Thursday, March 1, 2012

Friday’s Elections

By Nader Uskowi

The elections for the Ninth Majlis will be held tomorrow across Iran. I ran as one of the youngest candidates from Tehran in the First Majlis. That was March 1980! The elections then were not a choice between conservative and ultraconservative candidates. They included a wide range of candidates from right to left. I finished first among the leftist candidates, with more votes than Toudeh’s Kianouri. But it was the right in a “Grand Coalition” between the Islamic Republic Party let by Ali Khamenei and the Society of Combatant Clerics led by the late Mehdi Shahabadi that carried the day and won the majority in the First Majlis. Ayatollah Shahabadi was a friend. We met and befriended at SAVAK’s notorious Komiteh Prison during the last months of the shah’s government, and remained friends until he lost his life in a terrorist attack. That was the atmosphere then.

32 years later, the Society of Combatant Clerics, this time led by Mahdavi Kani, is the leading force in the United Principlist Front, expected to keep its majority in the Ninth Majlis. But this time their main opponents are the like-minded conservatives, especially the ultraconservatives led by Mesbah Yazdi’s Resistance Front. No Left, Center, reformist or any form of opposition groups or coalitions were allowed to run. This is the atmosphere now.

I guess 32 years of uninterrupted rule by any group, led by a leader for life, creates such atmosphere. The opposition candidates instead of running in the elections are either inside the notorious Evin Prison or not allowed to run. The Ayatollah Shahabadi I knew, if he was with us today, would have cringed at the conditions surrounding the elections for the Ninth Majlis and their eerie similarities to the shah’s time which he spent so many years in prison trying to change it.


Anonymous said...

Mr Uskowi you know very well that you cannot possibly compare the Shahs prisons to the prisons of the Islamic republic.
Political prisoners of the Shahs time used to say they usually feared isolation and possible torture.But a well known political prisoner of that time who also served time in the Islamic republics prisons said that the biggest fear now is torture and execution.
The regime that is supposed to represent Allah on earth is a thousand times worse than a paternalistic regime that existed under Pahlavi. As I should know as well as you because we both lived in both systems of government in our country.The Shah refused to kill the communists and other leftists on mass so what happened Khomeini murdered thousands of them once in power.
Mr Uskowi this is a long story of double dealings back room deals and back stabbings that made the Iranian people its main victims to the benefit of Iran's foreign enemies under the guise of friendship.What happened to Iran even a novelist of James Bond couldn't have dreamed up.

The Realist.

Mark Pyruz said...

Great story, Nader! I always enjoy reading about your younger days.

BTW, as to reformists not running, per a comment posted elsewhere:

1) National Confidence party has had its activities suspended but has retained its license and organization. We know that it is involved in the election and key members of its central committee, like Mohammad Reza Khabbaz and Mohammad Baqer Zakeri, are running for office.

2) All other reformist parties ( Kargozaran-e-Sazandegi, Majam, Mardomsalari, Hambastegi, Azadi, Javan, Ettehad-e-Melli, Kar etc are all active). Members of these parties are taking part in the coming election.

3) Most reformist leaders and politicians are NOT in jail: This includes Reza and Muhammad Khatami, Mostafa Moin, Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Ebrahim Ashgharzadeh , Rasoul Montajebnia, Majid Ansari, Mohammad Reza Aref, Ali Mohammad Gharibani, Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, Hadi Khamenei, Abolhasan Sarhadizadeh, Majid Motahshami etc.) These individuals are always giving interviews, press conferences and their comments are expressed in both the state and independent media.

Nader Uskowi said...

Thanks, Mark.

All reformist leaders are not in jail, but none are deemed “qualified” to run in the elections, and the top two are under house arrest. And the notorious Evin, sections 250 and 350 for example, are full of reformist activists. “Not all are in jail,” is not good enough.

No reformist or opposition groups could field candidates, as their organizations have been declared illegal. I am sure there are some members of those former organizations that might have passed the vetting process of the Guardians, but the two names mentioned here do not represent the leadership of the opposition.

Mark, some opposition members might be running as independent candidates, but the opposition is barred to run in these elections. Compare that to my story of the spirit of the election days during the First Majlis! Power, uninterrupted, and leadership for life, corrupts the powerful.

Faryar said...

Dear Nader:
This regime's elections were always a fraud. Only the factions that were disqualified have changed and the range of eliminations have broadened to include internal regime elements.

During your time, you would have been disqualified if you had a chance to win. Remember that the then popular Islamic MEK (Mojahedin) candidate(s) were disqualified in the "experts (constitutional) assembly" as well as other subsequent elections.

In any case, as usual, the regime will proclaim huge participation.