They say that an optimist is someone who knows that one step forward and two steps back is a dance, not a defeat. In 2013, those acting for a vibrant civil society in Iran wore out their dancing shoes. This post presents a brief and incomplete overview of the last year of posts from Arseh Sevom.
Arseh Sevom–The final post of a three-part series summarizing the Hivos report, The Green Movement: Seizing the State or Democratizing Society, examines the long struggle for democracy in Iran and the stunted growth of its civil society. Editor Shervin Nekuee states that “The most essential question these citizens have to deal with is whether they are capable of preventing the arrival of yet another tyrant…” Civil Society activist Sohrab Razzaghi says, “The fundamental issue is that the idea of a civil society is not yet considered a social project among Iranian intelligentsia and social forces [...]”
In the run-up to the elections, there were threats against the families of BBC reporters. The Internet in Iran was slowed to a crawl. The Iranian Cyber Army launched botnet attacks against a number of media sites including BBC, Radio Farda, and Radio Zamaneh. Pundits predicted a win for Saeed Jalili, calling him the Supreme Leader’s favorite.
In the most “engineered” of election campaigns since the inception of the Islamic Republic, candidates are surprised to find themselves censored. The Revolutionary Guards reorganizes to face the challenge posed by elections, warning that Ahmadinejad supporters could be the source of unrest in the upcoming elections. “Vision” meetings are held to “guide” voters to the correct candidate. Prisoners of conscience are called back to prison from furlough. This is how an “ultra-democracy” handles election campaigning.
Arseh Sevom — With only a few weeks until the elections, it’s no surprise that our review focuses on recent developments. The disqualifications of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjan and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s former chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie were big news, if not entirely surprising. The electoral field is now dominated by hardliners loyal to Supreme [...]
Arseh Sevom — The elections are coming, which means candidates are finally registering, the internet is slowing, and paranoia is high. In the latest crackdown, dogs walked in public are being confiscated. Iran hasn’t budged on the press freedom index, hanging on to its spot as one of the six worst countries in the world. Workers refuse to let May Day go unnoticed: they celebrate, strike, and protest poor wages and even worse conditions. Ten political prisoners in Evin were transferred to solitary confinement, while permits have been issued for mining in protected natural areas.
The International Electoral Education Council (IEEC) is currently focusing on upcoming elections in several countries, including the June 14 elections in Iran. One of the programs being undertaken by the IEEC is the study of Iran’s Out of Country Voting (OCV) process. They have created documents to assist individuals and organizations interested in informal electoral observation at polling stations outside of Iran. The Handbook for Iran and a Methodology and Checklist for observation prepared by the IEEC in both English and Persian.
Arseh Sevom – Over the years, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij have become increasingly active in the political sphere, interfering with the operation of free and fair elections with increasing prevalence. Under the guise of protecting the revolution, they have subverted electoral law with impunity. With each election, their meddling has become more brazen [...]
Arseh Sevom — With election season on the horizon, speculation begins about likely candidates while officials create an atmosphere of insecurity with rumors and fear mongering. Civil society actors in Khuzestan are rounded up. The family of a former framer of Iran’s constitution is told that there can be no public gathering for his funeral. [...]
Arseh Sevom — Student leader, Majid Tavakoli, locked up in prison in Iran, will be awarded the International Student Peace Prize in a ceremony in Norway on February 15. Authorities announce new categories of criminalized speech in advance of the upcoming presidential elections. Mehdi Karroubi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mir Hossein Mousavi remain under house arrest [...]
Declaring free elections without saying “free elections” The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, shot himself in the foot last week when he called for an end to public demands for free elections, reported Radiofarda [en]. In response to comments made in recent weeks by figures such as former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad [...]
Arseh Sevom — Despite efforts to keep life-saving medicine from falling victim to sanctions, there is a shortage in Iran. “Free” elections is a hot topic while the squeeze on purchasing power worries a Revolutionary Guard Commander. Musicians find themselves behind bars and Yahoo! rolls out secure email. Killing Us Softly: Sanctions and Iran’s Health [...]