IRAN: Opposition websites call for fresh protests in Tehran
The websites of Iranian opposition leaders Mir- Houssein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have posted statements calling for fresh demonstrations in the Iranian capital next week to protest against the reported house arrest of the two reformist figures.
The call was issued by the Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope -- a group backing Mousavi and Karroubi -- and urged "everyone to join a rally from Imam Hossein Square to Azadi Square [in Tehran] on Tuesday March 1 in order to protest the continuation of the illegal house arrest of the Green Movement leaders."
The statement added that a call for nationwide protests on March 15 will be issued if the Iranian government "refuses to heed our calls" and does not release the men. Rally-goers have been asked to chant "O Hossein! Mir-Hossein! and O Mehdi! Sheikh Mehdi!" at Tuesday's demonstrations in a bid to make the call for the release of the reformists heard loudly "across Iran."
Conflicting reports have, however, emerged about Mousavi's and Karroubi's alleged house arrest and even their current whereabouts. Agence France-Presse reported that Karroubi, Mousavi and their wives are living in complete isolation and that their homes are under constant surveillance.
But the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran published a report Saturday stating that the opposition leaders are no longer under house arrest and that they have been moved to a "safe house" in an area close to Tehran. The article cited "an informed source" and one of Karroubi's neighbors who told the human rights group that security forces that previously were stationed outside Karroubi's house have vanished and that the house looks abandoned.
"I am certain that they are no longer inside their home. All the windows are broken and nobody is home," the neighbor said.
According to the ICHRI, the current location where Mousavi and Karroubi might be held is not a prison.
Coinciding with the calls for new protests, a video showing a defiant and determined Karroubi has been posted on his website, Sahamnews. In the video, the cleric vows that he won't end his struggle and says he hopes that he and his supporters will overcome the hardships they face. The video was reportedly recorded some time before Karroubi was put in isolation.
"I hope that we will overcome the current problems," media reports quoted him as saying in the recording. "We must remain determined on the road of our convictions, and I am certain we will succeed."
The clampdown on the opposition leaders come after Iranian opposition supporters took to the streets in anti-government rallies on Feb 14. Mousavi and Karroubi called for renewed protests on Feb. 19, but a major security deployment in the streets thwarted the demonstrations.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photo: Iranian opposition leaders Mir-Hussein Mousavi, left, and Mehdi Karroubi. Credit: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran