Iran Video and Transcript: Revisiting The Opposition Case for an Illegitimate Election (21 June 2009)
During the Presidential campaign and election of 12 June 2009, Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour was the head of the Committee to Protect the Vote. On 21 June, two days after the Supreme Leader had reaffirmed at Friday Prayers that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the election, Mohtashamipour made a lengthy public statement in which he set out the case for a flawed ballot and set the conditions for a proper review.
Mohtashamipour's basic demand --- for an independent committee to enquire into the vote, as the Guardian Council, the Islamic Republic's body overseeing political matters, had been compromised by support of its members for President Ahmadinejad --- was quickly rejected. The Council conducted a limited recount of ballots and issued a report in July declaring that there was no irregularities in the election. The video of Mohtashamipour's appearance has been circulating this month through social media, but the English transcript of his presentation has only just been posted.
The reason for the participation of the people in this election was the presence of the esteemed Mir Hossein Mousavi and his candidacy on the one hand, which is reminiscent of his excellent era of management over an eight-year period and his defense during Imam Khomeini's lifetime; and then on the other hand, the formation of the committee to protect the people's vote during this period, which was the reason for the trust of the people for their direct and momentous intervention and the influence that their vote had on the nation's political fate.
Unfortunately, the administrators, the Ministry of the Interior, and various other influential people by making the situation appear quite the reverse of the people's vote, claimed the winner of the elections to be someone else and forced this injustice and vulgarity onto the rights of the people. The winner, Mr. Ahmadinejad himself, with fervour took to celebrating and merriment in Vali-Asr Square, while the dust of a nebulous sorrow appeared on the face of the people of Iran, throughout the country from every city to every village, at the announcement of such an improbable occurrence...which can still be seen even on their faces....These gentlemen are still celebrating.
This events that took place that day in Vali-Asr Square and the insult that the sitting president paid to the people is unprecedented in the history of all countries and the authorities of countries. No head of a state, king or president insults people in this manner. And the people who peacefully marched, the following day, gathering on Azadi Square, were insulted by [Ahmadinejad] calling them dirt and dregs.
They attacked the university and the campus; they dragged our sister and brother students through blood and sand.
And now, I'd like to share with you a report based on a conference which we held with the Guardian Council.
[In green captions:
"Those present at the conference which took place on Tuesday, the 26th of Khordaad, 1388 (June 16th, 2009):
Mr. Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi: [Presidential candidate Mehdi] Karroubi's representative
Mr. Danesh Jafari: [Presidential candidate] Mohsen Rezaei's representative
Mr. Abbas Akhoundi and Mr. Ali Owsat-Hashemi: The Committee to Protect Mir-Hossein Mousavi's Electorate"
....During this conference, the spokesman for the Guardian Council announced that the [legitimate] elections in fact took place and people did turn out in abundance. According to the law, if either the candidates or the people have any complaints, they should make their case by providing proof so that the Guardian Council. which transcends issues, can study them and in due legal time, pronounce its conclusions. I
I was the first speaker...during those 3 1/2 hours....Here, now, I will give you, in a nutshell our positions in the conference and the issues that were deconstructed for the Guardian Council, in proving the avoidance [of proper process] of [these] elections.
The point is that the question of proof can only be posed when an election has taken place in a general and inviolable situation....Then that is when one can discuss the proof of violations. But if some action occurs that is not based within a legal framework and [the election] is fundamentally null and void, the talk of proof is irrelevant.
[Guardian Council spokesman] Mr. [Abbas Ali] Kadkhodaei and members of the Guardian Council, violations have taken place in this election, having rendered its substance meaningless. Simply, it did not have the same meaning and definition of elections.
The first violation has occurred at the hands of the Guardian Council and the culprit who was the supervisor is the personage of the spokesman of the Guardian Council, Mr. Kadkhodaei [Kadkhodaei's photo is flashed next to Mohtashamipour]. You, sir, have come and within a formal and ordered action, you have posed a question and provided an answer where those both posing the question and responding are the observer members of the Guardian Council.
Within this question and response, issues have been put forth. First, you have asked if the representative member of the city council, where we have city councils, needs to have the confirmation of the Guardian Council or not. Then you responded by saying yes, and that that individual must have the confirmation of qualification from the Guardian Council.
This is a contradiction to the letter of the law. The law states that several people are automatically members of the board of executors: one is a member of the records and registration bureau, another is a prosecutor of that specific election area, and one is a member of the city council, chosen by the city council. In the same way that the Guardian Council does not have the right to confirm the qualifications of the prosecutor, or confirm the qualifications of the director of the bureau of records and registration, it does not have the right to come and say that it needs to confirm the qualifications of the city council member. Are the city council members your representatives for you to confirm them?
The law states that the board of executors must be comprised of those who are trusted members of a district and these other individuals. Not only does that person not require your confirmation, the city council members are trusted individuals for whom the people voted. Who do you think you are to confirm or disqualify people who are trusted by and voted for by the people? You have no right to do any such thing.
Ten days before the elections, we noticed that the Ministry of Communications had decided to completely disconnect our connection with our staff and the connection with the [Committee for the] Protection of the Votes throughout the entire country....and disconnect us with all our representatives.
We had designed a system that our representatives would be present at all the ballot boxes and operative committees and that, via SMS, they would report all wrongdoings so that we can prevent these violations. I announced this during a press conference that, based on the information that we had received from within the Ministry of the Interior, they had plans to disconnect all computer and SMS connections on the day of and the day before the actual election and cause trouble.
Now the following day both the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Communications denied this, claiming that it is totally impossible for this system to be disconnected or undermined. But on the 21st of Khordaad and the day before the elections, we noticed that they disconnected our entire SMS system. At 11 p.m. on Friday [sic --- Thursday], the 21st of Khordaad [11 June], they even disconnected private SMS connections as well. Effectively our connection with the entire country was cut off. This was a clear widespread violation and fraud on all levels of the electoral domains.
We then sounded the alarm bells and on the 22nd of Khordaad [12 June] we wrote a letter to the Minister of the Interior and brought the measure of the fraud and violations that they themselves had committed and that the government had committed to his attention.
The third violation is that based on the law. The agreement that our representative had with the Guardian Council [was that] an hour before the opening of the polls, the representatives of the candidates could show up to oversee the inspection of the ballot boxes, in order to be sure of the fact that the boxes are in fact empty and then to make sure that the boxes are properly sealed....So we told all our representatives to show up from an hour before and supervise the process of the sealing of the boxes.
They kicked our representatives out and away from the boxes. What was in those boxes that you, Mr. Guardian Council and Minister of the Interior, did not have the courage, for the representatives of our candidates to see for themselves if the boxes are empty or contain votes...and how they are sealed?Why did you kick out those people who had shown up before you at the locations and mosques and then prohibit those who shown up afterwards from entering? This is a huge question mark in front of the Guardian Council where they have no answers. And the same for the Ministry of the Interior, where they have no answer for it either.
The other issue in connection with this is the issue of the management of the evaluation of the ballot. In the letters that we wrote to the Guardian Council and the Ministry of the Interior, this is documented. These letters were sent out before the elections took place.
Based on the information that we have at hand, the Ministry of the Interior published 59,600,000 evaluation slips (or ballots) whereas they have announced that 46,200,000 are eligible to vote. This means that more than 13 million more ballots than eligible voters have been printed.
However, on the day of the election, in reality in many of the cities and provinces, there was a shortage of slips and the branches claimed that they are lacking slips. In Western Azarbaijan for example...the Ministry of the Interior sent 2,650,000 slips while the eligible number of voters in Western Azarbaijan is 2,400,000....However, at least 50 electoral statioins, whose numbers and estimations are available, in the city of Tabriz at 10 a.m. did not have the slips. And there were throngs of people at the polling stations without the availability of any slips. In two hours, from 8 a.m. when the polling stations open until 10 a.m., all of a sudden they announced they had no slips. Where on earth did those slips go? And then people waited until 5 p.m., behind the gates, to vote, and the slips were non-existent.
So, due to the pressures [the election monitors] brought to bear, a number of slips were sent over by the Ministry of the Interior which lasted a short while and then again, they ran out. And as such a huge number of people in Tabriz and in Western Azarbaijan were deprived of voting.
In Ardebil, they said it in the morning...that they have no slips. In Kermanshah and various other cities, they announced at noon that they had run out of slips. In Gilan, Mazandaran, Tehran, and various other cities and provinces...there were no slips. Where did these slips go? And then how were they placed in the boxes? Again, this is a big question mark...of how extra slips could be sent out but they run out...and in the morning and noon even. Now, I will tell you why the slips ran out so quickly.
The next issue is the issue of management during the period of the elections. During these last 30 years, it is unprecedented that [there is only] a one-hour extension. Every single minister in the country, during every single election, when throngs of people show up during the late afternoon at the ballot boxes, they would extend for two hours and in fact the extension would be extended twice.
This is the first time ever, where they only extended for one hour. Then after pressures from here and there, they then extended another hour and then right a 9 o'clock, they announced the end of the election. According to the law, until there is even one person remaining, they must continue to take the votes but the gentlemen closed the polling stations and they even kicked out those who were there to vote at 10 p.m. Why?
One of the possible explanations could be the following: that if all the throngs of people who had been waiting from the morning through to the night for the slips, had been able to vote, they would have been fearful that the votes would exceed those who were eligible....How then could they explain that one away?....Where had these 50 million votes come from when [only] 46,250,000 were eligible?...How did it become 50 million? They would have had no explanation, and [so they] had to put an end to the situation, announcing the end of the election. This is all a sign that an act of extensive engineering of the elections has taken place .
[Video footage of people commenting on the voting and polling stations closing]
Mr. Jannati, the Secretary General of the Guardian Council and the overlord of this election, has gone up to the pulpit at the Friday Prayer and has actively expressed his support for Mr. Ahmadinejad. And he has complimented and commended him.
Mr. Mohammad Yazdi, one of the influential members of the Guardian Council, has openly expressed his support for Ahmadinejad and has spoken out against the other candidates.
Mr. [Gholam-Hossein] Elham [of the Guardian Council] has given a speech where he too has offered his support. And then there were other members of the Guardian Council: at least seven members of the Guardian Council have come out in support of Ahmadinejad. Effectively these people are all lacking legitimacy as observers. And the elections and an election without observers is null and void.
If there aren't impartial observers from the Guardian Council present at a polling station, they cannot hold elections there. And when there are no impartial observers, the election is null and void....
Given the fact that the Guardian Council has not been able to prove its impartiality, and the blanket support for one candidate, from a number of the members of the Guardian Council has in fact been proven, the Guardian Council cannot therefore either confirm or reject the results of the 10th Presidential elections....
[Video footage of Khamenei on 19 June, who says, "The structure of our Presidential elections under the law, does not allow for any fraud. Those who are involved and know about the electoral process in this country can vouch for it; let alone up to an 11-million [vote] difference [between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi]. If the difference between the two votes was 100,000 or 500,000 or 1 million votes...then one can say they've cheated, they've shifted things around, but how can one cheat on 11 million votes?]
And so our suggestion during this meeting was as follows: that we should form a fact-finding committee in order to find a way out of this problem and quagmire. And this fact-finding committee would look into 15 or 16 issues that we mentioned, one of which is the impartiality of the Guardian Council, which requires investigating. And if this fact-finding committee looks into this one matter of the issues where the members of the Guardian Council have in fact acted fraudulently, supporting one candidate, opposing other candidates, then that in and of itself is enough to render the elections null and void....
The fact-finding committee should be comprised of [one] representatives of the...envoys from Qom, then four representatives representing each Presidential candidate, one representative from the Guardian Council --- with the proviso that this individual who is picked has never uttered a word against any of the other candidates and his impartiality has been proven. Then one person from the Ministry of the Interior who meets this very same condition, and then a renowned legal scholar, a Professor at the university who has been put forth by the Bar Association. Then, the head of the judiciary, as well as the head of the investigative body of the country, and finally, the Attorney General of the country.
This coalition can be the fact-finding committee that can investigate the evident issues of fraud committed and reasons for annulment of the 10th Presidential elections. And then their findings should be reported to the people and the Supreme Leader. And it is this fact-finding commission which will once again interest people in the process of the elections and then people can, with the viewpoint and suggestion of this committee, plan for future elections.
This was our operational recommendation to yesterday's Guardian Council meeting [Tuesday, 27th of Khordaad 1388 --- 20 June] which is meant to be looked into at the public meetings of the Guardian Council and their opinions will be communicated to us.