Over two years ago, in the heat of the debates among Iran’s pre-selected presidential candidates and the indifference of the overwhelming majority of Iranians, especially the younger generation, a new color suddenly appeared – purple. Remembering the green color that had waved to them eight years ago, promising a new day, they went for it and voted massively for its bearer. However, it didn’t take them long to realize it was all part of a scheme to artfully deceive them. Today, disillusioned is the least one can say about those who had identified the messenger with the color and voted for it, unaware that purple was nothing but the deepest shade of black hovering over their lives even more forcefully than anything they had experienced before.
It is a given, based on all reports, that under Rouhani’s presidency there has been a noticeable degradation of human rights violations. Multiple reports attest to the fact that the regime has become increasingly repressive and to that end does not hesitate in resorting to any device, including the overturning of its own rulings or inventing unimaginable cases. Two recent cases reflect best how arbitrary the regime’s judiciary system works.
Just consider the case of Bahareh Hedayat, a students rights activist who was imprisoned after the 2009 rigged presidential election, on the bogus charges of “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods”. According to their own penal code, Bahareh was scheduled to be released from prison by the end of June 2015. However, the regime, in violation of its own penal code, decided to enforce a previously suspended sentence.
The second case is the trial of Atena Farghadani, the artist and human rights activist arrested for her handshake with her lawyer. Even more outrageous and shameful is the forced virginal exam she had to go through. This, no less, in a system that legalizes and promotes polygamy, temporary marriage, which is nothing but overt prostitution in order to satisfy the insatiable sexual desire of their male dominated system.
Even in the field of the foreign policy, with the exception of the nuclear accords, the regime seems to be back to its early days. The case of Jason Rezaian is not any different from hostage taking of Khomeini’s time. The regime’s handling of his case and trial behind close doors raise serious doubts about the veracity of the charges and whether their intention from day one was not aimed to use him in order to ask for ransom. In the Islamic regime everything and anything is permitted as long as it serves their ever-repressive machine. If Machiavelli lived today, he would redefine his definition of politics. However, if the increasingly repressive system of the Islamic regime could silence people like Jafar Panahi and Nasrin Sotoudeh, it can also silence Atena Farghadani, Narges Mohammadi and countless others like them.
I am not sure if anyone listened to, or read Rouhani’s speech at the UN general assembly. He glorified his own election and the “Utopia” the regime has created by pompously claiming: “The recent elections in Iran represent a clear, living example of the wise choice of hope, rationality and moderation by the great people of Iran. The realization of democracy consistent with religion and the peaceful transfer of executive power in an otherwise ocean of regional instabilities.” Evidently, he omitted to mention a well-designed trap the regime used to have people cast their votes. What he also didn’t say was that countless Iranians of all walks of life are still paying the heavy price of taking part in the Green Movement or even sympathizing with it. In his campaign he promised everything that the supporters of the Green Movement wanted to hear. I am not sure that during his campaign he ever-mentioned “democracy consistent with religion”. Was it during his studies in Qom, or in England that he learned the compatibility of democracy and the dogmatic regime he represents? Had he referred to a dictionary to understand the meaning of “hope’, “rationality” and “moderation” he wouldn’t have ridiculed himself by claiming them. Even more laughable was the part of his speech where he talked of wanting to bring democracy to Yemen and Syria.
Based on everything that has been going on since Rouhani took office, one can with certainty conclude that he was pre-selected with the sole mandate to end the sanctions at any price. And evidently that is what he did. Noticeably the regime’s softening position in the foreign policy coincided with harsher human rights violations at home. The course of events point to a probable accord among different factions to make sure that every conciliatory step with regard to the nuclear negotiations is followed with more repressive measures at home. Repression that serve as a warning to anyone who might hope that this softening position would parallel loosening of the repression at home.
As the February 2016 parliamentary elections approach, Rouhani will once again play the card of reformist and moderate against the so-called “hardliners”. This time he will use the nuclear accords and the promise of a golden future to mobilize the voters that otherwise would stay home. However, we have to wait and see what other shade of black the regime will use. The Islamic regime has proved not to be short of deceitful stratagems to sustain its grips over the country.