can’t see the forest

A representative of Mousavi speaks out

Posted in Iran, Iran election, middle east, Mousavi, World News by Curtis on 6/22/09

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, identifying himself as a representative of the purportedly defeated Iranian presidential candidate Hossein Mousavi, wrote in Friday’s Guardian (follow link for full article):

I have been given the ­responsibility of telling the world what is happening in Iran. The office of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who the Iranian people truly want as their leader, has asked me to do so. They have asked me to tell how Mousavi’s headquarters was wrecked by plainclothes police officers. To tell how the commanders of the revolutionary guard ordered him to stay silent. To urge people to take to the streets because Mousavi could not do so directly.

The people in the streets don’t want a recount of last week’s vote. They want it annulled. This is a crucial moment in our history. Since the 1979 revolution Iran has had 80% dictatorship and 20% democracy. We have dictatorship because one person is in charge, the supreme leader – first Khomeini, now Khamenei. He controls the army and the clergy, the justice system and the media, as well as our oil money.

There are some examples of democracy – reformers elected to parliament, and the very fact that a person like Mousavi could stand for election. But, since the day of the election, this ­element of democracy has vanished. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won, and that whoever opposed this will be suppressed – a position he affirmed speaking today in Tehran. People wanted to have demonstrations within the law, but the authorities would not let them. This is the first time we have seen millions on the streets without the permission of the supreme leader.

Now they are gathering to mourn those who have died. The people of Iran have a culture that elevates martyrdom. In the period running up to the revolution, when people were killed at demonstrations, others would gather again in the days following the death. This cycle carried on for six months, and culminated in the revolution. Today they are gathering in Tehran for those who were shot on Tuesday, and if there are more killings, this will continue.

So why do the Iranian people not want Ahmadinejad as their leader? Because he is nothing but a loudspeaker for Khamenei. Under Ahmadinejad, economic problems have grown worse, despite $280bn of oil revenue. Social and literary freedom is much more restricted than under his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami. The world views us as a terrorist nation on the lookout for war. When Khatami was president of Iran, Bush was president of the US. Now the Americans have Obama and we have our version of Bush. We need an Obama who can find solutions for Iran’s problems. Although power would remain in the hands of Khamenei, a president like Mousavi could weaken the supreme leader.

Protestors in Tehran (LATimes)

Protesters in Tehran (LATimes)

According to this BBC article, the circumstances surrounding the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, a hardline conservative many Iranians see as merely a mouthpiece for the Supreme Leader, are viewed in much of Iran as questionable at best. This election saw a tenfold increase in the use of mobile polling stations, portable voting venues responsible to the Interior Ministry, run by a close ally of Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad also apparently picked up huge, unprecedented gains in areas where he has previously not fared so well. One liberal candidate earned 5% of the vote in a precinct where he had previously earned 55% in an earlier round of voting. And, overall, the election results were published and tabulated far more quickly than usual, with far less regional variation than would be expected.

Things just don’t add up, to put it succinctly. Juan Cole, an established writer on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, told the BBC: “It just seems to me the fix was in.” And, said an official from a Washington think-tank on Middle East policy, “This is something more than a manipulation. This is an outright coup.”

In an address on Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini made it clear that protests will not be tolerated. But still they persist, especially in the streets of the capital Tehran, where mounting unrest over police brutality and killings may force senior clerics to rethink their policies if they wish to remain unchallenged in authority.

According to the Iranian news service PRESSTV, former Reformist president Mohammed Khatami has called for an investigation into fraud allegations by an “impartial group.” But such a group may be difficult to find in the Iranian government if it exists at all—for example, the Guardian Council, which is currently in charge of investigating more than 600 complaints of fraud, is headed by a strong ally of the incumbent Ahmadinejad, and this group also safeguards the only legal avenues for removing the Supreme Leader of Iran.

So it is not as likely that protesters are as interested in a recount as in real democracy and transparency in a government which increasing numbers of young Iranians view as a medieval theocracy rather than a functional republic.

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