By Michael Petrou - Friday, February 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
The government is already rounding up ‘dissidents’—an early warning sign to the opposition
Iran’s disputed 2009 election, which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency, led to mass protests and a brutal crackdown that saw dozens killed and thousands arrested. This time, the government is taking early steps to silence potentially disruptive voices. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast last week warned that Iran’s “enemies” are planning to foment unrest as part of an “all-out war” against the Islamic Republic, pre-emptively defining protesters as anti-Iranian. Elections aren’t until June.
Late last month, 16 journalists were arrested and taken to Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, where they are reportedly being held in wing 209—the same cellblock where Canadian Zahra Kazemi was murdered in 2003. (In an ironic twist, Saeed Mortazavi, the former prosecutor who sent her to prison, was arrested this week—possibly as a result of a power struggle within Iran’s political elite—and is now in Evin himself.) Arash Azizi, an Iranian journalist living in Canada says the arrests have shocked journalists in Iran, in part because several of those arrested were not obvious targets, even for Tehran’s thin-skinned government. “We are used to these kind of attacks, but this was unexpected. This was an attempt to bring an atmosphere of intimidation before the election.” It is not just journalists who are being subjected to increased state pressure. Coffee-shop owners have been ordered to install video cameras and provide the recordings to authorities. Cafés are popular with Iranian youth and intellectuals who enjoy the chance to drink, smoke, talk and listen to live music. Dozens were raided last summer, ostensibly for offences such as allowing women to smoke hookah water pipes. Continue…
By Philippe Gohier - Friday, June 19, 2009 at 5:58 PM - 7 Comments
The race is on to prove Iran’s election was fixed
It’s the claim most central to the ongoing protests in Iran: last Friday’s election was stolen, rigged by authorities sympathetic to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in order to give the conservative a victory over the reformist Mir Hosein Mousavi. Since the protests began, academics, mainstream news outlets and bloggers have all been racing to prove—and, in rare cases, disprove—the pro-Mousavi camp’s claim that Ahmadinejad didn’t win the election.
The official line that Ahmadinejad scoring a landslide victory with nearly double Mousavi’s share of the popular vote (63 per cent to 34 per cent) is starting to show cracks. Turnouts breaking the 100 per cent mark were apparently recorded in at least 30 towns, while some 200 districts recorded a near-impossible turnout of more than 95 per cent. Elsewhere, like in Mousavi’s hometown of Tabriz, there were unexpected and wholesale shifts of allegiances. Ahmadinejad is said to have taken 57 per cent of the vote in Tabriz, for example—an unlikely turn of events according to Juan Cole, the author of Engaging the Muslim World and a professor of history at the University of Michigan, because Azeris have in the past “voted disproportionately for even minor presidential candidates who hailed from that province.” Continue…