RSF holds Iran’s leaders responsible for Mehdi Karoubi’s life

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about Mehdi Karoubi, the owner of the banned newspaper Etemad Melli, who was hospitalized today after going on hunger strike in protest against the conditions in which he is being held.

Karoubi, who has been under house arrest for the past six years, began the hunger strike yesterday, a week after undergoing a heart operation.

His wife, Fatemeh Karoubi, said he stopped eating altogether to press two demands. “The first,” she said, “is for the intelligence ministry guards to leave his home and the second is to be tried before a public court in accordance with article 168 de la constitution*.”

Karoubi was taken to an intensive care unit in Tehran’s Rajai hospital today. It was the eighth time in six years of house arrest that he has been hospitalized. Aged 79, he has several ailments that have been aggravated by his confinement and the restrictions on his movements.

We are outraged by the behaviour of the Iranian authorities and we hold Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani personally responsible for Mehdi Karoubi’s slow agony,” RSF said.

We also call on Asma Jahangir, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, to react at once because of the real danger to the Karoubi’s life. RSF counts on her to demand that the Iranian authorities respect Iran’s own laws as well as international norms. Karoubi is being denied the right to a fair trial. His continuing house arrest constitutes a flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Karoubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister and owner of the banned newspaper Kalameh Sabaz, and Mousavi’s wife, the writer Zahra Rahnavard, were illegally placed under house arrest in February 2011 and have been deprived of all their rights ever since.

Leaders of the protest movement against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disputed reelection in June 2009, they were branded by the regime as “heads of sedition.” The state of health of all three is very worrying.

Iran is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

*Under article 168 of Iran’s constitution, trials for “political” or “media” offences must be conducted in public.