Saturday, January 19, 2008
URI and the upcoming election in IranUnited Republicans of Iran
For a Democratic and Secular Republic
January 19, 2008
The greatest affront to our nation is disenfranchising the opposition to participate in elections
Today as we are approaching the eight parliamentary elections in Iran, a great many of our devoted compatriots who are committed to democratic values, and believe in separation of State and Religion, are still deprived from being nominated. The secularists, the ethnic minorities, and women are subject to the outermost discrimination and constraints. The laws of Islamic Republic do not recognize the right of free engagement in the elections for the opposition of the Islamic state, thus disenfranchising a large population of Iran’s citizens from their basic right. The leaders and authorities of the regime have gradually and practically increased such constraints so that even political groups within the system are no longer able to nominate their members in the elections.
Activists of social movements, women, workers, and students are either being constantly persecuted or serving time in jails. Censorship prevails even though there are only a handful of newspapers that are permitted to continue publication. Journalists, writers and intellectuals are being openly threatened and suppressed. Ayatollah Khamenei as the supreme leader interferes more and more in the daily affairs of the state. He has personally ordered the exclusion of the opposition from the election. Khamenei has labeled those who criticize him as foreign agents thus obstructing their nomination in the election process. He has rejected the opposition’s request for international monitoring of the election on the basis that such requests purport an insult to the Iranian nation. Repeating Ayatollah’s remarks by Mr. Moussavi Lari, the chief of reformists’ campaign is regrettable. It demonstrates a lack of decisiveness in the reformist camp that would only lead to their own elimination from the election process on bogus premises. The greatest insult to the Iranian nation is banning the opposition of the government to run in the election and excluding the people from free participation. With the current format of the election process people can only choose among filtered candidates. The impact of the previous elections has been noticeable on the country and on the balance among the political forces within the state. At least until now, despite the ongoing antagonism, the competition between reformists and hardliners within the regime has been recognized. However, Ayatollah Khamenei is trying to limit the competitions between his own supporters and turn it into an election of candidates who are endorsed by the Guardian Council. Members of the Guardian Council are chosen by the Ayatollah himself. Thus defending the vetting process of the candidates by this body purports defending the elimination of the opposition, either insiders or outsiders, from the political scene in Iran. This attitude shows once again that without structural changes in the way the authoritative forces operate, elections can always be manipulated by the supreme leader and his appointees.
Our organization, the United Republicans of Iran, demands that Islamic Republic respect people’s vote and formation of a government based on nation’s free will. The necessary elements of a free election include respecting voter’s basic rights and freedom, involvement of political parties in the elections and recognizing freedom of expression for journalists and newspapers.
We believe that the best mechanism for a free election is to allow political parties to oversee the election process, to discard the vetting process by the Guardian Council, and to exercise transparency. At the same time international monitoring of the election is an essential measure that can guarantee realization of people’s aspiration. It can provide a condition for a transparent and fair election process that would allow reflection of people’s true choices. Ayatollah’s opposition to international monitoring of the election only reduces the credibility and significance of the election. It only downplays the role of elections in policy making.
The United Republicans of Iran strongly petitions administration of a free election, recognition of political parties by the government, providing for all inclusive conditions, and disposition of all discriminatory measures that deny the rights of secularists to partake in the election and influence policy making.