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Iran presidential election 2021: Empty ballots and calls for regime change

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, June 18, 2021—Polling stations opened across Iran on Friday for the latest round of sham presidential election. The election is being held after weeks of tensions among regime officials and a widespread popular campaign to boycott the elections.

The leading candidate in the race is Ebrahim Raisi, a notorious executioner. Raisi, the favored candidate of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, played a key role in the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners. In recent years, as the chief of the judiciary branch, he has overseen the execution of dissidents and torture of protesters in Iran’s prisons. He has been sanctioned by the U.S. for his role in egregious human rights abuses.

The regime’s own officials and media have forecasted and warned that the voter turnout in the elections will be very low.

6:00 PM CET

New videos from Tehran show empty polling stations across the city. According to reports and footage gathered by the MEK network, very few people have cast their votes.

Meanwhile, regime officials are spreading false news about high voter turnout in the elections. In a press briefing, Jamal Orf, the chief of staff of national elections, said, “We hope that the elections will proceed well, and as our dear people participated actively since the morning, the voting process will continue in the afternoon.”

At the same time, they are resorting to different excuses to extend the voting deadline in hopes of gathering a few more votes.

Ahmad Jannati, the Secretary of the Guardian Council, the body that oversees the elections, submitted a request to the interior ministry to postpone the voting deadline, claiming that technical difficulties have prevented the voting process from going smoothly.

Other reports pertain that the regime has resorted to “buying votes.” The reports were widespread, and the acts were caught on camera and spread on social media. The state-run Khabar Fori website confirmed that reports of vote-buying had been submitted to the elections staff.

In Sistan and Baluchestan province, locals of Suran county set fire to a mobile polling station to express their rage toward the regime and their decision to boycott the election.

 

 

A spokesperson for the NCRI said, “Repressive forces are busy intimidating the public to create an atmosphere of fear and to prevent any filming of polling stations. Anyone filming in Tehran risks arrest. The State Security Force, paramilitary Basij, and plainclothes police are heavily present in and around Enghelab Avenue, the Ministry of Interior, and the airport. Units of the IRGC, Basij, and special forces deployed to a disaffected suburb of Tehran, Islamshahr, during the night and early this morning, establishing checkpoints in the city’s various squares.”

4:00 PM CET

More videos and reports coming from inside Iran indicate a widespread boycott of the regime’s sham presidential election.

An MEK activist reporting from Tiran, Isfahan province, said, “Authorities have placed several members of paramilitary Basij forces in front of all poll stations. They were banning people from stopping in front of the stations. They even harassed us when they understood we took this photo.”

New videos obtains from Babolsar, Lar, Shiraz, and other cities show empty polling stations.

Regime officials continue to try to create an impression of high voter turnout. The Abdolrahman Moradi, the Friday prayer leader of Kermanshah, said, “I thank the revolutionary people of Iran and my dear Kermanshahi compatriots for casting their votes. I hope that the elected person will never forget this historical day and respond to the needs of the people.”

Interestingly, videos obtained from Kermanshah show empty polling stations.

Hassan Amoli, the Friday prayer leader of Ardebil, stressed the regime’s need for high voter turnout. “The enemy fears a high voter turnout. Not voting will only make the enemy more serious and put the country under more pressure and will refuse to cooperate with us… Once we lose the opportunity, we can’t win it back.”

Amoli’s remarks speaks to the regime’s need to maintain a façade of democracy to pretend legitimacy on the international front.

Meanwhile, more videos of empty polling stations indicate the people are not interested in giving the regime the legitimacy it very much needs to continue to suppress protests and spread terrorism abroad.

According to a statement by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), regime officials have resorted to various ruses to stage-manage artificial crowd sizes at polling stations.

These tactics include distribute food, cash handouts, and other accessories to gather crowds and take pictures and video footage.

“Election officials have been ordered not to reveal voting participation statistics in their polling stations, and if they are forced to mention figures, they should multiply the actual figure by ten and announce that.  They have also received instructions to guard against invalid ballots that indicate the public’s protest to the vote and write ballots that are incomplete for one of the candidates whose name is closest to what is written on the ballot,” the NCRI statement reads.

2:00 PM CET

More regime officials are implicitly expressing their fear of the election boycott and are imploring the people to go and vote.

In a press conference, Habibollah Shaabani, the Friday prayer leader of Hamedan, claimed that the elections are proceeding in a satisfying manner and that there’s an active presence at the polling stations since the early hours.

However, reports by the locals show that polling stations are empty and the people are not voting.

Contradicting himself, Shaabani did admit in the same conference that the elections boycott movement is serious. “Some people are rightfully dissatisfied with the current situation, especially the economy, but not voting isn’t the solution to these problems. This way, no problems will be solved,” he said.

Shaabani also admitted that the regime is desperately in need of preserving its façade of legitimacy by faking a high voter turnout and said that it would give the regime leverage in negotiations to lift sanctions.

Alireza Angizeh, the deputy commander of Shahid Babaei airbase in Isfahan, also stressed the regime’s need to put a ridiculous show of democracy. “Islamic Iran was created with the high participation of the people in elections, and the active participation of the people will empower us domestically, in the region, and globally.”

Angizeh also stressed that the regime’s “national security” depends on the people’s participation in the elections and called on the people to honor the now-dead terrorist commander Qassem Soleimani and vote in the election.

Gholamhosessin Mahdavi Nejad, the Friday prayer leader of Semnan, claimed that “elections in the Islamic Republic are the most honest elections in the world” and that “there is no way for anyone to cheat in the elections because there is a strong supervisory apparatus.”

Meanwhile, the campaign to boycott the elections continues across Iran. Videos obtained from different cities show empty polling stations.

“As you see, only a few people have come to vote. The vote of the Iranian people is regime change,” one activist reporting from a polling station in Isfahan said.

Several other videos from Isfahan show empty polling stations in different parts of the city.

12:00 PM CET

Reporting from Poonak, Tehran, where the polling station was completely empty, a local sarcastically said, “There is a significant number of people who have come to vote.”

Another citizen reporting from Arak said, “They didn’t let me enter [the polling station]. They said documenters can’t enter… see for yourself.”

In Qom, an activist reporting from outside a polling station said, “No one is here to vote. The people have boycotted this sham election. I congratulate the Iranian people for this victory.”

A video from Falavarjan, Isfahan province, shows empty polling stations. “They’ve set up a big show for the elections. But there are no voters,” an activist said.

Another video from Tabriz showed a polling station being empty even at 2 pm.

 

 

Meanwhile, regime officials continue to beg the people to come and vote. Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayers Leader of Mashhad, said, “Those who don’t go to the ballot boxes are voting for the enemy… they’re voting for the [MEK].”

The regime is trying to create an impression of mass voter turnout, but even its own media can’t cover up the widespread election boycott. The state-run Daneshju news agency reported that by 11:00 am local time, 4.5 million people had cast their votes. While the regime’s media has a history of exaggerating voter participation, this figure is noteworthy. According to the regime’s own figures, there are 59 million qualified voters in Iran and abroad. This means that by midday, less than a tenth of voters had participated in the elections, even by the regime’s own exaggerated standards.

10:00 AM CET

More videos and reports coming from inside Iran indicate polling stations are empty and the people are refusing to vote in the regime’s presidential election.

A reporter for Simay-e Azadi, the television network of the Iranian Resistance, in Qom reported, “This is the polling station of the Motahari Mosque… no one has come to vote. The police are standing idly. The people of Iran have condemned this sham election.”

 

 

Another footage from Eslamshahr, near Tehran, shows one of the main polling stations being near-empty. “This is one of the most important mosques of Eslamshahr. It contains a seminary,” the activist who captured the footage said.

In Isfahah, the Al-Mahdi mosque, which was one of the most important polling stations, was empty, according to local activists. “No one is here to vote. The people of Iran vote for regime change,” an activist said.

 

 

An MEK activist in Fooman, Gilan province, said, “They are trying to bring city council and presidential voting in one place to make it look like there are more people voting. But all polling stations are empty and desolate.”

The activist also said that there’s heavy military presence and security forces are especially wary of people who have mobile devices and are filming the stations.  “In the Doctor Moein School and the Amirkabir High School, plainclothes agents and spies are monitoring the people,” the activist said.

Other videos show empty polling stations in different provinces, including Tehran, Razavi Khorasan, Kermanshah, and Khuzestan.

According to the state-run Etemad Online, some polling stations even opened with much delay because the local authorities didn’t think anyone would show up to vote.

8:00 AM CET

Early reports and photos obtained by the People’s Mojahedin organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) on Friday morning show empty ballot stations. People reported empty polls in Tehran, Karaj, Tabriz, Mashhad, and Isfahan.

 

 

A report from Isfahan indicates that the regime has forced all army personnel to vote in the election. They will have to report on Saturday with proof that they have voted in the election.

A citizen reporting from empty polling stations in Tabriz said, “No to the Islamic Republic. We will not vote. We will not forget nor forgive… Don’t be fooled by them… Those who are voting are staining their hands with the blood of the November 2019 protesters… The world should know that we don’t want them… Today is the day to declare which side of the history we’re standing.”

 

 

A citizen reporting from Garmsar, southeast of Tehran, reported that the polling station was filled with Bassij members, security officers, and media. But very few voters were present.

“No one is here to vote,” the citizen said. “There are only photographers and camera crew. There are very few ordinary people. Maybe two or three. I’m taping this to inform the public. Don’t be fooled by the regime’s media.”

 

 

One of the citizens of Tabriz said, “At 2:00 am, there were protest rallies in the streets of Tabriz. There was a heavy security presence across the city. Citizens installed many handwritten notes on the walls of Al-Zahra Mosque, one of the polling stations.”

The tracts read, “Raisi’s hands are stained with the blood of our compatriots,” “Mothers of protesters killed [by regime security forces] are still mourning their loss. We will not vote,” and “We will not make the same mistake again. We will not vote.”