Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, June 13, 2021—On Saturday, the regime held the third round of televised debates between the carefully vetted candidates of the upcoming sham presidential election.
As far as the show was concerned, it was more of what was seen in the previous debates: Officials who have been deeply involved in the regime’s corruptions and crimes turn against each other to get a bigger share of the pie. And in their squabbles, they end up doing more damage to the regime.
While blaming each other for the country’s decrepit conditions, the candidates acknowledged and revealed corruption that goes deep to the roots of the regime.
“In one case, $30 billion dollars were allocated to be distributed as cash handouts to the people. It’s not clear what happened to the money,” Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi said.
Alireza Zakani admitted to the embezzlements, mismanagement, and straight-out lying among regime officials. “We’re faced with astronomical salaries, astronomical money [embezzlement cases], and astronomical lies! If Pinocchio was a real thing, the nose of some of these gentlemen would run four rounds around the planet.”
Mohsen Rezaii, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, admitted that “there’s so much thievery and rent-seeking” in government bodies that if it were solved, it could give “4.5-million-rial cash handouts” to the people.
Abodlnasser Hemmati, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, said that without sanctions, “the merchants of sanctions,” by which he alluded to the Revolutionary Guards, would see “35 trillion rials” in damage every year.
Total boycott of the elections
But while each of the candidates tried to appeal to the people by blaming the country’s problems on other officials and currents in the regime, on the streets, the people have other ideas.
In hopes of affecting the voter turnout, the regime has up “open mic” sessions, in which its supporters encourage people to vote in the upcoming election. But these sessions have in effect turned out into a display of utter hatred for the regime and lack of interest in voting for any of the candidates.
In one such session in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, a young lady took the microphone and said, “Other states take our oil and build their countries. But our officials steal our money and it’s not clear what they’re building in this country. What did they do with the thousands, the billions of dollars? Did we ever find out what they built with it? We have all these mines and water resources that they’re selling, which part of the country are they building? Why is our country a wreck? They will remain like this forever. This is their nature. As long as they’re here, Iran will become worse than it is now.”
Another youth at the same session said, “They’re telling us to vote. It is already clear who will be the president. You’ve already posted Raisi’s photo there. I work at the fruit and vegetable market. They came at the market. There are 120 shops. They charged each shop 20 million rials. They forced us to pay. That’s 2.4 billion rials. They said it’s to help Raisi’s campaign. Does the president need financial aid? We shouldn’t vote. We are living in Iran. I swear to God, we can’t breathe in Iran. I’m a youth and I’m struggling to cover the expenses of my family… Why should we vote at all? Don’t vote.”
In another session, a 39-year-old man took the stage and said, “Give me one reason… You all have problems in housing, livelihood, employment, poverty… Why should I vote? So a thief among thieves goes and sits up there? To vote for a bunch of people who vet and qualify and disqualify each other? Should I vote for this formalistic appointment? And they’re lying that the enemy is the United States. Our enemy is right here! It wasn’t the U.S. that raised the price of poultry and potatoes and onion… A righteous person from the people, chosen by the people, not the guy who’s driving a Lamborghini… not the person whose children have foreign nationalities, who are dual nationals… These guys know nothing and they want to run the country? Let the people qualify the candidates. We have a lot of experts, who know the people’s pains, people who are wise, civilized, who can run the country… We are the people. We are fed up. We have nothing to lose. How much longer do these lies must continue, poverty and discrimination must continue? Stop insulting our intelligence… I don’t even know whether I will get home safely. Pray for me.”
Families of victims speak up
One thing that the regime has tightly controlled in the debates is the mention of the repression of dissidents and protesters. In their arguments, the candidates were very careful to not mention the regime’s killing of 1,500 protesters in the November 2019 protests or the massacre of 30,000 dissidents in 1988, in which Ebrahim Raisi, the preferred candidate of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, played a key role.
But the people of Iran have not forgotten the regime’s atrocities. And despite all the risks, they are exposing these crimes and calling for the boycott of the sham elections to honor the regime’s victims.
In recent days, the parents of protesters and dissidents killed by the regime’s security forces continue to post videos and messages calling for the total boycott of the Iranian regime’s sham elections. In a video message, the mother of Saro Ghahremani, a youth killed by the regime’s security forces during the 2017-2018 protests, said, “In honor of the blood of Saro and all the martyrs of the struggle for freedom, I will not vote.”
In another video, Mahmoud Moazami, the father of Reza Moazami, a youth gunned down by security forces during the 2019 protests, said, “For the blood of my son Reza and all the victims of the November 2019 protests I will never vote for the Islamic Republic. And I’m asking you dear people to join us in this campaign.”