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Iranian Elections - A Rebel Student's Perspective

Mohammad Yazdi, a most staunch hard-liner said in the Friday prayer at Tehran University that the Iranian people will not allow anyone to meddle in their own affairs or decide for them!... Precisely, for that reason, on Friday, Iranians went to the polls to say " No " to the clerics who have meddled for twenty one years in their affairs.

On Friday Feb. 18, Iranians, men and women went to the polls again to vote for reform. In Tehran alone, more than 4 million people many young and even elderly on wheel chairs turned out for what would be the largest mass vote in Iran's history. The choices were not great, as the clerical elite and the Guardian Council had rejected many of the people's candidates who were not committed enough to the principles of Velayat e Faghih (Governance of Jurisprudent).

Yet, as in the May 1997 Presidential election, the people voted wholeheartedly not for the best choice but a better choice as they saw a glimmer of hope in the smiling clergy, Hojatoleslam Khatami and his allies. But so far, Mr.Khatami has proven to be a powerless President whose the first two years of ruling has witnessed the most tremulous period in the dark history of the Islamic Republic.

The serial murders of 1998 without any hope of trials or opening of the Investigation files, arrest and torture of hundreds of students in the aftermath of July 1999 student uprisings, banning of numerous independent newspapers and arrest of their editors, crushing of social protests in many cities and finally the arrest and labeling of religious minorities as spies has been the major events of Khatami's era.

The people, the young especially, who comprise more than 60 percent of the population are making their point. They have voiced their anger and total dissatisfaction of the rule of theocracy and their hope for a free and open society. "The young people complain that 21 years of Islamic rule by Khomeini's followers and successors have failed to bear the promised fruit: jobs and prosperity....The young people have needs, but they get nothing. It means they are angry with everybody."

Although, most candidates were hand picked by the hard-liners, and those with the slightest views of freedom were rejected, Iranians once again, as in the 1997 Presidential elections participated en masse, with the hope of making a change. "Turn out was the heaviest of any parliamentary elections, comparable only in the number and in people's enthusiasm with that of the last presidential race. People have realized that each vote counts for their participation in shaping their destiny as a voter said.".

The road to democracy has slowly but surely begun and the young generation are its vanguard. The students whose voices for freedom were brutally met with the bullets of the Islamic vigilantes, have begun this struggle. Analysts say any change will have to flow from the youth and the students are expecting changes to take place this time…

Mr. Khatami, in a speech on Friday, said it is the young generation that must vote since they are the true defenders of freedom. Mr. Khatami has not proven himself to be worthy of the vote of the young people two years ago while expressing only excuses and promises. As said in a newspaper editorial, "this is really a test of Khatami of the kind of system he wants."

". At pre-election rallies this week, students have been saying that this election is Mr. Khatami's last chance. If a reformist parliament is voted in, they will expect him to introduce fundamental change. If not, they will take matters into their own hands. The young and impatient are growing increasingly intolerant not only of clerical rule, but of clerical prudence too..."

Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Khatami representing the two poles within the regime are fully aware that in a near future, it is the people who will make the final decision as for the future of a democratic Iran. Thus, those elected to the parliament today, are only tools necessary in the road to obtaining the desired democratic ideals.

The rule of theocratic authoritarianism is nearing an end. In the final analysis, the people shall set a new agenda for the true representation of the rule of the people by the people and for the people.

"As like as the riots of 1996 and 1997 and the July's uprising in 1999, the violent riots of Soush and and Shadegan on February 19, 2000 resulting in 8 deaths against incumbent MP's elected to the Majlis are the best proves of these claims; And that the Iranians will push toward the front the ruling administration as soon as they forget where they need to go..."as reported by the London Economist of 2/15 titled: " The people against the mullahs "

Iranians will achieve freedom, from every walk of life from every part of this vast country where for twenty-one years, every voice of dissent, every small cry for human rights has been brutally silenced by the inquisitionists of our century. Freedom has a great price and in these elections as in the past years, Iranians have shown the world that they will pay the price at any cost to be members of the world community, which upholds the banner of democracy.

This has been a test for all, a test everyone must pass, as Iranians will attempt to become a free and secular nation in the 21st century. "We must understand the spirit of our times. The people of Iran showed on 23rd of May 1997 and February 18, 2000 that when they have the opportunity, they will move forward to show the spirit of our times." Asr-e-Azadegan, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 19, year 2000.

Until now, the Khatami government has claimed of having its hands tied by the hard-liners as they were holding the majority in the parliament. However, with the results of the Feb elections, Iranians are giving Mr. Khatami another chance, to raise their voice and implement their wishes.

The people have invested with all their might. This time, it is the government’s turn to reciprocate.

Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran

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