Iran elections: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says voting is religious responsibilityBy
Human Rights Watch issues a statement warning that fair vote is impossible because opposition is barred from running
It’s election day in Iran. Polls opened at 8am (04:30 GMT) and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was one of the first to cast his ballot, as always. The semi-official Mehr news agency has just published a picture gallery, showing him in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Islamic centre. For Khamenei, what matters most is a high turnout.
Speaking to Iran’s state television, Khamenei described voting as a religious responsibility like that of Namaz (the Muslim practice of prayer five times a day).
Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Thursday, warning that a fair vote was impossible because the opposition was barred from running and its leaders placed under house arrest. “Iran’s parliamentary elections … will be grossly unfair because of arbitrary disqualifications and other restrictions,” HRW said. Read the full statement here.
Ivan Watson of CNN, one of the few foreign journalists in Tehran to cover the elections, tweeted this morning: “This is the 1st election I’ve covered anywhere in the world where authorities ordered reporters on buses to cover vote.”
Foreign media are largely not allowed into Iran to cover the elections and those that are there cannot operate freely. “#Iran Election day. All foreign journalists being BUSSED by authorities to polling stations. No alternative,” said Watson in another tweet.
Reports from Tehran do suggest that internet speeds have improved significantly in comparison to previous weeks. The Washington Posts’ Thomas Erdbrink tweeted: “I wish there were elections in #Iran everyday, the internet has gone from diesel to 12V/415pk Ferrari engine overnight.” If you want to follow Iran’s election news on Twitter, search for #iranelection.
Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who supported the opposition in the country’s bitterly contested 2009 presidential vote, made one of the most controversial statements when he said: “I hope the results would be according to the people’s will and what they cast in ballot boxes.” Many said he was acknowledging rigging in previous elections by saying this.
If you want to know how parliamentary elections works in Iran, who is who and who the major parties are, check out Enduring America’s useful beginner’s guide, or read my post from yesterday on the election and why it matters so much for the regime while being a non-event for the opposition.
from Saeed Kamali Dehghan