Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, February 12, 2020—As it does every year, the Iranian regime spent huge sums to stage pro-regime rallies in Tehran and other cities on Tuesday, which marked the 41st anniversary of the 1979 revolution. The event included perks and services such as free transportation and food for the participants. Tehran’s police declared that attendants would be given free “background checks,” a required and costly measure for people who want to get government jobs.
The regime had also set up entertainment stands to encourage the crowd to stay at the event. The government had blocked streets to force the crowd to stay in the main procession.
Government employees and students were forced to attend the events. The regime also rallied the Bassij, the Revolutionary Guards, the State Security Forces, and their families to create the semblance of a large crowd supporting the regime. The army issued an official statement, ordering military service members to attend the rallies.
Yet, despite all its efforts, the regime failed to portray a stable and powerful image of itself and cover up the critical state that it’s going through.
In Tehran and other cities, the rally ended up being scattered and mostly comprised of the regime’s own loyal forces and those who were forced to attend. Local reports and videos show that much of the crowd left the event at the very beginning.
One local reporter from Isfahan said, “Despite the propaganda, a very small crowd has gathered. I don’t even think there are 150 people here. They spent so much money on advertising, they provide free bus and metro, look.”
A very sparse crowd gathered at Tehran’s Azadi Square as Iranian regime president Hassan Rouhani delivered his annual speech.
The regime’s state-run media boasted about rallies in more than 30 cities and reported large crowd attendance, which was quickly picked up by western outlets. But interestingly, in most of the videos, there was no sound of the crowd chanting pro-regime and anti-opposition and -U.S. slogans. Most of the footage was marked with the voices of event organizers coming from loudspeakers. The crowd was not even repeating the slogans and were lethargically moving along.
Instead of displaying the regime’s power, the rallies rather betrayed its instability and crises, especially as it gets ready for parliamentary elections, due for February 21. The regime is at an especially critical juncture where it needs a high voter turnout to feign popularity both at home and abroad. Iranian officials tried to frame the rallies as the tacit support approval of the regime by the people.
Begging for voter turnout
Last week, the Iranian regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei begged the people to participate in the elections. “Some may not like me, but they should vote for the sake of the country’s prestige and security,” Khamenei said. During Tuesday’s events, other regime officials parroted Khamenei’s remarks and called on the people to vote in the parliamentary elections even if they have grievances.
“Even if you have problems with us, vote in the elections. The elections will decide the fate of the nation and I hope that the dear people of this province will have an active presence,” Eshaq Jahangiri, Rouhani’s Vice President, said in a speech in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan province. Ironically, less than a month ago, while the impoverished people of the province were grappling with flashfloods, there were no relief efforts by the government.
In his speech, Rouhani said, “The elections and the ballot are our saviors.”
Other regime officials have tried to threaten or lure the public to attend the elections. Ahmad Khatami, the senior member of the Assembly of Experts, said, “Not inviting the people to vote and participate is playing in the enemy’s court.”
Meanwhile, the elections have also triggered unprecedented rivalry and disputes among regime officials. Officials are exposing corruption and bribery cases in order to gain an advantage over their rivals. The disputes have rendered the regime even more shaky and unstable. In Tuesday’s rallies, supporters of rivaling factions held banners with slogans and threats against each other.
“The Iranian people have cast their real vote during the Nov. 2019 & Jan. 2020 uprisings,” said Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in her speech on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution. “Indeed, the vote of the Iranian people is ‘overthrow.’ Our vote is overthrow. The first and last word is overthrow.”
The Iranian people have cast their real vote during the Nov. 2019 & Jan. 2020 uprisings. Indeed, the vote of the Iranian people is "overthrow." Our vote is overthrow. The first and last word is overthrow. #IranProtests #FreeIran2020 pic.twitter.com/s1D9fr2nLM— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) February 11, 2020