Mohammad Khatami

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami insists that freeing political prisoners and the opposition leaders could be “an important step toward altering the current harsh situation to the benefit of the regime and the people.”

In a meeting with the parents of Zahra Rahnavard, who together with her husband, opposition leader MirHosein Mousavi, has been under house arrest since February, Khatami said the release of prisoners would “soften the atmosphere and lead to optimism and the consent of the people.”

Earlier, Khatami also met with a group of students, calling for open political space for political parties, the release of political prisoners and a commitment to the constitution to ensure all Iranians are full participants in the next parliamentary elections.

At the meeting,the children of detained opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard criticized “the inappropriate treatment and threats by Iranian security forces against the family and severe restrictions on Mousavi and Rahnavard with regard to contacting and meeting their family.”

MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, along with their wives, have been under house arrest and completely cut off from the outside world since they rallied people to demonstrate in support of the Arab uprisings in the region.

The children of Mousavi and Rahnavard insist their parents’ house arrest is illegal and say they are even denied the basic rights of ordinary prisoners, such as access to phone calls.

Ehteramossadat Navvab Safavi, the mother of Zahra Rahnavard, has described the situation as a kidnapping.

She expressed grave concern over the pallor and loss of weight that she witness during their latest meeting and reported that authorities have refused to allow independent physicians to examine them.

Iranian authorities maintain that MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are leaders of a “sedition” aimed at toppling the regime because of their fraud allegations following the 2009 presidential elections, which triggered widespread protests across the country.