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Elections | Senior Ayatollah: No Free Vote in Sight, Iran Ruled with 'Lies'

28 Nov 2012 21:19Comments
KhoeinihaSimiling.jpg "They want to rob us of everything in order to be able to participate in the election."

[ media watch ] Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, one of Iran's most prominent leftist clerics, has declared that it is not possible to have free elections in the Islamic Republic given present circumstances. According to Kaleme, a news website closely associated with the reformist camp, Khoeiniha, 71, told a gathering of the university students' wing of the Islamic Iran Participation Front that he opposed the notion that "one must participate in the election at any cost." The vote that is supposed to determine Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's successor as Iranian president will be held next June.

Now a senior member of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics, Khoeiniha was appointed as state prosecutor-general by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the 1979 Revolution, and he was the spiritual leader of the students who took over the U.S. Embassy in November 1979. The Islamic Iran Participation Front, one of the country's two largest reformist parties, has been officially banned since the protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election.

In his speech to the students, Khoeiniha addressed the rhetorical use of the term "sedition," the epithet widely used by Iranian conservatives to refer to the Green Movement and the massive demonstrations against what many saw as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rigged reelection. "They say that if you want to participate in the elections, you have to declare your detestation of 'sedition,'" said the ayatollah. "What does 'detestation' mean? Does it mean that we have to dissociate ourselves from Mr. [Mir Hossein] Mousavi and Hojatoleslam [Mehdi] Karroubi?" The two Green Movement leaders and former presidential candidates have been extralegally detained under house arrest since February 2011.

He continued, "We proposed Mr. Mousavi as a presidential candidate ourselves, and he claims that his votes were expropriated. That issue has not been settled yet because they [authorities] have sat one of the claimants on the throne and imprisoned the other in his own home. Now we are supposed to dissociate ourselves from him just to participate in the election? So that they can replay the same scenario again? What kind of political move is that? Even religion doesn't permit one [to carry out] such an act.

On November 9, the Mardom-Saalaary Party organized a meeting of a group of reformists to assess next year's election and what role they should play in it. During the meeting, Mohammad Khatami, the former president, was invited to run. Khatami, who shocked many in the reformist camp by voting in this spring's parliamentary elections after calling for a boycott, offered no response.

Khoeiniha observed, "They say dissociate yourself from Khatami as well. Even then, they still won't let up. After you have declared your dissociation from the three [Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami], you must then declare your dissociation from all others too, from those [opposition members] still incarcerated, and then they will demand you 'declare regret for yourself and your past.' In short, one must declare dissociation from all of this to be allowed [to participate in the election]. The hell with that." Islamic Iran Participation Front leader Mohsen Mirdamadi and well-known party member Saeed Hajjarian are among the many political prisoners held by the Islamic Republic.

The senior cleric continued, "They want to rob us of everything in order to be able to participate in the election. What election? I disagree with the idea that one must participate in the election at any cost.

"Free elections will not take place when an important movement in the nation is not allowed to have a publication; when any website it sets up is filtered and hacked at will; when it is denied a permit to assemble -- not in the thousands, not even in the hundreds. You can't call it free elections when one side sits on the presidential seat and the other side goes to jail."

Government accused of rampant deception

Khoeiniha turned to the issue of what he described as a sweeping campaign of deception perpetrated by the government and the many media outlets it controls, directly or indirectly. "It astounds me that they think that one can better manage the country with lies," he stated.

"Perhaps they have discovered some verses and precedents which say that you keep people occupied with lies.... Lies will not solve the daily problems of the people or improve their purchasing power. Lies will not eradicate corruption, and multibillion[-dollar] embezzlement will not be abolished with lies. You can't move toward God or lead people to God's path with lies. To offer people false statistics and deny things that they see with their own eyes won't fix difficulties. How do they reckon that they must lie?"

He also castigated those principlists -- conservatives who proclaim fervent support for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- who once strongly backed Ahmadinejad. "They delivered that gentleman with such pomp and ceremony, and now they say, 'He has nothing to do with us!' Now that he has wrecked the country, they say, 'We didn't know him, we weren't familiar with him.' Any normal person knew that with such management the nation would end up here. Actually it was clear from day one....

"The nation's affairs weren't as difficult in 1388 [2009] as today, just as it wasn't as hard in 1384 [when Khatami was succeeded by Ahmadinejad] as it was in 1388. Thank God they can't pin the current situation on the shoulder of reformists and blame reformists' hands for the last four years, because they have directed things down to this place all by themselves. Managing the country has become difficult, so they are clawing each others' faces, and so it becomes more difficult day by day."

In conclusion, he said, "In other places, when a difficulty arises, they choose to return to the people. I have said repeatedly, as have other senior [people], that the solution to the difficulty of running the country is free elections. If the authorities decide today to conduct the upcoming election freely and do so earnestly, many difficulties will vanish immediately, and so will half of the international pressure."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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