A painter rests in front of a huge portrait of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a wall near a university, 2012. (Morteza Nikoubazl / Courtesy Iran)
In normal presidential elections, it is only the candidates and their platforms that matter. Not so in Iran. There, the key player in the upcoming presidential elections is the septuagenarian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is constitutionally barred from running for the office. He recognizes that the election result will have a profound impact on his own rule and on the stability of the Islamic Republic. So behind the scenes, he has been doing everything in his power to make sure that the election serves his interests. But the eleventh-hour declarations of candidacy by Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s president between 1989 and 1997, and by Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and close confidant, have made his task more difficult.
The first part of Khamenei’s four-pronged strategy is to conduct an orderly election. The nightmare scenario for Khamenei is a repeat of the June 2009 presidential election, in which allegations that Ahmadinejad had stolen victory from his challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, led to massive demonstrations and the birth of the popular reformist Green Movement.
Khamenei could have stayed above the fray, as elites expected him to do. Instead, he lost credibility as a neutral arbiter when he sided with Ahmadinejad, rejected all allegations of fraud, and blamed Ahmadinejad’s opponents for inciting violence. His offer of public support for the president opened a fissure among the elites that has never quite healed. It also preceded a massive crackdown on activists who were castigated as American stooges and arrested. Even more, the disputed election alienated millions who felt truly robbed of their voices.
Given that history, Khamenei has made a concerted effort this time around to discredit potential protesters before they take to the streets. The Revolutionary Guards and security forces have launched a propaganda campaign to link any interruption on election day or after to the United States and its purported plans to destabilize the regime. For example, Yadollah Javani, the head of the political bureau of the Revolutionary Guards, has warned that the slogan “free and fair election” is a U.S. code word for sedition. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags
In this Saturday, May 11, 2013 photo, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, waves to media, as he registers his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, while his daughter Fatemeh, smiles at second right, at the election headquarters of the interior ministry in Tehran, Iran. On Saturday Rafsanjani’s made a last minute surprise decision to enter Iran’s presidential election process, which now includes more than 680 hopefuls and will culminate June 14 with just a handful of names on the ballot to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In one of his first statements since joining the race, Rafsanjani spoke in general terms Sunday of seeking a new „economic and political“ rebirth in a time of „foreign threats and sanctions.“ (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags
As we approach the eleventh presidential election in the Islamic Republic of Iran, two of the candidates from the previous election remain under house arrest. Ahmadinejad’s main opponents were Mir Hossein Mousavi who was the Prime Minister of Iran for ten years in the 1980s and Mehdi Karroubi who was the speaker of the third and the sixth parliaments. The days of campaigning and the passion and excitement in most cities indicated the high number of votes which the two candidates garnered. Furthermore, most political analysts believe Mousavi was the real victor of the election. It looked like the people who were dissatisfied with Ahmadinejad administration’s policies had hoped to change the president. However, the announced outcome was different; Ahmadinejad’s victory was decisive and there were few votes for Mousavi and Karroubi. Mousavi and Karroubi did not accept the results and called it a fraud, but the Guardian Council, the main body to oversee the elections rejected the protests. Some members of the council had backed Ahmadinejad during the campaign, so the impartiality of the council was under question. Three days after Election Day, the largest demonstration in recent years was held against the election results and nearly three million people with green symbols rallied silently. Their main question was: “Where is my vote?”
This is how the Iranian Green Movement was born; a movement that through peaceful demonstrations and tactics demanded a free and fair election. In his Friday Prayer a week after the election, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei clearly stated his support for Ahmadinejad and threatened the demonstrators with suppression. It was a threat that materialized the next day and the streets in different Iranian cities witnessed the security forces’ crackdown on the people. These demonstrations went on for months and were led by Mousavi and Karroubi through their written statements. In the end, the government managed to control the protests by imprisoning thousands and killing approximately a hundred people.
A year later the “Arab Spring” started. People rebelled against dictatorial governments in Tunisia and Egypt and many believed they had been inspired by the Iranian Green Movement. When the President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was deposed, in a joint statement, Mousavi and Karroubi asked the ministry of interior for permission to hold a demonstration in solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia. The letter partly read: “We would like to ask for permission to hold a demonstration in solidarity with the movements of the people in Egypt and Tunisia against their oppressive governments. We would like permission to invite the people to rally in accordance to the 27th article of the constitution in support of the uprising of two Muslim populations on Monday February 14th, at 3 p.m. from Imam Hossein square to Azadi Square.” (1)
Although no response was given to the request, many people took to the streets. This movement showed that although it has not had a public display for a while, the Green Movement is like a fire under the ashes, waiting for a spark. The government authorities, who had been taken aback, took desperate measures. The MPs chanted “down with Mousavi and Karroubi” in the parliament. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a Guardian Council member and Imam of the Tehran Friday Prayer, asked for the house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi. He stated during his Friday Prayer: “What the judiciary can do – and I believe they are thinking about doing this – is to totally cut all their connections with the people. The doors of their homes should be shut, entering and exiting their homes should be limited. They should not be able to send or receive messages and their phones and internet access should be disconnected. They should be imprisoned in their own homes.” (2)
By early February 2012, what Ayatollah Jannati had said was done. Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, Karroubi and his wife, Fatemeh Karroubi were put under house arrest. Their contact with society was shut down and only their children were allowed to visit them on special occasions. Eventually, Fatemeh Karroubi was released from house arrest for a while but Karroubi was forced to stay under house arrest alone.
House arrest; a tool for dictators
It might be difficult for dictatorial governments to arrest and try political opposition leaders as they do to others. The political leaders of the opposition to dictators usually have a considerable amount of credit among the people and on the international level and that is what makes it difficult for the dictators to arrest and try them before a court. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy seeking leader and Peace Nobelist, is the most famous person to spend a long time under house arrest. Prior to this in Iran as well, Ayatollah Montazeri, a religious leader who opposed the government, spent part of his life under house arrest. He was supposed to become the successor to Ayatollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader but he lost his standing in the regime following his protest about a number of actions by the regime, including the 1988 mass executions of political opposition activists. For years after that, he held his place as a religious leader among the people but in 1997 when he clearly criticized the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, his home was attacked by government forces. Upon a verdict from the Special Court of the Clergy, the entrance to his home was welded shut and only the entrance door to the inner part of his home was left open, and even that was controlled by the IRGC forces who controlled it from a kiosk that was installed there. He did not meet anyone except for his children, grandchildren and siblings for five years. (3)
800 day arrest
It is almost 800 days since the beginning of Mousavi, Karroubi and Rahnavard’s house arrest. No trial has been held to produce a verdict or prosecute any charges. The arrest is ongoing without a warrant from a court. This is an instance of “arbitrary arrest” and a violation of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads: “No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”.
Numerous Iranian and foreign groups have protested the house arrests since their beginning. On BBC Persia, Shirin Ebadi, the human rights attorney and Peace Nobelist, commented on the news of Mousavi and Karroubi’s house arrest: “They have arrested them without due legal process, and sent them to an unknown location which we believe to be Heshmatieh prison. They have been in prison since February 14th. In the beginning, they were detained in their own homes and now are in an undisclosed location and this is an instance of arbitrary arrest.” (4) A while later, it was determined that these leaders had been detained in houses. The White House spokesman mentioned the difference in the Iranian government’s position on the democratic movements and domestic protests in Arab countries and called the actions of Iranian government “hypocritical.” He stated: “It is clear that we consider the arrest of opposition leaders unacceptable and we call for good treatment with them and their release”. (4)
Ayatollah Sanei, a religious leader based in Qom, also released a statement about this issue that partly read: “It is sad and surprising that some people believe that the protests by the political opposition is baseless and a lie; but even with having all the media and advertising power, they have not yet been able to hold a fair public trial where the opposition can defend their ideas and let society judge and see who is right.” (5) The council of National-Religious (another opposition group) activists’ statement also read: “The arrest and detention of these gentlemen is against the 22nd article of the constitution that points out the safety of people’s life, property and home from attacks. Article 33 mentions the ban of forcing people to stay in some location without a legal warrant, article 36 stresses that the punishment must be determined by fair trial, article 37 states one is innocent unless proven guilty and article 39 protects the honor of people.” (6) Lastly, in a statement Shirin Ebadi and six human rights organizations; Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, International Federation for Human Rights, the Committee for Defense of Human Rights in Iran asked the Iranian authorities to end the “arbitrary” house arrest of Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi as well as the harassment and detention of their children immediately. (7)
These days as we approach the eleventh presidential election, half of the candidates from the previous election are under house arrest. The Islamic Republic authorities claim that the election in Iran is one of the most free in the world. But can we really believe that claim?
Two years ago today, the Iranian regime put former presidential candidates and opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and his wife, women’s rights activist Zahra Rahnavard, under house arrest without being formally charged for any crimes, and their situation remains unchanged. We join the international community in condemning their continued imprisonment and the harassment of their family members, and in calling for their immediate release. We further call on Iranian officials to conduct fair and transparent presidential elections in June that conform to internationally accepted standards and uphold the rights guaranteed under Iran’s own laws and constitution.
The United States remains deeply troubled by the Iranian regime’s latest campaign of fear and intimidation to extinguish dissent, eliminate freedom of expression, and deny the Iranian people their freedoms at the same time that it fails to hold the worst human rights abusers responsible for their actions. We are equally concerned by the ongoing bans on political parties and the imprisonment of political leaders in the lead up to Iran’s presidential elections in June. Officials have tried to limit open political debate with the detention of more than a dozen journalists and the regime has also tried to silence numerous activists and human rights defenders through arrests and intimidation. We repeat our appeal for the immediate release of these individuals and of all prisoners who are being held for their religious or political beliefs.
Source: U.S. State Department.
On the last Friday of Ramadan this year, I was amongst a group of individuals, some of whom welcomed me with clenched fists, desiring nothing more than to to see me dead. While traversing the commotion filled road alongside each other, I closely examined the expression on their faces and realized how dear those faces are to me. It became apparent to me that our victory will not be achieved through the defeat of another, for we must all prosper together, even though the journey to awareness and the full recognition of the promise of such prosperity may take longer for some than others.
میر حسین موسوی ، بیانیه ۱۳
What we have learned from our current predicament is the need to avoid extremism. Sooner or later (and if God willing sooner rather than later), those who appose the will of the people will abandon the scene – and when that day arrives, do we wish for our people be left with nothing more than a destroyed nation? Our country’s interests should be our main concern today, for our country depends on its rightful owners to express concern regarding such matters. We must begin to build our future today and be prepared for anything that may come our way. We must be prepared to such a degree that if tomorrow were to suddenly present itself, we are not taken by surprise – and each and everyone one of us must be cognizant of the great responsibility that rests upon our shoulders.
چیزی که ما میتوانیم از این ماجرا بیاموزیم آن است که خود دچار افراط نشویم. دیر یا زود – بلکه به امید خدا بسیار زود – مخالفان مردم صحنه را ترک میکنند. آیا آن روز باید کشوری تخریب شده برای ملت باقی بماند؟ آن چیزی که امروز باید نگران آن باشیم مصالح کشور است، زیرا کشور جز صاحبان اصلیاش کسی را ندارد که در این باره ابراز نگرانی کند….
ساختن فردا را باید از امروز آغاز کنیم. باید برای فردا چنان مهیا باشیم که اگر همین فردا از راه رسید یکه نخوریم. باید هریک از ما مردم نه فقط نقش پیشوایی که مسئولیت آن را نیز بر عهده خود احساس کنیم.
میر حسین موسوی بیانیه ۱۴
Mir Hossein Mousavi – Who gives you the right to manipulate an entire nation’s votes in plain view of the world?
Tuesday October 5th, 2010
منبع فیسبوک سلام میر حسین
Mir Hossein Mousavi – It was not we who chose the color Green but rather the color Green that embraced us
این ما نبودیم که سبز را انتخاب کردیم، بلکه سبز بود که ما را برگزید. آیا ممکن است که این رنگ، برادران ما را نیز برگزیند؟ آری ممکن است
میرحسین موسوی -بیانیه ۱۶ آذر ۱۳۸۸ به مناسبت روز دانشجو
Excerpts from Mir Hossein Mousavi’s speech at a rally in the city of Rasht – May 2009
بخشی از سخنان میر حسین موسوی در جمع مردم رشت – ارديبهشت ۱۳۸۸