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Iran's Rohani Reminded Of Unfulfilled Campaign Promises

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has been in office just three months, but he is already being reminded of his campaign promises. High on the list is his pledge to release opposition prisoners, which has largely gone unfulfilled.

A woman in supporting Hassan Rohani during his election campaign in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran

In recent days, two prominent critics of the Iranian establishment have told Rohani that many voted for him after he vowed to work to end the house arrest of Mir Hossein Musavi and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi. Those two opposition figures, along with Musavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, have been under house arrest since February 2011.

This week the issue came to the fore when Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib criticized Rohani's silence after Musavi's daughters were allegedly physically assaulted by security guards. One of Musavi's daughters wrote on Facebook on October 24 that after a visit to her parents she and her sister were beaten by a female guard. The alleged incident has caused outrage among opposition supporters.

"People who voted for you came to the ballot boxes with the slogan 'Oh Hossein, Mir Hossein' -- meaning that we vote for you because of [Musavi]. But unfortunately you don't say anything," Dastgheib was quoted as saying by Iranian opposition websites.

The opinion of Dastgheib, a member of the Assembly of Experts who is well respected in the opposition, carries significant weight. That body is tasked with monitoring the work of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, and Dastgheib has in the past challenged the Iranian leader and criticized human rights violations in the Islamic republic.

In comments published on October 28, Dastgheib was quoted as saying that he and others voted for Rohani "conditionally."

"Our first condition was for you to try to release all political prisoners, particularly to end the house arrest of Musavi and Karrubi," said the outspoken ayatollah. "Those who were against this idea voted for others."

Abdollah Nuri, a former interior minister and a widely respected reformist figure, has also reminded Rohani that many voted for him hoping for a political thaw.

Nuri made the comments last week during a meeting with Karrubi's family. A transcript of his comments was e-mailed to RFE/RL and published by opposition media on October 28.

Nuri told Rohani "not to forget" that his supporters voted for him because they are fed up with "lawlessness," "the violation of civil rights," and "narrow-mindedness" in the Islamic republic.

"I believe a change in the country's security atmosphere, a revival of the civil rights of each citizen, is the demand of the majority of people from [Rohani's] government of prudence and hope," said the cleric, who was jailed in Iran several years ago.

Nuri also said that Rohani should not neglect political and human rights in Iran while focusing his attention on the economic and international problems his country faces.

In a move that was welcomed by human-rights groups, about a dozen political prisoners were released in Iran in September. The development came just ahead of Rohani's visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Copyright (c) 2013 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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