History appears to be repeating itself in the Islamic Republic. Whenever Iranians believe that there will be more socio-political, individual and socio-economic freedoms due to the rule of a moderate or reformist president, the domestic crackdown and human rights violations mount.
Three institutions play a crucial role in setting the boundaries of social justice, freedom of speech, press, assembly, the use of social media, and privacy rights. The first is the judiciary, the second is the intelligence, and the third is the security forces. To enforce the law, these three branches of the government also utilize voluntary and paid paramilitaries and militias, such as the Basij.
It is crucial to point out that these apparatuses operate quasi-independently or totally independently from the office of the president. The president is mostly a political figurehead, wielding some power domestically - such as partially managing the economy - and more fundamentally setting the tone for Iran’s foreign policy for international and regional meetings and conferences.
While Rowhani appears to be changing Iran’s relationships with the West, the domestic crackdown on internet users and the media continuesMajid Rafizadeh