"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Tehran is Burning

Hopeful as some were that reform could take place, it was apparently not to be.

Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared victory in the Iranian presidential elections yesterday, and today held a huge victory rally attended by tens of thousands of people. The official results from the Iranian Interior Ministry and a video of the rally can be seen below:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 62.6%
Mir Hossein Mousavi: 33.8%
Mohsen Rezai: 1.7%
Mehdi Karroubi 0.9%
Turnout: 85%

This is not the full story, however.

Tehran is burning. Many were hoping that reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi would win. High turnout, believed to be up to 85%, fuelled speculation that it would be a much tighter race than it appears if you believe the official figures.

Many in Iran, especially educated women and young people (the majority of the population) yearn for change.

They yearn for the freedom to say what they like, uncover their hair in public without being beaten and arrested, and to live in peace with the wider world.

The results belie this, however. They have endorsed a collision course with Israel and potentially the United States, a strict application of Islam and Sharia law, and a continuation of the status quo with regard to women's rights.

Clearly, all is not as it seems. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets after the victory declaration, demanding a re-count and claiming that the election was rigged. This sparked a massive security clamp down in Tehran, with streets being sealed off and mass arrests being authorised.

The British government issued a few weak noises; concerns expressed about how the ballots were counted, duly noted - now it's up to the, er, Iranian authorites to call for an investigation.

To top it all off, here is what Jimmy Carter, who was the Unites States' worst mistake until 2008, had to say:

It does not really matter who wins and becomes president since he is sure that the Supreme Leader will listen and take advice from the opposition.

Sweet Jesus, the stupidity and wilful blindness of some people will never cease to amaze me.

According to the excellent blog antimullah.com, the following things have happened in Iran as of Sunday evening:

1. Former President Hashem Rafsanjani has been arrested and taken to be held at the house of Supreme Ruler Ali Khamenei, where he was forced to resign as the head of the Expediency Council and Council of Experts. He is being held there until further notice to be at the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler.

Rafsanjani not only spent money to oppose Ahmadi-Nejad's re-"selection" but also made a big mistake of threatening the Supreme Ruler with the fact that the councils headed by Rafsanjani were the ones who had to declare the eligibility of the Supreme Ruler and could remove him from office with a quick vote.

He is not expected to emerge alive from his detention.

2. Mir Hossein Moussavi is reported to also be under arrest when he was taken at a press conference and being held hostage to prevent his supporters from pouring into the streets. His life for their remaining out of the streets. His wife Zahra Rahnevard, co-campaigner and head of the Al-Zahra College was also arrested.

Rapidly fired employees of the Ministry of Interior, responsible for the voting results, reportedly told Moussavi he had won by a large margin and to be prepared to take office, two things happened:

a) Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, nicknamed the "crocodile", leader of the fervent, apocalypse preaching Hojatieh 12th Imam followers and Ahmadi-Nejad's mentor, promptly issued a "fatwah" to reverse the vote count results and accord Moussavi's votes to Ahmadi-Nejad and vice versa. A fatwah is a must be obeyed religious decree for devout Moslems.

b) Former Tehran mayor Karbassi, head of the Election Committee was quickly arrested.

3. Former Reformist President Khatami's brother, Seyed Mohammad, was also arrested though his more prominent brother is still said to be at liberty.

4. For now reports of 'ayatollah' Mehdi Kahrubi, himself a candidate, having been arrested appear to be unfounded.

5. All reformist newspapers have been invaded and taken over by enforcement agents. Dozens of journalists at those locations have been arrested though Moussavi's Ghalam (pen) reportedly has restarted publishing. Though Kahroubi's "Etemad Melli" (National Confidence) remains shuttered.

The sound of democracy in action, nicht wahr?

I genuinely hope something can be salvaged from the struggle for freedom and the loosening of the grip of the mullahs, but I am not hopeful.

Change must come one day, however; women in this country comprise half of all graduates, and applications such as facebook and blogger are changing how young Iranians see the world - and Iran's place in it.

The mullahs will not give up their grip on power lightly; they have shown what they are capable of when their status quo is under threat, and they will crack down ruthlessly on any dissenters.

But, sometimes change has its own momentum; here are images from Tehran over the past two days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered the possibilty that Ahmadinejad won the elections? After all, only neo-cons and idealists believe muslims want freedom. Muslims mostly want Sharia