On the contrary, the level of repression inside the country has grown since the “moderate” Rouhani was elected in 2013. The number of death sentences has risen. In 2014, Iran carried out the largest number of executions anywhere in the world except for China. Last year, the number may have exceeded 1,000. Partly this is because Iran’s chief justice has boasted of the eradication (i.e., mass killing) of drug offenders, many of whom are juveniles or convicted on dubious evidence.
Political pressure and religious discrimination have increased, too. Women who don’t wear veils are still vulnerable to arrest and sentencing. The penalties for apostasy, adultery and homosexuality are still high, up to and including capital punishment. Cultural dissidents are under pressure, too, even more so since the sanctions-lifting deal was announced. On Jan. 7, the poet Hila Sedighi was arrested after landing at Tehran airport and detained for 48 hours, presumably as a warning. In October, a Kurdish filmmaker received six years and 223 lashes for “insulting the sacred.” When five Americans were released from Iranian prisons this month, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran noted that many other political prisoners, including some foreigners, remain in Iranian prisons.