I provide a translation of that part of Karroubi’s press conference dealing with the Taraneh Mousavi affair. The version published by Tehran Bureau often has more the character of a paraphrase. More seriously, there are major lacunae in it which are not indicated by ellipses. I use the same source Tehran Bureau used.
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A while back websites ran a story to the effect that Miss Taraneh Mousavi was seized just outside the Qoba Mosque ceremonies along with a number of others. Some time later, although a number of those arrestees were released, Taraneh Mousavi was not. They then announced that her family should come and take her body away.1
At this point, instead of investigating this matter, some officials, faced with the foreign media’s hue and cry,2 took it into their heads to plan a scenario to distort it here and abroad. And so, ingenious schemers and far-sighted managers wrote the scenario.
To execute this scenario, they were made aware, through an individual whose name I will not mention,3 that a family has a daughter-in-law named Taraneh Mousavi who lives in Canada. All that was necessary was that they set the stage and get this girl’s family to hold an interview in which it would say that their daughter was alive and living in Canada. And so, several individuals from military, security, and intelligence, well-known figures, went to this respected and noble family’s house and told this family that Taraneh Mousavi had been burned and in order to know whether or not it was their daughter-in-law, they should come and remove the body.4 The father of the family then said, “Our daughter-in-law does not live in Iran,” and since the family’s elders were not political people but clerical, they viewed the matter very simply. Just then, the father of the family telephoned his son, who is a clerical and political figure,[Shahmoradi] and told him what had happened and asked for another telephone number, of his son, Taraneh’s husband. His son [Shahmoradi] told him that his brother had gone to Canada to know what was going on5 and had not yet arrived and get in touch with him. Just then, the mother noticed that it was possible that such a thing might have occurred and collapsed and was sent to the hospital. When the father of the family noticed that this was a serious matter, he once more tried to contact his son so that he would see that this was not a passing issue, and so he [Shahmoradi] rushed to the house. He noticed that several people were in the house and that some of them were people who were present during the Sacred Defense [the Iran-Iraq war]. This reminds me of martyr Hamid Bakeri, who said, “May I achieve martyrdom at the front, for if I survive, it is not obvious what catastrophe would befall us and what group we would become part of.” When this gentleman, who had some political consciousness, spoke with them, he said, “Don’t say this sort of thing to me. I know the truth of the matter,” and even used the expression, “Don’t try to gyp a Gypsy.” When they, for their part, saw that he was on to them, they changed their tune and said it is proper to cooperate with them in order to protect the system and struggle against the foreign media’s sensationalism. Just then, members of the family said, “What do you want of us?” They said, “That you go before the camera and say that Taraneh is alive.”
Taraneh’s brother-in-law [Shahmoradi] at first refused and said, “This is wrong from the start. We are somewhat well-known figures.” And, of course, he asked them, “Insofar as such a thing be done, what would you do to the real Taraneh?”[i.e., the fake Taraneh] They answered, “That’s not your problem. Don’t worry.” Similarly, the family said, “The picture that you have is not of our daughter in law,” and they said, “That’s not your problem.”
Meanwhile, Taraneh’s brother-in-law, who was a clerical and political figure, relented and figured6 that by doing this, he would be keeping the foreigners from taking advantage of Iran’s condition. But he suggested that they should go and speak with Taraneh’s father and mother. In the meantime, they searched for their phone number, but Taraneh’s brother-in-law told them, “Since they had moved, we do not have their number and my brother has not reached his destination [Canada] so that I could get the phone number from him.” Taraneh’s father in law, for his part, said that perhaps his wife might have the number in her room, but since she had been sent to the hospital, the door to her room was locked and they did not have the key. Those present then decided to break open the door, but the family stopped them and faced them down. They told these people, “Go, we will ourselves try to find their telephone number.” Interestingly enough, before the members of this family were able to find Taraneh’s parents’ telephone number, they themselves [the security, etc. officials] found the number. Taraneh’s brother-in-law immediately contacted her parents and said to them, “Only say this much.” He then told these gentlemen [the security, etc., officials], “This family is not in the loop and only say this much to them.” And so it was that they put Taraneh Mousavi’s parents in front of the camera and they said that their daughter was alive and living in Canada. Of course, after the family noticed what the point of this was, they were very upset and wanted to investigate it, but this brother-in-law of Taraneh’s told them not to say a thing, otherwise, their fate would be uncertain.
[Comment in the source deleted.] These individuals stated that they had to put this family up to such a thing in order to protect the system’s basis. But from our point of view, to protect the system’s basis and strengthen the Constitution, the revolution’s values and His Eminence the Imam’s aspirations are important. To protect the system’s basis is to base one’s actions on the promises which we have made to the people. But I regret that we have retreated from the revolution and are gambling with the system’s honor.
[Another comment deleted.] As soon as the struggles of the Islamic Revolutionary movement began in 1341 [=1963], a series of unaware individuals connected with the government intended to stop the Imam’s movement by treating it like the Bohlul affair in the events at the Gawharshad Mosque.7 The Bohlul affair was as follows: A little while after the events at the Gawharshad Mosque arose, they published a picture of some cheerful fellow in the media and said that this was that same person who was responsible for the events at Gawharshad Mosque. But before the week was out, a fitting statement was published in Mashhad in which two pictures were printed. One of them was that of the fellow they claimed was Bohlul and the other was the real Bahlul, so that it be known that [the latter] had been imprisoned in Afghanistan for some time. This matter occurred some 48 years ago and this story was exposed in those days. How could it be that now these officials could expect that an event can occur in Tehran, and in this age of connectivity at that, and no one might notice?
[Comment deleted.] That same night that a film about Taraneh Mousavi was broadcast from television, before I understood the truth of the matter, I was impressed. But that same night, I went to a wedding ceremony in which a youth came up to me and said, “Do they think that the people do not know how many Taraneh Mousavis there are in Iran?” I was surprised by this and said to myself, “For all my age and experience, I doubted the matter, but this youth had absolutely no doubts.”8
[Comment deleted] I know how they found this Taraneh Mousavi and [my] source of information is trustworthy. If necessary, I will speak more clearly on this matter so that the extent of people’s roles can be specified.
During the years of the Serial Murders, the elections of 1376  had still not been held when it was said that that they have blown up the Shrine of the Imam (God’s mercy be upon him!) and that they intended to even plant a bomb in the Her Holiness the Immaculate [Fatima, Imam Ali’s wife and the Prophet of Islam’s daughter], but its perpetrator had been arrested. After a week, they even brought several girls in front of the television cameras and they, too, very cheerfully spoke before the cameras in such a way that they surpassed any expert spokeswoman. At the time, I laughed and said that this was ridiculous. Could it be possible that they might arrest someone and torture her until she confessed and then bring her before the television cameras so quickly and in such a condition and she confesses? The result of such operations led to the Serial Murders [of] writers and the assassinations of [Dariush] Farouhar and his wife [Parvaneh].
[Comment deleted.] I am not only taking a stand against such behavior, but, as you know, I am also taken a position regarding my friends and colleagues. I have played the greatest role in bringing success to the reformist movement, but as soon as differences emerged, this same great gentleman [Hojjatoleslam Sayyed Mohammad Khatami], in whose electoral victory I played such an effective role, has not supported me, and these same people have played the greatest role in the reformists’ defeat in 1384 .9 [By boycotting the elections.]
[Comment deleted] You have now created a situation in which people no longer have the courage to speak out. But I say yet again that this behavior and intimidation and terror will not silence me. I will raise certain issues as needed.
After this press conference, Sayyed Hosein Shahmoradi, the very same brother-in-law of Taraneh Musavi, issued an open letter complaining about what Karroubi said on two grounds: oath-breaking and distortion. It was issued in the conservative newspaper Iran and picked up on another conservative website, Jam-e Jam. We quote it in full:[source]
Greetings, Your Eminence Karroubi,
It has been years that I have wanted to continue my studies and cultural work within, of course, my financial means. I am exhausted by the arguing and suffocated from chatter. Although in my youth I sat on the sidelines, my white hairs have left me in such a state that I even avoid sitting on the sidelines and stick to my bed and board. But these colorful days do not leave me alone and the media and its games and the ambitions of this side and the other even smite those who want to be left alone.
The first page of the latest issue of Etemad-e Melli and an article by an old comrade of the revolution and a great militant of the times of monarchist oppression brought me yet more consternation. I, who consider myself a minor student of the great revolution and am proud of being a student in the presence of the great ones, I, who consider myself a son of the revolution and a soldier of the velayat[-e faqih], was terribly perplexed as to what to do. Why? What had I done? Two difficult months passed and the media of Iran and the world, of every taste and tendency, took every arrow and put it in the bow of its tongue and took aim at the mouths of the patient and kind people of Islamic Iran. Thanks to this assault, the political atmosphere of the day is turbulent and intensified and made yet more exhausting the hot summer winds.
If bread is the goal, all means are excused, and there is no use complaining if the means are blatantly contrary to the principles upon which the Islamic Revolution was formed. The way of a seminary student has as its first step the learning of and insistence on good morality, on faith in God, on honest speech and behavior, on faith and integrity, on justice and asking for help from the One God in protecting human honor, but the times are so troubled that even some clerics have been drawn willy-nilly into the circle of losing justice and have made the people, particularly the youth, waver, putting the seminary students face to face with the question, Will we the clergy be passive and the bee without honey?!
Your Eminence Karroubi,
Two months have passed since the tenth [presidential] elections and its results are known and members of every group and every taste have forgotten the protection of the system, which His Eminence our guide [Khomeini] called the greatest obligation, and each bangs his own drum. The insistence continues on both sides and everyone uses everything at his disposal and resorts to every means, even if their way of framing the issues is imprecise and incorrect, to excite public opinion and damage the character of believers and the honor of men.
In the introduction to this letter, I said and I now repeat and emphasize that this son of the revolution and this minor seminary student has for years considered the doings of politics a vanity and is occupied with his own business. I do not know and do not say anything about your views or those of others. But I do know and say that one ought not and must not repeat everything and raise a racket in order to confirm ones views or restore ones political credibility.
Therefore, as a seminary student, I ask the scholars in attendance and you yourself, whose past of struggle and cooperation and sympathy with the revolution is clear to all, “Is this the result of religion and politics being side by side? What is the cost of achieving political ambitions? And does the goal and idea of the late Imam (God have mercy upon him!) in establishing this system and the great Leader of the revolution [Ayatollah Khamenei] and the giants of struggle and the achievement of a peaceful and successful society endowed with.”10 Islamic morality and the pure divine teachings have anything to do with the situation of these two troubled months? If the friends of the Imam and the revolution, with all their service and sincerity, have lost their patience, can one expect patience from others? And can one consider the system’s difficult political issues to be so simple?”
Your Eminence Karroubi,
In a visit, you realized that the television program about Miss Taraneh Mousavi had something to do with our family and asked me about it. I submitted that, in accordance with the issues and interests in which I believe, I have said nothing about this story to any of the major figures and never will, since I consider it a conspiracy of the foreign media. I suffered sedition from enemies and impatience from friends. You insisted. I remained silent. You promised that you are looking into this only for your own information and would not even say anything about it to the people around you. Your promise and the devotion of this merest one to the Imam, that wise guide who garbed me in clerical attire, broke the lock of my silence for you and for you alone for it to remain in your breast and your breast alone. I submitted that my intention was only to expose the enemies’ conspiracy and silence their sedition, and you listened.
But with utter astonishment and horror, on 26 Mordad, part of what I submitted was published on the front electronic page of Your Eminence’s newspaper with various embellishments and issued with your name and signature. How difficult it was for me to believe such oath-breaking. I read this in disbelief and my regret and sorrow mounted when I saw that what I had said you did not!
The water has flowed from the stream, the arrow has flown from the bow. Yet this question remains, Is your word balm or bane? Have you helped the revolution with this deed, or has this or that political current benefited from it? Has human honor been preserved or moral principles obeyed?
For me, who considers you a concerned friend of the system, even though I have not and do not share your positions, it was unbelievable and astonishing! What time is this time, a time in which honor has no value? Clerics ignore wisdom and oaths are forgotten. I easily raise my hands to the heavens and open my sealed lips and pray before the Merciful and Kind One’s Court for Islamic Iran.
Sayyed Hosein Shahmoradi
To this, Karroubi responded as follows:
Dear brother Proof of Islam and the Muslims Shahmoradi
With greetings and honor.
You wrote a letter to me in the 28 Mordad 1388 Jam-e Jam complaining about what I had stated in enlightening public opinion about the Taraneh Mousavi affair. Of course, I am glad that you did not deny the essence of your conversation with Your Servant, but believed that Your Servant did not fully convey what you told me and, as you said, broke the lock of your silence about the Taraneh Mousavi affair in Your Servant’s presence. But it is necessary in this regard to submit a few things in this matter:
- Your Eminence Shahmoradi, my dear brother, I don know whether or not you had been compelled under pressure to write such a letter to me so that a title could be chosen for it saying that you were sorry about Your Servant’s statements and actions, but when I read your letter, I was glad that you confirmed the heart of the matter and that the only criticism you had was why Your Servant was not faithful and conveyed matters which you told me about in confidence. And so I decided to answer your letter so that you, too, might be assured why Mehdi Karroubi, this minor soldier of the system could never be able to remain silent before a violation of the people’s rights, particularly when a number of people have decided to remain silent before the savage crimes which have occurred or blame them on others.
- When Your Servant called you and asked to meet with you, it was to raise a matter which I had heard from someone else, whom you certainly know and whom we both trust.11 So, if you will recall, at the same time that I asked you about this affair, I submitted to you who it was that conveyed this matter from you to Your Servant and you, for your part, know well that he is a reliable source. At this juncture, it is necessary to explain that Your Servant was aware of the essence of the matter and only requested a further explanation to ask you about this affair, and, in fact, that nothing new was told me by you in this matter for you to complain about me now concerning why I did not talk about what you said and declare that you were unbelievably sorry about the subjects raised.
- On the other hand, you know best that Your Servant is not interested in making an exposé about the Taraneh Mousavi affair and did not want to put this matter in the media now or be published in the press. But regrettably, some of the country’s officers and Friday Imams have used every tribune to insult Your Servant and, without showing any inclination towards reviewing what Your Servant has posed, have pointed an accusing finger at me and called for Your Servant’s punishment. I witnessed how a group of Friday Imams and some of the press made an obscene effort to cover up the crimes which had been done to the people over the protests over the electoral results. And so, I decided that, in response to their gossip, to expose some issues, including the Taraneh Mousavi affair, in an interview so that these worthies might know that Mehdi Karroubi never speaks without documentation. But if you closely examine the issue which had been published, you will notice that I nowhere mention your name or that of that worthy who relayed the matter from you to Your Servant. I must mention that even Your Servant’s confidants are unaware of the names and stations of those who reported this news. In this interview, where it was necessary to mention someone’s name, I even refrained from mentioning your name so that no one would know it. But now, by writing this letter, you have provided a good reason for me to be able to mention his name. When you spoke to Your Servant, you declared that you are the son-in-law of His Eminence Proof of Islam and the Muslims Hoseini, Your Servant suddenly realized what person passed your home’s address and phone number to the security forces and how they knew that your family has a daughter-in-law in Canada named Taraneh Mousavi, since I realized that your family is clerical but does not enter into political circles, yet when you said that you are His Eminence Hoseini’s son-in-law, I noticed something, and I told you right there that I have found the missing link, since I realized Mr. Taeb is also the son-in-law of His Eminence Hoseini and said that you are the brother-in-law of Mr. Taeb, and you confirmed this. And so I noticed that Mr. Taeb was one of the planners of the Taraneh Mousavi show. You know better that your dear brother-in-law Mr. Taeb who had entered the field had in the past, too, had a record and some experience of this sort in the Ministry of Intelligence, since the president of the time had expelled him from the Ministry of Intelligence over just this behavior.
- Your Eminence Shahmoradi, my dear brother, we cannot ignore the crime which has been committed against these people. It has been God’s will that these crimes be exposed so that its perpetrators be punished. You must know better than anyone what matters have arisen. This very past week when I went to visit three families who have suffered in these recent events. One family’s son had been killed and Your Servant is very sorry for what they have experienced. I went to a family who has a young girl in the house who had been brutally beaten so that the the marks on her face are visible after sixty days and whose hands have been broken in several places and who had hanging marks on her neck. I also went to a family of sayyeds whose child is in bed sick because his stomach had been cut open and is being fed in this way, and one of whose eyes have been lost and blinded and whose other eye is about to go blind. This youth’s head is full of lead pellets and has been operated on several times and must be operated on once more. When these families explained how they had suffered, I grieved over how this happened under the banner of the Islamic Republic. In your opinion, can someone remain silent on seeing such crimes? My dear brother, we cannot keep our silence about the truth on the excuse of protecting the system, since history will eventually reveal the truth. Of course, I will say this, too, that now Your Servant is not busy gathering votes to be present in the presidential elections or to get a post or position and so does not diligently pursue the people’s rights. Rather, my aim as a son of the revolution and a minor soldier of this system, to defend the people’s rights and tell them that what a number of stubborn agents and uneducated official did should not be generalized to the whole system.
It is worth mentioning that Jam-e Jam is also being asked to publish this matter in the same column in answer to him.
1 This is not the story as it has unfolded on the internet. In Karroubi’s version, the body is evidently still in the prison and the parents are urged to collect it. In the standard version, it was discovered dozens of miles from Tehran in the wilderness and the parents, alerted to its location, come of their own accord to retrieve it.
2 Here, Karroubi is using the government’s characterization of the affair as a creature of noisy foreign news sources. Of course, these sources were almost entirely Iranian, albeit generally in the diaspora.
3 The reference is to Hojjatoleslam Taeb. Shahmoradi would doubtless have picked up on this cue and realized that Karoubi was aware of Taeb’s role, with predictable results.
4 It would be pointless to get them to tell these government agents that their daughter is alive. And since they were not admitting this on camera, it is hard to imagine what was being accomplished by putting the family through this ordeal.
5 Evidently Taraneh Mousavi was living separately from her husband. Why would he have gone to Canada to find out what was going on?
6 Dropping the second “ye” in “mikonid”.
7 In 1935, when the Shah started to forcibly Westernize clothing, a group of clerics protested. Their center was the Gawharshad Mosque in Mashhad. Reza Shah ordered his local general, who was wavering, to crush this protest with artillery, and so it was done. (Sepehr Zabih, The Iranian Military in Revolution and War, pp. 84-85), Ervand Abrahamian, History of Modern Iran, p.94. On Allameh Bohlul, see here.
8 Karroubi is chastising himself for doubting the Taraneh Mousavi story. This indicates that he tended to believe it.
9 Faced with a choice between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, many reformists decided to boycott the elections.
10 Reading motakhallaq for motakhallaf.
11 It seems impossible that this mysterious source who had tipped Karroubi off was Taeb, who was a mortal enemy of Karroubi’s and, in any case, only later appears on Karroubi’s radar screen. It is conceivable that this mysterious character is a pious fiction to shield Karroubi from Shahmoradi’s charges of oath-breaking, but this would leave him open to an angry rejoinder by Shahmoradi.