This article is part of our coverage of the Iranian regime’s June 18 presidential elections
Less than a week remains to the Iranian regime’s sham elections. The mullahs, however, are facing a crisis of low public interest in the elections. State-run television reports are acknowledging that 90 percent of college students will not participate in elections. Three tightly controlled “presidential debates” have only added to the already escalating public outrage vis-à-vis all factions of the clerical regime.
During these debates various candidates accused each other of theft, plundering, and lying. Former vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh attacked judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi. “How come you have become so nice suddenly? If so, why is the Telegram [messaging platform] still blocked? Why don't you ask the supreme leader to pardon those arrested during the November 2019 [protests]?” he told Raisi.
Also, Abdolnaser Hemmati, former Governor of Iran’s Central Bank acknowledged, “The people are dissatisfied. Their slogans have changed from ‘where is my vote’ to ‘no more vote’.”
Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, a member of the regime’s Expediency Discernment Council, acknowledged the inefficiency of the so-called presidential debates. “What the candidates showed during the debates was nothing but indictments against the establishment, and this level of debate and questions was a disgrace and in fact a setback for us,” Rafsanjani said.
During the past few weeks, however, various segments of Iran’s society have called for an all-out boycott of the regime’s sham elections. Among them are families of protesters killed during November 2019 nationwide demonstrations, seen posting video messages on social media calling for an all-out boycott of the upcoming presidential elections.
Mrs. Iran Alahyari, mother of Mehrdad Moinfar said in her video message, “I will not forgive nor forget the blood of my only son. They have destroyed my life and I have suffered so much pain. Because of the pain of all mothers and fathers like myself I will not vote. My vote is regime change.”
Following three major anti-regime uprisings the people of Iran will not only boycott the mullahs’ elections but reject all regime factions and call for regime change. Many brave youths across Iran are posting video messages openly calling for measures to overthrow regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
These measures are inspired by the continuous activities of the network of members and supporters of the Iranian opposition inside Iran. Iranian Resistance Units form the internal network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) who launched the “Boycott Iran Sham Elections” campaign in the month of April. Throughout the months of April, May and June the MEK’s internal network is constantly spreading the following messages on a daily basis: “My vote is regime change, boycott regime sham elections.”
In a June 11 report the regime’s official IRNA news agency acknowledged the MEK’s impact on Iran’s society. IRNA quoted Ali Mohammad Golverdi, the Friday prayer Imam and representative of Khamenei in Taft in Yazd province, warning that the MEK seeks to encourage people to pour into the streets for anti-regime protests.
“Through its supporters, the MEK is trying to discourage the people from voting, discrediting the Guardian Council and the candidates, all to prepare the grounds for street protests,” Golverdi said. In Iran Friday prayers are considered important mediums through which Khamenei’s representative voice the regime’s main political agenda.
Also, Ahmadreza Shahrokhi, the Friday prayer imam of Khorramabad in western Iran said on June 11, “It is the MEK that calls on people to boycott the vote and they have plans for us.”
Fearing losing control over the status quo, Khamenei has done all within his power to groom and literally place Ebrahim Raisi, his preferred candidate, as the regime’s next president.
However, the mullahs’ main dilemma is the people, who are using every opportunity and stage to denounce Khamenei and Raisi. Raisi is notoriously known for his direct role in the execution of political dissidents, especially the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in jails across the country. People are tearing down or burning the regime’s election posters. The issue has become so problematic that Raisi had to order a halt to the installation of his posters.
The Iranian people utterly hate Raisi, but that doesn’t mean they have a preference for any of the other candidates. As far as the people are concerned, anyone who is qualified to run for presidency in Iran is complicit in the regime’s human rights violations, terrorism, and corruption.
The utter hatred toward the regime and the growing movement to boycott the elections are leading to grave concerns for Iranian officials. During this week’s Friday prayers, Ahmad Alamalhoda, the Friday prayer leader of Mashhad in northeast Iran warned: “If people don’t participate in the elections, it will be a referendum against the establishment and thus mean that the people have turned their backs on the apparatus… and that this establishment has run its course.”
The state-run Arman Melli daily wrote on June 10, “The elections atmosphere is such that the public believe that the result of the elections is engineered, resulting in no desired outcome for our establishment.”