TEHRAN – The daughter of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Wednesday – the second anniversary of his death – that her father’s beliefs were still alive in the country despite the multiple setbacks he had to face throughout his political life.
Rafsanjani, who died in 2017 of a heart attack at the age of 82, served as the Islamic Republic’s president between 1989-97.
“The television does not broadcast anything about my father, but people are spreading his speeches and visions via social networks more than before,” his daughter, Fatima, told EFE in an interview conducted at the Rafsanjani museum, which was inaugurated a few months ago to memorialize the late statesman. “People are getting to know him now,” she added.
Fatima, 59, said her father’s political activities began to be limited in 2009, when he chose to openly support the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest the re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“He did it to provide support to people,” she explained, adding that despite becoming somewhat marginalized from the political scene as a result, it did not prevent him from being influential.
Rafsanjani registered as a candidate in the 2013 presidential elections but the 12-member Iranian Council of Guardians, which wields enormous power over political and legislative affairs, disqualified him.
He then decided to back the current president, Hassan Rouhani, who is widely perceived as belonging to the moderate faction of Iran’s peculiar political spectrum.
According to Fatima, this period was complicated for Rafsanjani because two of his sons were imprisoned, although it paled in comparison to when he himself was jailed before the Islamic Revolution due to his opposition to the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ruled Persia with an iron fist between 1941-79.
Rafsanjani later helped lead the 1979 revolution that deposed Pahlavi and established the current theocratic state.
“It was very hard when 10 or 20 agents from SAVAK (the Shah’s notorious secret police) stormed into the house, messed everything up and took my father away,” Fatima said, becoming visibly emotional when remembering the arrest.
“It was not until one or two months later that we had news of his whereabouts and could pay him a visit in jail,” she added.
Yasser, Rafsanjani’s youngest son, was six years old at the time.
He remembers visiting his father with conflicted feelings: on the one hand, he was filled with joy about seeing him; though at the same time, he felt angry at the closed room his father was locked in.
Yasser claimed that the reasons behind his father’s death remained ambiguous.
“We, as a family, are still not convinced that my father died of natural causes,” he told EFE.