Revolution 2009

By Jennifer Parker

Jun 14, 2009 8:14am

In Tehran, Iran, supporters of former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi were in the streets chanting “the government lied to the people.”


The election results seemed improbable — 62.6 % for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 33.75 % to Mousavi, who wrote on his website: “I’m warning that I won’t surrender to this manipulation. The outcome of what we’ve seen from the performance of officials … is nothing but shaking the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s sacred system and governance of lies and dictatorship.”


Reuters reports last night Iranian police arrested more than 100 reformers.

Writes Laura Secor in the New Yorker: “There can be no question that the June 12, 2009 Iranian presidential election was stolen. Dissident employees of the Interior Ministry, which is under the control of President Ahmadinejad and is responsible for the mechanics of the polling and counting of votes, have reportedly issued an open letter saying as much. Government polls (one conducted by the Revolutionary Guards, the other by the state broadcasting company) that were leaked to the campaigns allegedly showed ten- to twenty-point leads for Mousavi a week before the election; earlier polls had them neck and neck, with Mousavi leading by one per cent, and (Mehdi) Karroubi just behind.”


For more on the dissident employees of the Interior Ministry, check out the National Iranian American Council blog, who note that on Mousavi’s webpage there’s a letter reading “As dedicated employees of the Interior Ministry, with experience in management and supervision of several elections such as the elections of Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami, we announce that we fear the 10th presidential elections were not healthy.”


Writes Gary Sick: “On the basis of what we know so far, here is the sequence of events starting on the afternoon of election day, Friday, June 12.


“Near closing time of the polls, mobile text messaging was turned off nationwide
“Security forces poured out into the streets in large numbers
“The Ministry of Interior (election headquarters) was surrounded by concrete barriers and armed men
“National television began broadcasting pre-recorded messages calling for everyone to unite behind the winner
“The Mousavi campaign was informed officially that they had won the election, which perhaps served to temporarily lull  them into complacency
“But then the Ministry of Interior announced a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad
“Unlike previous elections, there was no breakdown of the vote by province, which would have provided a way of judging its credibility
“The voting patterns announced by the government were identical in all parts of the country, an impossibility (also see the comments of Juan Cole at the title link)
“Less than 24 hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene`i  publicly announced his congratulations to the winner, apparently confirming that the process was complete and irrevocable, contrary to constitutional requirements
“Shortly thereafter, all mobile phones, Facebook, and other social networks were blocked, as well as major foreign news sources.
“All of this had the appearance of a well orchestrated strike intended to take its opponents by surprise – the classic definition of a coup. Curiously, this was not a coup of an outside group against the ruling elite; it was a coup of the ruling elite against its own people.”


Juan Cole cites additional evidence that the election was stolen:


“1. It is claimed that Ahmadinejad won the city of Tabriz with 57%. His main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is an Azeri from Azerbaijan province, of which Tabriz is the capital. Mousavi, according to such polls as exist in Iran and widespread anecdotal evidence, did better in cities and is popular in Azerbaijan. Certainly, his rallies there were very well attended. So for an Azeri urban center to go so heavily for Ahmadinejad just makes no sense. In past elections, Azeris voted disproportionately for even minor presidential candidates who hailed from that province.


“2. Ahmadinejad is claimed to have taken Tehran by over 50%. Again, he is not popular in the cities, even, as he claims, in the poor neighborhoods, in part because his policies have produced high inflation and high unemployment. That he should have won Tehran is so unlikely as to raise real questions about these numbers. [Ahmadinejad is widely thought only to have won Tehran in 2005 because the pro-reform groups were discouraged and stayed home rather than voting.)


“3. It is claimed that cleric Mehdi Karoubi, the other reformist candidate, received 320,000 votes, and that he did poorly in Iran’s western provinces, even losing in Luristan. He is a Lur and is popular in the west, including in Kurdistan. Karoubi received 17 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections in 2005. While it is possible that his support has substantially declined since then, it is hard to believe that he would get less than one percent of the vote. Moreover, he should have at least done well in the west, which he did not.


“4. Mohsen Rezaie, who polled very badly and seems not to have been at all popular, is alleged to have received 670,000 votes, twice as much as Karoubi.


“5. Ahmadinejad’s numbers were fairly standard across Iran’s provinces. In past elections there have been substantial ethnic and provincial variations.


“6. The Electoral Commission is supposed to wait three days before certifying the results of the election, at which point they are to inform Khamenei of the results, and he signs off on the process. The three-day delay is intended to allow charges of irregularities to be adjudicated. In this case, Khamenei immediately approved the alleged results.”


Says Cole: “as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene.”


There are twitterers in Iran to follow including HERE and Karoubi’s campaign manager HERE.


In addition to the sources cited above check out Tehranlive and  Tehranbureau.


- jpt

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