Even in absence of the new revelations about the origins of the Obama administration’s optimistic claims about Rouhani, these groups have regularly highlighted ongoing human rights abuses and other activities that seem to indicate the persistence of decades-long behaviors even under the Rouhani administration. In some respects, as with the rate of executions since Rouhani was elected in 2013, the situation has gotten noticeably worse.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran has indicated that in 2015 alone, the regime carried out executions of at least 966 people. Groups like the NCRI have been keeping track of hangings so far this year and have seen similar trends. The NCRI indicates that at least 55 people were executed in the month of April alone, and that another 10 were hanged in just the first three days of May.
Most of the victims of this capital punishment are reportedly non-violent drug offenders. Meanwhile, some individuals are condemned to death in Iran for offenses that would not be recognized as crimes in other modern nations. Many of these are vaguely defined under terms like “enmity against God,” which clearly reflect the government’s ongoing commitment to its theocratic identity.
That identity is further underscored by the occasional implementation of religiously-based corporal punishments, sometimes literally reflecting the principle of “an eye for an eye.” On Friday, the NCRI issued a statement calling upon the United Nations and all major human rights organizations to make efforts to stop the Iranian judiciary from blinding a prisoner as a form of punishment.
The person in question, Mojtaba Saheli, already had the blinding sentence carried out on one eye in March of last year. He was reportedly then given the opportunity to raise money to escape further punishment, in line with the country’s fundamentalist Islamic laws. Having been unable to do so, he is now in imminent danger of having acid administered to his remaining eye.
Claims about a lack of reform or moderation in the Iranian government are also reflected in the plight of many of the people who are not subjected to capital or corporal punishment but are simply serving long, unjustified prison sentences. Among the latest examples of these people are three Iranian journalists and the brother of a journalist living outside of the country, who were given sentences ranging from five to 10 years this week.
An Iranian Human Rights group commented on their cases once again on Friday and pointed out that the corresponding crackdown on journalism in general puts reporters at ever-increasing risk. Furthermore, the Campaign pointedly indicates that whereas past arrests have been directed mostly by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the recent crackdown has largely been prosecuted by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, which is directly answerable to President Rouhani.
This observation provides further support to those who argue that the Rouhani administration has not been pursue a reform agenda in line with earlier campaign promises and the optimism of some foreign observers.