June 22, 2009
‘Where is my vote?’
The sign says it all: “Where is my vote?”
Throughout the ongoing street marches in Iran the sign eloquently expresses the underlying sense of many Iranians that their votes were simply not counted. Their voices at the ballot box were not heard.
One marcher eloquently expressed the feelings of many as she was interviewed on TV: “There was so much energy for Mousavi — we knew he was winning.”
That is why there was such shock when the election results were announced by the Interior Ministry with such unseemly haste on Saturday, the day after the election. According to Iranian law, election results are to be certified three days after the election, giving time for complaints and discrepancies to be resolved.
Instead, the results were hurriedly announced and Supreme Leader Khameini rushed in to congratulate Ahmadinejad. Almost simultaneously cell ph0ne service and internet access were blocked. These are not the acts of a government that knows that it has won the popular vote. Instead it reeks of a ruling elite desparate to maintain power, with or without the consent of the voters. Some would call it an internal coup.
Because there were no international election observers — or indeed any observers at all aside from the Interior Ministry staff running the election — it is difficult to get any objective accounts of the way the election was administered. It is important to point out that the head of the Interior Ministry reports directly to President Ahmadinejad. Therefore you have the spectacle of Ahmadinejad in the dual role of being a candidate AND at the same time overseeing the election. Can you say “conflict of interest” and “opportunity for partisan manipulation”?
A more detailed picture of the many anomalies in the election has been painted by Ibrahim Yazdi, a a leading Iranian dissident and Iran’s foreign minister in the early days of Islamic republic. http://www.thenation.com/blogs/dreyfuss/443348
Many of us believe that the election was rigged. Not only Mousavi. We don’t have any doubt. And as far as we are concerned, it is not legitimate.
There were many, many irregularities. They did not permit the candidates to supervise the election or the counting of the ballots at the polling places. The minister of the interior announced that he would oversee the final count in his office, at the ministry, with only two aides present.
In previous elections, they announced the results in each district, so people could follow up and make a judgment about the validity of the figures. In 2005, there were problems: in one district there were about 100,000 eligible voters, and they announced a total vote of 150,000. This time they didn’t even release information about each particular district.
In all, there were about 45,000 polling places. There were 14,000 mobile ones, that can move from place to place. Many of us protested that. Originally, these mobile polling places were supposed to be used in hospitals and so on. This time, they were used in police stations, army bases, and various military compounds. When it comes to the military compounds and so on, if even 500 extra votes were put into each of the 14,000 boxes, that is seven million votes.
Mousavi and Karroubi had earlier established a joint committee to protect the peoples’ votes. Many young people volunteered to work on that committee. But the authorities didn’t let it happen. Last night [that is, election night] the security forces closed down that committee. There is no way, independent of the government and the Guardian Council, to verify the results.
But the people of Iran are not to be denied.They know instinctively that the “official” vote tally is simply wrong and they have acted on that belief. They have taken to the streets in huge numbers to express their outrage. They wear green and flash the “V” for victory sign. So far, they have expressed their feelings in peace and solidarity.
The world watches transfixed as Iran’s post-election drama unfolds. Brief snatches of photos from cell phones, Twitter messages and Facebook postings give tantalizing glimpses of the ongoing protests against the “official” election results.
The veil has been ripped aside and it is now clear to Iranians that the election was just a charade with a predetermined result. In reality, their votes were never counted.
The entire world is watching what comes next. Due to social networking tools we stand shoulder to shoulder in virtual solidarity with our Iranian brothers and sisters. The message is clear: count the votes and end the violence. Let the voices of the Iranian people be heard at the ballot box.
Where are the votes?