A political activist jailed in Iran has reportedly ended his 71-day hunger strike after the Judiciary agreed to release her temporarily. It is unknown whether the authorities would send her back to jail after a few days, extend her release, or rescind her conviction and free her permanently.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, the wife of human rights activist Arash Sadeghi, was incarcerated last year after security forces raided the couple’s house and discovered her unpublished fictional story about a character burning the Koran. She was tried and convicted at a revolutionary court in Tehran without any legal representation. Sadeghi himself is serving a 15-year jail term on charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

Comment:

The uncharacteristic compromise by Iran’s repressive Judiciary demonstrates that the clerical regime in Tehran fears growing public anger and is susceptible to domestic and outside pressure. Ebrahimi-Iraee’s release came a day after hundreds of Iranians staged a bold, unauthorized demonstration in front of the Evin Prison, Iran’s most notorious prison where the couple are jailed. Videos of the protest rally circulated widely on Twitter both inside and outside Iran.

The Iranian people hoped that the election of President Hassan Rouhani would help lessen state repression and human rights abuses in the country. But they are now increasingly disappointed with the president’s “passivity” and “silence.” While Rouhani unveiled a so-called “Citizens’ Rights Charter” last month to promote civil liberties in the Islamic Republic, his overdue and symbolic gesture is clearly more an attempt to boost his reelection bid next May than a genuine effort to improve the country’s dreadful human rights record.