CAIRO — An international human rights group said yesterday that the two main Iranian opposition leaders and their wives are in grave danger after security forces apparently abducted them from their homes, where they were under house arrest.
The claim by the group, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, indicates a serious escalation in the Iranian government’s effort to silence the opposition movement that grew out of protests over the disputed presidential election in June 2009. A spokesman for one of the men backed the rights group’s report.
The two had been under house arrest since calling for a Feb. 14 rally in solidarity with the protesters in Egypt who had just ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The demonstration, which authorities had warned was illegal, was the largest show of strength by Iran’s opposition in more than a year, and three people were killed in clashes with security forces.
One of the missing reformist leaders is Mir Hossein Mousavi, who ran for president in the 2009 election against the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was declared the winner despite widespread charges of irregularities. The other is Mahdi Karroubi, a former speaker of the Iranian parliament who also ran on a proreform platform in the election.
While under house arrest, Iranian security forces patrolled the streets in front of their houses and kept visitors and relatives from entering.