A Bloody Anniversary for Iran's Hassan Rouhani

Remembering the thousands of students killed and maimed by the Islamic Republic's new "reformist" president.

Hassan-RouhaniI was sitting alone in solidarity confinement, in cell number 607 in the fearsome Towhid prison after an all-day torture session, when I first heard the name Hassan Rouhani. It was just after the 5th day of the now famous July 1999 student uprising against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khatami was the president of the regime and head of Iran's "National Security Council." His right-hand man, Hassan Rouhani, was the voice ordering the regime’s militias to suppress the demonstrations by any means necessary.

I got off easy. While many students were being shot to death in their dormitories or thrown out of their windows, I was thrown into solitary confinement. IRI President Khatami had personally signed my arrest warrant in addition to warrants for ten other leaders of the uprising.

Don’t be fooled by Hassan Rouhani’s guise and his words of temperance, which mask a history of unabashed fanatical Islamic radicalism.

If anyone ever underestimated the Islamic Republics’s wit, now is certainly the time to open one's eyes.  Don’t let the absurdity of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s past comments fool you – the regime has a thorough and insightful perspective of world politics. In this latest “show election,” the Mullahs proved just how worthy they are of the Oscars for "best director" and another one for "best actor in a drama."

After the shocking events of 2009, the Islamic Republic learned many valuable lessons, the most central of which was the importance of branding.  This time around, the regime was desperate to not only brand the “elections” as legitimate, but to develop the rhetoric to brand Hassan Rouhani, their ideal candidate, as someone the West would inadvertently, or perhaps consciously, campaign for.

In a matter of weeks after the announcement of Rouhani’s bid for candidacy, he was suddenly pegged as a "moderate" and "reformer." Never mind his track record of allegiance to Khamenei and the regime, which includes his stint as lead nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005, or the fact that he was the first to label the founding father of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, as Imam.  In the blink of an eye, his history of deceiving the international community, supporting international terror and oppressing Iran’s citizens, disappeared from the headlines and common discourse.  Oddly, today Rouhani makes news around the world for his sharp criticism of the regime’s international diplomacy, the leadership’s handling of sanctions, the economy and, most shockingly, the nuclear program.

The question is: Why is it that the regime wanted Rouhani to be president so badly that they pushed ahead with his comprehensive re-branding agenda?

It is one thing to fool the world into supporting your prime choice for presidency, but in a society where Khamenei’s decree alone becomes reality, why go through the trouble?

Hassan Rouhani’s re-branding as the “nice-guy” or the rational, calm-headed figure among the rest is what the regime is betting on for its new wave of nuclear negotiations and diplomacy.  Don’t forget, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran is little more than a puppet, a face.  Pair Rouhani with Saeed Jalili, the current nuclear negotiator on the receiving end of much international disdain, and you have your key to success – the good cop, bad cop routine: an impermeable, impenetrable team capable of protecting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  The regime knows that international opinion of Jalili is not favorable, but the international love-affair with “reform-minded” Rouhani has only just begun.  Strategic isn’t it?  Two emissaries loyal to the same messianic leader, with the same goal; their only difference is how the world perceives them. The Islamic Regime couldn’t have dealt its cards better, and you know you just got played.

Please read the following excerpts of a 1999 Rouhani speech, to find out what kind of a person he really is:

Excerpts from Hassan Rouhani’s Speech, July 14th 1999:

Note: This speech was delivered to a government-organized demonstration a few days after the now famous student uprising of 1999 in order to defend the regime and the “Supreme Leader,” who had been openly challenged by the people. As we are witnessing today all over the world, in the “newspeak” of the dictators, whenever they use words with positive connotations such as “the people” they mean their own storm troopers or, in the case of the Iranian Mullahs, the “Hezbollah” and “Baseej” thugs, while dissident students, youth and people are called “thugs,” “foreign elements,” etc .

The reader should research the 1999 uprising, in which up to a 100 were killed and 5,000 injured over several days of democratic and unarmed demonstrations in numerous cities.

This uprising began with a simple student rally at Tehran University demanding the reopening of a banned news paper. Pro-government Hezbollah storm troopers and intelligence agents attacked the dormitories the following night, beating students and destroying their property in retaliation. When faced with resistance, they killed some students, including by throwing them out of windows from higher floors, while chanting religious prayers as if they were sacrificing people for holy purposes. This incident sparked large demonstrations at the University, overflowing into the streets and turning into a huge mass uprising, unprecedented since the 1979 revolution.

[Translator’s notes are in brackets.]

One bitter incident caused by these corrupt elements was breaking the taboos … in particular the most fundamental basis of the revolution, i.e. the holy sanctity of the Guardianship [the Supreme Leader Khamenei] … The Guardianship in our country is the symbol of the Islamism of our system and the independence of the country … That important element, which established an unbreakable tie between the beloved and gracious Iranian nation and over a billion Muslims worldwide, is the Islamism of the revolution…That element which is uniting our nation today and that has established an unbreakable tie among our nation is Islam, and the symbol of this Islamism, is the Leader and the Guardianship. ["Allahu Akbar" shouted by the participants.] ... The issue of the Guardianship is the symbol of our society’s national unity; the issue of the Guardianship is the symbol of our national sovereignty. Insulting the Guardianship is insulting the nation, it is insulting Iran, it is insulting Islam. It is insulting Muslims. It is insulting all those free people whose hearts are beating for Iran, as the Mother Country [center] of Islam…

… The continuation of this situation is unbearable for our regime, our country and our people. Yesterday, stern orders were given to these elements. Yesterday at sunset, strict orders were issued that any action from these opportunist elements, wherever they may be, should be dealt with severely and resolutely, in order to suppress them. ["Allahu Akbar" shouted by the participants.] From today on, our people shall witness what our disciplinary force [police], the heroic and ever present Baseej force [Islamic Militia, i.e. IRGC surrogates] shall do to these opportunistic and riotous elements ... ["Allahu Akbar" shouted by the participants.] The beloved and gracious people of Iran are alive and on the scene … and shall respond brutally [tooth breaking] to them. Our powerful security forces, including the disciplinary forces [police], the Baseej [IRGC surrogate militia] and the rest of the forces, as well as the vigilant personnel of the Intelligence Ministry, shall be on the scene in force.

Fortunately, most of these elements have been arrested between yesterday and last night.  All of these individuals shall be interrogated…

Our foreign enemies have experiences with countries where their regimes are dependent on foreign powers and do not have roots within people's hearts… They want to apply their experience to our magnificent and beloved Islamic revolution … The enemy should reconsider.  After 20 years of our people’s resistance, the enemy has no other alternative but to surrender to our revolution... The enemy should know that it has but one way in front of it, which is confessing, admitting and humiliation in front of the Islamic revolution …

Fortunately, all the mainstays of the regime and the authorities within all [government] forces, unanimously agree on a resolute and revolutionary confrontation with these opportunistic elements … ["Allahu Akbar" shouted by the participants.]

The people should stay on the scene with vigilance and zeal … and help the Intelligence Ministry with the information acquired. In terms of action, they should support the official forces and the security officials, meaning they should be the helpers of the disciplinary forces [police], the Baseej [IRGC surrogate militia] and other security forces on the scene[.]

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