Nazanin Boniadi, a British-Iranian actress and spokesperson for Amnesty International, published a short piece on the Human Rights Now blog on president-elect Hassan Rouhani and how he can prove his commitment to human rights in Iran:

Himself a revolutionary who was arrested shortly after he fought against the Shah in 1962, Rouhani should have more empathy with those seeking social or political change. However, in stark contrast to his flowery campaign rhetoric, he ardently called for the execution of pro-democracy student protesters in 1999.

Even if Rouhani has had a change of heart since then, is real reform possible under the unequivocal authority of the Supreme Leader? Though he urges his supporters to be patient, it would be naive to cease all skepticism. After all, the Iranian people have been promised reform in the past. Khatami’s proposal to change Iran’s civil and penal codes to improve human rights was dismissed by the Gaurdian Council during his presidency.

If Rouhani is truly more than a symbolic figurehead in Iran’s Governance of the Jurist system, he should start his presidency by immediately freeing the hundreds of prisoners of conscience in his country, including Majid Tavakoli, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and the seven Baha’i leaders. He should also dismantle any and all unjust laws and ban practices that have lead to the wrongful imprisonment of so many Iranians.

As we contended recently, Rouhani’s mission to reform Iran will likely be obstructed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — if such a mission exists at all.