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8 reasons why the ‘election’ in Iran is a sham

* 8 reasons why the ‘presidential election’ in Iran is a sham!

Maryam Namazie

June 17, 2005

1. A government from the Middle Ages which still executes individuals for ‘enmity against god’ or ‘morality crimes’, ‘acts incompatible with chastity’, stones people to death for having sex and has executed over 100,000 people in two decades cannot at the same time profess ‘democracy in Iran is transparent and for everyone, compared with Western democracy that has overt and covert limitations,’ This has been said by Khamenei, whose title is the Supreme Spiritual Leader no less!

2. Any political party opposed to the government is banned and their members either killed, in exile or clandestinely active with great risk to themselves. Article 26 of the constitution states: ‘The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations …is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic republic.’ This goes to show how superficial labels of reformist, moderate, conservative and so on are in Iranian politics. All those running support and will maintain repression and theocracy.

3. In Iran, there is no freedom of association and organisation that is necessary for a fair election. Article 27 of the constitution states that ‘public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided … that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.’ This is pretty difficult when you consider the anti-Islamic backlash and strong anti-government sentiments amongst the majority of people.

4. In Iran, there is no freedom of the press and expression. Article 24 of the constitution clearly stipulates: ‘publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public.’ The regime keeps closing down press affiliated with itself so you can imagine what it does to independent and free-thinking press and expression.

4. A lot has been said about the fact that only eight out of 1,014 candidates were approved to run in today’s presidential election by the Guardian Council whose members are directly or indirectly selected by Khamenei. This doesn’t mean that many of those disqualified are any better. Some of them are stalwarts of the government, such as Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the hostage-takers in the Iran hostage crisis; Zabihollah Bakhshi, a militia leader; and Reza Zavare'i, a former member of the Guardian Council! The eight, though, are those selected this time round to go through the motions of a pretend election.

5. The list of eight that was selected, though, reads like a most wanted list! All are former or present government officials responsible for and linked to serious human rights violations during their various governmental positions. Rafsanjani, the forerunner, has even been found guilty of ordering the assassination of Iranian dissidents in a German court. Of course they are each guilty of much more. Here’s a short bio of them:

v Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Expediency Council, which is a supreme arbitration body settling disputes between the Majlis and the Guardian Council and deputy speaker of the Assembly of Experts; a former president of Iran during 1989 to 1997. In the Mykonos trial, he and several other leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran were found guilty by a criminal court in Berlin of ordering the assassination of 4 Iranian dissidents in Germany. In May 2005, Houshang Bouzari, a Toronto resident who was imprisoned and tortured in Iran filed a lawsuit there against Rafsanjani and six others.

v Mohsen Mehralizadeh, Vice-President in Khatami’s government. He is one of five former top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to run. He was a regional commander of this notorious and ideological army from 1979 to 1981 in particular responsible for the murder of thousands of opponents during the dark days of mass killings in the early 80s.

v Mostafa Moeen, former Minister of Science, Research and Technology; member of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council since 1983. Moin was a Majlis deputy from 1982 to 1984, and 1988 to 1989. He was formerly the Culture and Higher Education Minister from 1989 to 1993 and served as Higher Education Minister from 1997 to 2003. In the early 80s he is known to have purged dissidents at Shiraz University when chancellor. Suffice it to say a minister of ‘culture’ in the Islamic Republic has nothing to do with the promotion of art, and everything to do with censorship, purging of scientific and educational books, the imposition of Islamic culture including compulsory Hejab, etc.

v Mehdi Karroubi, Member of the State Expediency Council, former Majlis Speaker from 1989 to 1992 and 2000 to 2004. Secretary General and founding member of Militant Clerics Society one of the most reactionary organisations in Iran. He also headed the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee and the Martyrs Foundation, two state institutions which control much of the country’s assets.

v Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad, Mayor of Tehran. He has been a top commander of the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in particular responsible for murder of thousands of opponents during the dark days of mass killings in the early 80s. A recently revealed document has shown his involvement in planning an attempt on the life of author Salman Rushdie. He is a member of the central council of the Society of the Devotees of the Islamic Revolution.

v Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, former chief of the notorious paramilitary police force, the State Security Forces and top Revolutionary Guards commander. In July 1999 during the student protests he sent a letter to Khatami urging him to ‘use every available means’ to put down the protest movement.

v Ali Larijani, Supreme Leader's representative in National Security Council and a former director of the Iranian state TV and Radio from 1994-2004. He also served as the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance under Rafsanjani taking up the post from current president Khatami. He was one of the top commanders of the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

v Mohsen Rezai, Secretary of State Expediency Council; one of the founders and former Commander of Iran’s notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from 1981 to 1997. He is personally responsible for murdering many socialist and opponents of the Islamic Republic. He has recently withdrawn, saying he was heeding the ‘opinion of pre-eminent religious leaders to avoid splitting the votes.’

6. Some say that if all those who want are allowed to run, this could be considered a real election. It can’t – because only those ‘distinguished men possessing trustworthiness and piety; and a convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country’ can be elected according to Article 115 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution. This effectively excludes the vast majority of the population.

7. Of course that means women are automatically and categorically excluded from running in the election. Again, Article 20 of the constitution states: ‘…both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights’ but only in conformity with Islamic criteria.’ But again, if women were allowed to run, they would only implement the same misogyny inherent in the system.

8. The person who will be ‘elected’ today will have to swear that he ‘will guard the official religion of the country, the order of the Islamic Republic and the Constitution of the country’ and dedicate himself to the ‘the honour of the country, the propagation of religion and morality.’ The person selected in this farce is going to uphold the very barbarity that the people in Iran are gearing to overthrow.

ENDS

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