Saturday, March 26, 2005

Illegitimate Regime and Fraudulent Elections

Shaheen Fatemi, Iran va Jahan makes clear why the coming elections in Iran are a fraud:
In spite of the long 2-week New Year holiday in Iran, the political pot continues to boil. Taking advantage of the holiday mood and the absence of students on campuses, the regime is trying to seize the initiative by putting forth a vast propaganda scheme around the theme of 'presidential election' scheduled for June of 2005. The nature of the public reaction to this latest version of deceitful 'democratic' pretension of the regime ranges from indifference to outright hostility.

The clerics ruling Iran have played many hoaxes on the gullible world press and public opinion. These range from their deceitful nuclear shell game to 'accidental' death of Zahra Kazemi, who died of 'heart-attack' while she was being tortured in 'judicial custody.' Their so-called 'elections,' in my opinion top all their other games and no journalist or so-called 'western expert' has ever tried to honestly expose this colossal fraud.

Free and honest elections are the oxygen of democracies. Without them no government system can claim legitimacy. They are the best and so far the only mechanism guaranteeing representative government. The mechanical aspect of marking a secret ballot and depositing it in the ballot-box is only the tip of the iceberg. Many other aspects of democratic process such as freedom of speech and assembly as well as a free press are sine qua non of this exercise. If candidates are not free to speak and express themselves and/or the press is not free to publish and broadcast these views, the public can not be fully informed and therefore unable to reach an informed judgment as a basis of choice among the candidates.

The question of eligibility of candidates is generally established by law and is generally restricted to specifications such as nationality, age and residence. Every citizen that meets such requirements is eligible to vote. Any other arbitrary restriction imposed by the government is a violation of rights of the citizens and violates fundamental human rights.

For the past twenty-six years every one of these principles has been violated during the elections in IRI and no international objection has been raised. No one has asked how a regime could claim democratic legitimacy when it violates the most fundamental pre-requisites of a fair and free election.

Let us look at the facts:

1. Freedom of the press has not existed in the Islamic Republic even for one day during its entire life. According to impartial international organizations such as Amnesty International and 'Reporters Without Borders' there are more journalists in jail and more newspapers banned in Iran than any other country in the world.
2. Freedom of assembly is denied to the people of Iran. Over the past two-decades there has not been one single street demonstration allowed. All forms of public protests are forbidden unless authorized by the government. Permits for such gatherings are not issued to groups which are not puppets of the regime. Whenever there is any spontaneous gathering of people, plain-clothes security and intelligence agents or hoodlums hired by the regime invade the gathering, brutalize the civilians and leave the scene. Then the uniform security forces arrive and arrest everyone for illegal assembly!
3. Judicial protection which is fundamental to the functioning of any democratic society has been denied to the Iranian public including candidates and the electorate. Even the lawyers who attempt to represent dissidents are arrested and put in jail. The judicial system instead of serving as a bastion of support for the citizens against transgressions of the state has become an instrument of suppression and part of the state security system.
4. On top of all these barriers to the free exercise of electoral rights there is one additional handicap. After the candidates register their name, a group of Mullahs appointed by other non-elected officials will decide on the 'suitability' of the candidates. During every election since the revolution hundreds and sometimes thousands of legitimate candidates have been barred from running on absolutely arbitrary grounds by this committee. READ ALL

It is because of these basic violations of citizen's rights that recently more and more elections are being boycotted by the people and only a very small fraction of the electorate pay any attention to these fraudulent and deceitful acts. The question remains why the European governments who all have embassies in Tehran and are fully aware of these facts, continue to deal with the Mullahs as if they were legitimate representatives of the Iranian people?