Recent statements by former Iranian prime minister and Green Movement leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi and President Hassan Rouhani have raised questions about whether the president will be able to fulfill campaign promise of ending the Green Movement leaders’ house arrest, and whether he is moving in a direction that may alienate his reformist supporters.
Mousavi’s words from house arrest
On 27 December 2014 Kalame, the website associated with former prime minister and Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi who has been under house arrest since 2010, released a letter which is said to have been written by him. In the letter Mousavi stood firmly by his actions in leading the Green Movement and denied accusations that he sought to overthrow the regime, instead accusing those who have taken part in massive corrupt under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as undermining the regime: “Overthrowers are those who have created huge corruption in the country from the pocket of the oppressed and barefooted and poor.”
He insisted that the accusations against him and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard who is also a leading Green Movement figure and is under house arrest with him, came from those who lack virtue and were weak:
“I and Rahnavard have declared our readiness, through the jailers to officials, to appear before an open and competent court from the beginning of the house arrest.”
“I am ready, by responding to the accusations, to express truths about the sources of massive corruption which drowned the country and revolution.”
Kalame cited Mousavi and his wife as having requested that they be tried, but said that despite promises to this by officials no progress had been made in this area.
Mousavi concluded that if those responsible for suppressing the Green Movement had not accused and insulted the people who came out to demonstrate, today they would not have to deny the existence of massive corruption and deter the public mind from the threats and consequences of this corruption.
This letter, if it was indeed written by him, indicates that despite four years of house arrest and continuing health problems Mousavi remains defiant, and continues to claim the mantle of the Islamic Revolution, using language reminiscent of the early revolutionary period and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The end the Green Movement leaders’ house arrest remains a majour unfulfilled campaign promise for the current Iranian president.
Rouhani speaks on 09 Dey
09 Dey (“Dey” is the tenth month of the Iranian calendar) is a date on the Iranian calendar which marks the day anti-Green Movement demonstrators, politically backed and logistically supported by the regime, took to the streets across the country to express their displeasure with the large-scale demonstrations which shook Iran in 2009. For the last several years the conservative leadership of the Islamic Republic has been trying to commemorate this day as a majour revolutionary event, although it has not taken hold like more well-established days like 22 Bahman (the day of the victory of the Iranian Revolution).
Interestingly, President Hassan Rouhani marked this day on 30 December 2014 during a visit to the city of Chabahar in Sistan and Baluchestan province by praising the 09 Dey demonstrations, an action which may be anathema to the many reformist supporters who voted for him. The Iranian president remarked that:
“The epic of the presence of people on 09 Dey must be used in the path of consolidating unity, sympathy, and abiding by the law, and we must not permit any event in the history of the country to be used as a vehicle for disunity and conflict.”
09 Dey was not about support for one party or faction, he said: “The 09th of Dey is the reaffirmation of faith in the Islamic Republic, Leadership, Islamic Revolution, the principle of Guardianship of the Jurist, the Household of the Imams, and day of sympathy, unity, cohesion and national unity.” The Iranian president emphasised that this unity is needed now more than any other time and that Iranians must not let disunity come between them, and if there is a distance to struggle to lessen it.
He next appeared to, at least implicitly, accuse Green Movement demonstrators of acting in a lawless fashion: “The message of 09 Dey and the presence of people on this day was that all must surrender to the law and any individual who has words, criticism, or objections, must express them within the framework of the law and regulations, and people on this day put end to the chain of incidents which was not becoming of the country.”
It is not fully clear why the Iranian president has come out in support of 09 Dey, which is celebrated by many conservatives but despised by reformist and Green Movement supporters. One plausible theory is that he is trying to endear himself to the traditional principalist political establishment, which controls parliament and may be a key constituency in helping Rouhani advance some of his agenda. However, if this becomes a distinct and continuing pattern, it could alienate reformist and Green Movement supporters who are believed to have made up a substantial part of Rouhani’s voting base in the 2013 Iranian presidential election.