On June 14, many Iranians voted in the election to choose the successor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad. Voters were given eight choices, and two of those candidates eventually withdrew leaving voters with 6 candidates on their ballot. I say “voters were given… choices” because the candidates in Iranian Presidential elections are chosen by the Guardian Council, a group selected by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Associated Press reports that more than 680 people sought a spot on the ballot, and those approved are mostly pro-establishment figures. Reporters Without Borders wrote an open letter to the original eight candidates and prefaced the letter by stating, there is “little hope that the 14 June election will be conducted in a clear and transparent manner…
The Iranian regime openly flouts freedom of information, a fundamental freedom that is essential for free and fair elections. During President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two terms, respect for human rights conditions has declined dramatically in the Islamic Republic.
Over the past eight years, more than 200 newspapers have been shut down and more than 300 journalists and netizens have been arbitrarily arrested, tortured and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.”
Reporters Without Borders challenged the candidates to “pledge openly and unconditionally to respect freedom of information” and asked the candidates to commit themselves to the following four actions:
- Demand the unconditional release of the 52 journalists and netizens who are today imprisoned in Iran.
- Begin a fundamental reform of media law, aimed in particular at decriminalizing press law violations and guaranteeing freedom of information without discrimination based on language, religion or political opinion.
- Ensure that Iranian citizens have free, uncensored and unmonitored Internet access.
- End arbitrary actions and impunity. The murders of dissident journalists must not go unpunished.
Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders Christophe Deloire wrote, “As long as these demands go unmet, Iranians will not be able to think of themselves as a free people.” I tend to agree with Deloire, however I will add that as long as people are being forced to comply with any arbitrary power, they can not think of themselves as free!
Regarding the actual election, many Iranians were considering a boycott of the election. Some who called for the boycott said that anyone voting was betraying Neda Agha-Soltan and others killed during protests over the 2009 Presidential election. The Ayatollah Khamenei said, even if “they don’t want to support the Islamic ruling establishment… Everyone must turn out.”
It seems the words spoken by the Ayatollah Khamenei may come back to bite him. An unnamed journalist in Tehran reported to The Guardian, “Even those who were undecided or completely set against voting are saying they want to cast a ballot to make sure that anyone like Jalili doesn’t win.” Saeed Jalili is regarded as the preferred choice of the regime’s ultra-conservative leadership. The preferred choice of reformers appears to be Hasan Rowhani, former chief nuclear negotiator. Rowhani was also secretary of Iran’s supreme national security council for 16 years. Despite the claims that “Rowhani won’t be allowed to win…” it appears that the supposed moderate was elected with nearly 51% of the vote. Regardless, the people of Iran will not be any freer, and the government of the United States of America will continue to push for an unjust war against the people of Iran based on lies.