Iran’s President Condemns Activists’ Arrest, Parliament Holds Hearing on the Case
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami Sunday condemned the recent arrests of journalists, students, academics and members of political groups in Iran. Meanwhile, the parliament began a hearing over the controversial move, reported the official IRNA news agency.
"In light of the best interests of the society and the long-term security of the country, I have to express my regret," Khatami said, addressing the organizers of a congress entitled "Strategies of Scientific Development in Iran.
"As far as I know about the public opinion, such measures are not in the interest of the political system and people."
The president added, "No threat is more serious to our popular system than a situation in which the rulers of the country cannot justify their conduct for people," IRNA quoted him as saying.
Tehran's revolutionary court announced Sunday the arrests of 42 active members of the liberal opposition, accused of trying to overcome the Islamic regime.
The arrests come just two months before voters go to the polls for one of the most closely watched presidential elections in the Islamic republic's history.
For its part, the Iranian parliament has summoned ministers of intelligence, defense and health for questioning over the recent arrests.
The government-run daily `Iran' said 60 MPs have asked Interior Minister Ali Younessi to appear in the chamber on Tuesday to comment on the mass arrests.
"Younessi should make it clear if the detainees have been conspiring to overthrow the Islamic regime in Iran," Iran said,” quoting one of the MPs as saying.
“Defense Minister Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani should say why the detainees are being interrogated in detention houses run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,” he added.
The authorities have effectively closed down the main opposition party, the Iran Freedom Movement (IFM), in the run-up to the June 8 polls, for which Khatami has yet to declare his candidacy.
Sources told AFP that a former Tehran mayor and two former ministers, who served in the provisional government after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, were among those arrested.
The former cabinet members were Hashemi Sabaghian and 84-year-old Ahmad Sadr, who served respectively as interior and justice ministers in the post-revolutionary government of Mehdi Bazargan, the IFM's founder, said AFP.
Longtime opposition activist, Fazlollah Salavati, who headed a now-banned newspaper in the city of Isfahan, was also taken in, the sources told AFP.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) on Sunday strongly condemned the action taken by the revolutionary court as "ambiguous and unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic," said IRNA, quoting a statement as saying.
The political party which has majority in the parliament said in a strongly worded statement that the massive arrests by the revolutionary court was an attempt to overshadow the people's presence in the political scene and their political will, said IRNA.
The IIPF said that the current waves of arrests have targeted to tarnish the upcoming presidential election slated for June 8.
"The Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) voices deep regret over action taken by the revolutionary court and appeals for the people's lively and meaningful participation in the upcoming presidential election through which they opt for the acceptable norms.
In March, more than a dozen opposition figures were arrested as the conservative-controlled courts outlawed all activities of the IFM, which had been banned for years but nevertheless tolerated - Albawaba.com
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