Current President, Hassan Rouhani, recently said that the time for extremism is over and that the young people are the key to the future. He said at a recent event: “We are here to tell pro-violence extremists that your era has come to an end. (…) You [referring to hardliners] cannot stand against our youth’s choice of freedom and progress (…) This month, the nation will once again reject those whose main decisions have only been executions and imprisonments over the past 38 years.”
Rouhani has been described as a moderate president, especially by the Obama administration who tried to convince the world that great change would come as a result of the 2015 nuclear deal. The recent comments from Rouhani certainly suggest that he has moderate views. However, his actions could not be more contrary. During his presidency, there have been thousands of executions and Iran is now known as the main exporter of terrorism. Does this signal moderateness?
His comments were made to make him stand out against his hardliner opponents. But can he really say he is any better than the candidates who actually share the same opinions on capital punishment being the “will of God”? Is he any different to those who also follow the policies of the Supreme Leader?
Rouhani was in fact the one who recommended that executions are carried out, in public, during Friday prayers to increase the repression the Iranian regime has been practising for years. This recommendation was made in 1980 when he said that the executions would have more of an “impact” on the people.
He also recently boasted about how the defence budget increased 145% since the beginning of his time in office.
Ebrahim Raisi, one of the main candidates for presidency, is most known these days for his involvement in the 1988 massacre in which more than 30,000 political prisoners were executed. The Supreme Leader recently banned any mention of the 1988 massacre. This is just one stark example of how much of a sham the elections really are.
The Iranian regime is hugely insecure about its future and greatly fears an uprising like the one in 2009 where the people took to the streets in an uproar about their lack of rights.
And another uprising is possible, if not likely. The Iranian opposition has urged the Iranian people, especially the youth, to speak up against the regime. And they are doing so despite the very real risk of execution, arrest and torture. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has hailed their bravery.
A hashtag on Twitter is being used by people inside and outside the country – #MyVoteRegimeChange. This is the chance for the international community to show its solidarity with the Iranian people who are desperate for freedom, democracy, human rights, and all the things we take for granted in the West.