International protests against the house arrest of Iranian opposition leaders gained momentum this week, as the foreign ministries of France, Britain and the United States issued statements calling on Iranian authorities to end their arrest and the abuse directed at their families.
On Thursday, marking two years of house arrest for MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on Iranian authorities to allow these opposition leaders to freely come and go, adding that their house arrest without any formal legal proceedings is a violation of Iran’s international commitment to the fundamental rights of its citizens.
A similar announcement by Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, expressed concern for the well-being of Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi and the escalation of restrictions on these leaders with the approach of Iranian presidential election in June.
In recent weeks, the daughters of Mousavi and Rahnavard have been arrested and harassed by the judiciary on several occasions. The Mousavi children have also reported that they have been denied any visits with their parents in recent months.
The British foreign secretary also called on Iran to release Mousavi and Karroubi and respect its citizens’ right to free speech and mobility.
The French foreign ministry also marked the anniversary of the house arrest of the opposition leaders with a call for their release, and the French Socialist Party has also issued a statement today, demanding the immediate release of the opposition leaders and an end to all restrictions on their fundamental freedoms.
The Iranian opposition leaders have been under house arrest since February 2011 when their rallying call initiated a mass demonstration in support of the Arab uprisings in the region.
Mousavi and Karroubi challenged the legitimacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the 2009 presidential election and, up until February of 2011, led several mass protests against the government’s refusal to recount the vote and address allegations of fraud in the election.