Sic Semper Tyrannis
Thirty years ago, Ruhollah Khomeini led a popular Islamic rebellion in Iran to overthrow the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The rebellion led to his installment as Supreme Leader and Khomeini fashioned a government where the reigns of absolute power were held in perpetuity by a group of Islamic clerics.
Over the past two years, I have been writing articles calling for dialogue between the US and Iran. Some Iranians thought enough about one of the articles at least to have it reprinted in the February 8, 2007 edition of the Tehran Times, Iran’s most popular English newspaper see http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=137072 . (In case my article magically disappears from that site, it can also be seen here http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_steven_l_070206_democratic_president.htm ) . Since the Iranian government exerts complete control over media in the country, one could say my article had the implicit approval of the regime. One of the things I talk about in the article is how the Bush administration rebuffed two offers of dialogue from Ahmadinejad’s predecessor, the more progressive and reform minded Mohammad Khatami. It’s impossible to know for sure, but I believe that had the Bush administration opted to agree to the offers of dialogue with Khatami, we would never have seen the election of Ahmadinejad in 2004 in the first place.
Since the Revolution, it could be said that Iran’s government was a popular dictatorship. That is until this past Friday. Before I get to the irregularity of the results, let’s talk about how the Iranian government acted and reacted in the days leading to the election and since.
In the days leading up to the election, the Iranian Government:
1. Halted text messaging which was a mechanism mostly used by the opposition to organize.
2. Blocked access to online tools like Twitter and Facebook, also mechanisms used by the opposition to organize.
3. Threatened that any attempt to have a Revolution like the velvet revolution would be crushed by the Republican Guard. Why would there need to be a Revolution if the people’s choice was elected?
Since the election, the Iranian Government has:
1. Continued blocking of Twitter and Facebook and messaging systems like cell phone text messaging.
2. Blocked the websites of opposition candidates.
3. Detained several top members of Mir Mousavi’s (Ahmadinejad’s main competitor in the election) campaign along with 100 other top leaders of reform movements.
4. Several non state run newspapers have been closed.
5. Foreign news media like the BBC found their broadcasts jammed in Iran. Sweden’s SVT, Dubai based Al-Arabiya and German ZDF were either told to prepare to leave the country, prevented from reporting on what was happening in Iran, or both.
6. Cell phone service was shut down for 36 hours after the election.
7. (a) Even though the law governing Iran’s Electoral Commission calls for a period of three days to hear challenges before presenting the results to the Supreme Leader, in this case, Ayatollah Khameini, Khameini short circuited the process this time to immediately place his stamp of approval on the election and warned all political factions against challenging it.
Sometimes, the best clues about whether a major event is a fraud or contrived are how those in power act just before or after the event. In the case of the Iranian election, the Iranian government acted both before and after the election just like one would expect of a government about to, and having just, fixed an election.
Let’s talk about the some of the irregularities in the results that have come out so far:
1. (b) More than 10 million votes in Friday’s election were missing national identification numbers similar to U.S. Social Security numbers, which make the votes “untraceable”.
2. (c) Ahmadinejad supposedly had a strong showing in urban areas in Tehran where his opponent was particularly strong and where most of the protests against the election are occurring.
3. The election results apparently give Ahmadinejad a victory in Mousavi’s home district.
4. Polls leading up to the election gave Housavi a growing lead as election day got closer but the election results suggest that Ahmadinejad won 63% of the vote to Mousavi’s 33%
Nor was candidate Mir Mousavi the only candidate alleging fraud. (d) Reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who came a distant fourth with less than 1% of the vote, said Sunday he would refuse to accept the outcome of the vote.
"The results announced for this election are illegitimate and the government coming from that lacks national respect and social competence. So, I do not recognize Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the president of Iran," Karroubi said on the Web site of his political party, Etemad Melli.
Most people around the world would agree that a Democratic Republic is better system than a dictatorship but would also agree that people have the right to choose to be governed by a dictatorship if that is what they want. Once, however, it becomes clear that a dictatorial regime no longer has the consent of the governed, it becomes something monstrous, the essence of tyranny. That is what we have now in Iran. The ruling clerics in Iran have to come to terms with the fact that the Iranian people no longer want to be ruled by them. They want engagement with the west and they want an end to Sharia law. In fact, as of Friday, the clerics are no longer really in charge the only question is how long it takes them to realize it.
(a) Time Magazine – “The Power Behind Ahmadinejad's Disputed Win: Ayatullah Khamenei”, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1904589,00.html?xid=rss-topstories
(b) Washington Times – “Ahmadinejad opponents shout protests from rooftops”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/14/AR2009061400385_3.html