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A Perspective: Iran Global Day of Action rally in Brisbane, Australia

Text of speech by Salar Alehossein at Global Day Of Action rally ( on July 25 2009 in
Brisbane, Australia

On 7 June 2009, the TehranBeurau published an open letter by dissenting employees of the "interior ministry" - the department in charge of supervising the election.  The dissenters revealed that days before the election, President Ahmadinejad's mentor, the powerful cleric Mesbah Yazdi, held a confidential meeting with interior ministry officials, and directed them to rig the votes. The dissenting employees also informed that the Interior Ministry had printed over 58 million voting forms - that is more than 12 million forms than is required for the 46 million eligible voters in Iran.

In another ominous pre election sign, a few days before the poll, the political chief of the Iranian revolutionary guards, Yadollah Javani announced "if Mousavi claims that he has actually won, and he protests the vote, we will crush him". Javani also accused the reformists of planning to claim vote rigging and provoke street violence if Mousavi loses.

After the polls closed, within mere hours, Iranian state owned television announced Ahmadinejad had won by a 66% to 33% margin. Later, the final official results gave an 85% turnout - with 63% to 34% in favour of Ahmadinejad. To put things in perspective, in the last election in 2005, Ahmadinejad barely won after a 60% turnout. This means the extra 25% of voters that turned out to vote this time all voted 100% Ahmadinejad. This is ridiculous. These people that abstained in the prior election are highly likely to represent those disillusioned liberal youth unhappy with the lack of reforms under former reformist president Khatami. For 100% of them to come out vote Ahmadinejad now insults reason.

What is also quite interesting is that from the official results, Ahmadinejad had a victory of 11.2 million votes - roughly the amount of extra voting forms alleged to have been printed by the Interior ministry.

The official reports gave Ahmadinejad 57% of the vote in the city of Tabriz despite the fact that this was the capital of Mousavi's home province, Eastern Azerbaijan, where Mousavi's rallies were well attended and which has traditionally given good turnouts for even "minor presidential candidates" who came from the province. Ahmadinejad also won Tehran by over 50%, even though his popularity in larger cities is considered to be low. Meanwhile Mehdi Karroubi, who received 17 percent in the first round of the 2005 presidential elections, got less than one percent of the vote this time, and lost even his own province of birth, despite the tendency for Iranian voting to follow ethnic lines.

After the election, all of the candidates (except for the incumbent of course) issued complaints about rigging to the Supreme Leader. Among the complaints were that none of their staff were able to supervise the counting anywhere - it was all done by the Interior Ministry, which was loyal to Ahmadinejad. They also complained that in many cities, more votes were cast than the amount of eligible voters.

The Supreme Leader (whom during the campaign never made secret his support for Ahmadinejad) immediately dismissed allegations of rigging and declared Ahmadinejad's victory as a "divine assessment" - a position that was almost impossible for him to backtrack on. A few days later, under the guise of compromise - probably in an attempt to buy some time - he allowed a limited investigation to be made. This was to be done by the Guardian Council - a body under his control. The guardian council's own results found that in 50 towns, more votes had been cast than eligible voters. But of course to them this was negligible and did not affect the result.

It must be stressed that these are only some of the indicators, there is plenty more out there. I urge any of you that might be doubtful to look into it yourselves. I am confident you will be of the same opinion, I mean to say that this was a botched rigging job is an understatement. At the end of the day, Ahmadinejad might as well have won by 97% to 3% - and we could drop all pretences and call it North Korea or Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

If Ahmadinejad was actually the victor, would the regime still feel it necessary to almost immediately send out the riot police and paramilitary, kick out all foreign media, ban all protests and their filming, cut mobile phone services, block internet sites (such as Youtube and Facebook), and direct all ISP's to drastically slow Iran's internet bandwidth?

It is a wonder that with such dangers and restrictions, footage has still been able to get out to us. The resourceful Iranians, unrelenting in their defiance, have managed to provide us sombre images of the brutality employed by the regime in their crackdown. We have all seen the heart breaking video of Neda, the young girl shot by the paramilitary, dying eyes open in front of her father. It is our hope that she does not die in vain.

The regime employed these tactics because they knew they did not have justice, or the masses on their side. They have the guns, we have the people! They resorted to using outrageous propaganda alleging that this reformist movement (and its leaders) were funded and backed by the United States and Britain, and were operating as their tools. State television broadcast a charade of protesters released from prison 'confessing' to being agents of Britain and the USA. Confessing? Was it under duress I wonder?

It is important I take a moment to examine this outrageous charge. It is important because a very small minority (but big enough to matter) on the left here and around the western world have fallen for it and are of the view that this civil rights "reformist" movement in Iran is insidiously funded and backed by the USA - like the "Orange Revolution" of the Ukraine for example.

These people perceive Ahmadinejad as a champion of the poor, against US imperialism, and therefore surely fighting the good fight. They point to evidence of the long and dark history of US interference in Iran, especially the US instigated coup in 1953 which ousted the Iran's first democratically elected leader (for the intolerable crime of nationalizing Iran's oil I might add).

They are misconceived. Sure his "anti imperialism" rhetoric, coupled with alliances forged with leftist South American governments such as that of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, allows him to play the role of USA antagonist, but that does not mean he champions leftist (or liberal) causes at home. Ahmadinejad belongs to the right wing pro-military, anti civil rights, neo-conservative wing of Iranian politics - the George W Bush of Iran.

Further, reformist leader Mir Houssein Mousavi, and Hashemi Rafsanjani (the powerful cleric backing him), were some of the main architects of the Islamic revolution in 1979. Rafsanjani has spoken in rallies during which the crowd have chanted "marg bar America" or "death to America". Mir Houssein Mousavi was prime minister during the Iran Iraq war in the 1980's - a war in which the USA was supporting Saddam in his invasion of Iran. He is part of the Islamic system. He had to be to become a candidate. This is because under the Iranian system, all candidates that are deemed unfaithful to the Islamic system are vetted out by the "Guardian Council" - the body under the control of the Supreme Leader. During this election, out of 450 or so candidates, all were vetted except for just 4.

So it must be categorically denied that this reformist movement is US engineered as a means of overthrowing the Islamic regime. The United States does indeed have a dark (some would say criminal) history in the Middle East, and especially Iran, but it certainly would not nominate these reformist leaders as their ideal puppets.

Some of you must surely now be asking yourselves - Why should we lend support to leaders that played a role in the forming of this Islamic theocracy?

You needn't have to. Whilst it must be said that Mousavi has evolved to become a lot more liberal in the last 30 years, this may not be enough for some of us, especially since he has been quite clear in advocating for reforming the Islamic system, as opposed to dismantling it. Despite this, the masses in Iran, fed up with 30 years of a system that used Islam as an excuse for union labor strikebreaking, lack of women's rights and repression, did support, and vote for him.

I believe that it is these masses that are pushing him, since he was the only real option for change after the vetting process. In my opinion, he has now become the champion of their cause somewhat by default.

But regardless of our opinion of the 'reformist' leadership, we must all be supporting the people of Iran. This is the people's movement. It is their massive, their spontaneous movement for civil rights.

I wish now to leave you with some serious words from the otherwise hilarious comedian Maz Jobrani.

"We stand here together in solidarity and in the name of human rights for all people. Regardless of your religious and political beliefs, every one of us shares a desire for justice and fairness to all. To our Iranian sisters and brothers, you are not alone. We will not forget or stop caring. We've heard your voices, and we are with you."

Salar Alehossein

Legal Practitioner, Supreme Court of Queensland

... Payvand News - 07/27/09 ... --

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