious] movement will be different from now on.”
He didn’t say what he meant, but according to the Iranian opposition, the movement’s two top leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been arrested and taken away, or at least been placed under forcible house arrest. Earlier, there were calls for Mousavi, a former prime minister, and Karroubi, a former speaker of the parliament, to be executed, but Iranian officials have backed off such threats, perhaps fearing that the execution of two of the men who challenged Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election could spark an explosion. Even so, thousands of people took to the streets in the Iranian capital yesterday, and at least seventy-nine were arrested.
The reason Mohseni-Ejei is so agitated is because Mousavi, Karroubi, and others tried to stage a February 14 demonstration in Tehran in support of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. As Reuter’s reports, the regime blamed the protest on US, British and Israeli intelligence, and the Iranian media further claimed, without any evidence, that the protesters included backers of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK is a cult-like, anti-Iran group that has virtually no support in Iran but strong support from Israel, neoconservatives and many members of Congress. Speaking of events in Tehran yesterday, the Tehran prosecutor said: “A limited number of people, influenced by anti-revolutionary groups, were intending to do something. No specific incident happened on Tuesday in Tehran.” (By “anti-revolutionary groups,” he means the MEK.)
But there were widespread reports that many protesters clashed with police and the Basij, Iran’s paramilitary zealots, and chanted, “Mousavi, Karroubi must be freed.” Contradicting the regime’s assertions that Mousavi and Karroubi were confined to their homes, and not under arrest, Karroubi’s son declared otherwise, according to the Financial Times: “Mohammad-Taghi Karroubi, one of the sons of Mr. Karroubi, also insisted on his weblog that his parents were in jail and not under house arrest as the regime implied. ‘There is no news on their situation,’ he wrote, urging the regime to let the opposition leaders enjoy prisoners’ rights and defend the allegations against them in an open trial.” Mousavi’s relatives have said the same thing. And Mousavi’s website asserted that the leaders are held in an army prison: “Kaleme, the official website of Mr .Mousavi, said on Monday that the two men and their wives were imprisoned in Heshmatieh jail, which is said to be run by the armed forces.”