Khamenei website says 2009 protests ‘unforgivable’

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The personal website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a poster suggesting a court case that rules the 2009 protests “unforgivable.”

The poster, whose slogan of “unforgivable” was recently repeated by Iran’s police chief, will have significant ramifications for President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, which according to administration officials has been working behind the scenes for the release of 2009 presidential candidates from house arrest.

The poster is portrayed from the view of a judge, with a court case sitting in the middle of his desk titled “2009 sedition” written in green. The 2009 Green Movement protests were called the 2009 sedition by government officials and media opposed to the protests that challenged the contested 2009 elections (although the year was written as 88, for the calendar date 1388).

The court case has been stamped in red, which implies a verdict as “unforgivabe.” In the background is a now infamous image of famous journalists, activists and clerics sitting in court in light blue prison uniforms who were arrested for being accused of having a role in the protests and opposition to the election results.

Next to the poster on the website is a quote from Khamenei from Nov 24, 2011, in which he said on the 2009 protests, “This great sin cannot be tolerated, it’s legacy, likewise, exists today in our society.”

The 2009 elections and the subsequent crackdown is still a very divisive issue of the top leadership of Iran.

Most of the security officials and hard-liners insist the protests were instigated by foreign countries and carried out by those inside who have been labelled a fifth column. Hard-line newspaper Kayhan, whose editor is chosen by Ayatollah Khamenei, refers to the 2009 protests as the “American-Israeli sedition of 2009.” Some of the extreme positions have even demanded that the two opposition presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and that Mehdi Karroubi, along with Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard, who have all been under house arrest for over 1,000 days, should be executed for encouraging the largest street protests Iran had seen since the 1979 revolution.

Some officials have attempted to walk a middle ground. Habibollah Asgaroladi, who passed away in November and is considered a traditional conservative within Iranian politics, said that Mousavi and Karoubi were not leaders of the sedition and worked quietly behind the scenes to secure their release.

President Rouhani had repeatedly said during the presidential campaign that the house arrests must come to an end. Other Reformists figures have also urged the house arrests to end. Based on Rouhani administration officials, attempts by them to end the house arrests have failed. According to deputy parliament speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the status of Mousavi and Karroubi has not changed because they have not backed down from their positions or admitted a mistake.

The poster is in honor of the Iranian calendar 9th of Day (Dec. 30) for pro-government protests which took place in response and against to opposition protests of Ashura and Tasua.