Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has called once again for the release of opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest since February.
Khatami’s personal website reports on his meeting with the people of Khorramshahr on the eve of the anniversary of the controversial 2009 presidential election. The former president said the release of the opposition leaders and their wives would “soften the political atmosphere” of the country.
He added that the release of the opposition leaders and freedom for all political prisoners would be a giant step toward transforming the “current security conditions into a healthy political atmosphere.”
In 2009, the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was challenged by the other candidates and millions of Iranian voters. Thousands of protesters and dissidents were arrested to quash the protests.
In February, MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who had rallied their supporters to march in solidarity with the Arab uprisings in the region, were put under house arrest together with their wives and completely cut off from the outside world.
Khatami spoke against “radicalism and violence” adding: “Inviting people to peace and reconciliation does not mean people have to give up on their demands and ideals.”
He said Iran must find a form of peace that allows all people to exercise their rights and avail themselves of all opportunities and facilities.
The former Iranian president went on to say: “The people are not indebted to the government, and if there is any debt, it is the government that owes people according to their covenant. People must only remain faithful to the framework of the law.”
Recently, Khatami’s call for national reconciliation caused much controversy among Iranian dissidents. Khatami had said: “If the regime and the leadership have been wronged, they should overlook it in the interests of the country’s future, and then the people will also forgive all wrongs committed against them.” He said: “Let us all forgive and look to the future.”
Many opposition groups and figures attacked Khatami’s statement, saying he has betrayed the principles of the Green Movement and is trying to save the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, who backed Ahmadinejad in the disputed 2009 election and supported the crackdown on protesters.
In his recent statements, Khatami said: “The supporters of the Revolution and Iran will never invite people to violence. They will continue to demand a safe and peaceful situation both for the government and the people. This will only be realized when arrests and incarcerations are removed and an open political atmosphere under the shelter of the law is established.”