Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Eight Million Vote Tape

An amazing story appeared on the Iranian Baztab Emrooz website yesterday, which was quickly removed.

There has been widespread rumours in Iran ever since Ahmadinejad stood up to the Supreme Leader, that he has some explosive revealing tape on Islamic Republic's unelected ruler. The justification for this rumour was the very fact that Ahamdinejad had dared to take on the Supreme Leader and his people.

Of course, Ahmadinejad did have some secret tapes on the economic misdemeanour of some of the Islamic Republic officials, like the one he revealed in the Majlis against the corruption of the Larijani brothers, but since the corruption of the officials in the Islamic Republic is an accepted fact, it seemed to have made little impact.

Baztab Emrooz's article which was quickly removed yesterday suggested another tape existed, one of a different nature to the run of the mill corruption tapes of the establishment figures. The article referred to it as the "8 million vote tape" which Ahmadinejad has threatened to reveal if the father-in-law of his son, Rahim Mashaei, is not approved as one of the next presidential candidates by the Guardian Council for the coming June elections.

In this tape, Ahmadinejad is contacted by some officials in the early morning hours following the election day and told that he had won the elections by a narrow margin, his total votes he was told, were 16 Million but they will add an extra 8 Million votes and say he got 24 Million votes to make sure there is no scepticism about the final count and to ensure there are no calls for a recount. Ahmadienjad however insists in the tapes that since he has won the elections any way, albeit with a small margin, that the real figures should be announced. The tape then continues with Ahamdinejad contacting other officials and arguing with them that the voting results should not be tampered with.

The Baztab article finished by also referring to a conversation between Majlis deputy and this time round presidential candidate, Alireza Zakani and secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei. Zakani quotes Rezaei as having said the total number of votes counted is 32 Million and the other 8 million claimed is pure fabrication. Rezaei's reasoning, according to Zakani, was that only 17 million voting slips had been consumed by 5 pm and there was no way that by the end of the voting deadline that night another 22 million votes could have been cast.

If the claims about this tape published in Baztab website, which is connected to Mohsen Rezaei, is true, then this must be the most amazing story from Iran this year so far. Four years after the disputed election results, all that brutal crackdown, the murders of so many innocent peaceful protesters, the arrests, prison sentences and rapes, the man who finally proved the election results were fabricated turns out to be Ahmadinejad himself.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Overdue Municipality Election

As the next Islamic Republic presidential "elections" approaches, the international media is slowly preparing to focus its attention on this event. This year there seems to be more candidates than in previous elections, something that is confusing most of the Iran pundits, particularly as  the Supreme Leader still remains undecided as to which candidate to back.

For some people like me, the very fact that the candidates are vetted and have to be approved by a non-elected body, makes the entire process void and worthless, regardless of how many people take part in it. Others still do regard the number of participants in the elections as a benchmark for the legitimacy of the elections and that of the regime. With no independent supervisory board that will monitor the counts and the way the regime controls the national media and restricts the foreign media by taking the foreign reporters to pre-designated polling stations, I have no idea how the number of participants will be independently verified to be used as a useful benchmark, but another factor which will help the polling stations look busy is that the presidential elections and the Town Municipality Elections will be held simultaneously at the same time.

The Municipality Elections were in fact due to be held three years ago but after the last presidential post-election protests that erupted in 2009, the regime, in contravention of its own constitution, delayed the Municipality elections until now.

The regime's other tactic to bring the crowds to the ballot box is to present the voters with a choice of bad and worse candidates, hoping that many will be resigned to think that the best they can do is to choose the bad candidate over the worse candidate.

Whatever happens in June this year, what is certain is that the elections, even as they are i.e. controlled and restricted, are becoming a headache for the Islamic Republic and soon, even the mockery as they are now, will become more limited.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Huge Flop

Yesterday's government organised rally at the Azadi stadium in Tehran turned out to be a huge disappointment on all fronts. The expected one hundred thousand crowd that was talked about never materialised, footage and pictures suggest a maximum of fifty to sixty thousand struggling to fill parts of the stadium.

The crowd that turned up were either government employees, who either had to go, or people who were there for  some fun and freebies. Even so the organisers were unable to use them for their propaganda purposes. People chanted "Where is our lunch?" just when Ahmadinejad was being introduced as the next speaker and when he did start making his speech, some started booing him and leaving the stadium or chatting amongst themselves. There were hardly anyone who was paying any attention to his usual rhetoric of "global justice" and the need for "collective management of the world".

Ahmadinejad's deputy, Mashaei, who was expected to announce his candidacy didn't even turn up.
Perhaps all that was worthy of the event was that for the first time since the 1979 revolution, men and women sat next to each other in the stadium and danced and cheered together as various musical bands performed for them. Yet as much as Iranians crave for some rejoicing and happiness without consequences, the whole event with all its expenditure; was a total flop.

People rushing for their freebie sandwiches:

Mistaking Interpol for Guidance Patrol

Islamic Republic's deputy police chief for social affairs, Commander Montazerolmehdi, said in a press conference on Tuesday, that Iran's police will be going after those Iranian actresses who do not observe the Islamic dress code abroad, via the help of the Interpol.

Commander Montazerolmehdi's real name is in fact Saeed Artimani, which he later changed to Montazerolmehdi. He was a simple Baseej member during his youth and lived around Ghassr Firoozeh district. His main hobby then, was to stop school children younger than himself and search their bags for illegal CD and DVD tapes, which he confiscated and kept for himself.

Those who remember him from his Baseej days, wonder how he was ever promoted to such a position in the police force. Clearly however, whatever police academy he attended, didn't teach him that the Interpol and the Guidance Patrol, were two entirely different entities.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari

I am often asked by non-Iranians who are interested to know more about Iran, to recommend them a book in English on what is going on in Iran. As of today, here is my top recommendation: 'Then They Came for Me' by Maziar Bahari.

The book is a candid tale of what the Iranian film maker and journalist, Maziar Bahari experienced during the 2009 disputed elections in Iran and his 118 day imprisonment in Evin prison.

It is a very honest book and it is not just a prison diary. Maziar admits that before his arrest, he had to tone down his reports, so that the authorities continued to allow him to return to Iran and report from there.

Through his own family history, Bahari provides a background of the idealistic generation who took part in the 1979 revolution. The family history parts, provide a short contemporary history of Iran that explains why the previous generation of Iranians took part in the 1979 revolution, what they imagined a post-revolution Iran to be, how they were let down and how they suffered enormously from the very revolution they took part in, to bring about the Islamic Republic.

Bahari's book also gives insight to the psychology of the henchmen who keep the Islamic regime afloat and the methods they use to break the will of the prisoners of conscience in Iran as well as what can be done by the outside world to help the dissidents in Iran, so that they are not helpless and alone in the hands of their tormenters.

Islamic Republic's complicated factionalism also becomes more understandable through the various real life characters in the book but as well as these real characters, there is also another character; Amir, whom Bahari refers to as a "composite" character. The reason 'Amir' is a composite character, is partly to protect the real identity of 'Amir' but also to sum up the former zealous revolutionaries and former officials who now see the errors of their judgements and live their lives with much regret about their actions in the past.

Despite all that Maziar Bahari suffered however, he is not a bitter man, he is not after revenge and he remains realistic. Even if you don't see eye to eye with him on everything, you have to accept that he is well informed on Iran and he is worth listening to.