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Iran: Their Elections and Our Elections

Opinion article by Morteza Kazemian (source: Rooz Online)

A protester in Tehran - June 2009

The elections of the regime have started and are in progress. In fact it has been months since the show campaigns and activities for the fake elections have begin. The rulers of Iran began their games with a democratic institution - elections - even before the leader of the Islamic regime said that the forthcoming elections should not turn into a security issue. These included registering the candidates and then engaging in a fake game of approving or disapproving them; threats against political opponents and critics of the existing conditions in the country; illegalizing political reformist groups; summoning and threatening Green Movement activists and reformists, etc. Power mongers inside the regime have used every unlawful tool to mask the regime. Mir-Hossein Mousavi explained this well in 2010 when he said that it took him two months to realize that the infamous televised election debates that were held in 2009 were not for the purpose of driving him or Mr. Karoubi out of the elections process but to completely and permanently remove all opponents of the regime and to monopolize the political system. “I was only one of their targets and obstacles. The ruling gang had been planning to monopolize power for twenty years and it appeared that these elections were the final act. Power mongers acted to remove all critics and opponents from the national picture, something similar to North Korea but with a democratic mask,” he said.

In one of their most recent acts, Iran’s ruling circles shut down Roozgar newspaper because of its publication of an important interview with Mohammad-Reza Khatami. It is surprising that such important comments by a leading member of the reformist Participation Front were published in a domestic newspaper at this time. The closure of the newspaper was a foregone conclusion after the publication. Who has any doubts that such words and cries of protest are displeasing to the power mongers? Particularly as this happened just a few weeks after the reiterated warnings by the supreme leader. His call for a “healthy” election without disruption of the peace and security of the regime means nothing other than calling for a grave silence so that the engineered elections can proceed.

These are the conditions that the regime has announced for its elections as the hardliners will pursue to elect one among themselves. So these elections will be held the way ayatollah Khamenei wants: long lines of voters and the presence of enemy-busting regime loyalists! Foreign reporters will be “allowed” to witness “their elections” and appear at pre-determined voting booths. They will be expected and told to film the enthusiastic crowds who will have been waiting for the booths to open in the cold of winter. These voters and supporters will be bussed and “mobilized” in front of these reporters from Varamin and Hashtgerd and other large cities. These are the very mercenaries who were the supporters of the regime and who have on many occasions come with their clubs and batons. The election theater of Mr. Khamenei must of course take place without any trouble-makers and those seeking to disrupt the “security” of the regime.

But the results of even this election cannot be foretold. The battles, threats, intimidations, blackmails, etc over the Majlis seats are already in progress. A gang by the name of “Ahmadinejad-Mashai” is currently the troublemaker of the core of the Islamic regime. Under these conditions, reformers and those who want change can only be silent observers as their leaders remain under house arrest while their loyal friends are behind bars.

But these are not the type of elections we want and call for. We desire fair, open and competitive elections with international standards. Democracy has special conditions. But describing it within the rule of dictators turns into a joke. If the massive crowds that in 2010 marched the streets and chanted “Where is my Vote” do not come out and demand their own elections in the coming weeks, they shall be handing over everything to the power mongers. Despite all the efforts of regime to silence and isolate the voices of opposition and the critics, the elections are an opportunity for the reformers and dissidents to demand fair and open elections. Through creativity, every place and spot in this country can turn into a center for such demands. Those who demand this shall be doing it not just on behalf of others, but also for those who gave their life to this cause, such as Neda Agha Soltan, Haleh Sahabi, Sohrab Arabi and Hadi Saber. And also those who are in prisons and cannot make their voices heard.

Our elections cannot take place until the results of the 2009 elections have been clarified by a fair and legitimate forum; the leaders of the Green movement and the loyal partisans of the movement remain in prison; national events continue to be dictated by the leader of the Islamic regime and the secretary of the Guardians Council, the Revolutionary Guards, Intelligence apparatus and Kayhan newspaper; and so long as the media and political groups are barred from freely voicing their concerns.

Our elections have their own standards. The demand for these conditions is tied to the will and demands of every Iranian citizen. Until elections are held with international and accepted standards of fairness, freedom and openness, any such exercise shall remain “theirs” and not “ours.” The elections they are holding are shows and theater which are masked with democratic facades.

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