Who is Hassan Rouhani and what does he stand for? And more importantly what has been the conduct of the Iranian regime during his tenure?
The following review on some of the key issues is telling.
The human rights situation in Iran has been dreadful.
•There have been over 2,000 executions in Iran in the two years that Rouhani has been in office, more than in any similar period in the past 25 years. The victims include political dissidents like Gholamreza Khosravi, an activist of Iran’s principal opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) who was hanged solely for providing financial assistance to a satellite television station supporting the opposition.
•On April 20, 2014 Rouhani described these executions as “God’s commandments” and “laws of the parliament that belongs to the people.”
•Iran holds the record of having the most executions per capita in the world, and is the biggest executioner of juvenile offenders. On October 14, 2015, Amnesty International announced: “Execution of two juvenile offenders in just a few days makes a mockery of Iran’s juvenile justice system.” On October 19, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the execution of the two minors and voiced his concern about the rise in executions in Iran. Ban's press office said in a statement that he was concerned the executions "reflect a worrying trend in Iran." "Over 700 executions are reported to have taken place so far this year, including at least 40 public, marking the highest total recorded in the past 12 years," it said.
•On July 23, Amnesty International provided a shocking report, “Iran’s staggering execution spree”. It said nearly 700 were put to death in Iran by the regime in just over six months. This is equivalent to executing more than three people per day. It added, “Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale.”
•Iranian political prisoner Shahrokh Zamani was found dead in his prison cell on September 13 with his mouth full of blood and a bruised head. A 51-year-old labor activist and painter, Mr. Zamani was arrested in June 2011 and was being held Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran. He defended the rights of Iranian workers. The regime’s henchmen had repeatedly threatened to kill him.
•Executions of ethnic and religious minorities have increased dramatically. According to Amnesty International on August 26, Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority, was executed despite the fact that he was awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal. On August 9, Kurdish political prisoner Sirvan Najavi was hanged in Tabriz Central Prison. The henchmen did not notify his lawyer about the execution and deprived his family from having a last visit with their son. Sirvan Najavi, a Sardasht resident, was arrested in July 2011 in the city of Karaj and sentenced to death on the mullahs-fabricated charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity with God)
•Authorities in a prison in Mashhad, northeast Iran, on August 4 amputated the right hand and left foot of Mehdi R. as other prisoners were forced to watch. The sentenced was carried out one day after another man, identified only as Rahman K., had his right hand and left foot severed by the authorities in the same prison, the state-run daily Shahr Ara wrote on August 5. Both men were accused by the regime of committing a bank heist and were pronounced by the authorities to be “moharebeh,” or “waging war on God.” According to the state-run daily Khorasan both men will continue to serve an extended prison sentence as well.
•On August 1, the regime sentenced a 27-year-old man, Hamed, to be blinded. Hamed had told the regime's court that in March 2011, when he was 23 years old, he unintentionally caused an eye injury to another young man in a street fight, according to the official state-run Iran newspaper.
•On June 28, the regime amputated the fingers of two prisoners in Mashhad.
•Iran is the largest prison for journalists in the Middle East; dozens of journalists are being detained today.
•Iran is one of the 10 countries in which the greatest crackdown is applied to Christians. There are several cases of Christian priests who are imprisoned solely for their practices. Saeed Abedini, an Iranian American Christian pastor, has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 for practicing his faith.
•The Iranian regime arrested a group of practicing Iranian Christians on Christmas Day at an in-house church in the city of Shiraz, southern Iran. The group of Iranian Christians had gathered together on December 25, to celebrate Christmas when plain-clothes agents of the regime's notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) raided the in-house church.
•On December 30, it was revealed that authorities in Tehran are planning to transform illegally-confiscated church grounds into an ‘Islamic prayer center.’ The land belonging to the Iranian Assyrian community’s Chaldean Catholic Church in Tehran’s Patrice Lumumba Street (in Western Tehran) was illegally confiscated two years ago under the pretext of constructing an Islamic prayer hall and the authorities have refused to hand it back.
•Iran is one of the largest customers of Internet censoring and filtering equipment. It also blocks around five million websites dedicated to arts, social issues, and news, and works hard to filter the content of blogs and social media.
•Misogyny is at the heart of Iranian regime’s theocratic rule. In October 2014, organized gangs affiliated with the regime committed acid attacks on Iranian women and girls with total impunity. Criminal gangs affiliated to the Iranian regime subjected at least 25 women to acid attacks in cities of Isfahan, Kermanshah and Tehran.
•In October 2014, In defiance of international appeals, the Iranian regime executed Rayhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old woman whose crime was defending herself against an intelligence agent who had attempted to rape her. Amnesty International called the execution “another bloody stain on Iran’s human rights record.”
•Ms. Atena Farghadani, a 28- year-old artist, was tried on May 19, 2015 for drawing a cartoon. She was put on trial on charges including ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ and ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’. She was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison. It is hard to imagine that a young woman be put in jail for 12 years for drawing a cartoon. But this is the reality of the theocracy ruling Iran.
Composition of Rouhani’s cabinet:
In summer 1988, 30,000 political prisoners, primarily members and activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) were massacred in a matter of a few months. Tellingly, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, one of the three people who sat on the “death commission” in Tehran that sent these political prisoners to the gallows, is Hassan Rouhani’s Minister of Justice.
August 24, 2015: Mullah Mahmoud Alavi, the Minister of Intelligence and Security in Rouhani’s cabinet in an interview with state television: “The ministers that he (Rouhani) picked were either from the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), members of the central council of Jahad Sazandegi (a suppressive organ affiliated to the IRGC), or from other revolutionary institutions such as the judiciary, agents of the intelligence ministry… this combination has resulted in a composition that is adherent to the ideals…”
Opening Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council, September 14, 2015:
“I urge Iran to make commensurate progress in human rights. Accelerated use of the death penalty, concerns about the right to a fair trial, and the continued detention of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders remain major causes for concern.”
In December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly slammed the flagrant violations of human rights by the Iranian regime. The resolution criticized the Iranian regime's use of inhuman punishments, including flogging and amputations. The UN’s 61st resolution on human rights abuses in Iran also censured the mullahs’ dictatorship for the rise in executions, public hangings and the execution of juveniles.
“When the Iranian government refuses to even acknowledge the full extent of executions which have occurred, it shows a callous disregard for both human dignity and international human rights law,” says Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s special “rapporteur” on human rights in Iran. Ahmed Shaheed’s report says the regime in Tehran is executing individuals from religious and ethnic minority groups “for exercising their protected rights, including freedom of expression and association.”
Ahmad Shaheed has noted that under the so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani “the overall situation has worsened.”
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Iran’s regime tested a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon on October 12, 2015. The liquid-propelled rocket, Emad, had a range of 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles). The rocket could carry a 750-kilogram (1,653-pound) payload.
The UN Security Council's Panel of Experts on Iran said in a confidential report in December 2015 that the launch showed the rocket met its requirements for considering that a missile could deliver a nuclear weapon. "On the basis of its analysis and findings the Panel concludes that Emad launch is a violation by Iran of paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 1929," the panel said.
Iran’s regime made a second ballistic missile test on November 21. The liquid-fueled missile had a 1,900 km (1,180 mile) range and was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
In a letter to the defense minister on December 31, 2015, Rouhani ordered an expansion of the Iranian regime’s missile program. "... The armed forces need to quickly and significantly increase their missile capability," Rouhani wrote in a letter to Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, published by the state news agency IRNA.
Continued support for terrorism and export of Islamic extremism
January 2, 2016: Iranian regime’s agents ransack and put on fire the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran. They also attack the Saudi consulate in Mashhad, northeast Iran.
Final week of December 2015: IRGC launched a "highly provocative" rocket test about 1500 yards away from US warships and commercial traffic passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
November 30, 2015: According to the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran, the Iranian regime has dispatched 5,000 IRGC forces and some of its most senior commanders to Syria to defend Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. In addition, Tehran has dispatched some 25,000 of its non-Iranian mercenaries to Syria.
September 28, 2015: Hassan Rouhani interview with CNN: In Syria “we have no solution but to strengthen the central authority, central government of that country as the central seat of power.”
Associated Press on Hassan Rouhani press conference in New York, September 25, 2015: “Rouhani defended the government of President Bashar Assad from charges of brutality in dealing with his opponents. He denied any knowledge of the use of ‘barrel bombs’ against civilians in Syria’s civil war.”
January 2, 2016: Bahrain said it had caught an Iranian-linked cell plotting attacks on its territory. “A secret terrorist plot aided by the so-called Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Hezbollah terrorist organization was foiled," Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported. "It targeted the security of the kingdom of Bahrain by (plotting to) carry out a series of dangerous bombings," it added. BNA said a main suspect, Ali Ahmed Fakhrawi, had traveled to Lebanon and personally met the head of the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, who gave him $20,000 to aid the cell
August 14, 2015: Kuwait authorities seized a huge arms cache smuggled from Iraq and hidden beneath houses near the border, arresting three suspected members of a militant cell that was plotting to destabilize the country, local media said. A total of 19,000 kg of ammunition, 144 kg of explosives, 68 weapons and 204 grenades were seized from three properties, state news agency Kuna said. The three men arrested were the owners of the houses, it said. Kuwait's Arabic-language Al-Anba newspaper said the cache had been smuggled from Iraq and stored by members of a cell linked to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group. "This plot by elements linked to Hezbollah had been under surveillance for a long time," the newspaper reported.
August 13, 2015: Bahrain’s chief of police said five suspects with links to Iran have been arrested in connection with a bombing last month that killed two police and wounded six others, the Associated Press reported. Maj Gen Tariq Al Hassan says investigators have connected the suspects to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), as well as Hezbollah, the Iranian-armed and funded group in Lebanon. The July 28 bombing targeted a bus carrying policemen in the south of the capital. One of the suspects said that he was taken with other people from Bahrain to Iran where he was met by three people who were reportedly members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Bahraini group was moved to the Iranian city of Qum before they were transferred to Iraq where they were taken to a training camp about two hours away from Baghdad. There, he said, they were given intensive training on the use of weapons over several days. The suspect then explained how, upon returning to Bahrain, they planted the bomb. Other suspects who appeared on Bahrain Television gave details on how they detonated the bomb that targeted the bus carrying the policemen.