Rouhani’s “charm offensive”
(including the “historic nuclear deal” and the promise
of opening Iran up for business) is the other side of
the coin of the regime’s intensification of repression.
If you smile rather than scowl and utter sweet nothings
and empty promises, the global powers that be are happy
to ignore what happens to people in Iran. I suppose it
is what they mostly do themselves every few years come
election time. Protestations of “human rights abuses”
are only useful when the regime doesn’t play nice.
But it’s not a “charm offensive” by
any means; it’s just plain offensive.
During the “election”, Rouhani
“promised” that “all Iranian people should feel there is
justice”. They are certainly feeling it - his version of
it at least – with 40 executions in the first two weeks
of January and over 300 executions since he took office.
Iran remains one of the main execution capitals of the
world despite all claims of “moderation”. When Rouhani
said “We must do something for all these prisoners to be
released”, he must have meant in body bags.
Also, Rouhani’s “promise” to uphold
the rights of the people as enumerated in the country’s
constitution is yet another example of an empty exercise
in PR. The constitution is one of the obstacles to
upholding rights and actually violates them as does a
theocracy. Article 20 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s
constitution, for example, says men and women “enjoy
equal protection of the law...in conformity with Islamic
criteria” and Article 21 states that “the government
must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in
conformity with Islamic criteria”. As a result, it is
perfectly legal that women cannot run for presidency,
enter sports stadiums and certain fields of work or
study, are segregated and have limited rights to divorce
and child custody.
In less than 6 months of his
presidency, his pledge to uphold the rights of women and
bring legislation to the Islamic Assembly that addressed
discrimination has only translated into more
discrimination and misogyny, including the legalisation
of paedophilia and child rape by making it legal for
step-fathers to marry their adopted daughters as well as
plans for a “Comprehensive Population and Family
Excellence Plan”. The proposed legislation includes new
limits on contraceptive use and added restrictions on
women from accessing employment and educational
opportunities. More efforts in lieu of keeping women in
their place – barefoot and pregnant.
Of course the list is endless.
Rouhani and his friends Tweet their sweet nothings and
have Facebook pages whilst people in Iran are banned
from using social media and can actually face arrest and
harassment for it. Khamenei just issued a fatwa making
it illegal to chat with unrelated members of the
And Iran remains the second largest
jailer of journalists (forget political dissidents and
opponents) though Rouhani “promised” that “justice means
that anyone who wants to speak in a society should be
able to come out, speak their mind, criticize and
critique without hesitation and stammering”.
Add the regime’s draconian austerity
measures and even the welcome end to economic sanctions
will not be enough to give relief to the struggling
people of Iran.
Absurdly, those celebrating Rouhani’s
“charm” claim he is not to blame for the repression as
he has no power – the supreme leader Khamenei does.
Aside from the fact that Khamenei approved his
candidacy, if Rouhani has no power, why so much
jubilation? And if he does, then why not hold him
Of course any relief as a result of a
reduction of economic sanctions, which adversely hurt
the public, and a move away from threats of war is good
but it’s not good enough.
The people of Iran deserve more.
In the unforgettable
words of Bob Dylan:
...Yes, how many years can some
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times must a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?...
How many times must a man look up
Before he can really see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.