Today it should be clear that such moderation is not taking hold. There is no longer any serious argument to be made for holding back the shocking truths about the Rouhani administration’s human rights record both before and after Rouhani took office in 2013.
There is no longer any reason to assume that Rouhani is substantively different from all the other figures who were active in the Iranian regime in its early days, and especially at the time of the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988, primarily the activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
As recently revealed information about that massacre demonstrates, all those officials who voiced opposition to it or other human rights abuses were ousted from the regime. Those who participated, and especially those who participated eagerly, were richly rewarded and generally remain leading members of the regime to this day.
These include members of the Rouhani administration such as Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who was in 1988 the Intelligence Ministry’s representative to the Tehran “death commission,” tasked with selecting political prisoners for execution.
The prevalence of such figures in today’s Iranian government is a clear indication that the expectation of moderation is and always was based on an illusion.
Challenges to the regime’s foreign aggression and domestic violence cannot be expected to come from anywhere within the regime itself. They can only come from brave Iranian activists and from the international community.
Giulio Terzi is a former foreign minister of Italy.