By Golnaz Esfandiari,
WASHINGTON -- On the day many Iranians were hoping to
hear about the release of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, his daughters
were beaten up by security guards after a visit to their father, according to
one of the women's posts on Facebook.
Photo showing of what appears to be the bitten wrist of Narges Musavi
The alleged incident, where one of the daughters was bitten, on October 24 has
led to anger and disappointment among opposition supporters who see it as a sign
that the opposition leader will not be released anytime soon.
Musavi, along with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi,
were put under house arrest in February 2011 after they called for a
demonstration in solidarity with the Arab spring uprisings in Egypt and
Musavi and Karrubi had also challenged the 2009 reelection of President Mahmud
Ahmadinejad by accusing the establishment of vote rigging and criticizing the
postelection crackdown. They were branded as "the leaders of the sedition" by
Musavi and Rahnavard are confined to their house in central Tehran, and Karrubi
is reportedly being held in an Intelligence Ministry safe house in northern
Tehran. Their health has reportedly deteriorated as the result of their
detention and they have been taken to the hospital several times.
Mir Hossein Musavi
This past summer's election of President Hassan Rohani, who has pledged
moderation at home and abroad, raised hopes that they might be released. Their
detention conditions have reportedly slightly improved since Rohani took office
The release of several political prisoners in recent weeks and reports that the
opposition leaders' case is being reviewed by a powerful state security council
also contributed to the optimism.
Rumors circulated that the three might be released in time for the religious
holiday of Eid Ghadeer, which was celebrated on October 24.
But on that day, Musavi's daughter, Narges Musavi, wrote on Facebook that after
she and her sister had lunch with their parents for the first time since their
arrest, security guards, who had monitored the visit, assaulted them.
'Forced To Strip'
She said the attack took place after guards took them to an adjacent building
and told them to strip. The two women refused to take off their underclothes and
a female guard reportedly struck them with force.
"As I was trying to grab her hand to prevent her from attacking us any further,
I faced her inhumane treatment when she savagely bit my entire wrist," Narges
Musavi wrote on Facebook.
The post and a picture of
what appears to be her bitten wrist went viral on social media and was picked up
by Farsi-language media outside the country and news websites.
Many Iranians reacted angrily on social media, with some leaving comments on the
Facebook pages of Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif,
whose page has more than 500,000 "likes."
"Your back was damaged with a headline by [ultra-hard-line daily] 'Kayhan,' our
back [was] broken with the slap on the face of Musavi's daughters," wrote one
user, referring to Zarif's back pain, which he said was triggered after the
influential daily "misquoted" him.
Musavi with his family, in an undated photo.
There have been widespread calls to release Musavi and Karrubi, who are seen as
heroes by many Iranians despite the establishment's attempts to make the public
Prominent Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar said last week that the two men
could influence their release by changing their positions.
"They created a lot of damage to the revolution, the establishment, and national
interests. They cannot compensate for everything they did, and they should
repent in the presence of God. But they can compensate to some extent and that
would definitely affect the establishment's decisions," Bahonar said.
A political analyst in Tehran, who asked not to be named, said authorities are
afraid that their release could trigger street celebrations that would embarrass
the clerical establishment.
"Many of those who celebrated in the streets after Rohani was elected were
calling for the release of Musavi and Karrubi," the analyst said. "Authorities
are not sure how people will react. There is also no guarantee -- for Iranian
authorities -- that [the opposition leaders] will remain quiet, if released."
Copyright (c) 2013 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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