Presidential elections: free, fair and democratic?

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Iran goes to the polls tomorrow to elect a new president. But the climate in which polling occurs cannot be described as free, fair or democratic; therefore, it is important to pray for peace in the streets of Iran and for the future president.

There has not been freedom of expression in the run up to this election: since the beginning of June, several political activists and campaign workers have been arrested at political rallies, at their work places, and at their homes. In addition, journalists and activists who had been imprisoned after the 2009 elections have been recalled to prison. Internet filtering and website blocking has been ramped up. Moreover, following the rigging of the 2009 elections, most people doubt that the voice of the people will prevail in this decision, and think that the winner has already been pre-selected by the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Khamanei. Many Iranians believe that Saeed Jalili is Khamanei’s chosen favourite and that he will end up as president, despite the fact that Jalilli is highly unpopular amongst the people.

Outspoken anti-Khamanei protests in Isfahan last week indicate that resentment against the regime, which surfaced in the form of mass demonstrations following the 2009 presidential election, is still rife. If the people feel the presidential election has again been rigged, this could potentially spark fresh mass protests in the streets. Let us pray that any protests will not be combated with the brutality that was seen in 2009.

Pray for
• Any protests to be peaceful, and dealt with peacefully
• The health and welfare of all the detained journalists and activists
• The new president to be able and willing to lift the level of repression in Iran