Iran Election Guide

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Iran Document: Former President Khatami Pulls Back from 2012 Elections

On Monday, former President Mohammad Khatami spoke to activists about the position of reformists with respect to the 2012 Parliamentary elections.

The statement came after weeks of discussion over Khatami's call for "reconciliation" between the people and the regime. Criticism of the former President overtook his earlier setting of three conditions for involvement in next March's elections --- freeing of political prisoners, adherence to the Constitution, and a free and fair electoral process.

So Khatami --- following other significant interventions such as that of leading reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh, interviewed during a short break in his nine-year prison sentence --- re-arranged his position. The conditions were still the same but the tone about a possible election boycott was much sharper:

Translation by Muhammad Sahimi:

We should not have participated in any elections since [the presidential election of] 2005. Unfortunately, this was our mistake. If this time the conditions are not right, we will definitely not participate. This is my own personal view, and we should make a collective decision after consultation.

How can we ignore the people's rights? Even if the families of all those who have been killed in these events [since the 2009 presidential election] come forward and say that they forgive those who spilled the blood of their children, how can we ignore the legitimate rights of the people? The security environment must be lifted. The elections must be free. Did we not agree with [Mir Hossein] Mousavi and Karroubi to have the [aforementioned] conditions [for any elections] and look toward the future? At the same time, what I am saying may be interpreted as an ultimatum. Although it does not seems that the ruling group is paying attention, some day history will judge.

So long as those who supervise and monitor the elections are not trustworthy, the elections cannot be free. Those who supervise the elections must be trusted [by the people], not those from a certain group with the most extreme views. They [the political establishment] must select representatives from the current political parties to have better elections. If these conditions are not fulfilled, we will definitely not participate in the elections.

We should all decide collectively [what to do] after consultation.... We should not help to heat an oven that bakes bread for someone else [a Persian expression meaning that one should not allow oneself to be used by others to advance their agenda], although we must reach a collective decision about this. It is possible that many things may happen before the elections, but so far there has been no clear indication that the elections will be free.

The difference between the leaders and the political elite is in finding the best way to achieve [our] ideals and goals. The high emotions and ideals of the youth are understandable, and they must be told not to lose hope. But we must recognise that we do not have all the necessary means [to effect change], while we cannot even use all the means that may currently be available.

Emphasising the nature of the political system [that was supposed to be set up after the 1979 Revolution] is not deviating from the main problem [that the nation now faces]. I believe in Islam, and also believe in the Islamic Republic. But I define the Islamic Republic as a vessel that accommodates the entire nation.

[Free] elections are our right. If we do not participate in the elections, it will not be us who should respond [to the nation], but those who do not allow us to participate. For us to participate in the elections, the conditions must be right -- the elimination of the security environment, release of all the political prisoners, and truly free elections. How is it possible to have a security environment, many political prisoners, political parties so restricted, and then claim that we have free elections? The military must not intervene in the elections, and the problem of the [Guardian Council's] vetting power must be addressed, so that all political persuasions can have representatives. It cannot be that whoever that they [the hardliners] do not like can be disqualified by labeling him as being against the political system and Velaayat [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], and then arresting him.

Iran is being ruined. They are destroying the resources of the country. They have ruined the economy. They have made a bad name for the nation. In order to keep these people [Ahmadinejad and his group] in power, blood was spilled, a heavy price was paid, and the prisons were filled.... The justice shares [payments given to 5.5 million Iranians in the weeks before the 2009 election] were illegal. They were getting the funds under a different name, but distributing justice shares, hoping that if the need arose, people would come out on the streets to support them, but they did not. During the presidential debate, Mr. Mousavi said that the government had resorted to geomancy [divination through interpreting markings on the ground]; they said this is not true. Now watch how they themselves are saying the same!

The Green Movement means the freedom movement and, of course, free elections. The Green Movement is dear and magnanimous. We feel terrible that Mousavi and Karroubi are under house arrest. We hope to see their release, the release of their wives, and of course, the release of all the political prisoners. But we surely will not abandon the national and fundamental demands of the nation [even under the current conditions].

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