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Boycott Iran's Sham Election By: Reza Bayegan
Bayegan.Blogspot.com | Wednesday, June 01, 2005

In the ninth presidential election to be held in Iran on June 17, there is nothing new to be found in the depleted political stock of the Islamic Republic other than the usual poisonous diet of tyranny, backwardness and across-the-board bankruptcy.

Considering the actual, self-perpetuating center of power, it hardly matters who is declared the winner of this race. On the other hand, there can be no question about the real loser of this contest. While Iranians are suffering from chronic unemployment, poverty, brain drain, an ever-increasing number of street children, and widespread drug addiction, the nation's badly needed resources are squandered on yet another fake election. A strong consensus is emerging amongst Iranian political activists that boycotting this electoral travesty is the only honorable option left to citizens. Many prominent leaders of the Iranian opposition, including Reza Pahlavi, have invited their compatriots to stay away from the polls. Shunning the ballot box on Election Day could turn into a collective act of civil disobedience and a vote of no confidence against the whole regime.

Contrary to what some international media have concluded, the predicted lack of voters' participation in the upcoming presidential election by no means can be described as apathy. For a country with one of the highest rates of political prisoners, Iran’s citizens can hardly be accused of indifference. Staying away from the polls in Iran, as was shown in the February 2004 parliamentary election, has become a political weapon and part and parcel of a growing trend of non-violent mass resistance to the tyrannical regime.

In its May 25th issue, the International Herald Tribune expounds on the vulgar gimmicks employed by various candidates to gain the interest of voters. It points out, for instance, how the arch-conservative mayor of Tehran showed up in a remarkable pink shirt to register as a candidate in order to make a display of his reform-mindedness. In spite of all this preening and posturing, according to Neil MacFarquhar the writer of the article, none of the candidates are willing or able to depart from the status quo and bring about any meaningful change:

“Yet none of the eight candidates that an unelected watchdog group has allowed to run wants to alter what many Iranians see as their main political problem - all of the power rests in the hands of an unaccountable, supreme religious leader who can overrule elected officials at a whim.”

An unbridgeable gulf stands between people's true political aspirations and what the regime of the Islamic Republic is willing to deliver. Educated and advanced-minded Iranians are thinking in the terms of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other United Nations instruments. The clerical dictatorship, on the other hand, is stuck in the intellectual confines of 6th century Arabia.

The real depth of the political hiatus yawning between Iranians and the Islamic regime can be fathomed in the fact that the most hated politician in the whole state is expected to win the presidential contest. Mr. Rafsanjani and his clan have come to be identified by the Iranian public with financial corruption, flagrant human rights violations and political charlatanism. If Iranians were given a chance to freely elect their political leadership, Mr. Rafsanjani and the whole kit and caboodle of the Islamic state would be condemned to the same fate that befell the Ukrainian and Georgian dictators in those countries’ recent democratic revolutions.

In spite of all the insurmountable obstacles, the constitution of the Islamic Republic has actually provided an opportunity with this “free election”; June 17 marks a great opportunity for Iranians to choose the path of their political future. By refusing to vote on Election Day, Iranians can send a strong signal to the world that they are ready for a regime change.

The silent solidarity of the Iranian public against the clerical dictatorship on the day of the presidential elections, according to Reza Pahlavi, “will be remembered as a crucial point in the history of the nation's struggle for freedom and democracy.”

It is time for Iranians to prove to the world that being citizens of a country that is part of the Axis of Evil, and the leading sponsor of international terrorism, is an aberration and a departure for them and their true national character. Iran's history and civilization demands that Iranians should assume their role as a leading democratic example to the other countries in the region and as a bastion of human dignity and peace.

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