Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said in his New Year’s message that the year just ending could have been more glorious had house arrests and imprisonments ended, referring to the house arrest of opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi and the imprisonment of political prisoners charged in connection with the election protests of 2009.
The Kaleme website quoted Khatami saying on March 21: “The passing year was the election year that gave more hope to the people, and we should truly refer to it as a political legend.”
In a video message, he reportedly adds: “The public was looking for a secure, free and inclusive atmosphere, and their hopes were restored.”
He goes on to add that the release of political prisoners and an end to the house arrests and restrictions would have made “the passing year more glorious,” and he assesses the extent of political openness in Iranian society, saying: “Although we reached a much better situation, much more could have been done.”
Since the 2009 presidential elections, which were challenged as fraudulent by reformist candidates MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, thousands have been arrested. Mousavi and Karroubi were put under house arrest in February of 2011.
In 2013, when the more moderate government of Hassan Rohani took power, there had been considerable hope that these political prisoners would be released, but so far the conservative factions have resisted and keep insisting that the protests were akin to sedition and must be denounced.
Khatami has been continuously calling for the release of political prisoners.