This article is part of our coverage of the Iranian regime’s June 18 presidential elections
Iran, June 7, 2021—Elections have no meaning in a country like Iran, which is ruled by a dictatorship that gunned down and murdered 1,500 people in the streets during the November 2019 protests alone.
And this religious dictatorship’s attempts at democracy and fair elections turn out to become a ridiculous masquerade. Regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei cannot and will not allow anyone to “democratically participate” and run in the elections. The candidates are filtered to have only loyalists to the supreme leader approved by the Guardian Council. All the while, Khamenei desperately needs a high voter turnout to claim legitimacy.
The Guardian Council only qualified seven officials to run in the elections. And despite everything being in favor of Ebrahim Raisi, Khamenei’s preferred candidate, the power struggle within the regime intensifies with each passing day.
However, when the regime holds even its own version of presidential elections debates, things get even more heated considering the fact that open discussions are not part of this regime’s DNA.
On Saturday, June 5, the first round of these so-called debates took place providing a glimpse behind the mullahs’ elections facade. Despite all the candidates being diligently vetted by Khamenei’s apparatus, things immediately went out of control. This is while all of these candidates have been involved in the regime’s crimes for the past 42 years and have held key positions.
One of the candidates, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, resorted to harsh criticism toward Raisi. “You have been in the judiciary since the age of 16. Go fix the judiciary first! Some say Mr. Raisi has a restless syndrome for various positions. From public prosecutor, you became head of Astane Quds Razavi (regime’s economic and financial giant), proceeding to becoming head of the judiciary in the last five years and now you want to become president,” Mehralizadeh said.
“What guarantee is there that you will not seek a higher position in the future?” he continued, referring to rumors that Raisi is considered and being groomed as Khamanei’s successor for supreme leadership.
Raisi did not hold back in his response. “If you can solve any problem by insulting me, go ahead. Look at what they are saying against me in various website,” Raisi said referring to outlets where he is being linked to the 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners. “However, everyone knows I have no redlines in handling judicial cases. I talk through my actions, and this has been proven in the past,” Raisi threatened.
Mehralizadeh responded by literally ridiculed Raisi. “You only have six years of elementary education,” he said.
Ebrahim Raisi is known for his role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, of which the vast majority were members and sympathizers of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). However, Khamenei is going the distance to portray him as a just, popular and anti-corruption candidate. The other so-called candidates are also nothing but puppets playing their part in this sham farce called the elections.
The candidates also begged people to take part in elections. “People! You want to show your protest by boycotting the ballot box … You have decided not to vote in this election!” said Abdolnaser Hemmati, former head of the regime’s Central Bank.
In recent days, families of protesters killed during the November 2019 nationwide protests are posting video messages calling on the Iranian people to boycott the mullahs’ sham elections.
“I will neither forgive nor forget the unjust murder of my son. I demand justice for the murder of my child and all the youths killed in November 2019. No to the Islamic Republic. I won’t vote. My vote is the overthrow and destruction [of this regime],” said the mother of Mohsen Jafarpanah, a protester killed in the November 2019 uprising,
The parents of Amir Hossein Zarezadeh, another protester killed by regime’s security forces during the November 2019 uprising, held a ceremony at their son’s grave.
“I am Amir Hossein’s mother. They ruined my world. I ask the Iranian people not to vote because of the murder of these innocent youth in November 2019. People, do not vote; our vote is overthrow [of the regime],” she said.
These messages lead to the slogan “My vote is regime change,” being distributed these days by the Iranian opposition PMOI/MEK’s internal network, known as the Resistance Units.
Simultaneously, Resistance Units members are holding anti-regime campaigns calling on the public to boycott the mullahs’ sham elections in various cities checkered across Iran. This campaign was first launched by the MEK in April, has been welcomed by the public, and is now turning into a nationwide movement.
On June 6, the Express interviewed an MEK activist inside Iran, who parallel to her job as a nurse, is taking risks by joining the election boycott campaign.
“At night I distribute leaflets urging for a boycott of these sham elections, which give the people of Iran no choice but to appoint another hardliner” said 37-year-old Shirin to the Express on how she risks imprisonment and even torture to distribute leaflets on behalf of the MEK, which she joined two years ago.
On June 4, Khamenei acknowledged his deep concerns regarding a low election turnout and pleaded with people to participate in the elections. “Some people, due to their poor living conditions… are uncertain about participating in the election… We shouldn’t let these things discourage us,” he said.
“Today, the enemies are waiting in ambush to drive a wedge between the people and the establishment. They are spewing security and political conspiracies as well as economic enmity,” Khamenei said.
The regime’s supreme leader is putting all his weight behind the effort to appoint Raisi as the mullahs’ next president. This will alter Iran’s political landscape. With Raisi as president the regime will consolidate itself and intensify both domestic repression and its warmongering measures across the region.
As a result, the international community will face the regime’s most violent faction. Those who have long invested in the regime’s so-called reformist/moderate factions are now checkmated.
There are no more excuses or illusions to appease the mullahs, especially not with the murderer of 30,000 innocent people who were executed for their political beliefs.