Iran Election Guide

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Iran Feature: The Week in Review --- Threats and Arrests Before the Presidential Election (Arseh Sevom)

Arseh Sevom, the NGO promoting civil society and human rights in Iran, reports on the latest developments inside the country:

With a Presidential election season on the horizon, speculation begins about likely candidates while officials create an atmosphere of insecurity with rumours and fear-mongering.

Civil society actors in Khuzestan are rounded up. The family of a former framer of the Constitution is told that there can be no public gathering for his funeral.

The Minister of Education has lobbied for segregated university classrooms leaving some asking, “What’s next? Divided hallways?”

Economic woes are nothing new in Iran with inflation at 31.5%, yet the market is flooded with cheap fruit.

The country now has the second-highest rate of traffic fatalities in the world.

Election and Its Discontents

Who will be the next President of Iran? It is hard to tell when just four months before his inauguration, some candidates remain unannounced.

Writing for Tehran Bureau, Gareth Smyth outlines the machinations that could lead to a candidacy for President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfadiar Rahim-Mashai. The New York Times’s Thomas Erdbrink also looks at what is at stake for Ahmadinejad and the Principlists if they are shut out from power:

This time, the jockeying for power is more than politics as usual. If the president and his supporters fail, they will lose any claim to immunity from prosecution and find themselves at the mercy not only of the judiciary but also of the country’s security forces, state television and influential Friday Prayer leaders, all controlled by the traditionalists.

The official policy seems to be to create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity around the upcoming election season. The commander of the Basij paramilitary forces, Mohammad Reza Naghdi stated, “The enemy has wide-ranging plans to sabotage the… [elections], the media, and our political system…”

Naghdi claimed that “the enemy” had plans to kill 92 people during the upcoming elections.

A Wave of Arrests in Khuzestan

Radio Zamaneh reports that in the past month at least 160 civil society activists have been arrested throughout Khuzestan. A number of them may have been released on bail already, yet many remain unaccounted for.

No Public Funeral for the First Post-Revolution Minister of Interior

Ahmad Sayyed Javadi, who died at the age of 95, was buried in a private ceremony after his family was prevented from holding the funeral in a mosque.

During the time of the Shah, Javadi served as a lawyer for Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader, and other prominent dissidents.

The family was warned that they could have no eulogies or discussion at the ceremony.  His daughter was forced to sign a document agreeing to the demands of the government. In an interview with Rooz Online, his brother, Ali Asghar, said of the Government, “They are afraid even of funerals and ceremonies for the dead.”

In a letter addressed to the people of Iran, Javadi apologized for his role in bringing about the Islamic Republic. He wrote:

The path ahead of us was difficult and, at times, we made mistakes. However, at this time, with all my senility and exhaustion, I am confident and hopeful about the victory of democracy and freedom of the people of Iran,‌ more than any other times in history. Democracy is an inevitable destiny for Iran, and I hope that the courageous young Iranians overcome the difficulties in their green path to a bright future, utilizing lessons learnt from past experiences of the previous generations of pro-democracy activists, and through their perseverance in pursuing their goals, their patience and reliance on God.

Segregation in the Universities

Separate classes for college-bound men and women? Kamran Danseshjoo, the Minister of High Education, has declared, “We say we create single-sex university for those who wish to be separated. In a word, we need a university that is in sync with Iran’s Islamic culture.”

Jafar Towfighi. former Minister of Science, Research and Technology calls the new policy a “cultural disaster” and an insult: “The moral atmosphere in the universities is excellent."

Economic Growth Rate at Zero

ILNA reports on the reaction of the head of Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission, Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, to bad economic news. Mesbahi Moghaddam stated that Iran’s economic growth is now at zero, stating, “It is a shame we didn’t use all of the economic opportunities available to us.”

International sanctions and a misguided government subsidy program have contributed to the bad economy, he added.

Mardomak reports that according to the Center of Iranian Statistics, the rate of inflation over the past month was 31.5%. Food prices are 60% higher than this time last year, giving Iran the dubious distinction of having the worst economy in the Middle East.

Gorgeous Fruit at Low Prices

During the Norooz (New Uear) holidays, Iran’s markets were flooded with gorgeous mandarins and other fruit at low prices. This was an unexpected and unexplained treat for many Iranians who were used to prohibitive prices.

Unfortunately, as Iran Emrooz reports, this treat came with a cost. Reportedly, the fruit was meant for export to Arab countries. It was rejected when tests showed an unacceptable level of pesticides.

The same thing is reported to have happened in the past with chicken exports.

Danger on the Road

Out of 190 countries, Iran is #2 when it comes to the highest rate of traffic fatalities. The only country with more is Sierra Leone.

UNICEF reports that the rate of accidents in Iran is 20 times the world average. Each year they leave 28,000 dead and 300,000 injured or disabled.

There was an increase in number of traffic accidents over the New Year holidays: with nearly 32,000 injured during the two-week holiday.

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