Iranian reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh addresses the media in May 2021.
Prominent reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who is currently being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, says he and his cell mates were attacked by guards for their support of recent comments made by opposition figure Mir Hossein Musavi on regime change.
Tajzadeh, 65, said in a letter that he and fellow prisoners Saeed Madani and Hossein Razzaq were attacked after they were subjected to an "unusual and long search" of their cell over the weekend.
Tajzadeh said guards seized some personal notes in an attack, which comes amid government claims that more than 80,000 people have been released in a mass amnesty, that was a direct response to their support for Musavi. In the letter, which he addressed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tajzadeh, a former deputy interior minister and staunch critic of Khamenei, claimed it was the third attack by prison inspectors on his cell in Evin in the past month. "How do these measures (attacks) fit with the announcement of an amnesty for prisoners?" he asked in the letter.
"And why even after unjustly imprisoning your critics do you trample on their inalienable and basic rights in prisons?"
For months, antiestablishment protesters have called for the overthrow of Iran's clerical regime and demanded greater social and political freedoms. Opposition figures -- including Musavi -- and civil society groups inside Iran took that issue a step further last month, sharing proposals that would transform or even replace the current theocratic system with a democracy.
Tajzadeh -- who last year made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency as a reformist -- was found guilty on three charges related to his repeated calls for structural changes in the country and sentenced to five years in prison. Referring to Khamenei’s repeated claim that the opposition is free to criticize him, Tajzadeh asked in the letter how that is possible "if I have been sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison just for criticizing your performance in two cases, while a distinguished researcher like Saeed Madani has been sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison in two cases."
Tajzadeh served as deputy interior minister under reformist former`president Mohammad Khatami, who held office from 1997 to 2005.
He was arrested in 2009 during mass protests disputing the reelection of then President Mahmud Ahmadinejad that was contested by an opposition supporting reformist candidates Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Musavi.
In 2010, Tajzadeh was convicted of harming national security and propaganda against the state. He was released in 2016 after serving most of his seven-year sentence.
After his release, Tajzadeh has often called on authorities to free Karrubi and Musavi who have been under house arrest for more than a decade.
Last October, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced Tajzadeh to the current five-year term he is serving. Tajzadeh declined to speak in court during the hearing after a request he made to talk one-on-one with his lawyer was rejected.