As Iran’s 2009 presidential election authorities surprisingly announced on Saturday June 13th that hard-line incumbent Mahmood Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote, Iranian people were immediately casting doubt on he authenticity of the results. At the same time, the “reformist” candidates of the regime, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Sheikh Mehdi Kahroubi, sparked accusations of fraud and branded the election a total farce.
It was originally quoted from some staff of Interior Ministry that a second round would have been needed to determine the victor between Mousavi and Kahrubi, who according to them received respectively first and second place, while Ahmadinejad would have already been out of the race.
Nationwide from Monday on, millions of disappointed people have taken part in the post-election demonstrations, carrying banners which said “Where’s my vote?” They protest against the “coup” plotted by the hardliners, supported by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader. Nationwide clashes erupted as riot police and the regime’s militia attacked demonstrators and universities in Iran. Several demonstrators have been reported killed and many activists arrested. Riot police continue to clamp down on a growing demonstration by supporters of the “reformist” candidates. Despite the regime’s repression, fresh waves of protests are reported nationwide and are thought to continue.
Prior to the 2009 Iranian presidential election, a voting campaign was widely organised by the IRI and propagated by pro-IRI media both in and outside the country to bring as many people as possible to the urns to vote for one of the Mullahs’ candidates. A massive participation was announced by the regime as a proof positive that the IRI is “legitimate”. As Khamenei has constantly said, each vote is above all a “yes to the Islamic regime”. In the West, with the help of IRI’s lobby groups, exported journalists, resident Islamists, state mafia close to different candidates, this demagogical campaign was to portray a legitimate and reformable image of the IRI.
A part of Iranian secular opposition, hoping that their vote to a “reformist” candidate would be considered as a “no” to Khamenei and his favoured candidate, President Ahmadinejad, fell into the regime’s trap and voted for Mousavi or Kahroubi as the lesser evils in a naive attempt to run President Ahmadinejad out of office.
In actuality, since the inception of the IRI, there have never been fair elections in Iran. First, all candidates are pre-selected by the Guardians, Council, a watchdog institution that has the power to reject any candidates. Second, all elections have been rigged and fraudulent, so much so that among the pre-selected candidates by the Guardians’ Council, the regime capriciously picks one out of the urns.
To look into the background of these four presidential candidates, we see their direct involvement in the crimes, repressive institutions, and the key government positions in the last thirty years of Mullahs’ regime.
Apart from President Ahmadinejad, who is notorious for his thuggish behaviour and his black background in the repressive institutions of the regime, the other candidates have not a better past.
Mohsen Rezaie was head of the Revolutionary Guards for over 10 years, Mehdi Kahroubi was a former parliamentary speaker, Mir Hossein Mousavi was PM for 8 years during Khomeini’s leadership. During this time, thousands of dissidents were summarily executed. As a Hezbollah and a disciple of Khomeini and a PM of Ali Khameini, Mousavi’s hands were washed in the blood of many Iranians. The 1988 massacre of political prisoners which was ordered by Khomeini was helped by his Ministry of Information. During the Iran-Iraq War, his regime sent thousands of Iranian children onto the mine-field in the war zone.
After the 1979 revolution, new waves of people’s struggles against the ruling dictatorship have already started in Iran. They will gradually take form during the process of struggle; they are in their nature different from the issues of “reformist” opposition. Most people, even those who voted for the lesser evils, are not really concerned about power struggles within the Islamic regime. They want an end of the whole Islamic regime.
Most Iranians especially the youth want a separation of religion from state; they wish a secular and democratic state. Hence, if they intensify their today’s struggles, they will gradually separate their ranks of struggles from the power struggle-related rallies of “reformist” opposition. Of course these rallies may not last a long time and will extinguish as soon as an inner compromise has been achieved, but the longer these take, the more polarised and organised the real opposition to the whole regime will be, to the point that they not only cry “death to the dictator”– hinting the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, — but also will directly target the whole regime by shouting across the whole country “death to the IRI”. The polarisation of our society does not forcibly mean a class issue; it assumes above all a freedom from the plague of the IRI and consequently a transfer of the power to people’s representatives.
Of course many of those working for the IRI– those who do not have blood on their hands–are welcome to join the ranks of people, but this is only possible if people’s struggles turn into a solid and continuous freedom movement. We can not expect a Mullahs’ pre-selected president– Mousavi or Ahmadinejad alike– to join the camp of people because a freedom movement targets the whole Islamic regime by rejecting any form of political Islam.
Of course, in terms of their loyalty to the Supreme Leader and Islam as an ideology of state, there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, but let us see: in an odd twist of irony, if Mousavi wants to consolidate people’s position, he is constitutionally not in the position to do so. Under the cover of an Islamic regime, no president has such a power to clean up Mullahs and pave the path for a real democracy in Iran– presidential position is constitutionally so powerless that no president can challenge the Supreme Leader. The Islamic Constitution permits little power for the president vis-à-vis the absolute power of the Supreme Leader who rules over powers of executive, legislative, and judiciary.
The question nowadays is how the Iranian people can one day acquire their full freedom and what steps must be tactically taken initially. We should give our people respect for the courageous struggles they are presently showing with empty hands against one of the most brutal regimes of our history. In the long-term, it is advised that our heroic people with the kind of self-organisation, self-esteem, courage, and patience needed for a regime change in Iran, must first consolidate their ranks before any premature rupture with the ranks of better organised “reformist” opposition.
It is evident and quite predictable that to halt the vibrancy of people’s struggles, there is a possible compromise in the air between a “reformist” president candidate like Mousavi and the Supreme Leader. In such a case, whoever the next president is, the regime will spread its bloody clutches for another four or eight years. If the Iranians who want a regime change give up their ongoing struggles, they will dig their own graves. Therefore, these people must use the current protest actions to recruit, organise, and plan their further and final freedom-struggles.
Gaps between people and any faction of the regime, including Mousavi, emerge and persist as long as the Islamic regime exists. Most of the gaps in daily attitudes of people are flagrantly perceptible. This is what substantially explains the lack of an Islamic influence in our new generation who desire a secular Iran. This ideal is of course ignored by the regime and its “reformist” candidates. Different segments of Iranian society are aware that under the IRI all Islamic inequalities are justified in so far as they are the consequences of three decades of repression in Iran–man vs. woman, “sayyed” (Muhammad’s descendants) vs. non-sayyed, Muslim vs. non-Muslim, insider vs. outsider, etc.
Although the younger generation suffers from a tangible lack of leadership, they have experienced with their flesh and blood the plague of the Islamic regime. They know that the IRI is essentially incapable of being reformed and the main problem of Iran is the IRI entirely, not a scapegoat of it called today “hardliners”.
Because of a 14-century domination of an intolerant belief system over all aspects of Iranian social life, subjects like Islam and the related issues have not been discussed by Iranian intellectuals. There has been a fear among people to talk about these matters. Therefore, issues like secularism, democracy, modernity, social justice, gender equality, independence from foreign domination of “Islamo-Arab” culture, have not been serious civic issues of the past generations. Today, thanks to the plague of the Mullahs’ regime, the youth generation are more aware of such issues and this awareness creates the main gap between the Islamic regime, which in people’s consciousness represents an inspiration of a new “Islamo-Arab” invasion, and the Iranian civic society in struggles for freedom, democracy, and secularism.