Former MP and reformist human rights activist Faezeh Hashemi says the one reason there has not been a regime change in Iran is that the people do not know what will happen to them and who will take over power after the Islamic Republic.
Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in an interview with daily newspaper Mostaghel (Independent) in Tehran on Thursday, January 27 that the Islamic Republic has become devoid of content although no physical decline of the regime has happened yet.
She added that "the physical decline of the regime also could happen," adding that "although the Islamic Republic is deep rooted, its owes its strength mainly to intimidation and terror."
However, she explained that the Islamic Republic "no longer confronts dissent violently as it did in 2009" when the Islamic Revolution Guards attacked peaceful demonstrators killing, wounding and arresting many of them. She reminded that instead, activists are framed, put on trial, and the courts give them harsh sentences such as depriving them from work and education for years.
The outspoken politician who was jailed for six months following the disputed election in 2009 was Iran's most popular MP in mid 1990s in terms of the number of votes she won and the support she received from activists, particularly women.
The imprisonment made her more popular among new groups of activists including members of religious minorities she met in prison. She also has another six month prison term to serve because of her statements two years ago about mishandling of funds by Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
"Every group of people have some of their members in jail… Many workers, teachers, truckers, women's right activists, environmentalists, university students, economic activists and others are either in jail or have a verdict that would land them in jail at one point," Faezeh Hashemi told the newspaper.
Ms. Hashemi has always been a reformist, with a more liberal touch, supporting women's rights, a more relaxed dress-code and lately advocating religious and ethnic minority rights. But it appears from this interview that she is less optimistic about the chances of change through reforms.
She also criticized the Rouhani administration for its inefficiency, saying,: "Although the probability of the Islamic Republic's decline is low, yet, inefficiency is everywhere. Mismanagement and lack of prudence is evident everywhere. Everything has been abandoned and no one is doing anything to solve the country's problems. And if they do anything, the situation gets only worse," adding, "There is no sign of improvement in any area."
Elsewhere in the interview Faezeh Hashemi expressed disappointment on elections in Iran. "Shall we go and vote once again? Shall we work harder to bring about reforms," she asked, answering that "Reformists' positions and performance have not been brilliant. What is an election good for when you elect someone and what happens in practice is not consistent with your choice? Have we got any tangible result from our votes in elections since 2013?" This was the year when Rouhani was first elected President of the Republic with the support Faezeh's father.
She maintained, "President Rouhani's government took power thanks to reformists' support. But his second government's performance is far from reformist criteria and the demands of those who voted for him."
"Rouhani may say he has never been a reformist. And he is right. He is a conservative, yet he has committed himself to reformists ideals," as they voted for him, Faezeh Hashemi continued.
Faezeh Hashemi named "the religious-nationalist" groups as Iran's only true reformists. "They stood firm on their principles although this cost them their place in power," she said, implicitly also excluding her own party the Executives of Construction from the reform movement.
The Executives of Construction are represented in Rouhani's cabinet by Vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri, but keep criticizing Rouhani for his "inaction, indecision and inefficiency," as it became evident in a recent interview by the party's leader Gholamhossein Karbaschi.