IRAN: Mehdi Karroubi warns of 'unimaginable consequences'
Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (at right), a prominent reformist who served twice as speaker of Iran's parliament, issued a scathing letter about the June 12 presidential election and subsequent crackdown on protesters that was featured today on the front page of his newspaper, Etemad-e-Melli.
Below is a rough translation of excerpts from the letter, which was delivered to outgoing judiciary chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, a conservative cleric who analysts say may be replaced by the even more conservative Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani in the coming days:
The June 12 election could have bolstered the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and guaranteed ethnic and factional convergence as well as national unity. But on the contrary, the election made the Iranian nation disappointed and depressed.
Had the authorities handled the election correctly, the 85% turnout could have served national unity, social understanding and economic prosperity, but now the outcome of the election has turned to a dangerous tool in favor of national divergence, division, political depression, social suspicion and mistrust as well as economic recession.
Roughly half the votes cast in previous elections went into the reformist camp while the turnout was around 60%. Now, the authorities have manipulated the election result as if the 25% of silent voters, who had always boycotted general elections, had come to keep the current government in power.
In the wake of the hasty and illegal announcement of the election results, millions of people protested. The authorities could have convinced them through legal means, but they rounded up the protesters, launched night raids on residential compounds and vandalized public properties.
Plainclothes security forces . . . attacked student dormitories and kidnapped some of them.
Those who orchestrated these provocative actions to touch off bloody incidents have to be accountable. The government officials may have stifled this movement temporarily by using threats, but how will they deal with this powder keg?
You are in the waning days of your responsibility as the head of the judiciary. You should not let unjustified arrest and illegal detention of hundreds of Iranian citizens registered in your record.
Many of the detainees are patients, pregnant women and former high officials. They have been banned any access to lawyers. . . . They have protested the election result and demanded that an independent committee handle their complaints. Why are they described as rioters and velvet subversives?
I predict unimaginable consequences if you fail to settle the case of these detainees in the dying days of your term in office. Please take serious and swift action to secure the release of the detainees; otherwise, they would languish in jail until your successor takes office.
Photo: A copy of Saturday's edition of Etemad-e-Melli.
Credit for Mehdi Karroubi photo: Atta Kenare / AFP/Getty Images