Rouhani Begs, Backtracks, and Justifies in Run up to Elections
On Sunday, regime President Hassan Rouhani held a press briefing urging the Iranian people to participate in this Friday’s Majlis (parliamentary) elections. The briefing was a stunning reversal of his earlier criticisms of the elections, which he had previously called a “selection,” and clearly demonstrates the regime’s deep concerns about a nationwide boycott of the elections.
With less than a week to go before Iran’s parliamentary elections, Hassan Rouhani, the regime’s president, held a press briefing on Sunday in which he discussed different critical issues. Read more…
Backtracking Earlier Statements
Mere weeks ago Rouhani complained that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Guardian Council had disqualified the majority of his faction’s candidates from the elections and characterized the Majlis elections as “selections.” Last weekend he walked back his criticism, saying,
“I never have and never will question the elections. The elections are an important issue for our country… If it were selections, there would be no need for insisting and begging [on participation]. The selection was a reference to before the revolution… What I wanted to say is that we don’t allow the elections to become selections, not that it is like that right now.”
Rouhani also alluded to the disqualification of his faction’s candidates while still pleading with the public to vote anyway, saying, “There are three options: choosing the best, choosing from limited candidates, and no taking part. If we can’t make the best choice, should we also avoid choosing from limited candidates? It would be to our own detriment.”
It would indeed be detrimental to the regime if the Iranian people boycotted the election. The regime depends upon widespread voter turnout at elections to maintain the illusion of legitimacy. If the people were to stay home on Election Day, it would send a clear message that the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK Iran) is correct and that the Iranian people want regime change.
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) February 17, 2020
Rouhani continued his confusing rhetoric by claiming that there was no competition in “only” 44 districts, despite his earlier assertion that 70 districts were not competitive because they only included candidates from Khamenei’s faction. “There will be a competition in most districts, and the people will show up… even if there wasn’t any competition, I still believe the people should show up. We are all Iranians and we love the revolution and our country,” he said.
It is clear why Rouhani and the regime believe people should “show up” for the elections even if there are no choices—they want to sustain their rule—but the people of Iran have no such motivation to vote in a sham election.
Refusal to Disclose November Uprising Deaths
Rouhani deflected questions about the number of protesters killed by regime forces during the November Uprisings. When asked directly about the deaths, he claimed not to know the figures and pushed the question aside for another official to answer at a later time.
“The number of casualties is in the possession of the coroner. If the coroner’s office knows all the aspects, which they probably know by now, then they will be able to declare the figures. But the figure that we are aware of is much smaller than what has been reported by the media,” Rouhani said.
The MEK Iran reported that 1,500 protesters were killed during the November Uprisings. Another 4,500 were wounded, and more than 12,000 were arrested. These numbers have been confirmed and widely reported by the media.
Rouhani’s evasiveness is a clear signal of the regime’s fear of the people’s anger both during and after the November Uprisings. Iran is on the verge of a rebellion, and Rouhani’s attempt to downplay the regime’s crimes are a transparent attempt to postpone the inevitable overthrow of the mullahs.
The coverup of Ukrainian Airliner Downing
Rouhani fumbled in his answer to a question about the regime’s coverup of the downing of a Ukrainian airliner by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in January, trying once again to justify the government’s lies to the Iranian people and international community.
“[The lies were] not intentional and did not mean to damage the people’s trust,” Rouhani said. “The same armed forces who have brought much honor and achievements for us in the past stepped forth and assumed responsibility of the incident and apologized to the people. I admire the way the IRGC handled this,” he said about the military force that shot down an airliner with surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 passengers.
The #Iran regime is clearly trying to cover up and minimize its involvement in the air tragedy. However, its denials and misinformation show that the regime has more to hide than it cares to let onhttps://t.co/O1sAP4ZWIz#ukrainianplanecrash #IRGC @USAdarFarsi pic.twitter.com/xCATksZpBM
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) February 17, 2020
The Iranian regime initially claimed that the January 8th crash was caused by a “technical error” and continued to blatantly lie to the Iranian people, families of crash victims, investigators, and Ukrainian officials for three days until Ukrainian authorities searched the crash site and found evidence of ballistic missiles. Satellite photos also showed the missile strikes, proving conclusively that the airliner was shot down by the Revolutionary Guards. The IRGC admitted to “human error” only after the coverup was exposed and it had no choice but to do so.
News of the government coverup led to massive anti-regime protests by university students, MEK Iran supporters, and Iranian youth across Iran. These protests were met with brutal acts of suppression by regime security forces.
Six weeks later the Iranian people are being asked to cast their votes in a sham election to select new oppressors. As Rouhani and other regime officials know, many refuse to do so. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) summed up the feelings of the Iranian Resistance when she said that the people cast their votes in November and January Uprisings. “Our vote is overthrow!”